Image of laptop showing knowledge for your customers

Customer Self-service: 8 Ways to Get It Right

What Is Customer Self-Service?

A fundamental support tool, customer self-service provides customers, visitors and prospects with the option to serve themselves online. This means users can find answers to their own questions, resolves their own issues and discover critical information by themselves.

Not only does this contribute significantly to contact reduction in the contact centre – as AI-powered customer self-service tools automatically handle routine questions – but customers love it too. By cutting out the need to find contact information, get in touch with an agent and by giving customers the tools to help themselves, things become much easier, quicker and more convenient, which of course helps to improve the customer experience.

The global self-service technology market size is expected to reach USD 46 billion by 2027, registering a CAGR of 6.7% from 2020 to 2027. The growing demand for self-service solutions amongst businesses can be attributed to their successes within customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.

Customer self-service reduces contact volumes by up to 50%. When we consider the sheer volume of routine queries that make their way to contact centres to be dealt with and the costs associated with handling them, this contact reduction translates into huge cost savings. The AI-powered self-service tools can recognise multiple variations of questions, matching them with relevant knowledge articles and providing customers with the most relevant results.

When configured correctly, customer self-service can intercept customers when they need help, removing the need for agent assistance and therefore reducing the volume of routine questions received. This means that agents have more bandwidth to deal with customers’ complex issues.

Through the utilisation of Natural Language Processing (NLP), customers are always delivered the most relevant results. This is achieved by NLP unpicking sentence structure and ultimately understanding context to successfully answer questions. This and the freedom to serve themselves helps to increase CSAT and positive associations with your brand.

Different Forms of Customer Self-service

Depending on your business, website and how customers interact with your brand you might choose to offer self-service on its own page, as a widget, or both.

Whilst an FAQ-style self-service page offers customers a hub to which they can independently search for what answers they want, a widget can be configured to display when certain conditions are met. Using trigger management, customer self-service widgets can offer help when, for example, when certain pages are visited, or a certain amount of time is spent on one page. This increases the chances of customers reaching their destination and can even contribute to revenue.

An AI-powered chatbot is also a form of self-service, providing an additional conversational element to CX.

An image of a screen showing our web self service tool

1. Underpin Customer Self-Service with A Knowledge Base

Behind any good self-service solution is an intelligent knowledge base.

As your centralised source of company knowledge, your knowledge base powers your self-service tools. Through seamless integration and sophisticated AI, the software identifies relevant knowledge articles based on what a customer has entered into the self-service tool. Natural Language Processing (NLP) helps to understand the query intent and subsequently retrieves adequate answers.

To ensure you get customer self-service right, select knowledge base software that:

  • Is powered by AI
  • Harnesses NLP
  • Is built with the contact centre and customer in mind
  • Includes seamless integrations
  • Is implemented through low-code
  • Uses open RESTful APIs

2. Plan Around Customer Experience

When discussing goals, objectives and possible outcomes for any self-service project, it is crucial to remember the end-user and consider their needs and expectations with every decision that is made.

Perhaps your underlying goal for implementing customer self-service is one of the following:

  • Contact reduction in the contact centre
  • Reduction of support costs
  • Better CX
  • CSAT or NPS score improvements

Even if your main goal surrounds contact or cost reduction, the self-service tool must first cater to your end-user in order to function successfully. Surprisingly, the end-user and their needs often get lost within projects such as this, so keep them in mind always.

Ensuring that the customer is at the forefront of every key decision that is made around self-service keeps you on track to implementing the best solution for your company.

3. Always Choose Natural Language Processing

Customer self-service without Natural Language Processing (NLP) cannot effectively handle queries or deliver CX.

Why? Basic self-service solutions that do not utilise NLP rely totally on the customer query matching its records exactly in order to provide an answer. When a variation is entered instead, the customer is generally served an unhelpful and frustrating response.

AI-powered self-service software on the other hand,, utilises NLP so that multiple variations of the same query are successfully understood and therefore customers are served relevant answers. NLP unpicks queries, analysing keywords, intent, grammar and popularity to comprehend intent, increasing the chances of the correct results being served and thus great CX.

An images to represent the 4 layers of Natural Language Processing: search keywords, intent, grammar and popularity.

