Happy customers are good customers. They return to buy more, they write nice reviews, and they recommend you to their friends.
If you’re one of the lucky online stores that have experienced a surge in sales over the last year, you probably have more of them than you’ve ever had before, which is great.
But with a whole lot of new customers come fresh challenges. You might, for example, find your customer support team struggling to keep up with new customer queries and demands.
An increase in customers may mean it’s difficult to provide the usual personalized customer service your company prides itself on. Keeping customers happy isn’t so easy if your customer support team is drowning in a sea of support tickets!
So, how do you continue to provide great customer support without hiring a whole new team? The answer is to get customers to help themselves. In other words, self-service support.
What exactly do we mean by self-service support?
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It’s a little like going to the grocery store. Customers can pick and choose what they need and then go to the self-checkout.
Customer support has moved on light-years from the days of staffing a simple helpdesk. Emerging technology has created new and diverse ways of connecting with consumers.
By providing detailed resources and easy-to-follow guides and support pages on your website, your customers should be able to find the information they need without having to contact you.
Self-service support is popular because it addresses one of the key frustrations of customers today: waiting. Most don’t want to wait in line at a store or on the phone. They want quick service and an immediate response.
In fact, according to research published in Forbes, more than half of consumers expect a response from customer service within an hour, even on weekends.
It isn’t just about the speed with which they want answers. Most tech-savvy customers prefer self-serve to assisted service. They want to learn and discover things for themselves. They don’t want to have to explain their predicament to a member of your support team. They’d rather work it out on their own.
The self-service method is great for businesses too, as it allows smaller support teams to help a greater number of customers.
Now is the time to take advantage of this intelligent and efficient technology. Ensure your customer support team uses the best communication systems and that they know how to leave a pre-recorded voicemail, for example.
How do you go about setting up a successful self-service portal?
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Before we take a look at how to set up a self-service portal, let’s think about the markers of great customer support. It’s all about getting the basics right. Effective customer support combines the following key ingredients:
- Easy access
- Great communication
- Effective resolution
One of the most important first steps in establishing a self-service portal is to know your customer and what they want, whether that’s an omnichannel customer experience or video tutorials. Identify your intended audiences’ needs. For example, what are their demographics, skill levels, and preferred ways of interacting with you?
1. Identify repetitive requests
Support teams spend a great deal of time repeating themselves, since common requests pertain to things like cancellations, changes of address, returns, etc.
You can eliminate repetitive requests by offering a personalized dashboard, whether through a widget or a page on your website. Customized workflows allow the customer to work through these problems themselves.
2. Build a bespoke support panel
All businesses are unique, so it’s essential to build your own support panel using a Q&A format for customers to work through.
The likes of Amazon and WordPress have been using self-service support for several years. Their websites contain whole pages of commonly asked questions and answers within an easy-to-use interface.
3. Use the best technology available
You can use 24-hour unstaffed customer support with intelligent OCR. This is a bot that can collect customer details, so if your live chat team is out of the office, you can call them back or respond at a later date.
You should use one shared inbox for all support channels. Whether you’re considering traditional PBX vs VoIP or have already settled on the best option for your business, make sure your telephone system is super responsive since some customers will always want to speak to you.
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Top tips for smooth customer self-service support
At the very least, your self-service support should include the following:
- Frequently asked questions (FAQ) pages
- Interactive voice response systems (IVR)
- Discussion forums
- Knowledge bases
- Live chat
You should also regularly update your content. Improve your knowledge base with how-to videos, screenshots, and tutorials. Make it as easy as possible for your customer to understand your products. Visually show them where they need to click to change their settings, update, edit, etc.
Create an effective search field too. Use tags and tag pages with specific keywords so that when a customer looks for help with resetting their password, for example, the right information pops up.
Optimize self-service for mobile use as well as desktop. It’s essential to provide a consistent service across all your channels. Make it as easy as possible for customers using a small smartphone screen.
Today’s discerning customers – particularly those who previously shopped in brick-and-mortar stores – demand self-service capacity at every stage of the buying process. The right communication systems will help you operate more efficiently, with 24/7 service as standard. This way, no call is left unanswered.
Why is it so important to invest in a self-service portal?
Not only is it what your customers want and expect, but it also saves you money. According to The Service Desk Institute, companies that enable automation and self-servicing reduce the need for hiring new staff.
Self-service allows customers to find information quickly and can reduce the number of calls, emails, and support tickets your staff have to deal with.
What’s more, unhappy customers will think nothing of taking to Twitter or Facebook to broadcast their complaints. Self-service support allows them to find solutions before turning to social media.
In the end, it’s about inciting customer satisfaction or, to put it another way, keeping your customers happy!