Don’t take this the wrong way, but your customers need a little space from you …it’s not you, it’s them!
The truth is, customers want to be more self-reliant. They want to be able to solve problems on their own without having to contact support. Think of it this way: When your washer cuts out mid-cycle, are you picking up the phone, dialing through a bunch of options, and waiting on hold for a live agent? Or are you heading online and searching for a troubleshooting guide?
The latter option is called self-service support — when customers use your resources to help themselves rather than reaching out directly to your team. And 88% of customers expect brands to offer this.
To provide self-support options, companies are embracing customer self-service software. These tools empower your customers to quickly find solutions to common issues, all while lowering your costs and relieving your support team. In this guide, we’re sharing all you need to know about the benefits and top tools for self-service software.
What is self-service software?
Self-service software describes a collection of tools designed to help customers troubleshoot simple issues on their own without needing to speak to an agent. These tools include knowledge base software, community forums, chatbot tools, and ticketing systems.
Self-service solutions are often automated, freeing up agents to work on other tasks. Since content is formulated around frequently asked questions, self-support resources help eliminate repetitive queries from your live support queue. For example, companies that use virtual customer assistants report a drop of up to 70% in their call, chat and/or email queries.
Why is self-service software gaining popularity in SaaS?
Self-service software is experiencing tremendous growth, with a global market size expected to hit $32 billion by 2027. Companies are recognizing the advantages of self-support, especially in the SaaS industry. Check out the top benefits:
Meets customer expectations
Today’s customers are used to communicating through digital technology and hate speaking on the phone. In fact, 81% of Millennials say they have to work up the courage just to make a phone call.
But while customers don’t necessarily want to talk to you, their service expectations are higher than ever. They want immediate solutions to their product or service issues and convenient experiences.
Self-service tools help you meet these expectations. Customers are instantly connected to straightforward solutions so they can troubleshoot issues as they please. Instead of being dependent on live support, they have the resources to handle their own problems quickly and at their convenience.
Reduces support costs
Self-service portals can drastically reduce your support costs. For one, it costs far less to serve a customer with self-service than with live help. Gartner research suggests that live help costs about 8 dollars per transaction, while self-service tools cost only 10 cents!
Secondly, enabling customers to help themselves reduces your support tickets which means you’ll need fewer support reps. And since the same self-service resources can be utilized by thousands of customers at once, you’ll no longer need one live agent supporting each customer. This means you can scale your support resources as you grow your business without hiring additional service agents.
Provides 24/7 support
Self-service software has no off-hours. As a result, customers can reach the help they need no matter the time of day or day of the week.
This is a difference-maker for smaller service teams, allowing them to provide 24-hour support without needing agents around the clock. It’s also crucial for supporting global customers since it alleviates time zone issues.
Improves support staff satisfaction and decreases attrition
Customer demands are increasing, and the pressure to meet these expectations falls squarely on the shoulders of your support staff. More than a quarter of customer service workers have experienced emotional burden at work, and over 50% of call center workers feel burned out on a daily basis. This low morale among agents can quickly lead to attrition.
Fortunately, self-service tools are designed to ease this burden. By fielding routine questions, these tools lighten the load from live agents who are dealing with high volumes of support tickets. Your agents are free to spend more time on complex matters for strategic clients, boosting their satisfaction and making them less likely to head for the door.
Improves product adoption by better educating customers
Online self-service provides customers with access to tons of resources about your products, from FAQ pages to in-depth video tutorials. These resources encourage customers to learn more about the products they’re using and familiarize themselves with new features that they might not know about. In the process, customers more quickly learn the value of your offers, improving product adoption.
Software categories that enable customer self-service
Self-service software comes in a variety of forms. Your business might want only one of these tools or might choose a combination. Let’s take a look at the different categories.
A knowledge base, also called a help center, is an online hub that’s full of detailed information about your products and services. It’s like a home base that connects customers to all kinds of helpful resources to help them navigate your products. Resources can include FAQ pages, user guides, articles, video tutorials, and links to live help.
Knowledge bases are built to cover the most commonly asked questions about your products and organized so it’s easy for customers to quickly find answers. They often include advanced search functionality and are highly effective at offloading routine queries from your customer service team.
Community platforms are online customer spaces that are focused on engagement, sharing, and discussion. Importantly, these platforms can connect customers to a host of self-service tools — like knowledge bases, video tutorials, how-to guides, blog articles, and FAQ pages.
