Companies love when customers go to the Self Service Portal for support.
Companies love it because resolving an incident through self service may cost $1, compared to $7 via email, compared to $15 or more, with a live agent over the phone. There's money in self service, if you can just get your customers to go there.
1. Make it easy for the customer.
2. Make it valuable for the customer.
Easy begins by making the self service portal easy to find.
Don’t bury access to the portal deep on your website. In fact, treat it like a marketing “call to action.” Make the link to the portal as clear as day to see; and place it in more than one place on your website, so that the customer can’t miss it! Obvious, right? But too many companies get it wrong!
Make it easy to navigate.
A site that’s hard to navigate is a sight that won’t get much traffic. When designing your self-service sight, design with the theme of making the customer’s life easy. Finding your way around the self-service portal can be a big part of the customer experience, so do it right!
Make it easy for the customer to find their answer.
This means putting the right content in the portal; Identify those 20% of the solutions that solve 80% of the problems, and make them very findable. Employing a “recommendation engine” can also help. If the customer has to manually search for the answer, you'll lose too many at hello - too many won’t invest the time or effort, and the'll go straight for the phone. But if the search can be automated – by interpreting some key words from the customer’s question, or using other search algorithms to find and present precisely relevant content, you’ll have made life a lot easier for the customers, by saving them the hassle of searching.
OK, so you’ve made the Self Service Portal easy to use. But remember that line from the movie “Field of Dreams?” Just because you build an easy Portal with easy access to the right answers, doesn’t mean that the customers will come running. They won’t. Customers want value, and customers want convenience. The more reasons you can give your customers to go to the portal, the more they’ll go there first.
That leads us to the second factor – Make it valuable for the customer.
Making it valuable means making the Self Service Portal the "go-to" place for the customer - the default source for anything and everything that they might get from your company.
A particular software company (real story, by the way) wanted to increase the percentage of customers utilizing their Self Service Portal. So, in addition to Knowledge Base content and other support tools, they relocated other resource to the portal: software downloads, sales chat, and their customer forum to the portal. Weekly reports were previously delivered through email, but clients now could access their reports anytime, through the Portal (which was easier for the clients to manage).
Within six months, the percentage of support requests initiated in the Portal increased from 12% to 69%, and the customers loved it!
So, by making Self Service easy to use, and by focusing it on more of the customers' interests (beyond simply support), more customers to come to your on-line support party.