Self-service – help customers to help themselves!


Sometimes the best customer service is self-service. Giving customers the right tools and information to make their own choices is key. It saves everyone time and money.

Take for example a customer wanting information – either about buying a product or using one. If they can get the information they need without having to contact you, they, and you, save time. You can spend that time generating income rather than answering the query.

Top tip: on average, 35% of customer queries are to get information which could be on your website. 60% of customers will check your website before phoning you to see if they can find what they want to know.

The secret is to be as proactive as possible by thinking of everything a customer will want to know. Then make it easy for them to find it – especially if there is a problem. Every £1 you spend being proactive saves £3 spent answering a query.

How to be proactive:

1) Look at the process a customer goes through when buying your product or service. Make sure you give them all the information they need when they need it. Don’t forget to include hint and tips, especially on how to avoid mistakes. One insurance company found that a tip sheet reduced mistakes and queries by 30%.

2) Make your website helpful to customers (not just prospects). Most website home pages have 80% marketing content. 80% of visitors are current customers with an issue who are looking for help.

Top website tips to reduce queries:

  • A live chat facility means you get fewer phone queries. A call handler can handle 3 live chat conversations rather than one phone call. Larger businesses use a virtual agent which can answer a customer query using an FAQ databank. Copa Airlines cut phone queries by 50% when they introduced their virtual agent.
  • Have a clear link on your home page to FAQs. Make sure you track what customers are asking and keep adding to and updating the FAQs.
  • Use video, especially if trying to explain anything a customer would see as complicated.

3) Expect customer problems and warn them before they call you. You often know when a customer will get a shock, a late payment charge, a high bill or a missed appointment.  You can contact the customer warning them of the impending unpleasant surprise. Make sure anyone who deals with customers has access to records of any such contacts sent. That makes sure they will understand why the customer is calling.


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