While a lot of emphasis is put on attracting new customers, keeping the ones you’ve got is arguably even more important. According to a study published by eMarketer, it is 5-10 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an old one, making customer retention one of the most critical jobs of any business. Fortunately, customer retention needn’t be difficult. In fact, thanks to the power of community and self-serve customer support, it’s easier than ever.
Help Yourself: The Benefits of Self-Serve Customer Support
Taking a laissez-faire approach to customer service may seem counterintuitive, but the truth is that most customers prefer to find their own solutions to a problem. Most of the time, contacting customer service is a last-resort option. This is why you see so many forums and communities flooded with questions and concerns that could have just as easily been directed to one the business’s dedicated customer support channels.
People prefer having their questions addressed by other customers in an online community for a number of reasons. For one, it less of a hassle and feels more informal than going through an official customer support channel. Contacting customer support requires filling out a form, or talking to a stranger on the phone. Getting help through an online community is as simple and routine as putting up a post.
Secondly, the simple truth is that, no matter how responsive and excellent your customer service is, someone who is experiencing difficulties with your product is going to be more comfortable trusting the advice of their fellow customers than they are anyone else. They can relate to their fellow customers, after all, and they know their fellow customers don’t have any bias or ulterior motives behind the feedback and advice they give. Even though you or your customer support staff may be more knowledgeable about their specific question, customers are more likely to trust their own kind, and a little trust goes a long way.
A negative experience is by far the most common reason for customers leaving a business. By having an entire community of people your customers trust ready to help smooth over any negative experience in just a few quick posts, you can drastically reduce customer churn and build an active community of loyal customers.
Other Advantages of Self-Serve Customer Support
Aside from customer retention, other advantages of making self-serve customer support part of your business model is the amount of time and money it saves your company. More questions being answered within your business’s community means less customer service tickets being created, which in turn means less money you have to spend paying your employees to address them. It’s a win-win situation in which the customer is satisfied with the help they get (and if for any reason they’re not, they can still go through an official customer support channel) and you get off without having to spend a cent addressing their concern.
Another advantage of self-serve customer support is that by having a customer’s questions answered in a public forum for everyone to see, many other customers are having their questions answered as well.
It’s like in grade-school when your teachers would encourage you to ask questions out loud because other students were likely to have the same question. Except this time, having these questions asked and answered “out loud” through self-serve customer support is saving your business from losing time, money, and, most importantly, customers.