On top of that, communities typically include forums or Q&A software, allowing customers to post their questions and ask for guidance. Support agents can monitor these discussions and jump in as needed, but customers can also help each other, sharing their own tips and workarounds. Since conversations are saved inside the community, customers can easily lurk past discussions to find answers to common questions.
Chatbots are great for supplementing your other self-service options. Chatbots provide customers with immediate and personalized assistance and they can be integrated with knowledge base to respond to customer requests with links to helpful articles and resources.
These tools mimic human conversation without needing a live agent. Many of the modern chatbot tools are powered by AI as well.
Using language programming, they interpret customer messaging and respond with relevant information and links to solutions. These tools can work in tandem with live chat and support ticketing, offering customers the option to escalate the conversation to live support if they feel their question isn’t being answered.
What to look for when choosing self-service software
The right solution for you will depend on your needs, budget, and resources. But here are some features to look out for when choosing self-service software.
No matter how much information you load into your self-service tools, none of it’s any use if customers can’t find it. So look for software with advanced search functionality.
For example, some software tools let you add labels to your help center content. The search bar then uses these tags and keywords to direct customers straight to the most relevant information. This speeds up response time for customers and eliminates frustration since customers are able to find what they need through one simple search.
Some solutions offer tools to help you manage and update your help center. This might include publishing tools and a dashboard that shows you which content is trending and which needs reviewing or updating. You might also have the ability to flag certain content so that the writers on your team can see which content needs attention.
Automation can help you streamline certain workflow tasks. For example, advanced ticketing tools can be configured to automatically tag and route issues to specific agents. Automation is especially useful for large businesses with high ticket volume since it relieves agents from menial tasks that would otherwise prevent them from serving customers and closing tickets.
Self-support tools work best when they can work together. Integrations allow you to seamlessly transfer requests from one channel to another as needed, without losing background information or making the customer start their conversation over. This leads to a more efficient workflow for support agents and a consistent customer experience.
Some software solutions offer more integrations than others. What’s most important is choosing one that integrates with the tools you already know and love.
Reporting and analytics
The best self-service tools can provide you with valuable metrics regarding your support performance. This helps you understand where your customers are experiencing frustration so you can refine your processes and improve your support.
Self-service solutions can provide you with KPIs like customer satisfaction scores, customer effort scores, time to response, number of tickets closed, most frequent customer requests, and most visited pages. Define the most important metrics to your team and look for software solutions that provide these insights. You might also consider software options that offer integrated survey and feedback tools.
Your support tools should be able to handle your future needs as well as your current ones. So look for a self-service platform that can grow with your business. The best solutions are equipped to handle increasing numbers of customers and multiple teams of agents. You should also consider how your future growth will affect the pricing of the software, as many platforms charge per agent or per user.
Top 5 choices for self-service software
With so many providers to choose from, we’ve done some of the legwork for you. Here are some of the best customer self-service software for 2023.
Bettermode is an all-in-one customer community platform that helps businesses streamline customer experience. Through a fully customizable community, you can provide self-service support, drive customer success, and collect customer feedback.
You can also use Bettermode to create a detailed help center with resources like Q&As, product education libraries, and blog articles. The platform also offers an activity feed feature that attracts and engages customers with personalized and contextual content.
Recommended for mid-sized and enterprise businesses who want to engage, educate, and retain their customers through public or private communities.
Bettermode’s top features:
Discussions and Q&A—Encourage peer-to-peer support with thread-based conversation tools that let customers react and respond to each other’s questions.
Discussions and Q&A gradually build a large repository of knowledge that helps customers find solutions to problems that have been solved already. This reduces the number of support tickets and saves cost.
Custom spaces—Create distinct spaces within your customer community where you can host specific content and resources. Adjust posting permissions to suit your needs.
Tags—Tag your community content to keep posts organized and to enable easy navigation for members.
Advanced search functionality—Create filters so members easily find the answers they’re looking for. Use Bettermode’s federated search to pull info from a variety of sources like external knowledge bases.
Analytics—Find out which posts are trending with insights on the number of replies, views, and reactions. You can also access data on your most popular Spaces and pages.
Built-in SEO—Optimize your community content with built-in SEO features like meta tags and schema markups.
Public/Private settings—Choose whether your community is accessible to the public or invite-only.
Bettermode offers a free trial that’s tailored to meet your needs — contact our sales team to get started. Monthly subscription plans include an Advanced Plan at $599 and an Enterprise plan with custom pricing. The Enterprise plan offers enterprise-grade security, audit log, and uptime SLA.
