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Best practices for becoming a self-service business 

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Complex transactions such as ordering a ride, buying a car, renting a hotel room, or sending money to a friend have all been transformed into self-service workflows. The self-service user experience has slowly become a must-have for both B2C and even B2B businesses with 41% of B2B buyers stating self-service functionality is the top feature they want from sellers

Applying the self-service model does have its benefits such as:

  • Better experience. The reality is a self-service workflow creates a better customer experience. It helps both sides of the equation: the consumer and the business. The consumer gets the convenience they desire and the business streamlines their workflows and aligns internal processes. 
  • Time savings. Self-service saves sales teams time by creating a more streamlined sales process. 
  • Increased loyalty. When there is less friction in the buying process, customers want to come back. 

The ultimate goal of a self-service workflow is to empower customers to make a purchase without interruption. This means businesses are tasked with creating a frictionless experience - a project usually diverted to IT departments. In fact, Gartner projects two-thirds of customer experience projects will involve IT by 2022; an increase from 2017, where IT was involved in 50% of projects. 

As technology teams continue to work toward a self-service business there are several best practices to help ensure a business is successfully set up to enable a self-service experience. 

Self-service best practices

Collaborate with legal

Too often the product developers and IT departments will build out a user experience and not consider legal implications. Specifically, as privacy acts such as CCPA and GDPR are implemented, the legal team must have a voice in the conversation so organizations don’t leave themselves vulnerable. While the user experience might be great, ignoring legal can equate to an increase in risk for litigation. 

On the flipside, legal requirements added without the user experience in mind can make a process clunky and result in loss of customers. But don’t fear, it is possible to create a self-service experience that is both customer-friendly and meets compliance requirements. Companies can ensure terms and conditions, and privacy policies are part of the self-service workflow by collaborating with legal. 

Choose the right contracts

Sometimes contracts hold a business back from becoming fully self-service, because many of the traditional agreements don’t work in this workflow, including pen and paper contract, PDF, and traditional e-signature. Shifting to embedded signing, also known as API signing and clickwrap agreements, will set a business up for success. 

Embedded signing allows a user to accept an agreement embedded into a website or application. This is ideal for presenting standardized contracts to a wide range of signers as it eliminates the need to upload, send and sign an individual contract via email. For example, when onboarding a new vendor, a business can utilize embedded signatures to handle the agreements involved that require signatures from multiple parties. 

A clickwrap agreement is a one-click experience for critical processes from signup to checkout. Agreements, including privacy policies, license agreements, and general website terms, are better suited for clickwrap versus e-signature. And, this type of contract provides acceptance quickly, reduces redlining and creates a better user experience. It’s a fast, efficient and compliant signing experience; and, the best way to enable a self-service workflow. 

Take a holistic approach

It is not enough to create a self-service customer support system, organizations need to think holistically. A whole business model needs to be scaled to deliver a self-service product, solution, good and/or service. But providing a good customer experience goes beyond the initial touch, organizations need to also consider what happens both before and after the service is provided, such as onboarding, navigating your platform and the sales cycle. 

Transparency in pricing

Pricing must be accessible and transparent. On the B2B side, intelligent pricing can eliminate the need for negotiation and get deals closed faster. For B2C companies, transparent pricing increases the likelihood of a customer to buy. Consumers don’t want to play hide and seek to track down a price. And, it should be consistent across channels. If there is a discount on an item, it should appear on each platform through which the product is sold. 

Figure out the check-out

Arguably the most important place to become self-service is during checkout. According to Forrester, more than half of B2B buyers don’t want to communicate with a sales rep as their primary information source. A lengthy checkout process can cause both B2B and B2C buyers to abandon their carts and look elsewhere. Most check-out processes involve a contract or agreement of some sort, and when there is a contract, friction is introduced into the process. These agreements can be standardized, as they typically do not require negotiation. By utilizing a standardized agreement that can be accepted by the click of a button, friction is removed from the check-out flow. 

Provide a choice

Ultimately customers need various options when it comes to which channel they use to interact with a company. Regardless of the choice of channel, businesses need to be accessible. Whether through a website contact form, chatbot, email, social media, or phone, consumers have many ways to access help. This means it’s vital for the messaging and user experience to be consistent across channels so that customers can get the help or services they desire regardless of platform. 

Businesses that resist a self-service workflow are limiting their growth and closing themselves off to new markets and customers. Modern contracting allows customers to move fast and serve themselves, creating true self-service experiences. Businesses looking to go self-service need to begin by evaluating their contract ecosystem and finding where they can improve efficiency and create the self-service workflow consumers desire.

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