Customer service is undergoing a massive revolution. Thanks to the presence of mobile devices, nearly universal internet access, easy online searching, and the avoidance of traditional customer service methods, most modern customers prefer to help themselves when they face problems, rather than rely on email, phone calls, or other methods of support. But not all forms of customer self-service are automatically effective; you need to optimize the types of support you offer your visitors if you want those visitors to keep coming back (and stay loyal to your brand).
The Benefits of Self-Service
First, let’s take a look at the benefits of self-service on your website in the first place, so we can understand why certain improvements are better than others:
- Faster, more immediate service. The biggest benefit here, as described by eSign Live, is the fact that offering self-support for customers is faster and more immediate than any other form of customer service.
- Reduced the need for customer support staff. With an adequate self-support system in place, you’ll have less of a need for customer service representatives, which can help you reduce overhead.
- Feedback loops. Online self-help customer services give you an automated, and digital way to collect information about the problems users are experiencing (and what they think of your support system), which can help you improve at a faster rate.
- Lower risks. With a static system, you’ll face lower risks of deviating from the procedure, and lower risks of losing individuals to lost calls, missed emails, or other errors.
- Higher overall satisfaction. Generally, forms of self-support carry higher overall satisfaction ratings than conventional forms of customer service.
How to Improve Your Self-Support
So how can you offer better forms of self-support on your own website?
1. Provide ample content for troubleshooting.
Your first step is to create an ample body of self-support content. These include detailed articles, helpful illustrations, and interactive videos that guide your users through a variety of problems, lessons, and directions. For example, Facebook offers in-depth articles for its users on practically every subject imaginable. This will take some time for you to create, but remember that this is a permanent asset, so every hour you spend here could save you dozens or even hundreds of hours of time on the phone.
2. Make your site easily searchable.
Next, you need to make sure your site is easily searchable, especially your self-support section. Users won’t intuitively know how to access exactly the content they need, so they’re going to turn to a search bar to hunt down the keywords best related to their intentions and requirements. If that search bar isn’t there, or if it returns subpar or unexpected results, the value of the experience could plummet. Run some tests to ensure its helpfulness and functionality.
3. Be available via social media.
Most self-support seekers, if they can’t find what they’re looking for on their own, will look to a digital representative in the hopes of getting an immediate answer without a drawn-out conversation or the inconvenience of phone tag. Make yourself available on social media, or through live chat, to help these users as a second step in the escalation process.
4. Offer multiple forms of contact.
Not all users prefer social media or chat interaction, however. It pays to cater to multiple users at once by providing multiple ways to contact your company. Make these methods visible, even if it’s only at the bottom of each of your self-support articles. Include, at a minimum, a contact form that goes to email. You may also wish to have a phone number in place.
5. Create a user forum.
If you have a big enough customer base, you could help your clients help themselves by letting them give each other guidance in a user forum, where they can post their own questions and answers. For example, SaaS giant SalesForce offers not only a forum for community members looking to get more out of the platform but also a dedicated forum for developers trying to integrate other systems.
6. Establish a feedback system.
Finally, make sure you have some kind of feedback system in place. You need to know what problems you’re solving, what problems you’re neglecting, and how well-executed your support ideas are. It’s the only way to improve over time. For example, at the end of each of its articles, Google Support surveys users about whether or not the article was helpful. Google then uses this information to address problematic or incomplete articles in its database.
These six factors alone may not be enough to create a “perfect” system of self-support; different demographics will hold different needs and expectations, so you’ll have to make adjustments for your own brand. And even if your target audience craves self-support options, it still pays to have a traditional customer support system in place as a backup. Still, these tips and improvements can help your support strategy be as efficient as possible while minimizing both risk and cost to your business.