4. Map Your Customer Journeys

Having a clear, holistic view of your customer journeys encourages cost-efficient routes whilst enhancing experience.

Its good practice to understand customer journeys, from start to finish – especially those that are common. By mapping these out, it quickly becomes obvious any roadblocks users might be experiencing, as well as opportunities for automation to take place.

For instance, if you found a pattern in a journey where users were requesting a particular form or task, you might look at ways in which to automate this task through self-service opposed to introducing an agent. This would cut support costs and prove smoother for customers.

This is also a great opportunity to configure custom triggers to pages or events that warrant additional help.

Customer Journey with Roadblock

  1. Customer identifies an issue
  2. They use a search engine to find a resolution
  3. No results are found, this is a roadblock affecting CSAT poorly
  4. Customer continues research on company website
  5. They contact Customer Service
  6. Issue is resolved
An image that shows an example customer journey.

Customer Journey with Roadblock Resolved

  1. Customer identifies an issue
  2. They use a search engine to find a resolution
  3. An SEO result is found quickly and efficiently contributing to CSAT
  4. Issue is resolved
An image that shows an example customer journey.

5. Configure Escalation Points

Not every customer query can be dealt with using AI, sometimes human intelligence and empathy are required to effectively serve a customer.

Of course, companies know this to be true, but what is fundamental here is the way in which customers are escalated from self-service to agent-assisted channels. It can be the difference between a repeat purchase and a poor CSAT score or review.

This transition must be seamless, without obstacles or the customer having to repeat themselves. Ensure you select a customer self-service tool that offers smooth escalation to live chat and other agent-assisted channels. These escalation points can be configured based on keyword triggers, such as “cancellation” or naturally when AI cannot find a resolution.

6. Choose A Low-Code Deployment Option

Customer self-service software deployment shouldn’t be time-consuming or complicated, nor should it require a multitude of employees from different departments.

By selecting self-service software that utilises low-code, implementation is effortless and tools can be up and running quickly and efficiently. Unlike traditional deployment methods, low-code involves the simple installation of one line of code, removing the need for hours of developer work or toolkit configuration.

During the software selection process, make this key criterion, it will ultimately help you hit your goals and improve customer service far quicker than alternative, dated methods.

7. Know the Power of Seamless Integration

Companies understand the importance of having not only a strong collection of key business and customer service tools, but a collection that cohesively communicates and works together to serve a shared purpose.

If your knowledge base, customer self-service tools, CRM, email platform and other key apps cannot share data amongst each other, then efficiency, CSAT and costs will suffer dramatically.

Select self-service software that effortlessly integrates with your internal, customer-facing and 3rd party applications for optimal efficiency.

A diagram that demonstrates the integration between a knowledge base, agent knowledge, self-service and CRM software.

8. Measurement Is Key for Constant Improvement

The measurement of self-service analytics is integral to the continual optimisation of customer service.

The frequent measurement of self-service metrics helps to identify areas of success, behavioural patterns, customer preferences and any errors. It ultimately determines the effectiveness of your tool, revealing gaps that can be improved and trends that can influence key decision making in other areas.

You can’t manage what you can’t measure, so ensure that the customer self-service software you choose offers a comprehensive analytics suite.

An image that shows self-service software analytics dashboard.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to know more about self-service you can read our guide here or for advice on software and implementation, please

Image of macbook showing a Web Self Service solution

3 Types of Online Self-Service That Boost CSAT

This article explores the benefits and use cases for the 3 types of online self-service.

What Is Online Self-Service?

Online self-service software provides customers with a platform to which they can serve themselves; finding answers to questions, sourcing important information and resolving issues.

Within a company’s wider customer service ecosystem, self-service plays a crucial role whilst complimenting other applications. Not only does its capabilities facilitate the handling of mass routine queries at scale, but it also intuitively escalates contact to agent-assisted channels where necessary to ensure that customer needs are always effectively dealt with.

Built using AI, online self-service automatically retrieves results from your centralised knowledge base depending on what a customer has entered. This means that a vast range of routine questions can be dealt with simultaneously without the need for an agent.

For contact centres, this means significant savings on operational and staffing overheads that are associated with processing and handling large volumes of routine queries. Online self-service also creates a greater bandwidth for contact centre agents by handling routine questions, with more time to deal with more complicated customer queries, CSAT and NPS scores thrive.

