It’s undeniable that there has been a significant shift when it comes to how customers want to interact with businesses. Users are able to access a company on multiple devices at virtually any time of the day. Because of this, customers expect a digital experience that is streamlined and convenient.
Self-service capabilities give more power and convenience to customers, consequently improving digital experiences with a business. What was once a nice feature for a company to offer, is now a standard expectation.
Today, 88% of people expect organisations to have an online self-service support portal. In addition, the demand for access to online self-service options is only expected to continually increase. Within two years, Gartner estimates that 85% of all customer service interactions will begin with self-service and that self-service will make up the majority of all customer engagement.
Let’s discuss the basic components of a self-service portal, how it functions, and how it can positively impact your business when properly implemented.
The Basics of a Self-Service Portal
Put simply, a self-service portal is a customer- or employee-facing website or app that helps users resolve issues or complete a task. The portal's main job is to address the users' needs without requiring external assistance. An effective self-service portal is fast, simple, and accessible.
Two common types of portals are customer self-service portals and employee self-service portals. These portals offer very different experiences but they generally serve the same purpose of helping users address common needs with both speed and accuracy.
Elements of a customer self-service portal may include:
- Access to comprehensive FAQ articles
- Access to online discussion forums
- Option to communicate with company technicians
- Ability to change passwords
- Ability to amend account details
- Option to download new software or updates
- Option to reorder products or services
- Access to 24/7 support
Elements of an employee self-service portal may include:
- Ability to update personal data
- Access to streamlined employee onboarding
- Option to select and update benefits
- Access to time cards and attendance records
- Access to handbooks and company policy information
How a Self-Service Portal Works for Your Business and Your Customers
Customers enjoy the convenience of a self-service portal because they’re able to save time and don’t have to be solely dependent on direct interactions with customer service teams. From a business perspective, the customer support team benefits from fewer tickets to resolve and the ability to put their time and energy into more complex tasks. Because of these benefits, self-service portals have become essential for digital users. Let’s take a closer look at the advantages both customers and businesses can receive from an effective customer web portal.
Help Your Customers Help Themselves with Self-Service
Each self-service portal will look slightly different depending on the organisation’s goals and needs, but all are likely to:
- Empower customers to find their own answers. Self-service portals are a great way to address common needs of your customers. These resources can include community forums, a FAQ section, or troubleshooting guides.
- Reduce the number of customer service tickets. Each time a customer interacts 1:1 with an employee, your business spends both time and money on that interaction. Self-service portals allow the customer to immediately address their challenges, helping to reduce significant investments of time from your employees.
- Give customers visibility to account information. Customers can keep track of their historical interactions and receive automated updates on tickets they’ve logged. They can also retrieve past information about products or services they have purchased. With account visibility, they’re able to simply log in and check the status of an item at their convenience.
- Provide 24-hour customer service. Even when your business is technically offline, a self-service portal can be accessible at any moment. This allows customers to get the answers and resolutions in urgent situations at a time that’s most convenient for them.
How Self-Service Portals Impact Business Bottom Line
The key benefits of self-service portals are focused on providing better and faster support at a lower cost for the business. Here are additional ways that implementing self-service options can enhance customer experience, while also improving the bottom line:
- Reduce costs for your business. A portal can reduce support costs by requiring fewer people to solve common, everyday issues in person or on the phone. Similarly, storing product and service information online allows users to download digital documents, reducing the cost to print and mail these pieces.
- Improve customer satisfaction. Self-service is fast, efficient, and convenient, which ultimately empowers customers to interact with your businesses on their terms.
- Optimise staff utilisation. When a self-service platform is available, sales and service representatives have the availability to tend to more complicated customer service issues that can’t be addressed easily with self-service.
- Improve data and analytics insight. Aggregating and analysing search behaviour is a valuable way to improve user experience and make required adjustments to your self-service portal. Businesses are able to gather data about what users engage with, what they search for, and whether or not they ultimately find the answers they need using the portal.
Self-Service Best Practices
Even with all of these benefits at hand, a self-service portal is only advantageous if it is functioning well. You can ensure that your business portal is working for you by implementing a few self-service best practices:
- Create a user-friendly design. The best self-service portals are built with user experience mapped out well in advance to ensure ease of access to the right information. In addition to the design being well-organised, end users should be able to complete a task or solve an issue with the least amount of steps taken as possible. This ensures that the self-service portal is making efforts easier for end users.
- Offer multi-channel support options. Ideally, there is more than one way for a customer to receive the help that they need. This can include a community help forum or a FAQ section that they can refer to for common problems. All content should be easy to read, simple to understand, and, if relevant to your business, offer translation or multi-language features. Keep the content up to date and relevant as time goes on.
- Measure the performance of the self-service portal. This can be done by analysing user feedback, offering user satisfaction surveys, looking at web analytics, or performing customer interviews with focus groups. The data collected can also be used to improve and personalise the customer experience.
- Provide user roles. Enhance individual customer experiences based on the user who has logged in. User roles offer a more customised experience geared towards the specific tasks and functions that they would need to perform.
Increase Customer Satisfaction with Liferay Self-Service Portal
If your organisation has been considering putting a self-service portal to work, now is a great opportunity to explore what solutions will work best for your business. An ideal place to start is assessing whether it is the right time for your organisation to implement a new platform.
Liferay can help you launch effective self-service portals that will provide your business with more streamlined processes. Our self-service solutions reduce customer service costs and improve customer satisfaction with a seamless user experience. Once implemented, Liferay solutions can help you measure self-service adoption so your business can analyse what areas of the platform are working best and which areas need to be improved to benefit your company as well as your customers.
If you’re ready to empower your customers with more flexibility and convenience, take a look at this whitepaper to learn more about the long-term benefits of implementing self-service as well as best practices to build a successful self-service portal.