Self-service customer support options are one of the best ways for businesses to simultaneously lower their costs and increase customer satisfaction. And while a large percentage of customers already prefer self service options over more traditional methods that require a representative, there’s still a sizeable selection of customers who avoid them whenever possible.
This is a problem for businesses for one simple reason — the ROI of self-service options is significantly higher than traditional methods. Therefore, while it may seem harmless, businesses must understand that every customer who feels compelled to connect with a representative costs them money.
Of course, you'll never completely eliminate the representative as an option for customers. But that doesn't change the fact that you should be actively working to transition them to self-service support options. Below, are some of the most effective strategies to do so.
Make Sure Content Is Relevant (Answers Questions and Is Up-To-Date)
Customers go to self-service support options for help — not to become more frustrated. If your company provides a knowledge-base, it's important that it gets the care and attention it deserves. This is a big undertaking, because it means there can be no excuses.
For starters, the knowledge-base needs to be thorough and comprehensive, so it can answer every conceivable question a customer might have. If your customer can't find an answer — or worse, can't find their question — right away, they will immediately lose faith in the the knowledge-base and instantly seek a more traditional customer service representative route for the help they need. This increases your support costs as it doesn't help in ticket deflection.
But accounting for every possible question is only the beginning. Answers need to be clear and concise. Ideally, they will be written in bullet point or step-by-step form so that they can be easily followed. And most importantly — they must all be updated to reflect the most current version of the product or service.
The presence of updated information is crucial. Customers who seek help and find that a business couldn't be bothered to update information will – in the best-case scenario – be frustrated and try to contact a representative.
But in the worst-case scenario, they will simply lose faith in the business as a whole and move to a competitor.
Navigation, Navigation, Navigation
It shouldn't require a PhD in computer science to use self-service customer support options. While it's true that modern-day support forums and knowledge bases can be complicated, it's also true that there are many great platforms out there that can help you manage them.
Take the time to map out how a theoretical customer will journey through the self-support option. It should be as easy and intuitive as possible, making use of things such as categories, sub-categories, menus, gamification to encourage proper answers, internal linking and even visual aids where necessary.
The easier it is to use, the more likely it is that the customer will actually use it.
User Experience on Multiple Devices
Navigation is not only about how the information is organized. It must also take into account how people interact with it. Consumers use a wide range of devices to interact with a business’ content. This includes PCs, Mac desktops, iOS, Android… the list goes on and on.
It’s up to the business to provide self-service content in a forum that provides excellent experience on the platform their customers are most comfortable using — not the other way around. If an organization isn't meeting this basic need, they shouldn't be surprised when customers look elsewhere for help.
Have a Representative Waiting with a Clear Response Time Metric
Although it may seem counterintuitive to a successful self-service customer support strategy, it's always important to make sure that there is a human representative available to the customer should they not find what they’re looking for.
The reason is simple. Customers are more willing to use self-service support if they don't feel they're being forced to. If you make it clear to the customer that no other help will be forthcoming, they are liable to make it clear that that is unacceptable — by taking their business elsewhere instead of trying to solve their problem.