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Our top 3 focus points for a successful self-serve strategy

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22nd June 2021

Garry Larner

Many customers want to manage their finances using self-service facilities. Here are three highlights to get your self-serve strategy started.

We talk a lot about the ability for people to self-serve, but what does it actually mean? It’s as simple as it sounds. It’s the ability for a customer to be able to do something without help from a company representative. The most obvious example is going to a supermarket, scanning items, putting them straight into a bag, and leaving the store without going through the tills. Apple has offered this functionality for many years (since 2011), and Marks & Spencer recently introduced Scan & Shop, which gives you a retail rush similar to using Amazon Go.

Contrary to what some might believe, we’re not always looking for human interaction. In fact, numerous studies reveal the opposite. Nuance Enterprise, for instance, discovered that 67% of customers actually prefer to use self-service options. And call centres are often the last resort for people who actively sought answers on their own, but came up short. We like to figure things out on our own, and offering the ability to do so will put your own business in the driving seat for attracting customers.

Three focus points for self-serve success

We obviously work with financial institutions, or organisations that want to make managing financial scenarios much easier. We can share many examples of how self-serve functionality makes light work of mundane or complicated tasks. The focus of this short article is to point to three main highlights of how a successful self-service strategy should be approached.

Tailor the experience

We’re not all the same. Organisations have unique characteristics such as the people who use their services. Perhaps Apple customers are more tech-savvy than NatWest customers. Different products require different self-service needs, so the functionality on offer should reflect this. Copying another company’s self-service portal may help you launch something quickly, but if it’s not tailored to the specific needs of your customers, you will be found out.

Know your audience

The best self-serve solutions offer just what’s right, nothing more and nothing less. Building a one-size-fits-all self-serve portal will thrill your marketing department, but having high-tech bells and whistles when you don’t actually need them is fruitless. People will come to the portal looking to do something very specific, such as manage their debt, or lease a new car. In which case, be guided by customer research into what people want to do.

An organisational knowledge base should be packed to the brim with insight, where calls are logged and valuable data is gathered. Where are the customer sticking points? What are the common issues? What do people search for? When you know these things, you know more about the customer. In turn, the bespoke self-serve portal will work better.

Keep it simple

Create great functionality for people who are accustomed to technology, but don’t forget those who aren’t. Many people are not be as tech-savvy as the rest of us. We are often guilty of underestimating the older generation for being a bit behind when it comes to understanding technology. In our experience, they know more than you think! The best way to think about technology is that anyone, regardless of age, may not be as adept at handling apps, websites, and various UIs. Yes, even teenagers. So keep things simple. Hide the complexity behind the self-service portal as much as possible.

This is also an opportunity to offer training so that customers know more about how they can help themselves. It’s like having help for help! Use any excuse to nurture relationships with people, even if it means not talking to them as often.

Delving deeper into each focus point means talking about the benefits of automation, understanding personas, user journeys, navigation design best practice, and so much more. Yet, if you’re entering into the world of self-service capabilities, think broadly and digest the three main points in this article before you embark on contacting someone like us to help you dig deeper.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

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