Without a few dedicated customers supporting your brand, your business is likely to fail in a relatively short amount of time. In fact, research shows that repeat customers account for almost two-thirds of a company’s business.
This means, you need to deliver the best customer experience to keep buyers returning as much as possible. But a great experience does not necessarily mean having someone on the phone, live chat, or email all the time. On the contrary, 81% of customers attempt to help themselves first before seeking assistance – based on research findings published by Harvard Business Review. A self-service support strategy should be on the cards for any company looking to improve customer experience.
What is self-service support?
Customer self-service speaks to the ability of existing and potential customers to solve problems and find answers on their own when interacting with a business. It includes any activity that allows the consumer to get information, find what they are looking for, or receive after-sales assistance, without having to interact with a human customer support rep. Common examples include a shopper using automated website tools to customize the specs they want in a computer or scrolling through FAQs to find an answer about how to initiate a product return.
the ability of existing and potential customers to solve problems and find answers on their own when interacting with a business.
Why is self-service support important?
The main answer is speed and convenience. On any given day, the average customer’s attention span can be severely divided up between a number of variables, including work, school, family, traffic, self-care, etc. In addition, there are countless merchants competing for their time. This means consumers have less capacity to patiently wait on help in order to get basic things done.
Think about it. Most people would rather Google a question and get an answer in a minute or less, instead of spending 15 - 30 minutes hoping for someone to reach their call in a queue or to pick up their live chat or, worse, waiting 24 hours to get a response to an email. If customers have to wait long for a company to answer their queries, they will likely go somewhere else.
Benefits of self-service support
There are a number of good reasons why you should invest in a customer self-service support strategy if you have not already done so. Some of the top benefits are:
Reduction in support costs
As firms accumulate more customers, they may feel the need to hire corresponding levels of staff to provide the amount of support needed. This can get quite expensive and unsustainable rather quickly. A self-service support strategy significantly cuts down on the associated costs of live, human attention. According to research, the difference can be pennies for self-service support compared to as much as $13 for human support per transaction.
Without self-service support, customer service staff have to put up with answering the same questions repeatedly every day. They also end up assisting customers with simple processes that most users could have figured out on their own. All these can be pretty annoying to most support staff, not to mention time-consuming. On the other hand, having self-service support solutions in place frees up staff members to focus on more productive aspects of their job, which can lead to a more efficient and harmonious work environment.
Improvement in positive feedback
If customers are able to solve problems and get answers on their own in relatively quick time, they will think your company is one that is helpful and forward-thinking. This will reflect well on the feedback they give about your company, whether leaving a review or sharing their experience via word of mouth. Positive feedback is always great for business.
Uptick in sales
As mentioned before, customers will likely move on to the competition if getting help and support is taking too long or requires too many steps. In addition, customers are more than 50% likely to abandon their shopping carts if they are not able to easily find answers when carrying out an online purchase. When there is useful self-service support, it lessens the possibility of customers turning to the competition or abandoning purchases.
Overall better customer experience
It can be an empowering feeling when a customer is able to find help without having to call on someone else. A great experience means a customer is more likely to remain loyal to your brand.
Improving customer experience with self-service support
It is clear that you can provide a smoother and more rewarding customer experience by implementing suitable self-service support methods in your organization. Below are some of the options to consider in this regard:
One of the first things people do when trying to get answers or assistance is to look for the live chat option. But talking to someone means the user often has to wait in queue until a live chat agent becomes available. With an automated chat bot, the user is often able to get answers faster because they will be presented with support options right away.
A well designed chat bot can respond immediately to many common concerns the customer might face. It can be trained to provide human responses such as “hello,” “how are you today?” “what can I help with?” etc., as well as to pull relevant answers from product pages, FAQs, articles, and instructional videos to display to the user. In addition, the chat bot can also be set up to allow a seamless transition between automated support and staff support when it is not able to provide a useful response to the user.
With that said, it is important that your chat bot is kept updated and programmed to provide the most relevant answers. Poorly designed chat bots can cause more grief rather than help, and may result in users thinking the company is using the bot to hide from the customer.
