Just 15 Percent of B2B Customers Resolve Issues in Self-Service
Despite a strong willingness to use self-service channels to resolve their customer service issues, only 15 percent of B2B customers are actually able to find resolution using only self-service, Gartner notes in its 2022 State of the Customer survey. That means customer support leaders need to better design their customer self-service experiences, the firm advises.
The research found that B2B customers are 1.4 times more likely to use self-service than their B2C counterparts and that B2B customers prefer to resolve their own issues rather than contact customer support. In fact, 83 percent of them say they try to resolve their issues on their own most or all of the time. But, still, nearly six in 10 B2B customers switch to assisted-channel service later in their journeys. By comparison, only three in 10 B2C customers who start in self-service do the same.
The research also found that the top reason customers choose self-service is speed to resolution, but they also use the option out of familiarity and comfort with digital channels and because it allows them to multitask and accomplish other tasks asynchronously.
Failing to resolve customer issues in self-service channels is a missed opportunity to reduce cost to serve and to reserve assisted interactions for more important, value-added needs, Gartner concludes.
To correct for this, Gartner recommends that companies amend their self-service offering with the following three steps:
- Emphasizing progress and completion in a clear visual format that moves with customers as they advance through self-service steps. This could include progress bars and iconographs that incentivize users to move forward and then affirming and verifying completion with a confirmation page and follow-up email. Without the guidance of a live agent, customers do not know where they are in the process and cannot see ahead to their resolution destination. This inability to chart their own progress undermines confidence in the journey, Gartner maintains.
- Ensuring the credibility of self-service content by using a centralized knowledge management system that allows content to be created once and disseminated to all channels. Inconsistent content across channels undermines credibility and erodes customer confidence, according to Gartner, so the firm recommends ensuring a single content development team is ultimately responsible for all of the content that gets disseminated. Even when a transition to assisted service does become necessary, consistent content can quicken the time to resolution by enabling agents to pick up where the customer left off.
- Integrating a search function and using customer-centric design principles in FAQs to aid navigation and containment. FAQs, Gartner says, are effective self-service solutions. But, in an attempt to answer all customer questions with comprehensive information, FAQs are too often designed with a wealth of overwhelming information that requires endless customer scrolling. Stop organizing FAQs in a growing list and instead structure all information around a limited number of customer-centric topics. Include an internal search function that guides customers to the appropriate resources and hyperlinks to complete actions when appropriate.
Self-service channels continue to evolve as design is changed and tested. However, success in self-service will continue to be driven by customer confidence generated from content that is clear, credible, and provides confirmation to customers, Gartner concludes.