With the widespread adoption of knowledge bases, online communities and Q&A sites, consumers can easily find their own answers, any time, anywhere. What does this shift to self-service mean? The answer is clear: consumers are the new face of customer service. The need for knowledge is immediate and organizations must implement a self-service strategy to meet, and exceed, customer expectations. Not only will this strategy allow them to reap the benefits associated with self-service, but it'll also enable consumers to successfully support themselves.
Self-service support presents dual opportunities. It empowers customers to quickly and easily find answers at the exact moment of need.
The evidence supporting the shift to self-service is clear:
- 51% of customers prefer support through an online knowledge base. [Econsultancy]
- 70% of customers prefer to use a company's website to get answers to their questions rather than use phone or email. [Forrester]
- Over 50% of customers think it's important to solve product issues themselves rather than rely on customer service. [Zendesk]
- 55% say easy access to information and support can make them fall in love with a brand. [RightNow]
- By 2020, the customer will manage 85% of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human. [Gartner]
For businesses, self-service is the fastest and most cost-effective form of customer support. Consider these facts:
- 45% of organizations that offer web or mobile self-service options noticed an increase in website traffic and a reduction in phone inquiries. [CRM Magazine]
- 50% of organizations offering social customer support saw an increase in their customer satisfaction rating. [Ciboodle]
- 68% of organizations are using branded communities to offer customer support. [Ciboodle]
- 45% of companies offering web or mobile self-service have reported an increase in site traffic and a decrease in phone calls. [Destination CRM]
- A chat with a live agent can cost $6-12 per interaction, while an automated interaction on Interactive Voice Response (IVR) can cost as little as 25 cents. [Forrester]
- By adding self-service, a typical utility could see $1-3 million in annual savings. [Accenture]
Of course, simply providing self-service support doesn't guarantee customers will find it beneficial - it needs to be done correctly to generate the desired results. Businesses must consider customer needs and implement a strategy that'll enable them to benefit from self-service - here are some key best practices to keep in mind:
Intuitive Design and Presentation
In order for self-service to benefit customers, it must be well presented. No one wants to learn how to use a self-service tool; it should be intuitive with simplistic design and straightforward navigation. Furthermore, self-service shouldn't feel separate from the Web experience of your customers, but rather a continuation of it.
Personalize the Experience
A study by Coleman Parkers for Amdocs concluded that 91% of respondents would use an online knowledge base if it were available and tailored to their needs. As a best practice, listen to what your customers have to say and create a community using that insight. Once you understand their interests, pre-populate support sites or communities with frequently asked questions, and update your knowledge base to ensure customers leave with a satisfactory support experience.
Organizations need to optimize the results of frequent searches and present them in a way that enables customer to find information easily. This can be done in several ways - prominently display FAQs on the top navigation of your support site, spotlight articles voted "most useful" by others, and enable users to narrow down results through advanced search filters.
Keep Content Fresh
Customers drive the evolution of self-service, and their questions and needs change regularly. To provide a beneficial support experience, tune your knowledge base, monitor keywords and update content to improve experience. A knowledge base, online community or self-service site is an ongoing project, but with dedication, organizations can reduce call volume while increasing customer support satisfaction ratings.
It's clear that consumers are the new face of customer service - they're engaging with one another (and your brand) to find answers. However, organizations must still invest in the customer service. With strategy and dedication, businesses can create cost-effective support while also providing customers with an effortless and seamless self-service experience.
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