Self-service has been a growing trend in SaaS for years. As people have gotten more comfortable with software tools, the need for outside support is now seen as a hindrance rather than a boon.
Consider these statistics:
- 81% of customers attempt to resolve an issue themself before reaching out to a representative — Harvard Business Review
- 67% of customers prefer serving themselves over speaking to a customer service representative — Nuance Enterprise
- 33% of customers say they’d “rather clean a toilet” than speak with customer service — Aspect Software
While that last stat is rather crude, it demonstrates how adverse people have become to traditional customer service channels.
Modern consumers want to buy without speaking to representatives and to troubleshoot issues without call or chat assistance.
In short, modern consumers want self-service.
What is self-service?
In a self-service model, a company empowers their customers to manage various aspects of their service themselves.
The FAQ section of a website is an example of a basic self-service resource, as is the self-checkout lane in a grocery store.
In software, self-service primarily empowers users to support themselves through “click to purchase” options bolstered by various manuals, guides, videos, and training materials.
Self-service in CRM
CRM (customer relationship management) has been slow to adopt the self-service model.
The complexity of legacy CRM tools that dominate much of the space makes self-service nearly impossible.
In fact, many of these outdated CRM software systems are so complex they require third-party engineers and specialized support teams to assist their customers with everything – such as training, implementation, and troubleshooting.
This provides an opportunity for emerging CRM software vendors. Modern design innovations benefit these tools, making implementation, customization, and support simpler and more intuitive.
This means self-service isn’t just possible; it’s highly effective.
A self-service offering is only as good as the resources provided. The type of product or service will dictate what resources will be required (or most effective), but the following are common:
- Knowledge base: A knowledge base is a document used internally and externally to provide information about various aspects of a product or service.
A good knowledge base needs to be accessible and understandable. It should also evolve over time to provide information about new products and features.
- FAQs: Customers want to find answers to their questions quickly, and a well-laid-out FAQ page can help them do that.
An FAQ page doesn’t need to be as detailed or technical as some of your other resources, but it should contain links to these resources to make navigation quick and easy.
- Support manuals: These guides address specific issues or features, such as implementation, and automation. A support manual is intended to offer technical guidance, but the material provided should be digestible by all customers.
- Video/audio tutorials: Everyone learns in different ways. Providing training materials in visual and audio formats helps different people access these resources effectively.
What are the benefits of self-service?
Self-service offers many benefits to companies and consumers. These benefits will vary by industry, but some examples include:
- A better customer experience: As we demonstrated earlier, most customers prefer to avoid interacting with representatives. Empowering customers to help themselves satisfies them while freeing up our team to focus on more complex tasks.
This speeds up resolution and service timelines and allows our team to give extra care and attention to the customers who need it most.
- Cost-effectiveness: Self-service can help companies reduce their cost per sale, opening up options for lower-priced packages.
The same benefits apply to tools and services that require less support to use and implement. These can be priced at a lower cost, opening up these options to smaller businesses that may not be able to access them otherwise.
- Timeliness: For most customers, setting their own timelines and priorities is important, but traditional SaaS service models don’t make this easy. A small business, or those with less expensive needs, are often put on the back burner in favor of larger accounts and opportunities.
Likewise, customer issues that affect more (or larger) companies are addressed first, leaving smaller businesses or those with less urgent issues to wait.
Self-service mitigates this by empowering customers to address their own issues and set their own agendas. A small business doesn’t have to wait for third-party implementation teams to fit them into their schedule or wait for the support team to address their ticket.
- Empowerment: Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. This is the underlying principle behind customer empowerment.
When customers have the knowledge and resources to help themselves, they are no longer dependent on outside support. This allows them to take ownership of the product or service and operate on their terms.
What does self-service look like in CRM?
Self-service looks different in every industry. Let’s examine what self-service looks like in CRM.
- Self-implementation: One of the biggest advantages of a self-service CRM is the ability to self-implement. This allows the customer to set the timeframe, dictate the roll-out, and scale at their own pace.
