The Next Big Thing in Customer Experience: Self-Service Portals

February 24, 2016 Nicole Klemp

self-service portals

When most people think about calling customer service, it usually comes with negative connotations. We’ve all been on the receiving end of annoying hold music or messages that repeat over and over: “Your call is important to us. A representative will be with you shortly.” Somehow it never feels that our call is important; it feels very much the opposite.

Some companies now offer live chat as an alternative to calling customer service. While an improvement in many cases, live chatting with an agent can also be daunting. It’s much harder to explain a situation via text, and getting a point across while also getting helpful feedback from a customer service agent can take quite a bit of time, especially when issues are complex.

Customers today demand instant gratification. It’s par for the course in our fast-paced, digital culture. So when customers have an issue with a product or company with which they’ve invested time and/or money, they expect that company to deliver a quick resolution. But according to Forrester Research, 57 percent of consumers report having unsatisfactory service interactions. And often customers will jump from channel to channel to try and get their issue resolved, which can be costly to companies. Forrester estimates that an average of $22 million in unnecessary service costs are lost due to channel escalation.

Empower customers to solve their own problems

Providing customers with a library of information and tools to investigate their own issues can create a more positive Customer Experience and save companies money. Most customers today would prefer not to have to reach out to customer service, and feel empowered when they can quickly and easily find the answers they need. This also frees up customer service agents to deal with more complex customer issues.

Customer self-service is more than an FAQ page on a website. Today’s technologies make it possible to create a customer community that provides anytime, anywhere access to knowledge, expertise, and tools — all designed with the Customer Experience in mind. By focusing the design and features around the Customer Experience, these portals can have a dramatic impact on how customers engage with a brand.

Customize the experience with Salesforce Communities

Customer Communities from Salesforce allow customers and service agents alike to contribute questions and answers to common (or unique) customer issues. With the ability to search keywords, customers can quickly find the best solutions to their problems without needing to escalate them to customer service. And thanks to Service Cloud integration, service agents can also quickly access these crowdsourced questions and answers and quickly provide customers with possible solutions.

Customer communities should not only be user-friendly, but should mimic the look and feel of other company channels, so the experience is seamless and familiar to customers. With Salesforce Communities, organizations can customize community portals to reflect their brand, and make the Customer Experience one that is flexible and mobile accessible.

Customers today are all about empowerment. From finding healthcare to buying a car, consumers are more educated than ever, and often make up their minds about a product or service before ever speaking to a salesperson. It’s only logical that companies be more transparent, and give customers the tools and access to information to do their own research and troubleshoot their own problems. When companies and customers share information, everyone wins.

Learn more about creating personalized customer experiences from our ebook, Creating an Exceptional Customer Experience.



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