January 7, 2020 | By

What is Customer Self-Service (CSS)? And why it really, really matters.

You know those self-serve checkouts at supermarkets? I love those when I have a couple of items to buy. No lines, no wait. I’m in and out. On the other hand, when I have an overfilled cart, it’s faster to let the professionals ring me up and load the bags than attempt it myself.

In the digital world, customer self-service works in much the same way. When a customer has a simple, straightforward issue, self-service gives them the option and the power to find immediate answers on their own without assistance from a customer service rep. No lines, no wait. They can help themselves 24/7.


Why implement CSS? Customer self-service trends.

As customer self-service becomes more popular, there’s plenty of data to back up its usefulness to not just customers, but also to companies and their employees.

1. Customers want to self-serve.

How do we know? First, they’re not afraid to use technology. 72% think brands should leverage technology to reduce the amount of time it takes to resolve their inquiry or issue.

We also know that 81% of customers try to self-serve before calling a contact center. So not only are they comfortable with technology, but they’re actually attempting to use it before contacting a human. So the desire for customer self-service is alive and well.

2. Customer self-service improves business metrics.

Yes, CSS pays off. Aberdeen reports that companies using CSS software see:

  • 71% greater annual improvement in customer satisfaction rates
  • 76% greater clientele retention
  • 6x greater annual improvement in customer lifetime value

So when companies give customers the option to self-serve, they’re more satisfied, stay loyal longer, and spend more over time.

Internally, it lightens the operational load. At organizations that use AI chatbots, 68% of service professionals say their teams have seen reduced call and email volume. Which brings us to our last customer self-service trend.

3. Agents are happier and more productive with self-service.

Agent satisfaction simply cannot be overlooked. What makes agents happier? Feeling like what they do matters – and that requires not being bored to death by repetition. By automating routine tasks, 70% of agents believe they would be able to focus on higher-value work.

And when customer service teams do use artificial intelligence (AI) tools to free up bandwidth, 84% see improved prioritization of agents’ work, and 75% credit AI with increased agent morale. (That’s pretty close to the carefree bot-assisted world the Jetsons promised.)


Where should you implement customer self-service? Examples of CSS.

There are several options for implementing customer self-service on your site, app, or in-product. The key is to know your customer journey and find areas where it’s most valuable to keep customers moving. Start there, then add on as you go.

1. Add a Dynamic Search Bar to your Knowledge Base (KB).

A static FAQ or looonnnggg support center page can be frustrating to dig through. A dynamic search bar helps your customers find what they’re looking for quickly. Using AI with natural language processing (NLP), a dynamic search bar understands the customer’s intent, regardless of how it’s phrased, and serves up relevant results. For customer experience (CX) consistency, you can add a dynamic search bar anywhere a customer can access your KB – on your website, mobile site, and mobile app.

2. Include an FAQ Widget at the point of need.

Customers don’t want to have to stop what they’re doing to jump off to a separate FAQ/support center page. Give them the power to find what they’re looking for at the exact moment they need it with an FAQ widget. It works like a dynamic search bar, but it can float or be fixed to any page, in your product, or on your app – wherever customers need the extra help.

3. Offer a Conversational Chatbot with seamless escalation to live support.

Conversational chatbots are becoming increasingly popular because they can get the job done fast and can personalize the experience. Using NLP, they can understand and retain information to carry on human-like conversations. If the issue becomes more complex and a live agent is needed, the chatbot transitions everything it knows to the rep, so the customer doesn’t have to start over. Working across all of your messaging channels, your chatbot can create a consistent CX while becoming a familiar face for your customers.


How should you implement CSS?

Now that you know the what, why, and where CSS can be implemented, the only thing left to answer is how. How can you use CSS to your benefit on a daily basis? Here are 5 customer support issues you could have handled with self-service.

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