Keeping the Self-Service Portal Relevant

The self-service portal is a tool that you’ll want your customers to use. But what is it and why is it so important to make sure that it stays updated and kept relevant? And how can you do it economically and effectively?

Obviously, one of the fastest ways to get to resolution is by removing certain layers that stand in the way. For instance, when a customer gets the agent on the phone. There are always several preliminary questions that need to be answered before a resolution is reached. The customer will have to give their information, their name, their account number, and anything else that’s needed to access their account. This is common practice in order to document the support interaction and there is really no way around it.

Unless the customer opts to use a self-service portal or knowledge base.

A self-service portal is a tool on your website where the customer can browse through articles or search using keywords to find ways to solve their simple problems or issues. They can quickly access the FAQ, get their answer and then go on about their day.

These self-service knowledge bases benefit not just the customer but also the support team. They can filter out a lot of the easier questions and inquiries that can take up valuable support resources in real estate in the queue. Also, a self-service channel like a knowledge base can help your team’s efficiency, serving as a resource for their own reference. It will serve to lessen the tickets coming into the queue as allowing support agents to focus on customer’s more complex questions.

In short, you’ll want your customers to use the self-service portal as much as possible. As well as the agents. There’s no better place to store all of the documentation and resolutions than in one place accessible across the board.

But how can you ensure the self-service portal stays updated?

Who Is In Charge Of The Self-Service Portal?

The support director should delegate the care and upkeep of the self-service portal to one or two individuals. Ideally, high performing agents or those with the most knowledge. This is the perfect side task for Subject Matter Experts and Quality Analysts. It wouldn’t be a full time position. However, a collective effort from the entire team to alert the leader in charge of the portal about new content that can be added is expected.

The individual or individuals in charge of the self-service portal should continually check with the agents for any new material that can be added. Also, they should be tasked with ensuring the articles are easily readable, easily accessible, and aren’t full of industry jargon. The instructions on the resolutions should be clear and in plain language that the customer can understand. Keep in mind that the goal of the self-service portal is for fast and reliable information.

Agents Document Solutions

A process should be implemented and streamlined where agents, when encountering a new FAQ or issue, document and submit articles. Now it should be stressed again to the agents when writing these articles, they need to be as simplified as possible. If an agent sees an influx of specific questions or issues coming through the queue but doesn’t see any resolution in the self service portal or knowledge base then it needs to be evaluated. A simple write up explaining the situation and how it was resolved, in example, what steps were taken should be sufficient.

Another scenario for the agents to document are simple one off solutions. These are the very rare issues that arise. However, it would involve an agent having to perform time consuming research. By documenting and publishing the solution, if that rare issue should arise again, say even a year down the road, what took an hour of research at first, can now just take mere seconds.

Remove Irrelevant Solutions

Keep the self-service portal relevant. This can’t be stressed enough. Many times products are updated or even upgraded overtime. As new versions are released the old resolutions may no longer be relevant. For instance, in situations where perhaps the user interface has been changed or modified. It could be equivalent to trying to fix a 2022 Lamborghini with a 1929 Studebaker Presidential manual.

Remember, the entire goal of the self-service portal is to enhance the customer experience. It’s so much easier for the customer to be able to log in, type in a few keywords, and find the solution that they’re looking for quickly. If the articles in the self-service portal aren’t relevant to the current version of the product then its entire existence is pointless. Customers will get frustrated and they’ll end up in the queue feeling as though their time has already been wasted.

So it’s important that anytime the product is updated, our new version is released. And even if there are no replacement articles, remove the irrelevant information immediately.

Also, any contact information or process for getting to a live agent should be visible and current. Yes, the self-service portal is there to take the pressure off the queue, however, there should always be an option to be able to contact the support team from the portal itself.

Track Most Frequently Searched Self-Service Searches

In the pursuit to always cultivate a culture of improvement, data is essential. Creating a dashboard that can tell the support leaders which keywords or articles are most frequently searched can help them understand which areas need improvement in the product. Also, tracking keyword searches can all help determine which articles may be missing. Support agents can also be informed of which issues seem to be popping up the most. This way for those customers that choose not to use the self-service portal and go through the support queue, the support agents will be prepared with the correct solution.

Also, have the customers and agents log into the self-service portal when asking their questions. This can be beneficial in many areas. Primarily, the experience can then be personalized. When they log in, the system can identify them by name. Also, by having the information linked to the CRM, a follow up can be made to ask the customer if the issue has been resolved. And then send a feedback survey.

Keep Costs Down And Improve The Customer Experience

If you’re building your self-service portal from scratch, you’ll definitely see the difference once it’s up and running. It may take some time for customers to get used to using it. So don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t set the world on fire right away. However, once they do you’ll see that the pressure is taken off of the support floor. Which means agents will be able to focus on the more complex and difficult conversations. Thus improving the overall customer experience. Both for those who use the portal and those who have deeper issues to resolve.

Then if you haven’t already, you’ll be able to add layers of floor walkers and QA’s to assist the frontline agents. Easiest and most effective way to do this is to promote in-house agents to higher level positions and then partner with a BPO like Telework PH. Building an offshore team of high performing agents who have a passion for the customer experience will not just keep overhead low, but it will impact the experience for your customers in a positive way. Also, these agents can help document and write articles for the self-service portal. Keeping it forever fresh and updated.

This strategy is especially effective for companies who may have been affected by the post pandemic Great Resignation or Big Quit. Unfortunately, as executives are finding it harder now to meet the demand of rising labor costs, a lot of profitability has been compromised. Coupled with the current rise in energy costs, building an offshore outsourced team can definitely be the solution they’ve been searching for.

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