For your customers, whose expectations of service and digital experience are higher than ever, self-service tools enable convenience and the independence they require to access what they need. Today, customer prefer to do it themselves, it proves far more efficient sourcing their own information rather than waiting in an unnecessarily long queue for an agent to send a simple routine answer to them.

Further, through the utilisation of Natural Language Processing (NLP), online self-service enhances overall CX. Capable of dissecting customer queries, analysing keywords, intent, grammar and popularity, NLP understands the context of each question. The value here is that regardless of how a question is typed, NLP will understand what is being asked and subsequently produce a relevant answer. This removes the frustration associated with unhelpful, dead-end responses and enhances CX.

Companies deploy online self-service to help reach the following goals:

  • Reduction in support costs
  • Decrease in routine contact levels
  • CSAT/ NPS score improvements
  • Enhanced CX
  • Increase in contact centre productivity

3 Types of Online Self Service

Online self-service is essential when it comes to effectively delivering CX. There are a number of aspects that will determine what type or types of self-service is right for your company, for example, the ways in which your customers interact with your brand or the nature of your company.

The 3 most common types of online self-service include:

The FAQ-style Portal

The Floating Widget

The Chatbot

The FAQ-Style Portal

Perhaps the most recognisable form of online self-service is the FAQ-style portal. It lives on your website as its own page and is easy to navigate to. Think of this online self-service tool as a knowledge hub that customers actively seek out when they want to find answers.

Unlike static FAQ page solutions, this type of online self-service harnesses powerful AI and integrates with an intelligent knowledge base to produce the most relevant, accurate and up-to-date answers. When your knowledge base is your sole source of knowledge, you can be assured that any information served to customers, regardless of the channel, is consistent.

In the self-service tool’s ‘backend’, the knowledge base editor, knowledge articles are easily added and updated to reflect in real-time. Articles are also added into categories to help customers navigate and find answers quickly.

It works like this:

  1. Customer either select a relevant category to browse FAQs,
  2. Or, the customer types their query into the search bar
  3. Natural Language Processing unravels the query, analysing each keyword, query intent, grammar and popularity
  4. With query context understood, NLP recognises the multiple ways in which the query might be phrased and identifies the most relevant articles based on this
  5. The online self-service tool displays these articles
  6. The customer chooses the article that fits their query
  7. The customer is satisfied with the article and leaves positive feedback

Key Benefits

  • Easy to find and navigate
  • Aimed at those who want to self-serve
  • NLP utilisation for accurate answers and CSAT
  • Knowledge base integration ensures consistency
  • Contact reduction for the contact centre

The Widget

The widget is another popular form of online self-service that is structurally the same as the FAQ-style portal, in that it is powered by AI, connects to an intelligent knowledge base and harnesses NLP. However, in terms of appearance and function, it’s different in many ways.

Firstly, the widget’s look is completely different from the FAQ-style portal’s. It is considerably smaller, more compact and only takes up a section of the page. It is essentially a condensed version of the FAQ-style portal, whilst retaining all of the same information.

This is because of its function.

Unlike the FAQ-style portal that offers self-service in one dedicated destination, the widget can be present across a number of pages, available to help customers self-serve regardless of the stage they’re at or what page they’re on. The key difference in functionality between the FAQ-style portal and the widget is this: one is for your customers to actively find and the other is designed to intercept those who might need help – often users don’t recognise they need help until the widget offers it.

This form of online self-service can be configured to trigger when certain conditions are met by users. For instance, a custom trigger may be set up for when a visitor lands on a certain page that has historically led to users asking for help. By bringing help to the visitor, their journey becomes much smoother and more enjoyable, in some cases it helps them act more efficiently.

Not only is the widget persistent, staying with the customer through multiple pages, but by doing so it can help to encourage lead and revenue generation. For instance, a custom trigger set up on your cart page displays the widget after a certain amount of time has passed, the widget prompts the user, asking “Need any help?”. The user does need help, they need a question answering before committing to the sale, so instead of leaving the page to find answers and consequently reducing chances of conversion, online self-service comes to the user.

