I have some news for you, but don’t take it personally. According to a recent Forrester survey, 72% of all customers would rather use self-serve customer support content than reach you via phone, email or social media.
Whoa there! Before you run off and start cutting heads, take a deep breath. Does this really mean you can replace all (or most) of your customer support with an excellent self-help content library?
Definitely not - and to understand why, you need to understand why people like self-serve in the first place. So take the photo albums out of the fireplace, and hear us out.
What You’re Not Delivering
The single most important attribute of customer experience is speed. 75% of all users rate it as the defining factor in how happy they are with the support they get. When something goes wrong and help is needed urgently, this figure rises to 90%.
So what’s the problem? Expectations. 4 in 10 of these consumers (even higher on social media) expect a reply to their issues within 4 hours. Providing this kind of on-demand, around-the-clock customer support is excruciatingly expensive and difficult to manage.
The solution to their need for speed? A self-serve customer support system (we cover the best practices for doing this here). It’ll keep your costs down while giving consumers the support they want, and as a result, 91% of your users will end up happy.
A Match Made in Heaven
But here’s why this doesn’t mean you should say goodbye to ticket-based support.
While it’s true that speed is the most important factor in customer support satisfaction, the next 3 salient points are:
- Being heard and taken seriously
- Getting a transparent overview of the upcoming steps
- The friendliness of customer support staff
None of these can be delivered by a self-serve system, no matter how good it is. These essential elements can only be expressed by real-life human beings. The trick, then, is to create a seamless customer support experience that melds self-serve content with human help in a cost-efficient manner.
Take note, because here’s where it gets good: this is how you become a top support provider while cutting costs and scaling at will.
The 3 Parts of a Hybrid Support System
Here at Vanilla, we’ve helped hundreds of businesses create effective, efficient hybrid customer support systems. Here are the 3 moving parts that all these systems tend to have in common.
1. A Community Help Portal
50% of all users want a brand to tell them what kind of content to make. Why not have them provide you with customer support content?
If you do this right, your users will answer each other's’ questions for incentives as small as reputation points. This is something tech-savvy brands have been doing for years.
For example: SAP has a user community with over 2 million active members. Can you guess how much load that takes off their customer support system?
2. Other Customer Support Channels (e.g. social media)
A J.D. Power study found that 2 in 3 consumers use branded social media channels for customer service purposes. That’s a big number, and it’s an opportunity to make an impression on your customers - both existing and potential.
Why not take advantage of this by allocating customer support staff to your social platforms?
It’s 2017. Shouldn’t your customer support be multi-channel, letting users turn to Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram or whatever platform they like to reach you? A single mobile or desktop device can let staff members use all these channels to support your customers, as well as VoIP! If your customers are trying to talk to you online, you better be there with a plan.
3. Warm Intros, Canned Responses
People want to be taken seriously, then helped quickly by a friendly individual. The simplest, fastest way to make this a reality is by letting real people greet a customer in need of help - then using canned responses to resolve the root of the problem. The secret is making customers feel like they’re getting heard with personal introductions and problem reactions - then moving on to canned responses.
Let’s go over the main takeaways from this article one more time so the information sticks:
- Customers want speedy, personable, professional customer service - and if they don’t get it, they will avoid your brand and tell others to do the same.
- Combining self-serve and ticket-based customer service is a cost and time-efficient way to create this kind of customer service.
- The secret to succeeding with a hybrid system lies in community help, multi-channel customer support and canned intros combined with personal message elements.
It’s not a question of which is better - self serve or ticket-based customer service. The trick is making the two work together, for your own customer service happily ever after.
Your customers will thank you.