Self Help is Imperative to Customer Self-Service Success
June 17, 2019

John Prestridge
EasyVista

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Self-service success has long been an important goal for the IT customer service industry – mostly related to the need for a single, online location that enables customers to find the information they need in a reliable, efficient manner. The industry is well-aware of the huge savings from eliminating expensive and pesky tier 1 call center calls; however, the self-service strategies have not seen tremendous success in the enterprise due to a lack of attention to the required culture shift.

Users today expect a more consumer-like experience and many self-service web sites are too focused on automating the submission of tickets and presenting long, technically written knowledge articles with little to no focus on UX. Understanding the need for a more modern experience, a newer concept called "self-help" now dominates the conversation in its ability to provide a more deliberate knowledge experience approach that better engages the user and dramatically improves the odds of them finding an answer.

It's important to recognize the vast distinction between self-service and self-help, and determine where, and in what capacity, companies should leverage the respective technologies to enhance the employee and customer experience. Both are equally important, but it's up to today's IT leaders to determine how to best integrate the offerings in an always-on, digital-first landscape.

So, What is the Difference?

For many, the differences between self-service and self-help are not immediately apparent. I like to think that in order to "help" users you must deliver "service." That said, the technical definition of self-service can be described as the serving of oneself with goods or services, while self-help is the action or process of bettering oneself or overcoming one's problems without the aid of others.

The reality is, though, that these definitions need additional context to understand their impact on the customer service. IT professionals should think of these terms in the following ways:

Self-service is focused on centralizing access to information and automation to provide a service that normally requires interaction from another human. The issue with Self-service today is that in many cases it leads the user to dead ends with no resolution. Which urges the question, how many dead ends do you need to see before you don't come back?

Self-help automates how customers can solve problems and get answers without human interaction. The biggest difference is that it provides a context-aware, guided experience designed to provide resolutions or answers through intelligent interactions with the user and other systems.

Get Ahead of the Curve with the Right Tool

Self-service was built on the idea that every user who encountered it would primarily have a request or be looking for resolution to a problem. IT teams then needed to implement automated reception and fulfillment practices, which are applications aimed to decrease calls to help desks and save time and money. However, these implementations were to make the service desk's life easier, not the employees. With such a limited scope and poor experience most users don't become accustomed to using self-service and would rather just call the help desk.

This paved the way for self-help to become the torchbearer of an enhanced user experience – guiding users to key answers and solutions. While customers might still need to submit requests, self-help allows them to identify unknowns before then, leading to more accurate inquiries dictated to the service desk and cutting down on time fulfilling requests.

Do You Need a Better Approach to Knowledge?

Implementing traditional knowledge management allows companies to apply a large database of information collected and curated specific to their organization. However, the challenge lies in curating knowledge experiences that is readily available and easily digestible by customers and employees.

The purpose of self-help is not only to reformat resources in a more customer-centric way, but also to organize knowledge journeys for high-return articles and deliver the materials in a more engaging and dynamic way so that users can help themselves.  By implementing this technology, organizations can deflect up to 30% of their tier 1 calls and improve the user acceptance of self-service strategies.

Modern Features Are Essential for Success

Certain features are needed to ensure that users follow the right path when looking for answers. These range from knowledge workflow engines to natural language processing, to the ability to embed multimedia content and access everything through virtual agents. The addition of modern technical features will ensure that employees and customers can guide themselves to solutions and answers with confidence and ease.

At the end of the day, self-help is a key ingredient to powering various self-service channels with intelligent knowledge, including portals, support websites, chatbots and virtual agents. It also provides a unique way of capturing, curating, and delivering knowledge in a more interactive, engaging format. Every self-service initiative should include self-help if you goal is user adoption and satisfaction!

John Prestridge is CMO and SVP of North America at EasyVista
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