Our world has become a self-service society. Banks push us towards web portals and ATMs to conduct our business. Online shoppers place and track their own orders on sites like Amazon and eBay. Business owners can build and manage their own websites on platforms like Shopify and Wix. As more and more businesses evolve into software companies of their own, providing effective self-service mechanisms has become essential. Indeed, it's what enables every software company to scale their business. And now, finally, enterprise software is catching up to provide their customers with the same seamless self-service experiences in the office as they enjoy in their personal lives.Companies that embrace self-service as a vital part of the customer experience are positioning themselves ahead of the competition. Here are the three most important reasons why your organization needs to invest in providing excellent customer self-service experiences – and why you need to start now.

To meet customer expectations

Imagine your product is a hotel buffet, where guests have access to all of the salads, entrées, desserts, and drinks they could possibly want. Each dish is clearly labeled with a placard, plates and utensils are located exactly where they’re needed, and everything is organized in a way that makes things intuitive and easy for your customers. This is what a great self-service experience should feel like.And this is what today’s consumer expects from your product or service. When you provide them with the knowledge and tools they need to self-serve, you empower them to thrive – it's akin to saying, “Dig in!”According to a Zendesk survey, 48% of millennials are more likely to look for ways to solve problems on their own, rather than contact a support agent. This is something companies should take seriously. Over the long term, failing to provide effective self-service can lead to customer dissatisfaction and churn.On the other hand, effective self-service enables customers to realize the full value of your product, and to utilize it in a way that meets their expectations, with minimal human interaction. A successful customer experience is one that continuously helps them grow and succeed. If customers have difficulty adopting it, they will neither see value nor be satisfied – and be more likely to churn.

To drive business growth across the enterprise

Let's say we're back at the buffet. When every guest is fully equipped to identify, choose and serve themselves the food they want, how much effort does your staff need to invest in helping them? Very little. Instead, they can focus on other important tasks like refilling food trays, clearing tables and keeping track of guests.The same is true of the product experience. When customers are able to successfully self-serve, this leads to a reduction in support tickets and frees up your agents to assist with more complex issues. Better self-service also drives faster product adoption, which in turn leads to a faster time to value. Further, enabling customers to self-serve will drive higher customer satisfaction while creating more opportunities for cross-selling and upselling. Today's customers choose to self-serve before requesting live support assistance, with 98% of consumers claiming to try a self-service solution before contacting a representative (Zendesk). So not only will enabling self-service make your business more productive, efficient and profitable, but it will also help meet customers’ desire to self-serve.

To pave the way for a smooth and continuous journey

Giving users the tools to self-serve and continue on their product journey is the best way to help them for them to adopt and continually engage with your product. A successful self-service strategy will enable them to proceed through the entire customer journey independently, whether they’re onboarding, learning to use a new feature, or troubleshooting an issue. But to provide this quality of experience, you must understand how to simplify and streamline their journey so they can accomplish what they need to, quickly and efficiently. Today’s technologies can help you provide every customer with the relevant information they need to keep moving forward and become experts on your product. Such tools promote journey continuity by constantly driving customers towards their next steps – so, for example, you can eliminate the need for onboarding specialists to set up sessions with customers, lighten the load on your support team, or phase out salespeople from the renewal process.

What are your next steps?

Self-service is the future of great customer experiences. This is why leading companies are using a variety of innovative technologies to streamline the customer journey and to create more informed and empowered customers – and why your company should be doing the same.The next time you’re at a hotel buffet, think about how much you’re enjoying the ability to self-serve and ask yourself, “Are my customers getting a similar type of experience from my product? Am I meeting their expectations and helping them improve their business outcomes?”

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