People often find it hard to accept that self service solutions are the way of the future for UX and CRM. This is because until recent times, there were no feasible ways to make these fool proof. But times change – especially with the rapid progress in technology that just won’t slow down. As a result, self service is rapidly becoming feasible.
There are many ways to implement self service solutions into your digital store front, website or web service, and today, we’re going to look at seven tips for making this work. The purpose of this is to demystify this so that nobody ever need fear it as complicated or impractical again. Overcoming these phobias and preconceptions, and embracing the self service concept will liberate your business or organization in ways you cannot yet imagine. We would be remiss if we did not share this information, in that light.
This will be a somewhat technology-heavy exposition, but no technology aspect of this will be anything complicated or difficult to take advantage of. Also, going into this, you must bolster your faith in your user base, and believe that they are responsible enough to work with what is being proposed!
#1 – Dynamic Interfaces
Dynamic interfaces are integrated software platforms that are “onboard” with the website or service in question. These are programmable systems that load inside the pages, as parts of them. This allows them to interact directly with the page, and watch user patterns.
The advantage of these platforms is that they can report problems automatically, and deduce on their own where a user is having difficulties. This will allow self service to become much more of a foolproof endeavor, and will reduce the need for heavy tech support staff to babysit it.
These platforms are usually easy to configure and moderately inexpensive to license. They are worth the brief bit of learning and the small investment to implement, given these things.
#2 – Crowdsourcing
Crowdsourcing of some aspects is also highly useful, and this is where faith in your user base is highly important. When crowdsourcing, you can divert tech support questions or assistance to fellow users who can solve the problems in place of the CRM staff. This also reduces the babysitting normally involved.
The trick here is to incentivize the user base to participate, which does result in some form of cost via rewards for participation and resolution. Zero presence of administration is also impossible, where users communicate unabated, but it is still a severe reduction of said babysitting which older concepts required.
#3 – Customization
Allowing customization in the interface, within limits, can also aid in the implementation of self service solutions. This goes along with the first tip, where many of those interfaces allow this. The reasoning behind this is basically that if a user can modify the interface to make more sense, they will be able to handle their own interactions with less issues.
There is a caveat with this, that being that making it too customizable will result in more problems, so there’s something to be said for limiting it to generalities with this. However, it is something to consider.
#4 – Dynamic FAQ
Dynamic FAQ is also complimented by the first tip. Basically, dynamic FAQ is an FAQ (frequently asked questions) system that is context-sensitive. This can be handled by a platform detecting likely scenarios and suggesting answers, or by giving a search and ask box not unlike that employed by the likes of PayPal.
This eliminates a lot of “how do I” or “what does this” questions which otherwise make self service solutions just not as practical in some situations. This is difficult to pull off gracefully, but if you manage it, it helps significantly.
#5 – Simplicity
Overly-engineered interfaces can make self service just hard to handle. So the word of the day for this is simple elegance. An interface, design and set of procedures that are to the point without being plainly utilitarian makes it easier for users to handle things themselves, without the need for intervention from staff to accomplish things.
Since aesthetics are important, though, there is a balance, as with levels of customization, to be had. This is accomplished through trial and error and perhaps hearing a consultant out who knows what goes into this. But, simplicity is a rule of thumb that should be adhered to.
#6 – Clarity
One of the biggest problems with self service is making the instructions for performing a task clear and unquestionable. People need intervention because someone will find the directions complicated or nebulous. Striving for clarity in instructions and contingencies, which goes along with the FAQ system and the platforms mentioned in #1 will greatly enhance the practicality of self service.
The problem is, this isn’t something that can be achieved 100%, and as such, there will always be a little bit of breakdown in this particular section. This is why the CRM and support departments can never become completely obsolete.
#7 – Incentives
This one is last on the list due to its quasi-relevance. However, incentives for users to practice self service are a good way to get them on board with it, and reduce complaints about it – customer complaints being one of the things that tends to inhibit companies from adopting the concept.
These incentives can be things like discounted subscription rates or something similar, especially for SaaS. For a free service, this may be more of a moot point, as finding incentives for users in this area may be a bit difficult to do.
All in all, these are the general rules for how to make self service solutions practical for most environments, and why this is something to be embraced rather than feared.
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