Key Benefits

  • Is designed to proactively offer help
  • Can be configured to trigger when certain conditions are met
  • NLP utilisation for accurate answers and CSAT
  • Knowledge base integration ensures consistency
  • Contact reduction for the contact centre

The Chatbot

Although inherently different to the FAQ-style portal and widget, the chatbot is still a form of online self-service. The chatbot takes on the role of the digital concierge, it intercepts the customer early on in their journey to essentially guide them, ensuring they reach their destination and answering any routine questions.

The fundamental difference between the chatbot and other types of online self-service is the conversational manner in which they communicate. The primary search layer that is used to retrieve answers is that same as it’s self-service counterparts, utilising NLP to unpick and analyse queries. But the chatbot also harnesses an additional search layer. Synthetix’s, “Jabberwocky” for example, is the additional search layer that is designed to understand the conversational quirks and colloquialisms used by customers when engaging with the chatbot. If the knowledge base cannot understand these, the search layer kicks in to ensure a conversational response is always delivered through your brand’s tone of voice.

The chatbot facilitates self-service and delivers an experience similar to that of an agent-assisted channel like live chat , all whilst negating the need to involve agents for a large volume of customers interactions.

Key Benefits

  • Delivers CX through conversational self-service
  • Acts as a concierge, intercepting and guiding customers
  • NLP utilisation for accurate answers and CSAT
  • Additional search layers deal with quirks and colloquialisms
  • Knowledge base integration ensures consistency
  • Contact reduction for the contact centre

Which Is Best for Your Customers?

Every company is different, with a number of factors that will influence your self-service decisions, therefore there is certainly no cookie-cutter solution.

For your customers, perhaps just one type of online self-service will suffice, or perhaps a blend is more suitable in order to complement other tools and subsequently the whole customer journey.

Check the benefits listed for each type of self-service against your customer profiles and customer journey maps. You will then have a clearer idea of requirements and solutions.


If you enjoyed this article and would like to know more about self-service you can read our guide, here or for advice on software and implementation, please

An image of a customer using a self service tool

What Is Self-Service Software?

Self-service technologies include a number of forms, such as:

  • A help section on your website
  • An interactive knowledge base
  • A chatbot

Optimised for convenience and usability, these tools allow customers to find the answers to their own questions, quickly and with ease.

Unlike other contact channels that involve customers liaising with support agents, such as live chat , email or phone, self-service software provides the support that customers, who want to be proactive require to resolve their own queries.

Customers engage with self-service software when they would like to find out more information, answer a query of troubleshoot an issue. This will generally relate to a product, service or the company itself. The software is built upon AI using Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML) principles to understand naturally phrased questions and have the ability to match relevant questions with answers.

An intelligent Knowledge base

Self-service software connects to a customer-friendly version of a wider knowledge base to deliver customers accurate and consistent information on every occasion. A knowledge base contains thousands of articles that include everything from company return policies to opening hours, troubleshooting videos to terms and conditions – sophisticated technology serves customer relevant results based on what is typed into the self-service search bar.

Not only is web self-service a key tool for facilitating good customer service, but it is an imperative part of the wider customer journey. If a customer has a question or issue that needs solving, it is likely that they will self-serve before ascending to other forms of contact. In fact a study by Microsoft revealed that 66% of customer will engage with self-service first rather than immediately talking with an agent.

Why Is Self-Service Software So Important Today?

The customer self-service software market is estimated to grow from USD 4.33 Billion in 2016 to USD 9.38 Billion by 2021, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 16.7% during the forecast period.

Self-Service Is the Key to Efficient Customer Service Operations

Growing contact volumes are a huge challenge for customer service and contact centre teams. Increasing support queries are putting a huge strain on support teams and agents unnecessarily, flooded with routine questions, they cannot focus their full attention on complex customer queries. This in turn can affect resolution times and quality, causing them to drop and customer satisfaction to suffer.

The reason that self-service software is currently so valuable to customer service teams is that is mitigates contact significantly. It can automate the entire question and answer process for a huge segment of customers, allowing agents to sufficiently deal with those in need.

Changing Customer Needs and Expectations

Customers’ needs and the way in which they engage with customer service is frequently changing, it’s one of the reasons why so many companies incorporate self-service options into their customer service offering; to build adaptation into their customer service front-lines.

It is becoming increasingly common for customers to consult a search engine or website for answers before reaching out to a support agent. In fact, a study by Synthetix revealed that 90% of consumers will always check a website before e-mailing or calling a company to find information.

