DIY digital experience: self-service portals

  • Insights
  • DX
  • Digital product

Following consumers behaviour trends, “Do it yourself” digital experience has become a must-have for businesses. Research reveals that more than three-quarters (77%) of customers state the ability to find features by themselves, via self-service portals, improves their relationship with a brand. 

But building a self-service portal that offers a great customer experience isn’t a task to take lightly. In this article, we examine all the elements you’ll need to consider to boost the digital experience for customers who are keen to access what they need with as little friction and fuss as possible.  

Self-service is central to customer experience (CX) transformation  

Missing out on the chance to create, or enhance, your self-service portal as part of a wider CX transformation could equal losing business to competitors who have this offering in place. According to a study, it’s a rapidly growing area of the digital customer experience: 81% of respondents said they want more self-service options to be made available by organisations.

But is the message getting through to businesses? Well, according to the same research, fewer than two-thirds (60%) of organisations acknowledge the demand. That leaves almost half seemingly unaware of the clamour for convenient products, services and information that self-service portals can provide.  

If you’re still unconvinced that seamless self-service is ‘the next big thing’, consider this. According to a hefty 94% of consumers polled by eMarketer and Salesforce in 2022, a positive customer service experience is the most likely aspect of brand interaction to drive repeat purchase.  Savvy customers even have a view on how self-service, as it currently stands, can be improved:  

  • 34% want ‘smarter service’ - in other words, a better overall digital experience 

  • 16% see the need for human interaction to remain available, with ‘fewer bots’ 

  • 12% currently believe more personalisation in self-service would underpin better service as a whole 

The key elements of self-service portal success 

So, consumers seem sold on the idea of end-to-end self-service portals. But what makes them so great in the first place? 

Mostly, it’s about providing convenience, choice, context and completeness.  

Convenience is the option of circumventing cumbersome interactions, such as the need to go in-store to get what we need or visit multiple websites - perhaps with multiple log-ins - in order to take the right action. With a self-service portal, confusion and complexity are cut back, and the support users seek is almost instantly available. Moreover, the portal is accessible 24/7 with no need to wait for customer service teams to come online only during certain hours.  

Choice means organisations being aware that sometimes vast customer bases reflect widespread differences in how individuals want to access self-service. While some demographics still want the human touch of a contact centre to reassure them, others will be delighted to interact with a chatbot that can do the job just as simply (in fact, consumers are more than 500% more likely to buy after using one!). It’s important, then, to consider contact channels as part of the wider self-service portal thus ensuring a satisfying digital experience. 

Context is about using data and analytics, and insightful digital experience design, to pinpoint what people want from a self-service portal. This is where true personalisation can play a part: services set up to respond with total relevance to specific preferences, needs and requests. Remember that the better a customer’s digital experience, the more likely they’ll be to come back, and potentially share further personal data which can be fed back into the process for even greater personalisation. 

Completeness is the sense that a world full of content and often complex customer journeys means it’s a bonus if we can access everything we need in one place. A single support hub that users enjoy visiting. The better you can structure the self-service portal, the more useful it will be - and the greater the chance the customer is satisfied. 

Customers want self-service portals across sectors 

No matter whether your organisation is in the business of supplying B2B or B2C products and services, provision of a self-service portal will be welcomed by customers - and can fuel growth.  

According to Gartner, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels by 2025, while 85% of customer service interactions will start with self-service by 2025. 

It could be that you have a very technical or ‘admin-heavy’ operation, which needs to provide a good deal of support to customers and users. An example MMT knows well is the complex housing association (HA) sector. 

A government-led study discovered almost a fifth (17%) of HA customers (residents) are unhappy with services provided by accommodation managers. Time taken to respond to enquiries is a particular problem for them. 

Making digital channels a key pillar of customer service for self-service and dialogue should seem a given, but in another survey 45% of HAs admit they’re underinvesting in this area. A self-service portal could include features ranging from frictionless rent payment to downloadable tenancy agreement documents, and the facility to log repair requests. 

But self-service equally extends into other verticals where the need for premium digital experiences is more self-evident. Think an online travel booking service where customers could easily check and adjust flight details, or personalise their trip by adding packages - without needing to go through a travel agent.  

So, we’ve seen that there’s clear evidence that self-service portals boost your overall digital experience offered to customers. And we also know that customers are beginning to demand the convenience and control that self-service delivers, regardless of the industry or type of brand they are interacting with. 

If you would like to discuss how MMT can help design and build your self-service portal and drive better digital experience, get in touch today.