If you follow our blog you'll know that B2B customers want to service themselves. I talk about it a lot simply because it's a fact that not enough businesses take into account. Customers don't simply want self service options, they demand options that actually work. Options that they can use to actually find solutions to their product or service issues.
Slapping together a "support page" with a few small FAQ's isn't what I'm talking about. That's how you fast track your way to becoming obsolete.
I'm talking about real, effective and measurable customer-centric self-service support options.
The challenge, then, lies in building an integrated self-service support platform that helps customers find solutions as quickly and painlessly as possible. You need a solution that will be the first port of call for your customers, who will more than likely consider calling your support team to be a last resort.
How’s it done, you ask? Here are five self-service support options that your business needs:
1. Knowledge Base
It might sound old-school, but there are still plenty of people who prefer to peruse complete product documentation, which are among the many things that can be stored in a knowledge base. A knowledge base commonly functions as a part of an organization's website, or as part of an organization’s customer self-service portal. A knowledge base can include a number of different features that provides customers with the tools they need to help themselves whenever and wherever they need support.
In short, a knowledge base provides customer self-service support to those who don’t want to connect with customer service. It works to not only reduce costs, but also increase customer experience--and it's what your customers actually want! In fact, statistics show that a whopping 91% of customers would use an online knowledge base if it were available and tailored to their needs.
2. Support Community Forums
Community forums are typically the centerpiece of self-service support, in that they provide a platform for customers to ask their questions and help others. In short, an online community forum is an online space created by an organization or a brand, where members, customers and fans alike can congregate, ask questions, receive peer-to-peer support, discuss interests surrounding the brand and make social connections.
Over time, your forums will evolve into a hot spot aimed at not only helping your customers resolve common problems quickly, but also a place to connect, share brand experiences and drive product development through user feedback.
Just be sure to keep your discussion forums clean and organized so users can easily find what they’re looking for.
3. Frequently Asked Questions
Larger community forums quickly become disorganized, forcing users to wade through countless threads, pages and search results to find what they need.
Segmenting your forums by product, service or customer level helps keep things organized, but it’s a good idea to create a regularly updated FAQ that draws information from common customer experiences and issues that members have previously discussed in the forums. To ensure your FAQ is easily visible, make it a sticky thread that always stays on the front page.
4. Instant Messaging Capabilities
In B2B industries, problems are often complex and require a specialized approach to resolving them. Chances are your clients are relying on your products or services for the continued operation of their business, so they’ll need to resolve problems as quickly as possible.
Automated instant messaging services provide that sense of immediacy, and they can use integrated search and artificial intelligence to quickly find solutions to problems. And of course, in cases where it fails to find a resolution by itself, an instant messaging service can be used to chat directly to a support representative.
5. Video Tutorials
Today, marketing and customer support are deeply intertwined. That’s why content that helps people get more out of their investments is so valuable – both for building trust and authority and for offering pre- and post-sales support.
Video is one of the most useful mediums of all when it comes to providing both self-service support and building a more diverse content marketing portfolio. That’s why every self-service support community should provide video tutorials wherever applicable.