Remove Friction from Online Buying with Self-Service Tools

3 minutes

While website usability is important for all businesses, it’s especially critical for SaaS companies that rely on the web for their sole source of income. Add in the fact that a growing number of SaaS customers prefer to self-serve for the entire buying experience– shopping, checkout and trouble-shooting–and the quality of your self-service tools takes on even greater importance and significance.

According to research done by Nuance, 67 percent of customers surveyed said they preferred self-service to having a phone call with a customer service representative. Likewise, according to Coleman Parkes, 40 percent of customers who contact call centers have tried searching for answers online via self-service first. And another Nuance study found that 59 percent of customers are frustrated when they have to reach out to a customer service representative.

Research by NewVoiceMedia reveals that 58% of customers will never use a company again after one frustrating online experience, this means developing a great self-service interface has the potential to powerfully boost your customer retention and your bottom line.

Self-service tools allow users to work at their own pace and feel empowered by learning about a product independently. They eliminate the need to contact a call center that might require them to be on hold for a while, interrupting the buying process and therefore slowing their momentum toward becoming a customer.

As mentioned above, the key to maximizing the customers’ self-service experience is having quality self-service tools that encourage and facilitate their use. Well-designed self-service tools reduce friction in the online buying process, which can create more customer satisfaction and loyalty, lower customer service costs, and decrease transaction time–all of which is good for both customer acquisition and retention.

Every business’s self-service framework will be different, but here are some general guidelines for creating streamlined, intuitive self-service tools that will ensure a smooth customer experience.

  • Develop an intuitive interface that addresses common issues. No one wants to spend time figuring out how to use your self-service tools, or even where to access them. At every stage of the buying process, make sure it is clear how to get to your FAQ, live chat, or whatever other self-service tools you’re using. In areas that frequently elicit support inquiries, consider adding special content like a quick sidebar explainer video or rollover help link text blurbs to head those concerns off at the pass.
  • Use FAQs to quickly resolve most issues. Your support staff can probably list off five to ten very common questions and concerns that they can essentially answer in their sleep. Developing a strong and easy-to-find FAQ page can help resolve common issues fast, leaving your live staff free to handle more complex inquiries.
  • Always leave the option open for human assistance. The customer should never feel like they’re hitting a dead end, so make sure each successive level of self-service links directly to the next, with options to return to any level. No one wants to attempt a query, then reach the end of the road and get redirected to an initial search page empty-handed. Avoid this by offering customer service phone numbers and live-chat functions for “next tier” service. The more integrated and smooth the transition, the more likely your customer is to use your next-tier services.
  • Know your demographics. Use customer data to determine who is using self-service tools, what they’re using them for, how they use them, and how tech-savvy your customers are. Design your website’s tools to align with users’ desires, needs, and tendencies.
  • Experiment with expanded self-help tools. Although simple search capability and FAQs are powerful, they might not be enough. Find out what sort of expanded tools would appeal to your demographic? Interactive videos? Social media forums?
  • Make the most of feedback. Leverage customer feedback to improve your existing self-service channels. Source ideas from customers to creatively expand where things are already going well. Generate testimonials from positive reviews.

People like — even prefer — self-service tools to phone-based customer service. Stellar self-service content has the power to streamline the buying process and improve customer experience for SaaS purchases.

To learn more about how self-service tools are removing friction from the buying process watch our webinar: B2B Commerce and Subscriptions – The New Frontier of Software Sales

Avangate powers modern Digital Commerce, solving the complexity of online commercesubscription billing, and global payments for SoftwareSaaS and Online Services companies. Backed by a proven cloud platform, unmatched expertise and a depth of digital commerce services, Avangate helps digital business leaders drive the fastest path to revenue, maximize the value of every customer, and expand global reach. Contact us for more information about how our digital commerce services can help you grow your business.


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