When customers say they would like a self-service option to deal with questions or complaints, they may not know exactly what they want, but they’ll be quick to realize what they don’t like.
Self-service tools that make resolving a problem more complicated, that take more time than reaching out to a contact centre or that crashes frequently are all examples of self-service gone bad. But they’re only the worst-case scenarios. There may be subtle nuances in the way that self-service tools can be deployed and optimized to work exactly the way your customers prefer. You can’t get to that point, though, without getting some feedback on what’s working and what’s not. That’s why any move towards self-service in any customer service scenario should incorporate a strategy for gathering insights as early as possible.
Of course, the easiest way to inject that feedback loop is directly in your self-service portal itself. It might be a case of simply asking for a rating or some open-ended questions on the final screen after their issue has been resolved. In some cases, though, customers might not be ready to answer those kinds of questions, because they just want to get back to whatever they were trying to do. It’s better to have some other avenues for feedback that they can participate in when they are more prepared to engage.
Think of this almost like a marketing initiative -- except instead of driving demand for a particular product or service, you’re getting to get at the level of customer affinity for your self-service offering. These are some of the ways it could work:
Some organizations may set up their self-service tools to let customers deal with low-level or very common questions and troubleshooting that they’ve learned about by looking at the data in solutions like Service Cloud. Their traditional customer service team may therefore be better focused on the more complex questions and issues. More than likely, though, long-term customers will wind up using a mix of self-service and traditional customer service channels, so there will be an opportunity for agents to ask directly about how their DIY options are faring.
Bear in mind, of course, that some customers might worry that saying something positive about self-service tools will make agents concerned about their jobs. Remove any potential bias by giving agents the right kind of questions to ask. Have them get details, for instance, on exactly when and why a customer uses self-service, how they learned about it, where it could improve (rather than whether it should be offered at all) and so on. Agents may even want to set up the questions by explaining the kind of higher-value areas a self-service tool is allowing them to allocate their time towards.
We all get emails asking us to fill out surveys -- some from within our own companies and some from third parties doing research of various kinds. Usually the completion rate depends on how well whomever is conducting the research has addressed the “me” factor -- in other words, what will someone get back if they offer their insights and opinions?
You can make a survey about your self-service tools short, quick and easy, but also ensure that they know how the data is being used and what your next steps will be. For instance, you can offer to share anonymized and aggregated results of the survey to show how customers overall are finding their self-service experience. You can position it as part of a strategy to tweak or add to whatever materials help customers get up to speed on how such tools work. Some might consider a contest or draw to get more results, but the most important thing is to make sure customers feel they’re part of a continuous improvement process.
Sometimes feedback becomes even more valuable when it’s gathered as a sort of brainstorming exercise. This is why companies will facilitate focus groups as they bring new products and services to market, for example.
A simple and cost-effective way to do this for a self-service check-in is through social media. It doesn’t have to be as explicit as “How do you like our self-service options?” as your theme. Instead, you might look at a Twitter chat or LinkedIn post that delves into the best practices of using your products and services, and invite some of your most loyal fans to participate. A few questions or comments about using self-service tools can then be woven more naturally into the discussion. Some companies may shy away from having that kind of topic discussed in a public manner, but customers will often appreciate the transparency and honesty from companies that are willing to be open about their efforts to improve everything they do.
No one gets closer to customers than those who are selling to them. While reps may be more focused on closing a deal, however, they can also take time to gauge how well the company is making it easy for customers to work out the kinks of their purchases after the fact. Suggest they open with this when they’re talking to established customers, for instance -- giving customers an opportunity to weigh in on self-service options as well as other aspects of their buying experience. This shouldn’t just be passed back to the customer service team verbally but with action items or trend data that can be put back into Service Cloud for further study.
When self-service tools are first put into place, the best organizations always ensure some people on their team do a walk-through themselves to make sure everything is easy and works well, from how buttons are named to how you answer questions to get support-related answers.
Over time, however, things about your products, services and even the makeup of your customers may have changed. That’s why it’s a good idea every once in a while to have someone act like a “mystery shopper” in a retail store who pretends to be a typical customer to see how well the store runs. In this case, try to choose a colleague who’s not that close to customer service operations -- like someone in finance or an admin person -- and have them tackle a typical self-service challenge. That’s one way to get ahead of pain points from real-life customers.
Self-service tools are outstanding ways to empower your customers, but empowering them also means making sure you’ve delivering on the vision you’ve intended. Ask early, ask often and always be ready to act.