Sometimes the best customer service is when customers are empowered to help themselves.
Imagine if all your customers had to contact your support team every time they had the tiniest question:
- Want to update your password? Contact support.
- Want to change your billing details? Contact support.
- Want to upgrade your subscription? Contact support.
Does this sound like you?
If so, you need to consider offering more self-service support.
Self-service does more than just provide a better experience and save your support team some work. It's what your customers expect: a staggering 88% of customers expect brands to have an online self-service portal.
- What is customer self-service?
- 5 Stats on the Benefits of Self-Service
- 9 Stats Making the Case for Self-Service
- Combining Self-Service With Human Support
- Final Remarks
What is customer self-service?
Self-service is when you provide customers the means to help themselves. Rather than requiring them to contact your support team, you empower them to solve their own issues.
Self-service can take many different forms:
- An online knowledge base full of articles and guides that assist customers with their problems and teach them how to use your product or service.
- Discussion forums where customers can find answers from other users.
- Chatbots functioning as virtual assistants to automatically provide responses to customer questions or guide them through processes.
- Customer portals where customers can update information or complete tasks
Self-service is no longer optional. It's an essential tool for creating happy and satisfied customers.
5 Stats on the Benefits of Self-Service
1. Self-service saves you money.
Self-service interactions cost just pennies compared to live human customer support. But self-service does more than resolve tickets at a lower cost. By empowering your customers, self-service actually lightens the load for your customer service team by reducing overall support ticket volume. This allows you to scale your team in a more cost-efficient manner. (HBR, 2017)
2. Self-service is what most of your customers want.
67% of customers prefer self-service to speaking to a support agent. Many customers actually find it an inconvenience to have to speak to a human, and would much rather find the answer themselves and get on with their day. (Zendesk, 2013)
3. Self-service offers your customers a much faster resolution to their problem.
Great self-service allows your customers to find answers instantly instead of having to wait around for customer support to respond. This is a huge deal. 73% of customers say valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online service, and you can honor that desire by delivering with self-service. (Forrester, 2016)
4. Self-service is available 24/7.
Your self-service capabilities aren't affected by business hours. With self-service, you can offer great service to customers around the world, anytime. 90% of customers prioritize having an "immediate" response when it comes to a customer service question. Since self-service doesn't need to sleep or go on vacation, it's a great way to extend your customer service. (HubSpot, 2018)
5. Self-service helps you close more sales.
Research shows that 53% of customers are likely to abandon an online purchase if they can't find a quick answer to their question. If you don't have answers readily available, those prospects won't buy from you at all. (Forrester, 2016)
9 Stats Making the Case for Self-Service in 2022
Clearly, the benefits of self-service are massive. But what if that alone isn't enough to convince you of the importance of self-service? Here are some additional stats showing how customers feel about self-service (or the lack thereof):
- Studies show that 81% of customers attempt to take care of matters themselves before reaching out to a service representative. When a customer finally does make contact with your support team, your business has already failed to deliver their ideal experience. (HBR, 2017)
- 77% of customers say they view brands more positively if they provide self-service options for customers looking for support. Self-service enhances the brand experience and generates more goodwill among your customer base. (Vanilla Forums, 2020)
- 91% of customers said they would use a knowledge base if it were available and suited to their needs. If you build it, they will come. If you're not seeing self-service happening already in your business, the main reason may be that you haven't given your customers good enough options. (Zendesk, 2013)
- Over half of customers say the main reason they cannot resolve an issue on their own is because there is too little information available online. This creates major frustration for customers and more work for your business. It's your responsibility as a business to provide customers with the information they need to use your product well. Don't let them down. (Microsoft, 2017)
- 73% of customers want the ability to solve product or service issues on their own. The same report found that customers would rather clean a toilet than speak to customer service. The bottom line? This means that customers generally don't want to talk to you - they'd rather use self-service. (Aspect, 2017)
- According to one study, 60% of customers have used the help center or FAQs on a company's website in the last 12 months. This makes it the most popular self-service channel, ahead of community forums and chatbots. Prioritize building out a great knowledge base as a foundation for all your self-service efforts. (Forrester, 2018)
- 47% of customers say they always search online first for the answer to a customer service question. Offering a self-service option that can be indexed by search engines — like a help center — ensures you meet your customers right when they begin their search. (Software Advice, 2015)
- After just 10 minutes of searching online, 52% of customers will give up and call or email a company's support team instead. This means you need to make your self-service content readily available and easy for customers to find. Is your help center searchable and intuitively organized? Make sure it's easier to self-serve than it is to fire off an email or dial your phone number. (Software Advice, 2015)
- Customers who attempt to self-serve, fail, and are forced to pick up the phone are 10% more likely to be disloyal than customers who were able to resolve their issue on the channel of their choice. Self-service is an important way to earn loyalty from customers, translating to a big impact on your bottom line. (HBR, 2010)
Combining Self-Service With Human Support
Self-service isn't just a way to deflect customers from contacting your support team. It's a strategy that can augment your human support and work in tandem to create happy and satisfied customers.
All of the stats above make a compelling case for self-service, but 30% of customers also shared that not being able to reach a real human is the most frustrating part of a bad customer service experience.
So when you're executing your self-service strategy, make sure it's still easy for customers to contact your support team when necessary. If a request can't be completed by a customer or is particularly complex, give them an easy option to reach out.
Self-service done right has the potential to be a big win-win situation for your customers and your support team. It can enhance the possibilities for human customer service by automating away the most mundane and repetitive inquiries.
Customer self-service should be a critical investment for every business in 2022.
The data shows just how important self-service is to a modern customer experience. It's just what customers expect nowadays.
Without self-service, customers will be forced to contact your support team — or worse, they might choose to leave your company altogether. So make it easy for customers to solve the most basic queries on their own, while keeping an open line to your support team for more complex issues.
Self-service is the only way forward if you want to scale your support team effectively while still providing top-notch service to your customers.