It’s no secret that today’s always-connected B2B customers like to find their own solutions in their own time, rather than making lengthy telephone calls or waiting for a technician to arrive in person to fix a problem. In fact, a study revealed that a whopping 75% of customers prefer to use self-service support portals over calling customer service.
The challenge, then, lies in building an integrated self-service support platform that helps them find those solutions as quickly and painlessly as possible. Don’t expect to launch a simple bulletin board and be done with it – 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. Product Documentation
It might sound old-school, but there are still plenty of people who prefer to peruse complete product documentation in the form of a user manual. While most customers instantly turn to the internet for support, this might not always be an option.
B2B customers have high demands and expectations, so they need a way to solve common issues – even when they don’t have access to the internet or when your knowledge base is temporarily offline. That’s why there’s still no true replacement for a full product documentation either in printed or digital form. Make it easy to find.
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.
Over time, your forums will evolve into a complete knowledge base that helps your customers resolve common problems quickly, while giving your business an unprecedented opportunity to 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.