How to use customer self-service portals to increase satisfaction
There are many benefits to creating and implementing customer self-service portals, which empower customers to autonomy and lead to higher satisfaction scores.
A field service portal can boost both the customer experience and customer satisfaction. Here’s how to create an easy-to-use, accessible self-service portal.
Businesses like Uber, Amazon, and Deliveroo have set the bar high for customer expectations. Consumers now expect all kinds of organisations to offer transparent, tech-savvy options for service and delivery, including those in field service.
Self-service is the status quo — whether it’s for takeaway, or for a utility, housing, or pest control appointment — so customers want to do business with companies that give them autonomy. This looks like everything from managing their appointments from a website or app, communicating with technicians before arrival, receiving ETAs and updates, tracking their operative’s location on a map, and offering feedback after the day of service.
Providing customer self-service is one of the best ways to connect with and empower customers, as well as boost your field service customer satisfaction KPIs. And there are three ways to go about creating self-service portals: DIY, existing software solutions, or a specialised software.
Here, we’ll cover these different options for portal creation and implementation to help you determine the best route for your business, as well as discuss the many benefits of customer self-service.
Why is a self-service portal important?
First, a brief primer: What is a self-service portal?
A self-service portal allows customers to use a mobile device or computer to manage their service appointment with features like two-way communication, scheduling appointments, feedback surveys, ETAs, place in queue, and live tracking.
Field service portals improve the customer experience because they put everything in one easy-to-access place. Multiple platforms and websites to handle tracking, texting, scheduling, and more (or, worse, no platform at all) create a disjointed customer experience — which is likely to negatively impact customer satisfaction and drive clientele to a competitor that can offer more ease and transparency.
A self-service platform helps you streamline the customer experience and empowers them to take charge of their service journey, leading to a boost in customer satisfaction. Some of the KPIs you’re likely to see improve include:
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): Empowering customers to self-service via a portal offers them the autonomy they demand around managing a field service appointment — and shows them that you value their time and energy.
- Net Promoter Score (NPS): Customers now expect and demand streamlined communication workflows, so by keeping them in the loop, they’ll remember you first when friends and family ask for recommendations.
- Customer Effort Score (CES): It’s simple math — when you make it easy for customers to interact with your business, your CES improves. An accessible portal is one of the easiest ways to make their experience go smoothly and increase their willingness to be a return customer.
Although it’s clear that customer self-service is a key part of running a successful business, it may sound daunting to implement. But a self-service portal doesn’t have to be an insurmountable challenge. Let’s dig into the three approaches.
Read more about how customer portals are a necessity in field service management.
Option 1: The DIY approach
If you decide to create your own field service portal from scratch, the biggest upside is that you’ll have full control over how it looks and works. However, the development and implementation costs of this option are a huge con, especially for smaller businesses or those with tight budgets.
With a DIY approach, you’ll also deal with a lot of trial and error as you get your portal up and running, which means diverting current resources toward both its implementation and maintenance — or spending even more to hire experts who know how to manage it. You’re responsible for security and updates, as well, which can be time-consuming and costly.
Option 2: Use existing software
Consumers demand streamlined service and delivery, so there are now many customer portal software options on the market. Unfortunately, a lot of what’s out there has significant disadvantages — namely, that many aren’t made with field service in mind, and they often have very basic functionality with little to no automation.
Additionally, some software might not integrate with your existing tech stack (especially if it’s not made for your industry), so it could cause siloes. And some providers don’t offer support, which means you’re on your own for setup, implementation, and customisation.
Option 3: Use specialised software
Your best bet for a field service portal solution is specialised software, as it avoids the pitfalls associated with the DIY approach and existing software that isn’t made for field service.
A customer portal software provider like Localz that knows field service inside and out offers everything from support for onboarding and implementation to a wide range of integrations, SDKs, and APIs to a white-labelled field service portal that boosts your customer satisfaction KPIs.
The Localz platform offers customisable modules with features like appointment management, two-way communication, ETAs and map tracking, and post-appointment feedback capture. You can even customise the degree to which you offer real-time GPS tracking.
Implementing self-service options like customer portals is a key way to offer proactive communication that empowers customers and meets their demand for transparency and autonomy. It likewise improves their experience and boosts your customer satisfaction KPIs.
When it comes to options for implementing a portal, your front-runner solution is to leverage specialised field service customer portal software from a provider like Localz that offers tailor-made solutions and abundant support. Not only will you delight your customers; but you’ll also see reduced chase calls and improved first-time fix rates, improving the workflow for your staff and operatives on the back end — a win-win for everyone.