Many CRM implementations fail because of a lack of buy-in (from management and employees alike). Introducing a CRM system to a small group of early adopters can help prove a CRM’s benefits to the doubters and laggards.
Starting small can also help get to ROI faster, which is very important to smaller businesses that can’t afford to pay for a service that takes several months to get off the ground.
- Data migration: For many CRMs, migrating data is already a customer-owned task. While many businesses would rather pass this off to outside support (and can do so for a price), migrating your data is an opportunity to clean up and refine this valuable information.
- No-code/low-code customization: To drive adoption and build efficiency, a business needs to provide tools that fit into their existing ecosystem without causing major disruptions.
However, the unique needs of each business mean there is no one-size-fits-all solution, so customization becomes essential.
A self-service CRM platform provides no-code or low-code customization options that allow a business to optimize the platform to suit its specific needs quickly and easily, without the need for third-party support.
- Flexible pricing models: The self-service model is centered on customer empowerment, which is reflected in the payment structure. Usage-based pricing is a good example of this.
With usage-based pricing, a business is able to organize their teams according to the needs of the business rather than the requirements of the more traditional user-based pricing models.
Likewise, the ability to upgrade or downgrade a subscription allows businesses to evolve and pivot based on the needs of their business, as opposed to the commitments made during the signup phase.
How to get the most out of a self-service CRM
Now that we have explored the benefits of self-service and looked at how they translate specifically to CRM, it is time to outline some ways to make the most of a self-service CRM.
- Start small: Begin by introducing your CRM to a small team. These people will become the advocates and ambassadors of your CRM and can assist your CRM admins with training and adoption.
You should also start with the basics. Introduce a handful of tools at a time or modify a single process. Next, as your team becomes familiar with the basics, you can introduce new tools and features slowly, building trust and excitement naturally.
As the benefits the CRM platform provides become obvious, you can begin introducing more features into more of your work processes.
- Invest in training: Provide your team with the time and resources they need to feel comfortable using your CRM. The amount of training required will vary by role but even the lightest users should have a good understanding of how and what to use your CRM for.
Include different training materials and methods to accommodate different learning styles.
Also, prevent knowledge bottlenecks by cross-training team members and providing admins with support persons who can fill their role when required (like vacations and emergencies).
- Create a growth plan: Having a clear plan for how you want to roll out and expand your CRM is essential.
Your plan should be detailed initially, mapping out every objective for the first days and weeks of your CRM launch. Include training schedules, project deadlines, goals by role and department, administrative structure, and feature roll-outs.
As you look beyond the first months of your CRM implementation, your plan can get more fluid. Knowing what features you’d like to adopt or what teams you want to add can help you stay on track, but leave room to apply the lessons learned along the way.
- Know when to ask for help: Don’t hesitate to reach out for support. Your CRM provider is as invested in your success as you are (if they are not, choose another provider). They have experience and know-how you can leverage.
Encourage your team to use the support channels available to them as well. Chat support can provide quick, accurate, and reliable answers. This can be a major asset during the early stages of your implementation.
FreeAgent is the best self-service CRM on the market
That’s because FreeAgent is:
- Easy to use: FreeAgent is sleek and modern, capitalizing on the latest advancements in user design to provide a powerful, robust, and easy-to-use tool.
- User-configurable: You can implement and configure FreeAgent at your pace and on your terms.
- Customizable and personalizable: You can customize and adapt FreeAgent’s versatile tools to fit any work process. Moreover, individual team members can personalize their own dashboard views and lists to help them stay focused and organized.
- In-house support: At FreeAgent, all of our customer support is in-house. This helps us resolve customer issues faster because no one knows our product like we do.
- Usage-based pricing: FreeAgent offers usage-based pricing. This means you can get started for less and achieve ROI faster.
Get started with FreeAgent CRM today and unlock your business’s full potential.