Customer self-service: A critical option for customer engagement

  • 26 Jul 2023

All businesses online or offline thrive on customers. For an offline shop, it is easy for customers to self-serve themselves. But when you have an online website serving as your shop, how do you get customers to self-serve? What does customer self-service mean for an eCommerce website? Does it hold any importance?

Such questions are common. When we talk of customer engagement, we generally talk of implementing Live Chat, Chatbots, leveraging social media etc. Many of us are unaware that most customers still prefer to take the traditional route and self-serve themselves.

Some of the benefits that you, as an eCommerce business owner, gain from implementing customer self-service as an option for customer engagement are:

  •       Generation of tickets for problems and queries gets reduced by 40% to 60%
  •       Dependence on the need to contact a Live Chat agent or a support portal Chatbot gets reduced
  •       The TAT for query/problem resolution goes down significantly
  •       Customer satisfaction increases radically

Today, a customer does not like to wait even for minutes to speak to a customer service agent. Customers have a very short attention span and want everything to be resolved quickly. You might lose your customer If your customer service agents are busy attending to other calls. Additionally, many customers are averse to typing out long queries. If you do not implement options for customers self-service, you will lose a huge chunk of your targeted customer base.

What is customer self-service?

Understanding leads to proper implementation. So, let us first understand what customer self-service means for an eCommerce website. Simply speaking it is an option made available to customers so that they can find answers to their queries or get their problems resolved without having to raise a ticket or wait for a customer service agent to respond.

Allowing customers to resolve their queries and problems will ensure greater customer satisfaction and it will also reduce your operational costs. With advancements of technology taking place at a rapid pace, options available for implementing self-service are more relevant and easily available today. Customers can use this to easily:

  •       Gain an understanding of the products they want to buy
  •       Resolve queries regarding prices and payments
  •       Track their delivery status after purchasing a product
  •       Check out return and refund policies
  •       Raise a product return ticket etc

The list is endless as are the ways in which you can leverage this option.

A scenario without customer self-service

Let us look at a scenario where you do not have a self-service option. What will happen then? Till now we have only talked about the benefits that you stand to gain. But before making a decision, you need to know the flip side too. Only then can you weigh your chances and decide which option is better for you.

When sales grow you profit. But this also leads to a tendency to forget that your customer engagement strategy also needs to be revamped to meet the growing demand of a growing list of customers. The diversity of needs, demands and pain-points of an increasing customer base can present quite a challenge, if you do not incorporate the option for self-service in your website. How?

  •  A growing customer list would require additional service agents to serve them well. Your operational costs would increase. What reduces the viability of this solution is the volatility of the marketplace. Seasonal influences are very common. The arrival of festivals will make you see an exponential increase in sales. But there are lean periods too. The additional resources that you acquire to deal with the rush of the festival season might seem redundant during such times.
  • Good customer engagement leads to enhanced customer satisfaction which will ultimately convert into sales. If customers have to wait to get their queries resolved, they might get irritated and leave uncomplimentary reviews on your website. This will damage your brand reputation and you will see a fall in your sales revenue.

Both of these scenarios tend to threaten the sustainability and profitability of your eCommerce website. Hence, they are best avoided by setting up a robust customer self-service portal.

Features of a customer self-service portal

For your online self-service portal to be effective, you need to remember certain points like:

  • FAQs were traditionally effective. Having a few relevant FAQs on your website might not be sufficient to meaningfully resolve customer queries but they are still very helpful.
  • The customer self-support portal needs to be designed in a way that makes it easy for your customers to take required action. For this you need to analyze the data you collect, find out customer pain-points and integrate their resolution parameters in the portal. For example, if most of the queries pertain to your return and refund policy, then make sure to incorporate this in your portal.
  • The accessibility of the portal is extremely critical. If you place it somewhere in your web page where it is not easily visible, customers will be unable to find it. This will lead to confusions and they will be forced to resort to other means of communication like calling up the support center number or sending an email to the support desk etc. This will defeat the purpose of setting up a customer self-service portal.

Since providing a stellar customer experience depends on the ease of the customer’s web journey, you should take care to implement certain best practices like:

  •  Analyze existing tickets to understand the trends and patterns of customer queries and issues.
  •  Deploy automation, especially for commonly asked questions and everyday problems. This will help you to save time and money. Enhance the impact of automation by regularly updating your portal to include resolutions to common scenarios.
  • Keep auditing and analyzing ticket-based metrics to seek out opportunities to optimize your customer self-service portal and enhance its impact. You can also judge the effectiveness of your portal by analyzing its key metrics using data-driven analytics.
  • Ensure your customer self-service portal works in tandem with the rest of your eCommerce website. It should not be made to work in silo. You should implement it in a way that it complements the other customer engagement options available.
  • Enhance its usefulness by making it do more than just answer customer queries. It should provide your customers with a personalized experience.
  • Empower it by increasing its focus on resolution and leave deflection to an agent or a Chatbot as the last option.

To enhance the effectiveness of your eCommerce website and customer engagement strategy, make customer self-service a priority. While increasing customer satisfaction might be the primary benefit you derive, other associated benefits that you will ultimately derive from implementing a rich self-service portal will ultimately lead to enhanced revenue generation.

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