Is Web Self-Service Right for you and Your Customer Service Objectives

New Blog Series: 6 Tell-Tale Signs That Your Organization – And Your Customers – Are Ready For Next Generation Web Self-Service

In this first installment of a new series of blogposts, we begin examining 6 signs that your organization is ready to deploy self service.

According to Forrester Research, 72% of U.S. online consumers prefer to use a company’s web site to get answers to their questions rather than contact companies via telephone or email. Clearly, the web (and this term now firmly includes the increasingly important mobile and social media channels) has become the primary first point of contact between many organizations and their stakeholders.

But how do you know when you and your organization are ready for web self-service? Where do you begin, in terms of diagnosing whether or not it makes sense for you to explore a web selfservice strategy for your organization?  Read on to find out…

Telltale Sign #1: Still Using FAQ’s and Site Search?

For companies in virtually any industry, traditional online answer tools like FAQ pages, HELP and SEARCH technologies are antiquated resources that no longer do a good job of giving self-service customers the information they need in the form of ANSWERS to their questions.

According to Forrester, “Help sections, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and site search often fall short of customers’ expectations.” 1 Conceptually, FAQ pages are a great idea and, in fact, they can be rather helpful for very small companies or organizations that sell a single or simple product line or are espousing a simple concept or value proposition – but how many organizations fall under those categories these days? For a company with a web-site and numerous social media and mobile touch-points, the limitations of these primitive web tools become evident quite quickly.

Take the typical FAQ page as an example, and consider this dilemma:

Even the most well-written and comprehensive FAQ sections remain difficult to navigate due to the sheer volume of information that is to be sifted through (and this assumes that you have, by some miracle selected the absolute best list of FAQ’s for the majority of your customers to begin with). Even when the available mountains of data are drastically reduced after a keyword relevancy search, still,customers are offered tens, hundreds or even thousands of results to search through.

A more streamlined FAQ section, one that has been heavily edited to reduce the volume of data, may be slightly easier to navigate; however, what is gained in navigation ease is lost in the comprehensiveness and accuracy of available answers, leaving the visitor unsatisfied despite best efforts.

Forrester points to self-service technologies as a means to provide better customer service, but explains that these technologies are not yet widely used by many of the organizations that could most benefit by their deployment.2 By and large, most organizations rely on FAQ, help and site search to quarterback the web customer service effort, despite the negative impact on the customer experience.

The opportunity that modern web self-service affords is not only the ability to enhance the customer experience online, but to also enjoy a competitive advantage by doing so, as a company that provides this superior self-service experience earlier than its competitors.


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