Self-service for the sake of self-service just isn’t enough. There, I said it. Etch it in stone. Tell a friend. Because the truth is, your self-service experience probably isn’t as good as it could be. And hidden sticking points could be leaving customers dissatisfied, frustrated, and hampering your aspirations for blockbusting, show-stopping?ticket deflection.

What follows is a list of common self-service fails to avoid. Some of these are low-hanging fruit you can start to look at now, while others will require a bit more elbow grease. Regardless, if you’re making one of these mistakes, you’re likely increasing customer effort and quietly diminishing your customer effort score.


1. The Writing is No Good

Let’s start simple: good self-service content is written well. Easy enough, right? Don’t tell that to our friends in technical writing! It’s called technical communication for a reason: well-written help content extends far beyond the words on the page. Here’s a few guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Write simply
  • Use consistent, skimmable document structure
  • Use accessible language (avoid jargon)
  • Keep information consistent and relevant
  • Include screenshots
  • Link to related content

2. You’re Making Them Search (and the Search Experience Stinks)

Most knowledge base experiences start with a search bar. Okay, we get it—search isn’t going anywhere (yet). But what about click navigation? The more structured and easily navigable the support site is, the easier it will be for your customer to take the next step toward solving issues on their own. That’s not to say you need to throw search out the window. But consider this: over 70% of people use Google for search. If that’s where your customers start their self-service experience, your branded help content better show up there.

3. Not Optimized for Mobile

If you’re not holding it already, pick up your phone and go to your product support site. How are things looking? It’s an important question, because 83% of mobile users think a seamless experience across all devices is pretty darn important. If your support experience is bad for those users, it could have a significant impact on customer experience KPIs like Net Promoter Score?. Indeed, 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business whose website is poorly optimized for mobile devices.

4. Video or it Didn’t Happen

A recent Wistia study found that people spend 2.6 times more time on pages that include video content. This trend is increasingly extending into the support world, where more and more users prefer video self-service (read: step-by-step video tutorials). Oh, and guess who owns YouTube?

5. Missed Knowledge Capture Opportunities

When customers do contact support, wouldn’t it be better to know what article they looked at—or what they searched for—before calling in? In-the-flow knowledge capture saves time and allows agents to be more productive, yes. But it can also help you optimize content for the next customer experiencing the same issue.

Focusing your attention in these five areas—that is, striving to make self-service your best service—can have a tremendous impact on customer success KPIs, especially Customer Effort Score (CES). Don’t care about CES? You should. Just take a look at the GetFeedback story. After shifting its focus to CES, the GetFeedback Customer Support team saw improvements in other support KPIs (and even threw some out the window completely).