Often, the first step in making something work really well is to figure out how it can fail…and then making sure it doesn’t. In the case of self-service, most studies show that customers are successful less than half of the time (sometimes far less.) So clearly, there’s plenty of failure to eliminate!
Here are some ways we’ve seen self-service fail, from our engagements with clients and from our own personal experience. How many of these barriers to success might frustrate your customers? And how many of them can you eliminate or reduce?
- The answer to my question isn’t here. (This often speaks to traditional, slow-moving knowledge management practices—consider KCS.)
- Or, if it’s here, I can’t find it. (Is knowledge written from the customer’s point of view, using their words and context? Do you have a competent search engine that returns relevant content from any source?)
- I found the answer, but I don’t like it very much. I’ll try calling. (Are you more flexible on polices, for example, warranty returns, if your customer calls? You teach people how to treat you…)
- My eyes are glazing over. (Is your portal neat, clean, and streamlined? Just because someone created a tool doesn’t mean that it deserves a link on your support home page.)
- Huh…what? (Do you require your customers to learn your organization and your jargon?)
- Don’t blow sunshine up my skirt. (Look on the bright side of life, but don’t try to rewrite a break-fix answer as a how-to. Self-service is not the place to spin the facts–that will just send users to find someone they do trust.)
- I bet you know, but you aren’t telling me. (This is what web maven Steve Krug means when he says a website should “be a mensch.” If people think you know about a problem but aren’t talking about it, they lose faith in you and your product or service.)
- I wanted an answer, not a dissertation. (Any words that don’t take customers one step closer to a resolution should be eliminated. Link to more complete background explanations—right now, let’s make it “just the facts, ma’am.”)
- The answer isn’t showing up on Google. (Is there any way you can make at least some of your content available without a login? And have you invested in Search Engine Optimization (SEO?) Increasingly, whether we like it or not, search engines are the self-service portal of choice.)
What self-service problems are you trying to avoid?