Customers want the freedom to serve themselves and find out information on their own terms. There is a reason that self-service has been normalised for simple day-to-day operations such as paying for shopping, checking in for a flight and even self-ordering in restaurants. It has become many customers’ preference, and the same applies to online customer service. So much so that more than 90% of consumers expect organisations to have an online customer self-service offering. To ensure customers remain satisfied, companies must react to their needs and offer web self-service options.

We live in an increasingly fast paced world. As humans we are doing more at a quicker rate – customers are interacting with brands more, purchasing more, returning items more and subsequently, expecting more. A pwc study revealed that speed and convenience mattered most to customers, each hitting over 70% in importance when it came to experience. Fast solutions have become an everyday expectation for customers, which is why self-service software, that is easy to use, provides answers instantaneously and is available 24/7 is in such high demand.

Millennials and Gen Z prefer Self-service

Millennials (born between 1980 – 1995) and Gen Z (born between 1996 – 2012) now make up over 60% of the worldwide population. Having grown up in the digital age with smartphones, e-commerce and broadband, the internet is a comfortable place for them – and this applies to their customer service habits. Millennials and Gen Z would prefer to help themselves than engage with a support agent. A recent study revealed that 75% of millennials would rather use self-service and avoid picking up the phone.

Millennials and Gen Z, who constitute a significant portion of your customer base are self-reliant, expect things ‘on-demand’ and like to answer their own questions – it even makes them “feel good” when they can solve a problem solo. This generation has particularly high expectations when it comes to customer service – they want convenience, flexibility and instant answers – but most importantly, they are the future and companies should be catering to their preferences.

Shift in Digitisation

By 2023, more than 60% of all customer service engagements will be delivered via digital and web self-serve channels, up from 23% in 2019.

There has been a steady shift in digital transformation over the last decade, making online versions of shopping, banking and even counselling available and convenient for anyone to use. But are we moving towards a time where everything will be digitised?

External challenges like the shift in digitisation along with additional pressures such as those related to the COVID-19 crisis are causing customers to visit brick and mortar establishment less and less. The impact of which means consumers turn to digital substitutes for their needs, including costumer service. Consumers no longer visit physical businesses to solve problems, seek help or complain, just like their business transactions, they do it online. This is why self-service is effective, it simplifies things for the customer, but also alleviates the pressure put on support teams who are feeling the burden of a recent upward trend in online support requests.

What Are the Benefits of Using Self-Service Software?

Improved CSAT

A study by Microsoft revealed that 95% of respondents cited customer service as important in their choice of loyalty to brand, with 61% having switched brands due to poor customer service.

All too often customers are unnecessarily kept waiting in line for long periods of time to speak to support agents, subsequently causing frustration. This can easily be avoided using a self-service offering. Not every customer who is on hold needs to be there – which is why it’s vital that a ‘do it yourself’ option is available and accessible to avoid not only disgruntled customers, but strain on customer service.

Serving customers quick, accurate answers using a easy to navigate solution, can help build a lasting relationship between you and your customers and as a result, positively impacts your CSAT scores.

An image demonstrating CSAT

Reduced Operational Costs

Supermarkets that utilise self-service checkouts save operational costs by requiring fewer employees to oversee and assist customers – and the same applies to online customer service.

Self-service software helps to automate routine queries and by doing so the volume of support tickets, phone calls, emails and live chats are considerably reduced. This means employees spend less time dealing with routine questions and therefore the backlog is reduced, cutting operational and staffing costs significantly.

It can also impact operational efficiency positively, for example by reducing Average Handling Times (AHT). Because self-service is designed to deal with routine queries, time that agents would have otherwise spent answering high volumes of FAQs is significantly reduced. Self-service ultimately allows customer service to offload an entire category of enquiries, giving them greater capacity to dedicate more time to solving complex customer issues.

Consistent Answers

The beauty of self-service software is that it connects to the same library of knowledge that the entire customer service team consults when dealing with customers. The results that are served to the customer are pulled from your company knowledge base using sophisticated algorithms and AI.

This ensures that all answers that are delivered to your customers are consistent with the company and accurate. Companies that do not utilise the same source of knowledge across teams and contact channels risk providing inconsistent or inaccurate answers that could significantly harm their company and reputation.

