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Many business leaders believe helpful customer support representatives are the be-all and end-all to great customer care. That’s simply not true. While your customer service team is essential, customers have come to expect more. Calling a representative shouldn’t be the only option people have when they need answers.
Today’s consumers often don’t want to make a call asking for assistance. From an accessibility perspective, not everyone can. Whether people don’t have the time, desire, or means, you should empower customers to find answers themselves. This can create a better customer experience and give your reps time to focus on more complex customer support requests.
If you’re interested in learning how you can begin offering self-service options, take a look at these four ways you can help consumers find answers.
1. Organize Your Information Online
The first step to empower customers to self-serve involves publishing and organizing resources online. Many businesses already direct customers to their website, yet they don’t always ensure it’s optimized. There are many ways you can organize your information, and each method comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. You want to ensure that you’re choosing the right format for your content and organizing it in a way that’s easy for your customers to navigate.
Create a Content Library
A content library is a simple way to organize information. Creating a content library gathers information and resources your customers could need and stores them in a central location. When creating your own content library, take a look at some examples.
Gabb Wireless is an example of a business creating guides and blog posts to help their customers. Their articles aren’t just about their products. They have an entire page dedicated to providing families with information about parenting in a digital world. By aiming to answer any questions your customers may have, you build trust and customers see you as an expert.
Answer Questions with an FAQ Page
Every company has questions they repeatedly hear. Creating a frequently asked questions page eliminates frustration for customers because you’re presenting information in a simplified format. While a content library with a lot of information is great, some answers should be simple and to the point.
An FAQ page is typically categorized by topic. This helps keep the page organized and lets people easily find the information they need. Many good FAQ pages also contain multiple solutions for a problem. This adds extra value for your customer and increases the likelihood that they will resolve the issue on their own.
Design a Knowledge Base
A knowledge base is a portion of your website that houses educational resources to help customers better understand your product. Strong knowledge bases will contain many resources like guides, blog posts, and how-to articles. While they can be similar to content libraries, a knowledge base typically has a very specific structure and hierarchy.
Some knowledge bases are organized in a way that they are machine-readable for AI-chatbots. Others are designed for humans, so your customer support team can use its content to answer user questions during live interactions. Your business may choose to utilize a knowledge base as an internal document, but it could be available for customers too.
2. Create Learning Materials in a Variety of Formats
If your business isn’t prioritizing accessibility, you’re losing customers and dodging social responsibility. While it’s great to organize written content on your website, not everyone will be able to read or learn from it. Include audio dictations for any consumers within the visually impaired community. Many other people will also benefit from and enjoy this option. New articles are increasingly adding audio playback options, and it is going to be expected.
Video messages are another resource your business should aim to provide. If you offer a complex product or service, explaining in-depth processes can be challenging over the phone or via text. Creating a series of pre-recorded videos walking new users through the nuances can be a great alternative. Some people benefit from visual learning, and it’s important to meet those needs. Remember to add video captions for members of the hearing impaired community.
While live product demos are helpful, they don’t allow customers to learn at their own pace. Creating educational videos housed on your site lets customers take their time. If customers can truly understand your product, it increases the likelihood of recurring buyers.
3. Enable AI-Powered Chatbot Messaging
Another alternative to a phone call is a messaging option. With the popularity of messaging apps, the demand for chatbots is increasing. Research shows that nearly 40 percent of people prefer interacting with chatbots. Chatbots use machine learning and AI to answer consumer questions through social media, your web site, SMS, or a mobile app. Chatbots can also be available at any time of day or night, unlike traditional customer support.
Not only do chatbots eliminate the need to make a phone call, but they’re also efficient. Customers can learn the answers to simple questions within minutes — even seconds — of starting a chat. Bots can understand the intent of a query and answer or send users to the resources on your website. For more nuanced problems, the chatbot can transfer customers to a live service agent.
4. Utilize Community Forums
If you’ve ever Googled how to fix an obscure technology issue, chances are you found the solution through a community forum. Branded community forums allow customers to connect and troubleshoot issues they encounter with your product or service. Sometimes the people who understand customer issues best are the customers themselves.
Community forums are also a place for your customer service team to shine. Most community forums have a brand moderator who responds to questions and comments. The responses your team provides here sets a tone, and it can showcase whether your business is open to criticism and improvement. Your consumers use your product in the real world, so they may uncover issues your in-house team has overlooked. It’s important to be receptive.
Give Your Customers What They Want
Think about the last time you were stuck on hold. It’s one of the most frustrating experiences, and unfortunately it can reflect poorly on the company. To avoid that situation entirely, give customers other options. They want the option to quickly troubleshoot issues without needing to call a representative, so make it as easy as possible. Offering self-service options will improve your customer experience, leading to higher retention and more sales.