Comprehensive knowledge base
No customer or aspiring buyer wants to be browsing through countless pages on your website to get a simple answer on how to get something done using a product or service that you offer. They would find it much more helpful getting access to a database that contains a variety of information relevant to your offerings and how to use them.
A knowledge base can drastically lessen the need for people to contact your company and result in a more satisfying experience for the customer. That’s because they are often designed to address most common issues a customer will face when setting up, operating, or troubleshooting a product/service. They also provide answers to frequently asked questions, as well as outline steps on how to achieve various processes relevant to your business.
Source: BYKidO Community
When built properly, knowledge bases are extremely useful and resourceful. You can enhance their helpfulness by adding search functionality, especially if the information is vast. This allows users to type in their questions on the website to locate possible answers in the knowledge base. Also, a knowledge base can make your website more SEO-friendly and lead to potential customers being able to find your offerings from a search engine.
In addition to being more comfortable helping themselves, customers are also happy to learn from their peers. This is where setting up an online community or forum comes in. More and more companies are realizing the value of these platforms and making provisions in their budgets for them as a result.
People joining online communities and forums can ask questions, share answers, post helpful brand-related content, and engage in vibrant conversations with each other. Discussion threads and posts can add to the knowledge base of the company, providing answers to many questions faced by new and potential customers. In addition, these communities allow business owners to get valuable feedback from users, which can lead to better designed products, unique customer experiences, and deeper brand loyalty.
Online communities do require some amount of human input on the part of the company setting it up. For example, virtual communities often require moderators to monitor the content being shared, as well as to provide support when issues arise that are beyond the scope of the group, and to ensure the rules are being maintained.
Graphic tutorials and guides
In addition to a central knowledge base or help center, it might be helpful to create video tutorials, whiteboard presentations, images, screenshots, and detailed guides that explain how to accomplish certain things. This is especially helpful in cases where a company sells products and services that require multiple steps or processes to accomplish. People are visual beings and are better at remembering information expressed in images rather than text.
If your company has a complex signup process that can’t be simplified, for instance, you may want to create a video that explains how to get from start to finish, or at least create a series of screenshots outlining each step. Another example would be an electronics company developing image-based troubleshooting guides that explain what to do when a customer runs into a problem while operating a device. Many tech companies such as HP, Dell, and Microsoft use these types of content to help users fix many problems they might encounter while using their respective products.
In addition to posting guides and tutorials directly on product pages, you can also include them in your knowledge base and share them in your online community. That way, they can easily be discovered by customers, regardless of what route they take to get help.
Link to your FAQs
Many websites have a page or section dedicated to frequently asked questions. Well-written and thorough FAQs play a big role in self-service support as they allow people to quickly get answers to common questions a lot of customers may have. However, people are sometimes in a rush and don’t have time to search your website to find the FAQs, especially if the link is hidden in the footer or some other vague area.
A good strategy is to place prominent links to your FAQs from places where people are most likely to browse. That means adding it to your main navigation bar and help center page. If you have a forum or online community page, you could also place a link to your FAQs or pull your most popular FAQs and post them in a section with a link to view more if they need additional answers.
Not every company website will need to emphasize their FAQs. But if you notice people are constantly asking the same questions, it is something you should look into.
Constantly update your self-help content
As time goes by, your processes and procedures may change. The steps to accomplish a task or troubleshoot a product may become altered over time. If customers are met with old information while browsing your knowledge base or FAQs, they will become annoyed when the advice given or steps don’t work. You want to avoid this at all costs.
Be sure to constantly make amendments to instructions, guides, and answers to FAQs as needed. This can be a tedious process, especially if you have a large database of products. But taking the time to keep self-help content updated will ensure your self-service support strategy remains effective.
Customer loyalty can be extremely difficult to come by, yet is highly important for any business that is aspiring to achieve any level of success. Investing in customer self-service is among the best ways to keep customers satisfied and happy while doing business with you.