Best Practices in Customer Self-Service

Ten Ways to Make It Easy for Your Customers to Do Business with You

May 31, 2007

This report presents PSGroup’s 10 best practices in customer self-service. The 10 represent the current ideal based on our research on self-service technologies and on our consulting work with companies of all sizes across many industries. The 10 are driven by our axiom, “make it easy for your customers to do business with you,” and cover key self-service Customer Scenarios within the entire customer lifecycle.


We know customer self-service. Customer self-service has been one of our key consulting and research focuses for the past several years. Along the way, we've evaluated the technologies and the products that deliver self-service, developed case studies about how organizations deliver customer self-service. We've tried out customer self-service facilities in our Moment-of-Truth Test-Drive reports. We've spoken with many organizations that offer or plan to offer customer self-service facilities. And we've spoken with hundreds of the customers of those organizations, customers who have used or who want to use self-service facilities.

With all our self-service experience, we have developed significant customer self-service expertise. And, through this experience, we've come to understand what makes for not-so-good, good, better, and best customer self-service. Driven by our axiom, "make it easy for your customers to do business with you," PSGroup's 10 best practices for customer self-service are:

  1. Support the customer lifecycle
  2. Support key Customer Scenarios
  3. Make it easy for customers to learn about your products and services
  4. Make it easy for customers to select your products and services
  5. Make it easy for customers to compare your products and services
  6. Make it easy for customers to manage their accounts with you
  7. Make it easy for customers to get answers about installing and using your products and services
  8. Make it easy for customers to solve problems with your products and services
  9. Make it easy for customers to escalate to assisted-service
  10. Make timely and relevant offers

In the sections below, we'll define and describe each of these best practices and present our "dos" and "don'ts" - good and bad examples of their implementations. Note that these best practices define what you should do to deliver the best possible customer self-service. We'll describe how to deliver them in another report.


Your customers' activities with you follow the phases of a lifecycle, from their first visit to your Web site to explore the products and services that your offer through the day when they stop using your products and services. Between those points, customers perform activities that we can associate with phases of a lifecycle. Generally, these phases are those listed below, although the phases may differ with the kind of business that you're in and the kinds of products and services that you offer.

  • Plan
  • Explore
  • Select
  • Buy
  • Use
  • Maintain
  • Renew

Any customer can be simultaneously in multiple phases of the lifecycle. This simultaneity holds true for both B2C consumers and B2B accounts. A customer can be in the process of exploring offers at the same time that she is fixing problems with products already purchased, while she's waiting for a P.O. to be cut to renew her company's service agreement with you. In Table A, we list examples of the activities in each of these phases. Illustration 1 shows these phases around the core of the customer.

Customers Need Your Help to...

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