Customer Service Week 2016: What Channel Does Your Customer Prefer for Support?

Posted by David Dumas on Oct 6, 2016, 9:30:24 AM

3 minute read

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The goal of any app, business, organization, or service should always be to keep things as streamlined, intuitive, and user-friendly as possible. Of course, in practice this doesn’t always happen and customer support is needed.

There are a number of ways to engage customers in their need for support. Previously we’ve discussed the growing integration of self-serve support in online communities and how it benefits the customer, business, and community as a whole.

The benefits are varied, but perhaps the greatest perk of self-serve support is the fact the customers are increasingly selecting it as a preference over other forms of support such as phone, online chat, or email.

When it comes to simple interaction that don’t mandate the need for a live agent, customers are indicating that self-service is not only their preferred channel of interaction, but also one of the more effective.

Why Self-Serve Customer Support rules all

In a study completed by The Temkin Group, self-service customer support was the preferred channel of use for a variety of activities, from troubleshooting computer issues to checking account balances, purchasing items, and more. While some activities such as selecting a life insurance policy still rated in-person interactions the highest, the clear conclusion from the data is that self-service support is preferred for simple transaction or processes.

It is interesting to note that despite the rise of live chat modules appearing on various websites and services, the process was consistently rated as one of the least preferred options, in some cases lower than phone conversations.

Managing Customer Expectations

Preference is one thing, but how do customers respond to the process? In a similar study, The Northridge Group measured customer satisfaction to various channels of support. According to the results, web-based self-service met, or exceeded expectations 77% of the time. Mobile-based self-service support met or exceeded expectations 74% of the time.

The path of customer care is becoming an increasingly online one. Expectations are an interesting thing to consider. When dealing directly with a customer service representative, the set of expectations is different than when searching for the answers on your own. In that regard, the PWC study identified three basic components of self-service support expectations:

1. Availability: When providing self-service support such as a forum or knowledgebase, the customer has an expectation that the information they need will be found within the community. This means a self-service channel needs to be continuously updated and maintained to build out the resources required to handle a variety of issues with the help of moderators.

2. Accessibility: In using a self-service channel, the customer is looking for efficiency and convenience in resolving their issue. It is important that the information is not only available, but easily accessible. This means that topics and content are easily identifiable and navigable for easy retrieval.

3. Effectiveness: The content must be relevant and helpful to the customer. There’s no use making it available and accessible if it doesn’t serve the intended purpose.

As technology continues to grow and innovate, new ways of supporting customers will continue to evolve. Web and mobile-based self-service channels will become more commonplace. Among millennials they are already the preferred method of service and that will only grow as time goes on.

Want to learn more on how companies use online communities in customer support? We partnered with Demand Metrics to interview 400 companies and compile the data. Get the 2016 State of Online Communities and Customer Support here.

Topics: Community, Support, News

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