A self service portal is a collection of self-help functions that are open to the end users (aka customers) and accessible through a company’s website. Self service features include self-resolution of issues through use of a knowledge base, password reset, self-logging of incidents, collaborative spaces, service requests and chat services.
They also feature end users as a first line of support, and empower those customers to find information, request services, and resolve their issues. The portal provides customers with a fast and direct way of getting answers to a variety of questions and issues.
A self-service portal is also an extremely efficient way of outreaching to new customers, boosting customer-to-customer relationships, and improving company-customer relationships.
When portals are planned and implemented appropriately, they have a positive impact on an organization’s productivity and IT customer satisfaction. A good self service portal delivers tangible benefits to service desks, end users and the business as a whole. The following are just some of the benefits of employee and customer self service portals:
- Self Service Portals Reduces Customer Service Costs.They don’t call these portals “self-service” for no reason -- if your customer can find an answer to their problem on their own, that reduces the amount of support needed because the volume of tickets will decrease. And there’s not as much of a need to invest in customer service as your company grows.
- Self Service Portals Improve Agent Productivity. With fewer calls and support tickets, agents and representatives fielding these inquiries can spend more time with each customer that doesn’t use their self-service portal. With more time allotted to each customer, it’s not just about increased productivity, but the ability to provide better care to each customer call or email.
- Self Service Portals Teach Customers New Skills. Portals expand clients’ knowledge and skills, and give them the tools they require for solving other similar issues in the future. Portals provide detailed information beyond the basics when delivering answers to commonly-asked questions.
They use simple ways of getting the information across through step-by-step guides and how-to videos sometimes with images, diagrams and screenshots. These methods are especially useful for more visual customers, and customers who need a few hands-on trials before getting things right. The portal can also include tips, hints, and other agile practices to help customers learn a company’s product inside out.
- Self Service Portals Boosts Site Traffic. The customized knowledge base of the self service portal acts as a useful tool for bringing in more website traffic, and marks a business as an information source and authority in its field or industry. As a result, current or potential clients place trust in the company, increasing the company’s credibility and brand visibility.
Other voices, such as writers, bloggers, and clients can also share information via a self-service platform with forums or questions/answers functionality. Their articles primarily aimed at sharing solutions to problems surrounding the product can increase visibility by bringing in users that are searching for related solutions.
An attractive, reliable and responsive self-service portal ensures that customers can access all information in one place. That means strong, high-visibility portals addressing customers’ needs always have traffic. The company can also leverage external customer service experts to contribute to the enterprise’s knowledge base by sharing a blog post or speaking on one of the forums. This helps alleviate organizational resources that would have been necessary to deliver all the answers. It also encompasses a variety of voices from different backgrounds.
- Self Service Portals Leverage Personalized Information. An intuitive self-service portal saves time and helps clients locate the information that they need more quickly by using information from past problems.
This becomes an even greater benefit when you also factor in the ability for customers to personalize their self service accounts. Personalization can be a powerful tool when used with a self-service portal. Whenever consumers log in, they can be addressed by name upon their welcome screen. The self service portal can keep a record of the products or services purchased and display the specific topics of expertise relevant to them. This way, clients realize that the business treats them as a valued partner with unique preferences. Personalization also ensures that the company learns about the problems and issues customers experience on occasion, and takes the necessary steps to address these issues adequately.
- Self Service Portals Increase Positive Customer Recommendations. A successful self-service portal strengthens the brand reputation by creating positive client interactions. However, for this to happen, the company has to create a knowledge base that is consistent, simple to understand, and user-friendly, with the capability of utilizing a range of media while updating in real time. Considering 39% of millennials check a company’s FAQ first when they have a question, showing a clear preference for finding answers on their own, a good knowledge base also needs an appealing and natural look with features such as live chat and email options.
These features help the users to get assistance and feedback. Great self service portals provide a positive experience to users, saving valuable phone resources and resulting in a better overall customer experience (resulting in better reviews).
- Self Service Portals Enrich Social Engagement. Since portals provide a dedicated social media feed for dealing with customer queries, employees are also involved in the self service process. They take turns communicating to offer solutions or answer questions about the business.
The core source of guidance and assistance provided for employees helps them to respond professionally to consumers, drawing upon their professional knowledge to provide customers with clear solutions. Workers also generally direct customers to the right information more quickly when armed with this extra information, which not only improves customer satisfaction, but also allows the business to get a better feel for which issues are the most urgent for its customers.
Portals that include a knowledge base use the social media feed as a way of dispersing news and information on the relevant products that enhance the experience of users. The increased social media activity boosts visibility as well as the brand voice, and builds stronger relationships with clients, attracts new customers, and assists in enforcing social engagement.
Perhaps the most important benefit of all, adapting a business to take advantage of self service portals is a simple process (provided that the business can properly motivate its employees to make the switch). Otherwise, many of the most valuable features of the self service portal will likely go unimplemented.
Armed with a better understanding of the many benefits that come with implementing self-service support onto your website, you can see why a self-service portal is an essential component to any business that is serious about customer support.