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How Self-Serve Customer Support Has Transformed The Buyer’s Journey

Posted by Alok Chowdhury on Sep 25, 2017 8:00:29 AM

5 minute read

The concept of the “buyer’s journey” has been around for a long time. In essence, it’s a process of mapping the 3-stages of your buyers’ behavior, starting from when they first discover your offer to when they complete their initial purchase. It’s a classic model that still works the same as it ever did - albeit with one major difference ...

Enter the self-serve customer support system.

It’s quite simple. Automated messages and self-serve content have changed multiple parts of the buyer’s journey by streamlining each stage.

This has been good in many ways and not-so-good in others. But no matter how you feel about it, it can significantly change your business’s bottom line.

Let’s take a closer look at the three steps of mapping a buyer’s journey, and discuss how they have evolved since the advent of self-service customer support. Only then can you understand what to do to make sure your business evolves right along with it.

Step One:  Awareness

The awareness stage of a buyer’s journey describes where and when the customer identifies the desire, problem or need that your offer aims to solve. In laymen’s terms, it’s when a potential buyer discovers your product and knows they have use for it.

There are two traditional awareness strategies, which are broadly defined as:

  1. Inbound strategies: These are strategies in which you establish value that brings customers to you, otherwise known as “pull” or “new marketing”. Inbound marketing builds on the goal of earning, not buying, a person's attention. It is usually an interactive, two-way communication.
  2. Outbound strategies: These are strategies in which you buy your audience’s attention to sell your products or services, otherwise known as “push” or “old marketing”. It’s usually a one-way communication.

Each of these strategies has its strengths and weaknesses, but today, inbound strategies are known to have better results. Not only because outbound marketing tends to be expensive and labour-intensive (just think of the Wolf of Wall Street scenes with hundreds of salespeople), but also because only 1% of outbound cold calls result in a meeting. This is woefully inefficient - and it’s because you’re targeting people at random.

How Self-Serve Changes the Awareness Game

Self-serve content allows you to draw-in prospects with canned information, as opposed to live cold-calls or print advertising that costs big money to make. An established self-serve customer support system puts an unlimited amount of information in front of users.

Why is that so great? Because:

  • B2B customers discover your features on their own
  • B2C customers overcome their objections to the purchase on their own
  • B2B and B2C customers verify that you offer quality customer support to each other

All terrific benefits, for sure, but some companies are taking it to the next level by directing inbound awareness queries to self-serve content. Warby Parker, the billion-dollar glasses start-up, even does it from their social media accounts by allocating customer support staff there. Champion.

This kind of creative thinking is something you can (and should) replicate in your own business. By using self-serve content to automate your efforts during the buyer’s awareness stage, you not only optimize operations but you also save yourself some valuable time.

Step Two: Consideration

Once a prospect learns enough about your product or service and understands that it offers a solution to their problem, they move into the consideration stage. This is where they evaluate your offer, see how it specifically fits their needs and compare it to what else is available on the market - your competition.

Unsurprisingly, the consideration stage is when the customer likes to be left alone to do their own research and make their own decisions. This can go on for a while, and may require multiple phone calls, meetings and emails before a deal is closed. As a matter of fact, eighty percent of sales require at least five follow-up touches before a buyer makes a purchase. That costs sales teams a lot of time and money.

How Self-Serve Changes the Consideration Game

Fortunately, self-serve customer support content minimizes the necessary resources during the consideration stage. Your library of canned responses, presentations and videos, will give your employees the arsenal they need to follow up with clients quickly, instead of having to do recreate and research “manually.”

Here’s an example. A Hootsuite potential customer wants to know about their Dashboard features before making a commitment. Easy peasy. All they need to do is go to this page instead of taking up the time of your sales rep:

Imagine how useful this becomes when you combine this content with stock emails, phone call scripts and messages. Doing so allows you to completely automate your consideration stage messages, only requiring a human touch (and sales time) when a sale is about to move into the last stage of the buyer’s journey.

Step Three: Decision-Making

Simply put, self-serve content boosts your search engine ranking by indexing more of your website. This helps prospects find you, and the information they need, in the decision-making stage, giving you a leg up on the competition.

Here’s a perfect example from Hootsuite. Let’s say you’re in the final decision-making stage with one question left - does their platform allow you to sync social media accounts? You go to Google, enter your basic query, and you’re immediately presented with two relevant results that unequivocally show that Hootsuite does indeed have the required feature. Sold!

Logically, therefore, it’s a no-brainer that self-serve content maximizes your conversions during this stage of the buyer’s journey. It adds value, answers potential questions and makes your prospects’ lives easier … all while saving you money.

Conclusion

There’s no doubt that self-serve customer support has improved the buyer’s journey. But now you know some of the ways in which self-serve content can change your buyer’s journey:

  • By giving targeted, on-demand information about your niche and the products in it during the awareness stage.
  • By automating query responses and follow-ups during the consideration stage.
  • By making additional content about your offer easy to find and peruse during the decision-making stage.

In some of these situations, customer support content is used as intended - i.e., for customer service. At other times, it’s ahead of the game by influencing buyer decisions.

Anyway you slice it, every little bit counts when it comes to your bottom line.

Would you like to see how easy it is to run your own self-serve content library? Learn more about our service here.


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