Why Self-Service is the Future of Customer Support


Customer support has become an area of fierce competition among companies, and there’s evidence that the competition is only heating up.

A Dimension Data study shows that 74% of customer support centers expect the number of tickets handled to increase in the near future. With a larger volume of tickets, the overall cost of providing customer service is increasing with it.

At the same time, 50% of customers may be experiencing issues that they need resolved, but only 5% actually reach out to ask for help from customer support. This means that up to 95% of customers won’t reach out to let companies know that they have a problem.

So even as the number of customer service requests continues to go up, companies need to reach out to customers proactively to make sure things are going well.

Today, companies are facing a fickle customer base that can easily hop to a competitor if they have an unresolved issue that they may or may not choose to tell you about.

While this predicament leads to lower customer retention and lower revenue, but there are ways to combat this!

Imagine if you could ease the load on your customer service team, increase revenue, let customers who don’t even report having an issue resolve their issue, and create satisfied customers all at the same time?

Enter the world of customer self-service.

Why Customer Self-service?

Self-service resources allow your customers to solve their own issues in a way that’s fast and easy, meaning that your customer service team doesn’t need to handle as many requests for support.

Companies that implement customer self-service resources for their customers have a sizeable opportunity to reduce customer service costs.

This lucrative opportunity is already being chased by companies everywhere. A study by Gartner predicts that by 2020, 85% of customer relationships will be managed without the customer ever interacting with a human. Customer self service and automation of processes will play significant roles in this transformation.

Human-free service is a win-win–cheaper for the business and easier and preferable for customers.

It’s clear that companies that help customers help themselves will excel relative to their competitors who don’t. The digital channel service center of the future is ascending rapidly.

But why are digital support channels eating the customer service world? The answer is simple: customers prefer self-service customer support.

Customers Prefer Self-service


Customers’ preferences are straightforward. 91% of consumers would use a self-service channel if it met their needs, and 84% of consumers have used a self-service channel in the last 12 months, according to Forrester’s customer service trends report in 2016.

Customers are on board with helping themselves, and millennials are leading the charge in utilizing self-service channels with 73% expecting companies to give them the resources to resolve issues on their own. Generating the most revenue out of this demographic will only become more important as time passes.

The reasons for customers’ preferences for self service customer support are very simple:

  • Self-service channels are faster and more convenient on mobile devices
  • Self-service lets customers access support whenever they need it
  • Preemptive service lets customers head off problems before they arise
  • Self-service resources are easy to refer to a friend experiencing the same issue

What’s more, customers like to have multiple self-service channels available. According to a study performed by Deakin University, customers think of each self-service channel differently, and they often switch between self-service channels when new channels are offered.

Customers who make the jump between self-service channels expect to do so seamlessly, and are pleased when they are able to resolve their issue as a result of switching channels. Pleased customers tell an average of nine friends about their good experience with a company.

Revenue Is Higher With Self-service

There are multiple reasons why it is very profitable to give customers the service they want.

A Forrester report unearthed a clear reason as to why companies are enthusiastic about implementing self-service channels.

In the companies Forrester surveyed, each online chat interaction cost $.40, whereas each voice interaction cost a minimum of $1.40. Voice interactions become more and more expensive the more complex the issue.

But the cost of a ticket answered entirely by an online knowledge base or FAQ page is close to zero no matter what the issue is.

The better the knowledge base, the more tickets will be resolved and the better your customer service team can focus on higher priority and more complex questions. Trivial inquiries won’t clog your voice support channels or live chat queues any longer. 

Knowledge bases require upkeep by customer service teams and product experts, but they can be as easy to create by allowing internal information to be accessible by customers with issues.

With self-service resources, your customer service groups will:

  • Handle fewer Tier 1 tickets
  • Have many potential tickets resolved before reaching an agent
  • Experience an increased one-touch resolution rate
  • Find that customers who contact support likely have knowledge about their issue

Setting up a self-service customer support portal means that your company will see the number of new tickets drop in relation to company growth and the job satisfaction of your customer service team rise.

Self-service During Sales

Aside from customers dealing with their issues by using customer self-service, sales is also an area where self-service can make money for your business.

Customers that have access to self-service resources during the buyer’s journey have a higher average order value than customers who don’t.

But be wary. A Forrester’s report indicates that 53% of adults in the US are likely to abandon their purchase if they can’t find the exact piece of information that they’re looking for.

Offer more than an FAQ page and a few links to product manuals. Satisfying your customers who are hungry for customer self-service requires making a knowledge base that reflects all of the knowledge that your company has about its products.

Creating A Killer Self-service Platform

Getting started with your company’s customer self-service platform is easy. Most of the costs are up front.

Follow these basic steps:

  • Build a searchable online knowledge base
  • Create a prominent FAQ page
  • Cross-link to knowledge base articles at every relevant opportunity to make it easier for customers to find the self-service resource that they’re looking for
  • Provide a forum for customers to discuss their issues with other customers and task a CSR with addressing the most common issues
  • Direct customers to your self-service resources on social media

It goes without saying that you will need to inform your customers about the resources that you have created for their self-service needs. Likewise, the guiding principle behind all of your self-service resources needs to be ease of use.

If you’re not sure what a knowledge base should contain, check out this guide that shares numerous great examples of effective knowledge bases.