Human-like Understanding

Self-service software utilises AI-powered Machine Learning (ML) so that it can learn from every customer interaction. This helps identify any errors, learn terminology and grammar and also serve the most popular answers in order to optimise customer experience.

Natural Language Processing (NLP) is also used to help self-service software understand exactly what the customer is asking, using algorithms, it takes into consideration the keywords, intent, grammar and popularity of the question. This way the software can correctly respond to customers’ naturally phrased question, similar to how a human would.

Enhanced Customer Experience

Online customer experience has never been more important, with expectations higher than ever, customers want a smooth journey to their resolution, without roadblocks that create frustration.

With two thirds of customers preferring to first try solving their issue on their own, it is important that companies provide self-service software that supports this. It is equally important that self-service software offers escalation points, such as live chat to put customers in touch with an agent who can help with complex issues that cannot be solved using self-service – all of this contributes to an positive customer experience and therefore satisfied customers.

Empowered Employees

Self-service software proves not only advantageous for customers, but for employees too.

Because self-service software effectively automates questions and answers, employees who would otherwise be dealing with repetitive, mundane routine queries can now focus on helping customers with complicated issues. This not only relieves pressure on employees who were before flooded with routine qyestions, but it contributes to their sense of purpose, empowering them, which in turn can improve staff attrition rates.

Implementing Effective Self-service Software

When implemented correctly, self-service software benefits your company, employees and customers greatly. But there are challenges surrounding this tool, including:

Visibility – can your customers find it?

Functionality – does it work as intended?

Content – is there adequate knowledge available? A recent study revealed that 43% of respondents believed there was not enough information available through self-service

Ascension – if a customer’s query cannot be solved, is there an alternative channel offered?

Good self-service software can deflect customer contact by up to 50% (Synthetix research), improve customer satisfaction, enhance customer experience and make businesses more efficient overall. Here’s what to look out for effective implementation:

Low/No-Code Implementation

When looking at self-service software, it is important to choose your vendor carefully. Integration of these tools into your website can either be simple, installing 1 line of code, or a costly process involving many development hours. Make sure that you work with a vendor with a no-code philosophy, where all of the development work for the look, feel, design and operation of the tool is handled on the vendor’s end, requiring zero ongoing development work.

Streamlined Integrations With 3rd Party Systems

Choosing self-service software that can easily integrate with existing workflows and processes is crucial – the more platforms that can communicate with one another the greater access you have to better decision making and efficiency.

Effective self-service software is built on open RESTful APIs to ensure seamless integration with other existing tools such as a company knowledge base , other customer-facing applications such as live chat or 3rd parties including CRM and email integrations.

Allowing such connectivity can save time and resources and give your company a ‘360 degree’ view of your customer base, encouraging better service.

Escalation

Good self-service software should not only facilitate customer service, but the overall customer journey, start to finish.

It is important for self-service tools to include pre-configured escalation points to promote a smooth and successful experience. Escalation points offer a means to transfer the customer to an agent who can offer additional support and by doing so increase positive CSAT scores. If the self-service tool cannot find an adequate match for the question that is being asked, an escalation option can be included, transferring the customer on to an agent assisted channel such as live chat.

Using trigger management, Knowledge Managers can also configure escalation points based on the keywords that customers use. Keywords such as “cancel” or “renew” involve revenue and warrant agent attention opposed to a self-service response and can therefore be set up to introduce an escalation point. This gives customer service teams greater control over customer churn and upselling opportunities, contributing to revenue over time.

Reporting and Analytics

It is fundamental that self-service software includes comprehensive reporting and analytical tools. Companies can frequently improve the content and the way in which self-service software engages with customers thanks to its reporting features.

Not only can you identify your most popular questions, any errors or gaps from the analytical reports, but customer feedback can explicitly tell you how to improve. The “Did you find this article useful?” prompt can tell you a lot about your content and how effective it is – or isn’t in some cases.

Because customer needs and behaviour are constantly changing, self-service reporting is key in ensuring you are keeping up with any major trends.

If companies want to retain customers by offering them great a customer service experience, whilst benefitting from a multitude of operational wins, they should have a range of customer service offerings in place, including self-service technologies.


 If you enjoyed this article and would like to know more about self-service software or require help implementing self-service software, please