Self-service as a strategy for Customer Relationship Management

It may sound contradictory, but ‘self-service’ is an increasingly vital aspect of CRM strategy. That means the customer’s wishes need to be taken into account when it comes to the content and design of, e.g., an online store.

The Internet presents new opportunities as well as challenges. The Internet means that stores no longer have opening times; customers can head to the digital shop floor day and night. It also has consequences for other kinds of companies and organizations, as more and more things can be arranged online — even outside office hours.

Trend: from customer service to self-service

It’s the most normal thing in the world for virtual stores to be open 24/7, and for people to be able to take care of all sorts of stuff at any time, day or night. Consequently, customers are increasingly expecting that their needs can be met quickly, easily, and with a real ‘service feel’. But the availability of ‘old-fashioned’ customer service isn’t unlimited, nor is it cheap to provide. That’s why rather than extending customer-service opening hours, more and more, alternative forms of (customer) service are employed instead. Artificial Intelligence allows customers to chat with a virtual assistant, but ‘self-service’ is also on the rise.

Self-service: usability and knowledge bases

An online store’s design can be well-suited to creating a better ‘service feel’. Shopping in a virtual store with good usability feels a lot friendlier and more pleasant than struggling with a complicated ordering process. The design and technology used by the website can also yield benefits in other situations, like for quickly and easily changing details or finding information. Knowledge bases are not only useful for enhancing SEO scores, but can also be deployed to offer the customer enhanced service.

Making ‘self-service’ a part of your CRM strategy

Companies and organizations wishing to get started with ‘self-service’ as a component of their Customer Relationship Management strategy will need to incorporate their customers’ wishes in both their design and their content. Useful resources include Google Analytics and input from the customer-service department. Frequently Asked Questions can provide customers with quick answers to a range of questions, products can be put together by means of an online module, and knowledge bases and reviews provide greater insight into the use of products. The challenge is to apply content marketing and usability and interaction design such that the customer has the feeling as if there’s a digital employee walking him through the digital process. That not only demands a service-oriented mindset, but particularly smart use of available tools and resources.