8 Tips to Creating an Effective Self-Service Website

Written by Toonimo


Self-service. Whether it is the self-service lane at the gas station or grocery store or your ecommerce website, self-service only works as the convenience it promises to be if the process is smooth, easy and quick. If you leave your users confused or frustrated for even a moment, you will see a high incidence of cart abandonment and low conversion rates.

Additionally, self-service doesn’t mean no-service. Inevitably there will be a need for assistance from time to time and the key here is to be accessible and helpful immediately, at any time that a user might need assistance. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have live staff available 24/7, but it does mean incorporating some sort of guidance (preferably interactive) for users to help navigate the site and to troubleshoot any issues that might arise.

Here are 8 tips to creating a self-service ecommerce website that really fits the bill:

  • Clear Instructions- making the purchasing process on your website clear involves a number of components. First of all the design of the site needs to promote the essential information, making it stand out and easy to find. Next, the content that gives over guidance and instructions (whether that is through text, audio, visual etc.) must be accurate, concise and clear. Further the delivery of the content must be optimal so that there is no doubt that the user is getting the right message at the right time.
  • Calls-to-Action (CTAs)- clear calls to action help with #1 as they serve as signage to direct the user through the purchase process. CTAs also keep the consumers moving through the sales funnel.
  • Intuitive Navigation - you don’t want users getting lost on your site or they will be quick to leave. Design your site so that the user can easily traverse the buying process (both forward and reverse), knowing at all times where he is and where he has to go.
  • Seamless User Experience (UX) - everything on your website must work as promised for users to be satisfied with their shopping experience. It’s important to provide thorough information about products or services to make users confident in their decisions and trusting of your brand.
  • Transparency- be upfront about extra charges (taxes, shipping and handling etc.) and get rid of the “fine print”, making all clauses and conditions accessible and clear. Again this creates trust which increases conversion rate.
  • Easy to Make Changes- Just as a real shopper is able to shop around and to change his mind (to put things back from their cart, return an item, cancel an order etc.) you need to make your site flexible for finicky shoppers. You never want to make a shopper feel stuck with a purchase they aren’t happy with.
  • Immediate Assistance Available - for the times that assistance is needed, online consumers don’t want to wait. They are in the middle of a shopping experience and the chances of them returning later to their cart are minimal. Anticipate the issues that frequently arise for shoppers and try to answer as many of those questions up front as possible. For those questions that remain, live chat or an accessible phone center should be available.
  • Personalization - as much as you are able to personalize the shopping experience, you will create a better user experience and a happier customer. Offering an experience that addresses the preferences, needs, questions, and behaviors of each individual shopper will help them to self serve and drive up customer retention and sales rates.

Self-service above all is a unique kind of customer service with the goal being to create a positive, easy and satisfying experience for the user. You want to leave a lasting good impression on your consumers. According to Micah Solomon, who wrote 20 Customer Service Tips to Try Right Now, “The “goodbye” is an important stage, one of the most important, because (like a first impression) it tends to linger in a customer’s memory.” Using the 8 tips above, you can create a self-service experience for your customers that will impress from start to finish.