When executed well, self service support is a win-win for both you and your users, and this simple reason is why it’s seen such a sharp rise in companies implementing large scale self-service support systems. But what exactly is self-service support? It’s simple enough; any interaction that is customer initiated and entirely customer driven, where your support team never has to jump in, is self-service support. 

Breaking that apart, you can see the exact challenges that it takes to set up good self-service support. It must be:

  1. Easy for the customer to initiate
  2. Easy for the customer to find an answer
  3. Easy for the customer to implement that answer.

If your support falls at any of those hurdles, you’ll likely have to step in, and by then you’re already dealing with a frustrated customer and behind the 8-ball before your first interaction.

Easy for the customer to initiate.

A customer should be able to enter your self-service portal in 1 click. There should not be a mountain of pages to navigate through, or some hidden all-too-far out of the way button that needs to be unearthed for a user to click on to access your content.

In bygone eras, big companies in particular would make it tough to even find their phone number so that they didn’t have to take your call; with self-service support, help should be front and centre, no calls need to be taken, so why hide what you have to offer.

Easy for the customer to find an answer

As the old proverb goes, if the greatest help content is written, but no customers are able to read it, does it even exist?

If customers get to your help centre and are met with unreliable search, or made to dig through layers and layers of menus to get what they need, they’ll simply stop looking.

The best way to combat this is through making sure you have all the little things done correctly. Make sure your content is properly structured, you have solid keyword matching, and you have a search that goes beyond simple word matching and can account for synonyms and spelling mistakes. 

Something even better than making life easy for the user when looking to find an answer, is to give the answer to the user without them having to look, all through the magic of contextual help.

Easy for the customer to implement.

Once the user has their answer, they need to be able to action it in your product without any fuss so they can get back to doing what they need to be doing. This is where self-service can really shine.

With self-service, the user has the answer in front of them ready to go, even better if it’s in-app (I've included an example of an Elevio in-app article here), so the user can solve their problem hand in hand with your content.

Having these three steps in place will make life easier for not just your users but for you and your team, as inquiries that do come through will be a higher quality, and enable you to update docs for next time in line with KCS principles.

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