Using forms in your self-service portal: 4 best practices

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Since the majority of people are working from home nowadays, your customers will definitely use your self-service portal more often. That’s why you have to make sure your forms are in tip-top shape. How can you present your services in the most customer-centric way possible? We share four digital self-service portal forms best practices.

Ask yourself the following questions to find out if your self-service portal forms have room for improvement.

1. Can your customers find the form they need?

This may seem like an obvious question, but service desks tend to overlook this because they mostly focus on perfecting the content of their forms.

Organizations often use end user focus groups to test the viability of their self-service portal throughout its design to make sure it’s ‘fit for purpose’ in time for its launch. But do you still meet with your focus groups after your portal has launched? Perhaps when you add a new service to the portal, to consider whether you put it in the most appropriate place?  Focus groups can help you realize your services aren’t as easily found as they were on day one.

What can you do? Find out if one of your end users can find a specific form in under three clicks. If they can – great! If they can’t, find out why. Simply organize a remote focus group and communicate via email, Skype, Google Hangouts – the possibilities in this day and age are endless. And, if you don’t already, make sure one of your service desk employees reviews your services on a regular basis.

Learn more about setting up digital self-service.

2. Is your form clearly laid out?

So, your customer managed to quickly find the form they were looking for. But, once they open the form, they’re overwhelmed by its length and complexity. Perhaps there’s another way we could word the questions we ask, so we’re not confusing our customers.

What seems like a simple question to you might be very open-ended to them. You should always try to ask as many closed questions as possible, for example questions with drop-down answers or radio buttons.

What can you do? Monitor the number of questions you receive about your forms every month. Is there a general trend there? Does the number of questions seem like too many? If so, invite your end users to a (virtual) feedback session to discuss their questions, or publish a feedback form in your self-service portal.

3. Is your form instructive enough?

Using closed questions should minimize the number of confused customers you speak to, but that’s not all you can do. Try linking knowledge items to your forms, so they’re suggested to your customers on the right-hand side of the page. These items will act as readily available FAQs or mini guides that your customers can access directly alongside your form.

Find out more about the benefits of knowledge management for your service desk.

You can also set up ‘hover-over’ speech bubbles next to a question in your form. Just make sure the text within these bubbles is as concise as it can be, otherwise your customers may still find it quicker to call your service desk.

What can you do? Start tailoring the content you link directly to your forms. You can also have a go at creating a knowledge article that specifically acts as a guide to help your customers fill out one of your longer, more complex forms.

Find out if one of your end users can find a specific form in under three clicks. If they can – great! If they can’t, find out why.

4. What happens once your customers submit a form?

Someone submitted a form to your service desk – now what? If you have a change template linked to your form, it’ll be processed by the relevant teams in the right order. But, is it possible to minimize the number of approval steps or the complexity of the workflows you create in the background?

In a starters/leavers process, several departments are typically involved in a change. A good idea would be to get a representative from each of those departments together to brainstorm if there’s scope for improvement. For example, do you always make sure you have a new desk delivered before you start assembling the starter’s PC?

What can you do? Make sure you evaluate how efficient your change management processes are every six months or so to keep up with any organizational changes that may have occurred during that time.

Always keep your customers in mind

As you probably have noticed, it’s key to think about your services from the perspective of your customers. Download our free customer centricity e-book for a complete guide to building a customer-centric service desk.