Intercom is a popular customer communications platform. It includes tools to offer customers personalized and timely customer support, whether it’s through live agents or self-serve options. Intercom stands out for its conversation tool, Business Messenger, which combines live chat and AI chatbot software. The platform also includes a rich knowledge base that can connect customers to a variety of self-help solutions.
Recommended for: Medium to large businesses who want to improve their customer support through real-time conversations.
Intercom’s top features:
Integrated help center—Build a central service hub where customers can find answers to all their questions.
Publishing tools—Use Intercom’s editor to create vibrant articles with options to add images, videos, and interactive guides. Publish articles in multiple languages.
Content showcase app—Link useful content within Intercom’s messaging tool to direct customers to the exact resources they need.
Ticketing system—Easily create support tickets within the messaging app for a seamless experience.
Chatbot builder—Create custom chatbots that can handle repetitive questions, without needing any coding.
Live chat—Use live chat to provide personalized support to customers when they need extra help.
For large businesses and enterprises, Intercom offers subscription plans with custom pricing. For small businesses of only two teammates, Intercom offers a Starter plan at $74/month with optional add-ons at extra cost.
Zendesk is a powerful customer service solution that includes a host of tools to communicate with customers. The platform helps you support customers through channels like live chat, voice chat, and AI support bots. Zendesk also includes a feature-packed ticket management system that helps you tag and organize your customer issues so you can optimize your support ticketing.
Recommended for: Larger businesses who want to enhance their customer experience while streamlining their workflow.
Zendesk’s top features:
Help center—Build a fully customized help center that’s organized the way you want it.
Content management—Manage your help center content and know what to update and when. Zendesk’s Guide Enterprise plan includes a knowledge base dashboard and artificial intelligence tools that can identify trending ticket topics to turn into content.
Ticketing system— Easily track, prioritize, and route support tickets with an advanced ticketing tool.
Chatbot integration—Let an AI answer bot interpret your customer requests and quickly direct customers to the best solutions. A Flow Builder helps you set up conversational sequences without using any code.
Zendesk’s monthly Support plans range from $19–$99 per agent per month. Zendesk also offers Suite pricing which includes more features and ranges from $49–$215 per agent per month.
Document360 is a knowledge base software that lets you build an online help center for your customers and employees. You can create resources like FAQ pages, user guides, technical documentation, and product help docs. Document360 stands out for its sophisticated portal that lets content producers edit and categorize content and consult valuable analytics.
Recommended for: SaaS businesses focused on creating an intuitive knowledge base for both customers and staff.
Document360’s top features:
Internal knowledge base—Create a private knowledge base for your staff or clients, with login required.
Content management—Organize your content and access powerful analytics with an advanced portal for content producers.
Real-time search engine—Power your searches with AI to instantly deliver helpful content to customers.
Rating and feedback—Allow customers to rate your knowledge base articles so you can see which content is helpful and which isn’t.
URL mapping—Deliver relevant content to customers based on their URL parameters within your app.
Document360 has a free version for up to 5 team accounts, but you’ll be limited to 50 articles within your knowledge base. Paid plans are priced per project per month and include Startup at $99, Business at $249, and Enterprise at $499. There’s also an Enterprise Plus plan with custom pricing.
LiveAgent describes itself as an all-in-one help desk software. The platform is known for its omnichannel communication which includes live chat, email, phone, video, and social media. Businesses use LiveAgent to manage their customer support workflow while offering self-service solutions like a knowledge base and ticketing software.
Recommended for: Businesses of any size who want to enhance their customer support using advanced ticketing features.
LiveAgent’s top features:
Knowledge base management—Customize the interface of your knowledge base and create engaging articles within a sophisticated editor.
Ticketing software—Make use of over 130 ticketing features, including automation that lets you create custom tags and establish action-triggered rules to streamline your ticketing.
Chat widget—Quickly communicate with customers using a chat widget with CRM capabilities.
Cloud-based call center software—Enable inbound and outbound calling and unlimited call recording.
Integrations—Make use of more than 200 integrations.
LiveAgent offers a limited free account or paid plans that range from $15–$49 per agent per month.
To sum it all up
It’s an exciting time for customer support as self-service software is booming. These tools help you provide your customers with the immediate support they crave all while lowering your costs and improving staff morale. Self-service tools work alongside your live agents, helping you offer a better and more dynamic customer service experience.
There are many software categories to consider — like knowledge bases, community platforms, and chatbot software — and many providers that offer these tools. Take time to investigate your options and find the software that’s right for you. When in doubt, reach out to providers to learn more!
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