I was on Quora recently and saw this question: "How do you scale customer support? Aside from hiring more employees, how do you scale your customer support to handle increasing numbers of customers?"
There were lots of great answers. The best one answer, as chosen by Quora users, is from Greg Devore. He rephrased the issue, not so much about handling more customers, but on handling more questions. In other words, the real question is: "What are the questions my customers have and how can I scale my ability to address them?" As Greg pointed out there are really two types of questions your customer service team will face:
- Questions that require a customer service rep to do something
- Questions that require a customer service rep to answer
While the first question is really human resource/system related, the second one can be somewhat under your control.
Community Forum for Customer Support Scaling
There are lots of solutions to handle questions, but Community Forums can be used as a nuanced and dynamic knowledge-base solution. By setting up the community in a Q & A fashion, but you can also put the search first (and upfront) as a great way to reduce those questions. One of our customers, Kinvey, is using this with great success.
Customers are immediately prompted to search for an existing answer, which cuts down on repeat questions.
In this way, customers can search for things like "How do I create an account?" or "How much does an upgrade cost?" In conjunction with putting search first, your team can track searches with your analytics platform, as well as frequently asked or popular questions/discussions. The goal will then be to create best-in class responses that both your customers and your customer service agents can refer to as similar questions surface.
Creating Best In Class Answers
With a Q & A Community, either customers or agents can highlight the best answer, but it would also be a good idea to create a category of frequently asked questions. Spend time on these FAQ's because they present the biggest deflection opportunity:
- Make sure you edit the questions, or titles for clarity
- Include images, diagrams, or any relevant illustrations
- Include any YouTube or Vimeo videos (if you have them)
- Links to any extra documentation
Not only will you see an SEO benefit, but your customers will appreciate the detailed answers without having to contact you for further information. Most importantly, answers can be modified by your team as new information comes in, or if user questions make additional clarification necessary.
Not only will creating a community help satisfy your customers, and reduce the strain on your customer support team, it also has the benefit of reducing your costs. With a healthy community, questions destined for your team will be deflected into the community. You can then leverage your brand advocates/enthusiasts to assist in answering these questions without the need to hire additional staff.
Vanilla Forums offers a cloud based solution that can help complete your customer support solution. Check out our ROI Calculator to see how you can save on support with Vanilla Forums. Try Vanilla Forums Cloud Solution free for 30-days.