CX 101: What is self-service customer support?

Customer support is one of the most important aspects of the customer experience -  93% of customers are likely to purchase from a brand that offers excellent customer support. And yet it can often be where merchants fall short of expectations. Slow response times, a bare bones FAQ section, and difficult locating information they need all contribute to a poor experience. 

On the other hand, great support can lead to better customer satisfaction, and boost chances of retention. The key is making the support experience fast, easy, and convenient for customers. One of the easiest ways to do this is to strengthen your self-service options, and give customers more power to solve their own issues.

What is self-service customer support?

As the term suggests, self-service customer support allows customers to troubleshoot and resolve issues without the aid of a representative. This is achieved by using resources provided by an ecommerce merchant, which can be fairly simple such as an FAQ, or more sophisticated such as a chatbot. There are a few different ways that merchants can provide these self-service resources:

  • FAQ page
  • On-site chatbot 
  • Searchable knowledge base
  • Order tracking portal
  • Returns and exchanges portal 

Resources can be updated to reflect any changes or issues facing the business also. For example, if there is a postal strike affecting deliveries, merchants can add this information to resources such as their FAQ or chatbot to give customers immediate information. They may also update resources seasonally to give additional information during key periods such as the holiday season.

These self-service options give the customer more immediate answers to common issues and questions, rather than waiting on a response from your support team. This also saves time for your team, as they’ll be able to focus on high priority support tickets that require more attention. This can prove especially helpful during periods of high sales such as a promotional period like Black Friday where there are more customers on your site who may need assistance. 

How do customers feel about self-service support?

Self-service support isn’t just valuable for your team’s time, it’s also welcomed by customers and in many cases they actually prefer to use self-service. 75% of customers say self service is a convenient way to address support issues, and 67% prefer to use a chatbot than speak to a representative. Self-service provides customers a really easy way to resolve their issues. It means they spend less time waiting around for an answer, and more time focusing on their purchase. If customers can’t find information readily available, they may give up on the purchase altogether. 

Here are some additional statistics that demonstrate just how important self-service is to customers:

  • 91% of customers would use a knowledge base if it met their needs
  • 90% expect brands to offer self-service options
  • 81% want more self-service options

By offering a better self-service support experience, you’re giving customers exactly what they want from a brand. Adding these extra self-service options may take a little time to implement, but they’re low maintenance once they’re set up. All it takes is some updating now and again to ensure information is up to date and accurate. 

5 ways to improve your self-support options

#1 - Create a searchable knowledge base

Having an FAQ is a great start, but how about taking it to the next level? A searchable knowledge base provides customers with a quick, convenient way to find the answers they need. 

This also means you can add more information and answers without expecting customers to scroll through lots of content to find what they’re looking for. You can provide related questions, helpful links, and more that will give customers everything they need.

#2 - Have an on-page chatbot with quick answers

Of course to use a knowledge base, they’ll have to go to a different page. If it’s something simple like information about a product or your returns policy, then they won’t want to go searching for the answer. That’s where an on-page chatbot will come in handy.

These chatbots can provide customers with fast answers to common queries. This keeps the customer on the page, and gives them a snappy answer. Plus, customers often prefer chatbots - 74% prefer using chatbots when looking for answers to simple questions.

#3 - Make use of better internal linking and sitemaps

You know your site’s layout like the back of your hand, but your customers don’t! Especially if they’re new to your store, they won’t necessarily know where to look for answers to their questions. Using internal linking and sitemaps can ensure your customers can find the information they need as soon as they need it, and be put in the right direction. 

Consider the kind of support information a customer may want access to when navigating a product page. Include links to pages such as shipping and delivery information, returns and exchanges policies, and product care information. Also make use of your sitemap by Including key links to returns information, sizing guides, and tracking tools. The sitemap will follow your customer as they navigate through your store.

#4 - Include a real-time tracking portal in your post-purchase experience

Post-purchase can have a big impact on customer experience and retention. This is essentially anything that happens after the customer clicks “Checkout”. One of the most important things that happens in post-purchase is delivery. Shipping and delivery can be an area of anxiety for customers, especially if they’re ordering a gift or they’re trying to work to a specific deadline. 

Alleviate some of your customers’ anxiety by offering them a tracking portal where they can get a real-time view of their order. This gives them greater clarity on the status of their order, so they can better understand exactly where their order is at any moment. Apps like Order Lookup can also be added to your store’s navigation, giving them easy access even if they can’t find the email with the tracking link.

#5 - Give customers an easy-to-use returns portal

Returns and exchanges may not always be a merchant’s best friend, but it can be the key to retaining a customer even though they want to return an item. The best way to ensure this is by making it as easy as possible to start and manage a return. Apps like Loop and AfterShip can help you create a returns experience that focuses on customer satisfaction and retention. 

Providing customers with a self-service returns portal makes it easy for them to initiate and manage their return or exchange, saving both the customer and your team time and effort. They can enter all the relevant information, and even get the information and documentation they need to complete the return. 


Self-service customer support is a great way to enhance your customer experience, whilst also saving time and money in your support process. Customers will get a faster, more efficient way to deal with their queries, using the resources they prefer.