Nowadays most of your customers expect you to have some sort of portal where they find answers to their problems, and get in touch with support when they need to. A portal is essential for enabling your workforce to do their best work. But how do you make best use of that portal?
We need to embrace the idea of Continual Service Improvement (CSI). The portal isn’t a static object – it shouldn’t just be set up and left to trundle along.
1. Make it a home for knowledge
The first step is to make sure your portal reflects your brand, and feels like home for your users. Little touches such as using photos in the right places of real locations within the organisation can make all the difference. It should feel less like logging into a support portal, and more like logging into the organisation’s first port of call for any services provided.
Another excellent way of achieving this is to take the time to arrange focus groups with a wide range of people who will be using the portal. Ask what they would want and expect to be delivered. This will make the portal feel like home as soon as it’s launched: it will reflect what the users have already asked for, as well as what the support teams are willing to offer. For more ways of getting feedback from your customers you can also read this post of ours from a while ago.
2. Use your data
The next step is to measure which FAQs and knowledge items are the most popular, and which are the most highly rated as useful. Then promote them! Keep taking stock of the other items that don’t do so well, and try to work out why this is the case. If they’re incorrect then they need to be fixed. If they’re too complicated, perhaps they could be simplified. And of course, a picture tells a thousand words; give the knowledge item as many relevant images as would help users engage with them. It could make all the difference between a user being able to self-solve an issue, and needing help from support staff. Read more on this here.
It’s also important to ensure that keywords to these items are kept up to date, so your users can find what they’re looking for easily. This is a continuous process, since the items in your organisation’s repertoire will continue to evolve.
But Self-Service Portals are not all about knowledge articles and FAQs: they’re the most efficient way to offer services to your users. And a similar process can be applied to the services. Which are the most popular, and why? Which services are hardly used? Is it just the nature of the service or is there something more behind it? For example, company phone requests could fit a certain business pattern, such as the majority coming when new staff are onboarded, while printer services are constant. Keep track of these seasonal patterns to keep your database as up to date as possible.
3. Think about your users
Services should be easy to find, accessible and engaging. It’s a given that some services, such as PC malfunction reporting, will be more popular than say, requesting an employment reference for the purposes of a mortgage. But both should be easy to find and use, with the relevant conditions stated clearly.
And the same CSI approach should be taken with these services on the back end. Internally, departments are always hard at work to improve the way they offer services, and this should be reflected on the portal. Once a service has been streamlined at the back end of the system, its outward-facing offering should reflect this. If that employment reference can somehow be automated, for example, then a user should only need to click a button to get that process moving.
The main lesson is to ensure that your portal doesn’t remain a static offering to your users, but rather a fluid set of offerings that constantly evolve as the processes within your organisation mature.