Creating Excellent Web Self-Service Experiences: Part 2

professionals working at computer station to avoid knowledge management implementation mistakes

Did you know that more than 70 percent of customers prefer to use web self-service as a starting point? Consumers have high expectations for self-service experiences, presenting an enormous opportunity for companies to differentiate themselves (and realize bottom-line savings) through outstanding self-service.

However, poorly executed self-service can cause more harm than good. From the perspective of the customer, web self-service can often…

  • Provide generic, impersonal, and unsatisfactory responses
  • Give different answers to the same question due to a static or outdated knowledgebase
  • Respond with overly simplistic and unhelpful answers

This multi-part series, “Creating Excellent Web Self-Service Experiences” provides insights into what makes a truly effective self-service solution. Part 1 of the series discusses the importance of self-service technologies that deliver relevant, reliable, and accurate answers to customer questions. This second part of the series describes the advantages of a self-service solution that is personalized, up-to-date, and able to handle complex, technical questions.

In order to be effective, any customer self-service or knowledgebase technology needs to…

1. Deliver a personalized experience for the customer

The average self-service experience provides generic answers that are not personalized to the needs of the customer, and therefore of limited usefulness. Part of the issue is that multiple related questions are answered independently of each other and independently of customer data. In addition, online self-service generally does not have the level of intelligent interaction needed to provide responses in the correct context.

The ultimate goal is to provide a personalized answer to every question. A self-service technology can achieve this in two ways: 

  • Conversational self-service agents engage in an interactive dialog with the customer, gathering information they can use to provide a personalized, accurate response.
  • Integration with other data sources, such as information about membership status, products used, or account details, allows the self-service solution to incorporate user-specific information into its answers.

Ford Motor Company’s self-service website,, provides an excellent case study. When asking about the status of their warranty, customers are prompted to enter their vehicle identification number (VIN). Through integration with their warranty data system, the self-service site is able to deliver a real-time status update to the customer. The end results are more satisfied customers and the ability to answer complex questions at a reduced cost per interaction.

2. Provide up-to-date information — always

Guaranteeing that every response in the knowledgebase is up-to-date all of the time is certainly no mean feat in a large organization! Documentation changes constantly, leading to the knowledgebase quickly becoming outdated. What good is a knowledgebase filled with useless, outdated information?

The solution is a knowledge management software that can present information to customers in its native format, not merely a copy. Not only does this ensure that customers can always find an accurate answer regardless of how often documentation may change, it decreases the need for expensive IT resources to manually update responses on the server.

3. Answer technical or complex questions with ease

With any self-service tool, the ability to answer tier 1 questions should be a given — these are basic questions that even the least sophisticated KMS could handle. But what about more complex or technical tier 2 or tier 3 questions? Is your KMS smart enough to handle these issues without escalating to a live agent?

Self-service technologies with high accuracy rates, natural language understanding, conversational abilities, and integration with customer data are able to successfully resolve tier 2 and tier 3 questions — without involving more expensive channels, such as live agents. This ability is powerful, as it has been shown to reduce inbound emails by up to 80 percent and overall interaction costs by up to 33 percent.

Intelligent KMS and self-service solutions that provide personalized and up-to-date responses to even complex customer questions allow companies to differentiate through service, increasing satisfaction while reducing costs.

Check out Part 3 of our series to learn how to ensure your self-service solution is truly reducing interaction costs, enabling consistency across channels, and providing useful customer insights.  If you haven’t yet, download our white paper, “Self-Service Effectiveness: Does Yours Measure Up?”  for additional information.

Learn more about how to decrease service costs while improving customer satisfaction with Astute Solutions’ web self-service and KMS technology.