Privacy Statement | Terms of Use  | © 2019, Trimble Inc. 
  • Richard Marshall

Why should you care about self-service support?

In North America and much of Europe, some of today’s customers aren’t like those of the past. They can be savvy, self-reliant, demand convenience, and are comfortable searching answers to their questions. A generation raised with the likes of Amazon, Airbnb, and Uber demand something different. Customers prefer to shop, book travel tickets, and order a cab without picking up the phone. We understand that your region may not be the same, but as technology advances you may start to see the same cultural shifts. People may slowly start to prefer the notion of “self-service” as they change how they do things in both their professional and personal lives.

A Harvard Business Review article last year stated that “across all industries […] 81 percent of all customers attempt to take care of matters themselves before reaching out to a live representative.” This aligns with Gartner’s customer self-service strategy report (available to Gartner clients), stating that [soon] two-thirds of all customer service interactions will no longer need human intervention. Of course these stats are US focussed and it does not apply to your own region, but we suggest researching similar figures for your territory.

Regardless of the above, wouldn’t it be great if your team spent less time supporting customers directly? But better than that, what if your customers could get the support they needed instantly, without you in the loop? That’s the aim of self-service support.

Let’s take a look at what this post is all about...

  • What is self-service support anyway?

  • Why could it be important for your company?

  • Do you need it?

  • How can I implement self-service support?

  • The future...

  • What tools are already out there?

  • What is self-service support?

What is self-service support anyway?

Self-service support is a blend of ‘customer-initiated interaction technologies’ that enable customers to solve problems themselves without reaching out to a customer care department. Channels include electronic records management systems, chat, and knowledge bases.

Why could it be important for your company? Well, do you want your customers to come back? When SketchUp is SaaS, your role as a partner becomes even more important. You are responsible for customer retention, if you don’t get renewals, the future of SketchUp is at risk...

One study reports that companies who offered self-service support experienced an 85 percent year-on-year increase in customer retention rates, compared to those without self-service.

Some of the key benefits of self-service support include...

Cost efficiency: Self-service support doesn’t cost a whole lot of money. In the US, the average cost of live service (phone, e-mail, or web chat) is over $7 per contact for a B2C company, and over $13 per contact for a B2B company compared to just a few cents for those contacts supporting themselves.

Timeliness: Self-service platforms are available around the clock, assuring businesses that their customers don’t feel stuck with the hours you work. A quick response time is key to a good customer experience. People want solutions ‘now’ so make your things available 24/7.

Availability: Self-service resources can free up your staff so that they can take up complex jobs and actually generate more leads.

Empower customers: Self-service channels like knowledge bases, FAQs, how-to videos, virtual agents, and troubleshooting guides help customers find accurate, relevant, and complete answers to their questions instantly, without the need to speak to speak to anyone.

Do I need self-service support? Let’s answer the below questions... Is your customer base outgrowing the capacity that your customer service reps can handle?

  • Do you have a backlog of unresolved issues?

  • Do you answer repetitive questions every week?

  • Do you want a more cost-effective way of serving customers?

If the answer to some of the above is ‘yes’... let’s explore some self-service support tools.

How can I implement self-service support?

Employ a range of channels


A centralized repository of common customer queries related to your products and services. Responses to these questions are made available in a user-friendly format.

Online knowledge base

A centralized online database of questions, how-to’s, tutorials, and other useful information.


Allows customers to choose, compare, and buy products without any human interaction

Interactive voice recognition (IVR)

IVR allows customers to interact with an automated voice system that directs them where they need to go based on a series of options


Chatbots are computer programs designed to respond to specific questions or commands. They are either built with pre-defined questions and pre-determined responses, or are artificial intelligence bots that can answer questions through their learning from previous pseudo-conversations. Platforms like WhatsApp, Viber, and Facebook Messenger are all game for offering self-service support in the form of chatbots.

Tips for an effective program A self-service support strategy will not be beneficial for businesses or their customers unless designed correctly. Businesses must understand their customers’ needs first before going ahead with plans of offering self-service support. Here are some key best practices to keep in mind:

Intuitive design and easy navigation

In order for self-service to benefit customers, self-service tools should be intuitive, with simple design and easy navigation.

Personalize the experience

A survey by Amdocs revealed that 91 percent of consumers were willing to use an online knowledge base if available and customized to their needs. As a best practice, learn from what your customers have to say, and use it as the basis to update your knowledge base and FAQ section.

Keep content fresh

A recent Software Advice survey revealed that 31 percent of consumers get frustrated if they have to search for something for as little as five minutes. For an additional 11 percent, it was ‘very frustrating’, and for another 10 percent, it was extremely frustrating.’ If you are looking for an effective customer support experience, adjust your knowledge base, monitor keywords, and update your online content regularly.

What to expect in the future... It’s not only organizations that want efficient and high-quality self-service support systems– it’s customers as well.

What tools are already out there? Below are some of the top customer self-service support tools for you to consider, ranging from knowledge bases, to IVR, to chatbots.

TeamSupport TeamSupport is a great customer support software that offers a fully customizable customer portal which you can embed in your website or use standalone with a custom URL. Here, your customers can check ticket status, view knowledge base articles, chat with your company reps, as well as look for other relevant information. Its built-in customer chat feature allows your customers to initiate live chat with your support team to get immediate assistance.

Salesforce Desk Salesforce Desk is another powerful all-in-one customer support tool that is worth exploring. The app allows you to set up self-service support with multilingual knowledge bases and FAQs, which your team can create and update easily without needing a web designer. By implementing, you can manage multiple brands simultaneously with separate help centers for each product line.

Your customers can also rate your content, letting you know which articles are popular and which ones need another look. Apart from that, you can also create a customer forum by adding a public Q&A to your website and creating customized contact forms.

Chatfuel Chatfuel is an artificial intelligence (AI) chat bot building platform that enables you to design chatbots, even if you don’t have any prior programming or coding knowledge. Chatfuel integrates with apps like Facebook, Twitter and Dropbox, allowing users to easily sync their bot with these popular platforms.

Plum Voice Hosted IVR

Empower your customers to get solutions to their problems over the phone with Plum Voice Hosted IVR, an inbound self-service interactive voice response (IVR) system. Not only does it reduce wait times for customers regardless of the volume of inbound calls, but it also provides fast solutions to callers with routine inquiries. When integrating Plum Voice with your CRM system and other databases, you can access information to further customize your self-service offerings.

Striking the balance between self-service & support If you aim for higher customer satisfaction scores, you should look to deliver a better customer experience. Although self-service has changed the way that customers seek support, well-trained customer service reps remain integral to any customer-centric organization. Some companies take it too far and make it almost impossible to speak to a real person. To be successful, you must strike a balance between these two support channels.