5 Building Blocks for a Better Customer Support Portal Experience


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For any brand, organization or government agency, serving and supporting customers and potential ones with real-time information and online assistance must become and remain a priority. If you’ve ever used the search engines or went directly to an organization’s website to get an answer to a question or information about a timely issue, you know the frustration of finding limited or dated information, especially if you’ve already attempted to reach out via another channel.

I personally experienced this recently with a state’s DMV support offering. I was looking for information on transferring an automobile’s title from two individuals’ names to one, which I perceived would be a commonly-asked question. First, I used the search engines to find my answer. Then I went to the agency’s website and looked through the information presented there.

Not finding the answers I needed, there was unfortunately no live chat or other immediate support offering available, so I called the state’s DMV support line several times. After waiting on hold for an extended period each time, I received the automated message that call volumes were extremely high and was directed to either look on their website or call back at another time; and then my call was promptly disconnected. Let me tell you, that’s not a happy moment for any customer.

Next stop was the agency’s online contact us button which lets citizens/customers know that “These emails are answered during normal business hours (Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm) within 7 business days.” This particular state’s DMV and citizen support team takes this very literally, as my question was responded to at almost close of business on the seventh business day.

Overall, it took me two weeks and a lot of multichannel frustration to get an answer to a very common question. More disappointing for me was to think that in 2014, it could have been answered more than a week sooner if I would have driven 350+ miles and stood in line for potentially over an hour to ask it in person.

Building a Better Experience

Forrester Research data shows that 71% of US adult consumers say that valuing their time is the most important aspect of a good customer service experience. So what can brands, organizations and agencies do to ensure that consumers, customers or citizens are served well and in a timely manner through their own websites? Here are five building blocks for a better customer support portal experience:

1. Make it Mobile-Friendly.

Ensure your organization can meet every end user’s expectations no matter what device they are viewing your website and online support portal from. In a recent Google survey, 48% of consumers surveyed said they feel frustrated and annoyed when they get to a site that’s not mobile-friendly; 36% said they felt like they’ve wasted their time by visiting those sites; 52% of users said that a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company.

2. Invest in Information.

Beefing up your self-service content helps customers achieve first contact resolution and provides satisfaction from being able to find the answers or information they need in real-time. Customer service content distributed across channels from the same knowledgebase also assists in delivering consistent information and messaging, and internally, can help customer service agents do the same.

3. Leverage Live Chat.

For customer satisfaction ratings, the numbers don’t lie. Consumers who use live chat for service and support on a brand or organization’s website talk it up as one of the most satisfying support channels available today, especially for real-time assistance from a live person, as well as for first contact resolution.

Stats from a recent eDigital Customer Service Benchmark report show live chat out in front in terms of customer satisfaction levels with 73% of consumers saying they were happy with their live chat experience. In comparison, email had a 61% satisfaction rate, social media had a 48% satisfaction rate, and phone came in at just 44%.

4. Factor in Search Functionality.

Make sure your customer service content on your brand or organization’s customer support portal is both searchable, and able to be found in the search engines. In a soon-to-be-released Parature Multichannel Customer Service survey, 84% of consumers surveyed said they have used the search engines to find the answer to a customer service question.

5. Add Some Extras.

More and more, customers are wanting, if not expecting, real-time or proactive information and updates on trending issues. To improve on information delivery, transparency, consistency of messaging and to reduce customer frustrations, extras such as a real-time alert or information section on your support portal are incredibly beneficial.

Not only does this provide easy-to-find real-time information on your brand’s website, but this can also be pushed to social media and other channels or communicated across IVR messaging to deflect a high volume of questions and reduce hold-times – a win-win for both customers and the brand or organization.

According to Forrester Research, 75% of consumers move to another channel when online customer service fails. Additionally, Forrester estimates $22 million in unnecessary service costs due to this channel escalation to higher-cost, live-person channels such as phone and email.

A little investment in your online customer support portal can go a long way. And the best part is, it benefits not just your customers, but your brand’s bottom line.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Tricia Morris
Tricia Morris is a product marketing director at 8x8 with more than 20 years of experience at technology companies including Microsoft and MicroStrategy. Her focus is on customer experience, customer service, employee experience and digital transformation. Tricia has been recognized as an ICMI Top 50 Thought Leader, among the 20 Best Customer Experience Blogs You Must Follow, and among the 20 Customer Service Influencers You Must Follow.


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