Your Self-Service 101: Three Things That Are Needed for Great Self-Service

Self-service is starting to gain further predominance in the service industry. From fast food chains implementing kiosks that allow customers to put in their orders, to stores making apps that allow customers to make quick purchases from the comfort of their homes, companies are starting to shift their business approach from the old assisted service model to the new self-service model.

There are good reasons for companies jumping on board the self-service model. First off, it’s cheaper to have your customers help themselves as opposed to having an assisted service worker help them. According to Alex Hisaka of, the cost per contact for a technical support call center can be more than 12 dollars. That's a lot of money. The more problems that your customers have, the more money it will cost you to help them. Self-service also improves your employee productivity. The company TicketLeap used to spend 80% of their time helping customers one by one, with agents constantly handling repetitive cases. After implementing a self-service support system, agents spend only 20% of the time on the phone, allowing them to put all of their energy into handling complex cases.

Before you make the switch to self-service, you need to know what makes a good self-service experience. Here are three questions you should ask yourself while you make the switch to self-service.

1: How efficient is it?

Customers are impatient. In a consumer study by Craig Borowski, a marketing researcher, 75% of customers tend to look online for answers when they have questions for the company. 50% of customers spend roughly around five to fifteen minutes looking for their answers online. These statistics mean that customers typically want to get their information as fast as possible. Self-service allows customers to find their information as quickly as possible, as opposed to assisted service, which has customers waiting for assisted service workers to help them for more minutes than they need to.

Sixty-six percent of flyers on Continental airlines use kiosks to check themselves in. According to Scott O’Leary, the average time for a check in is 66 seconds, and for those without bags, it’s 30 seconds. Customers can just interact with a kiosk, without having to wait in lines for an assisted service worker to handle their bags and make sure that they have the right ticket. With an assisted service worker, customers can doubt the ability of the worker and will check over the worker’s work sometimes, which can take up time. With self-service, the customer doesn’t have to rely on a worker, they can trust themselves to get their service and quickly finish it.


2: How dynamic is it?

Customers like having options. Not every customer wants the same thing from your product. Customers may also want to interact with your product differently. You should provide options for your customers, ranging from the type of information that they want, to the experience that they want. Customers can get all of the things that they want in one nice self-service package, as opposed to the static assisted service. For example, if a customer wants to make a doctor’s appointment then refill a prescription, they would have to call the office, or go to the office to make an appointment, then go to the drugstore to refill the prescription. The current steps in healthcare’s assisted service is tedious, and static, as customers are forced to travel to get different things.

In healthcare, mobile apps are starting to establish solid ground, by condensing different steps from the healthcare system, such as paying bills and refilling prescriptions, into one nice self-service experience. In the best apps, patients, who need different things, can choose whether they want a checkup or not, and get their needs resolved in one app. As opposed to assisted service, where a customer would have to do different things such calling one phone number to schedule an appointment, and then calling another to fill a prescription, customers can get all of these done in one app. Having a dynamic self-service allows customers to fulfill their different needs in one.

3: How usable is it?

Customers like things that are easy to use. If a customer can’t access a service, how are they supposed to use it? Assisted service scores low on usability, because a customer cannot use a service without having the assistance of a worker. The way assisted services are set up and designed, a customer would be completely lost if they tried to do things by themselves. In order to have a great self-service experience, your service needs to be designed so that the customer can do it by themselves without any issues.

Sprinkles, a US cupcake chain, has a cupcake ATM, which allows customers to get cupcakes at any hour of the day. Normally at any bakery, customers would tell cashiers what kind of product they would like, and then pay for it. With an assisted service worker, this process would be not as user-friendly. Even the most well-trained workers can make mistakes, such as mishearing the order, or accidentally charging more for a product. These mistakes are costly, which can lead to customers having to correct the worker.  However, with self-service kiosks, like the cupcake ATM, all customers have to do is choose what kind of product they want, and the type of payment they prefer. This simple process allows customers to spend less time stressing about the potential mistakes in the process, and more time enjoying a product.

An example of great self-service:

AnswerDash provides an efficient, dynamic, and usable alternative to the old-fashioned assisted services – the FAQ section and help center. AnswerDash’s tab style interface allows customers to access questions and answers without having to leave the page. AnswerDash’s Dynamic Predictive Q&A Engine brings up the information that is most relevant to the page that your customer is on. AnswerDash integrates with websites, native mobile Apps, and Facebook Messenger. PetHub, a startup that addresses the issue of lost pets, saw a 67% reduction in customer support tickets, after implementing AnswerDash.

Schedule a free demo of AnswerDash and see how you can create a great  self-service experience for your customers.

Written by Madeleine Le