Over the last three years, through a vigorous process of trial and error, MindTouch has developed a time-to-value focused methodology for customer self-service. The objective of this methodology is to secure high impact for your customer experience (CX) and agent experience in the shortest time possible, requiring the least amount of change management, for the highest return for your business. We would like to share this with you today.

This information is particularly relevant now as the pressures of a global pandemic cause all businesses to reassess how they provide a meaningful customer experience. It is my opinion that nearly every company could be providing a much better service than they are providing today, and that the path to doing so is much easier than you might think. To be useful I’ve divided this into three sections:

  1. The KPIs of a successful self-service project
  2. The most common mistakes that lead to failure of KM for self-service
  3. Behavioral considerations that are key to why this methodology works

So, without further ado:

1. The KPIs of a successful self-service project

Time to value is key. Every business is different and each customer base exhibits particular nuances. Customer behavior is your north star to creating exceptional CX. Getting access to customer behavioral data as soon as possible must be your be-all and end-all when designing the project launch. Ultimately if it does not impact the customer in a way that creates long-term value, the project is flawed, ineffective, and set to fail. 

Successful projects, therefore, will deliberately be designed to log customer behavior within the first five days of commencement. Measurable impact that begins to shape project direction will begin to be logged within the first two weeks. Within the first 30 days the impact of the project will be felt across the organization. The contact center will notice a change in call type. Other business domains such as e-Commerce will begin to notice referral traffic from the self-service site. 

Within the first 60-90 days, the project should have paid for itself and you should be hitting first positive returns. Phase 2 improvements should now initiate to double down on what is working, course correct where the experience is falling short.

By the 180-day mark, the self-service offering should have extended from that origin point through to CRM, eCommerce, communities, chat, and chatbot and be a core driver in business analytics and cross-departmental reporting. At this point, considerations for your product roadmap begin to emerge: you may consider the integration of this information into the product itself.

2. Common mistakes that lead to failure of KM for self-service

The most common and most detrimental mistake is launching to internal teams first. The reasons why this is an error will be covered in a future blog post. However in brief, internal teams behave fundamentally differently to how your customer behaves. They may think that they know what the customer wants or how they behave, but if they don’t have objective data to back that assertion up … don’t believe it! 

An inside-out approach

Using the needs and demands of internal teams as a template for what is good for the customer never leads to a workable or impactful CX. Additionally the ROI that can be achieved from a MASSIVE positive internal change is TINY compared to a small positive change in your customer base.

Everything instead of the most important things

Second, start small and snowball. Too many projects start with a mass migration of old information to the new system. Unless you know the value-in-use of the information you want to migrate. Unless you know it’s audience suitability and channel suitability then you may be wasting time and effort migrating documentation that will never be looked at or used. If it is not used it doesn’t generate ROI and you don’t capture analytics.

Lack of board-level buy-in

The third critical error is allowing the project to be the pet project of one champion, stakeholder or department without board-level oversight or accountability. CX leads to customer lifetime value. Customer behavior in self-service informs business strategy and product strategy. Leaving such valuable information in the hands of, or in the service of, one department is sure to favor the concerns of that department, rather than the company objectives as a whole. 

In our experience, customer self-service projects that lack executive oversight and accountability vastly underperform and make decisions that progressively erode value at the customer level.

3. Key drivers to be aware of when designing a self-service launch

First, few realize that the support contact center today only touches 5% of the customer base that may be experiencing a problem. That means that 95% of your customers are typically resolving their issues outside of the contact center. In our experience, more than 80% of companies have no business intelligence as to what these customers are doing and how they are succeeding or failing in resolving their problems. 

Where they do have a means of logging this information, very little of it is driving change or improvement at the CX level or at the contact center level. A well designed KM project aimed at customer self-service goes a long way to eliminating that blindspot for your organization and unlocking a treasure-trove of strategically relevant customer behavioral data.

Second, customers vastly prefer low-effort asynchronous service experiences and disengage from high effort, synchronous ones. What are characteristics of a low-effort asynchronous interaction? 

  • Customers can control the timing, engagement and flow of the service interactions
  • Customers do not have to type or express their problem in words
  • Customers do not have to be synchronized with an operator on the business side 

Phone, chat and (unfortunately) many chatbot experiences are high-effort, synchronous experiences (we will cover this in a separate post as to why). Well designed self-service experiences are engaging, low effort and asynchronous and therefore capture more traffic and more data and go further to increasing positive CX and ROI.

Thirdly, and you won’t believe this one, but we have the data to prove it: customers don’t like search. Experts LOVE search. Customers just don’t. Eight out of ten customers will avoid search if they can. The reason for this one, again, gets its own post. Suffice it to say that, for most, customer search typically is perceived as a phenomenally high-effort experience. 

However with the right care as to when search is introduced and how it behaves, it can round out a well designed experience. Customers want to experience the sense of progress towards resolution and at each stage they need to feel like progress is being made. This is called the “customer reset” and should be part of every self-service journey design. Our software embeds resets into the product so that this occurs organically as you build out the experience.

The formula for quick-launch self-service

In closing, by using this methodology we have achieved a 95% launch success rate and have brought transformative customer self-service experiences to fruition in record time. Customers who adhere to these very basic principles see a massive shift in customer behaviors in the first 30 days with significant ROI achievable within 90 days.

Learn how to launch self-service fast

WEBINAR: Roll out 24/7 customer self-service and immediately relieve your contact center.

While there can be other factors that lead to project failure, typically the lack of success of a KM project can be directly traced back to one of the following decisions: 

  • Choosing to launch customer self-service only after an internal launch
  • Taking a “boil the ocean” approach involving a large migration and months of change management
  • Failing to secure board-level oversight and tie their effort to specific strategic outcomes.

All of the above can be easily avoided. What’s even better, avoiding them leads to a project that is significantly easier and cost effective to deploy.