Most companies are struggling to provide a great customer experience when it comes to customer support.
A Dimension Data study shows that 74% of customer support centers expect the number of tickets handled to increase in the near future. With a larger volume of tickets, the overall cost of providing customer service is increasing with it.
At the same time, 50% of customers may be experiencing issues that they need to resolve, but only 5% actually reach out to ask for help from customer support. This means that up to 95% of customers won’t reach out to let companies know that they have a problem, even though their customer satisfaction is plummeting.
Often, companies won’t even have a clue when a customer is dissatisfied—that customer will just cancel her subscription or stop purchasing products from your business. When you don’t create an intuitive, positive customer experience, your customer will often find it easier to simply jump ship to a competitor rather than try to work through her issue with a customer support representative. That’s why it’s so important to create a proactive approach to customer support, enabling customers to easily educate themselves and find the solutions they need independently.
Enter the world of customer self-service.
What Is Customer Self-Service?
Self-service resources allow your customers to solve their own issues in a way that’s fast and easy, meaning that your customer service team doesn’t need to handle as many requests for support.
Typically, customers can do this via your company’s knowledge bank—an online resource that is similar to a common FAQ but far more detailed. Your knowledge bank can provide information about a variety of different categories: For instance, if you run an ecommerce yoga apparel shop, your knowledge bank might include sections on setting up your account preferences, sizing, type of material, shipping, returns, and your loyalty program. When building your knowledge base, pay attention to customer feedback you’ve received in the past, and the questions that you regularly receive from new customers, to understand what information customers typically want to know about your products. In addition to written content, consider providing video tutorials, particularly for complex processes such as setting up a new account.
Companies that implement customer self-service resources for their customers have a sizeable opportunity to reduce customer service costs.
This lucrative opportunity is already being chased by companies everywhere. A study by Gartner predicts that by 2020, 85% of customer relationships will be managed without the customer ever interacting with a human. Customer self service and automation of processes will play significant roles in this transformation.
Human-free service is a win-win-cheaper for the business and easier and preferable for customers.
It’s clear that companies that help customers help themselves will excel relative to their competitors who don’t. The digital channel service center of the future is ascending rapidly.
But why are digital support channels eating the customer service world? The answer is simple: customers prefer self-service customer support.
Customers Prefer Self-service
Customers’ preferences are straightforward. 91% of consumers would use a self-service channel if it met their needs, and 84% of consumers have used a self-service channel in the last 12 months, according to Forrester’s customer service trends report in 2016.
Customers are on board with helping themselves, and millennials are leading the charge in utilizing self-service channels, with 73% expecting companies to give them the resources to resolve issues on their own. Generating the most revenue out of this demographic will only become more important as time passes.
The reasons for customers’ preferences for self service customer support are very simple:
- Self-service channels are faster and more convenient on mobile devices
- Self-service lets customers access support whenever they need it
- Preemptive service lets customers head off problems before they arise
- Self-service resources are easy to refer to a friend experiencing the same issue
What’s more, customers like to have multiple self-service channels available. According to a study performed by Deakin University, customers think of each self-service channel differently, and they often switch between self-service channels when new channels are offered.
Customers who make the jump between self-service channels expect to do so seamlessly, and are pleased when they are able to resolve their issue as a result of switching channels. Pleased customers tell an average of nine friends about their good experience with a company.
Revenue Is Higher With Self-service
There are multiple reasons why it is very profitable to give customers the service they want.
A Forrester report unearthed a clear reason as to why companies are enthusiastic about implementing self-service channels.
In the companies Forrester surveyed, each online chat interaction cost $.40, whereas each voice interaction cost a minimum of $1.40. Voice interactions become more and more expensive the more complex the issue.
But the cost of a ticket answered entirely by an online knowledge base or FAQ page is close to zero no matter what the issue is.
The better the knowledge base, the more tickets will be resolved and the better your customer service team can focus on higher priority and more complex questions. Trivial inquiries won’t clog your voice support channels or live chat queues any longer.
Knowledge bases require upkeep by customer service teams and product experts, but they can be as easy to create by allowing internal information to be accessible by customers with issues.
With self-service resources, your customer service groups will:
- Handle fewer Tier 1 tickets
- Have many potential tickets resolved before reaching an agent
- Experience an increased one-touch resolution rate
- Find that customers who contact support likely have knowledge about their issue
Setting up a self-service customer support portal means that your company will see the number of new tickets drop in relation to company growth and the job satisfaction of your customer service team rise.
Self-service During Sales
Aside from customers dealing with their issues by using customer self-service, sales is also an area where self-service can make money for your business.
Customers that have access to self-service resources during the buyer’s journey have a higher average order value than customers who don’t.
But be wary. A Forrester’s report indicates that 53% of adults in the US are likely to abandon their purchase if they can’t find the exact piece of information that they’re looking for.
Offer more than an FAQ page and a few links to product manuals. Satisfying your customers who are hungry for customer self-service requires making a knowledge base that reflects all of the knowledge that your company has about its products.
Creating A Killer Self-service Platform
Getting started with your company’s customer self-service platform is easy. Most of the costs are upfront.
Follow these basic steps:
- Build a searchable online knowledge base
- Create a prominent FAQ page
- Cross-link to knowledge base articles at every relevant opportunity to make it easier for customers to find the self-service resource that they’re looking for
- Provide a forum for customers to discuss their issues with other customers and task a CSR with addressing the most common issues
- Direct customers to your self-service resources on social media
It goes without saying that you will need to inform your customers about the resources that you have created for their self-service needs. When you launch your knowledge base, plan an email marketing campaign to announce the new resource center and give your customers a demo video to show them how to use it.
Make sure that once they dive in, they know how to navigate your self-service options. A tool like Solvvy can make it easy to navigate through the knowledge base and solve problems independently, while freeing up your support agents to work on more complex issues.