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How to Become a Self-Serve Product in 3 steps

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Don’t you love the fact that you can go to a grocery store, fill up your cart, and checkout through a self-checkout machine; experience the whole process without having to interact with anyone?

Not that I hate people, but the idea of not needing people to achieve value out of a grocery store is satisfying for me, as a consumer.

Think how satisfying it would be for the grocery store owner, when they don’t need to hire a dozen cashiers and greeters to help consumers navigate and get things going. 

Self-serve works in the favor of both consumers and business owners. Many industries have already implemented some sort of self-serve to their products, now, it’s time for all software products to do the same. 

What is Self-Serve First?

Self-serve first means that you prioritize self-serve service over traditional sales processes. A customer should be able to achieve your value offering without the need to interact with a sales or a support representative.

Remember the last time you’ve spoken to a Netflix, or Spotify representative?

Me neither…

The crushing majority of 200+ million Netflix subscribers started using the product without any help from Netflix, so why shouldn’t your business be similar?

Before I tell you about the ways you can instill self-serve to your company, let’s see the real benefits of going self-serve.

Why go Self-Serve?

Self-serve is the easiest way to acquire increasingly new customers, and also is the most affordable customer acquisition methods out there.

It has a number of benefits, but to keep it short, here are the 3 real benefits of going self-serve:

Low user acquisition costs 💸

As sad as it is to see huge sales and customer support teams fade away from existence as self-serve spreads, they're taking a huge part of your customer acquisition cost with them.

You can spend this extra budget to increase your presence in other channels, start billboard ad campaigns, or just let it add to your profits.

Less room for failure 🚫

"Oh man, I totally messed up that deal!" said no interactive guide, ever.

As you automate the processes and optimize your user experience to perfection, you'll depend less on the success and hard work of individuals (from Sales) and scale your way to success.

Talking about scaling:

Ready to scale wherever, whenever 🛫

The best part of being self-serve? You'll scale wherever, whenever.

The number of your users won't be limited to the number of sales or customer success reps you have, it will be (in theory) unlimited.

Also, you'll be able to sell your product to anyone, from any part of the world without the need of a local sales team; because, you've guessed it, no more worrying about the time zone difference or language barriers.

Become a Self-Serve Product in 3 Steps

Being a successful self-serve business is simple. Compared to managing and relying on huge sales and support teams, that is.

There are a couple of things you need to get straight.

First off, self-serve doesn’t necessarily mean that your product should be so easy that users wouldn’t need additional help. If you can simplify processes in your platform, do it, it’s a plus. But you can’t just reduce the value of functions to keep it simple.

Instead, you will need to find a way to efficiently educate your users, help them gradually learn what your product does and how they can use it; without involving any sales or customer support representative.

#1 Adopt an interactive user onboarding

Interactivity is the key to lasting knowledge.

Learning by doing, instead of by reading or watching or listening, helps build muscle memory and is a much more effective way of learning new things.

Now user onboarding, the process that a new user gets onboarded to a product as they learn what it does and how it does it, needs tons of interactivity, combined with a bit of other content to be successful. 

Just like in a video game, a user needs to learn the main functions of the product gradually, starting with the core functions (e.g walking in video games) and ending with the advanced tutorials for additional value.

Interactive user guides, product walkthroughs, in-app messages, and onboarding checklists are the most useful UX elements used to onboard new users to a new app. 

userguiding guide
Help your customers understand how to use your product

There are 2 ways you can create an interactive user onboarding experience: inhouse or using 3rd-party tools.

And since we are discussing the topic of self-serve, let’s skip the inhouse method where you’ll rely on developers to create something, and discuss an option for using 3rd-party tools, which are mostly self-serve.

UserGuiding is a no-code user onboarding software for SaaS businesses that is used to create interactive guides, in-app messages, and checklists. It also offers an in-depth analytics feature to track the performance of your creations and a segmentation feature to personalize your user onboarding for your users.

user onboarding

#2 Establish a knowledge base for your service

After user onboarding, once users are acquainted with the core value of your product, they’ll be digging deeper into the advanced functions or encounter technical issues with the integration of your app.

What they’ll do when they are in a situation like this will be seeking help. They’ll Google the problem, contact your support team (which is something we want to avoid), or search your knowledge base for an answer.

So, as you can guess, having the right solutions at the disposal of your users through a knowledge base is an easy way to avoid repetitive conversations for your support team.

In this case, to establish, maintain, and update a knowledge base; you can again go inhouse and create the knowledge base in your own website, or use 3rd-party help authoring tools to make things easier.

Both inhouse and 3rd party tools might be self-serve for this step, but I’ll make sure to provide you with a valuable tool you can use to create self-help centers with.

For creating and maintaining knowledge bases, Document360 proves to be a strong option. I’ve had a brief experience of using Document360 and a number of different help authoring tools, and I found Document360 to be the simplest and the one with the best UX/UI. 

You can use Document360 to set up knowledge bases, create product help docs, FAQs, and more. It’s ready-templates are also a plus, since they help you start the creation process 1-step ahead.

user knowledge base

#3 Get started with chatbots

You can utilize AI chatbots to offer self-serve, real-time assistance to your customers. 

When designed and structured well, chatbots can transmit a feeling of dialogue without the existence of an actual human in the conversation.

conversational chatbot

If your customer is at a loss or encounters a problem with your app and needs help, they just have to send a message to your chatbot. With AI and NLP your chatbot can understand what the users need and help them accordingly. No matter what day it is, no matter what time, your customers will be able to help themselves with the answers provided by the chatbot.

These answers can take multiple forms. It can be images, videos and ideally UserGuiding guides and tutorials.

Building a chatbot in house would pretty much be a waste of valuable developer time, as you can find dozens of different tools you can use to create chatbots for your website and product.

One, and to me, the best of them is Ideta. Ideta’s chatbot is taking it a step further and delivering more than just a simple chatbot builder. Of course, you can have a deployment-ready chatbot in no time, without writing a single line of code, but more importantly you can also integrate Userguiding’s guide and walkthrough within the chatbot. Ideta’s chatbot is able to trigger specific guides and redirect users to the correct pages, depending on the questions they asked.

Chatbots can be a perfect self-serve tool for your customers with their ability to carry human-like conversation and help your customer’s out when needed, and by redirecting them to user guide and walkthrough within your web app.

chatbot builder


Going self-serve first will make your product and services available to anyone, anywhere.

Set-up chatbots, create knowledge bases, and introduce better user onboarding content to create self-sustaining users that can assist themselves with the content you offer.

This will relieve your customer support team and your customers can have information about their queries faster.

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Written by
Selman Gokce

Selman is the Inbound Marketing Specialist of UserGuiding, a code-free product walkthrough software that 2000+ companies trust in their user onboarding.

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