4 Tips for an Effective Self-Service Support Site

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Don’t take it personally, but the vast majority of your customers would really rather not talk to you! Harvard Business Review’s recent customer experience data points to an “overwhelming preference for self-service” among customers across industries. It turns out that fully 81% of all customers attempt to take care of matters themselves before reaching out to a live representative. That’s a compelling figure, and it suggests that the future belongs to those who deliver quick, convenient and personalized service in the customer’s channel of choice. It means enabling customers to quickly find answers themselves can be as important as helping them easily connect with a knowledgeable support professional.

The good news is that creating and maintaining a useful self-service support portal is neither expensive nor difficult to do. Creating one can take a tremendous amount of call volume and pressure off of your support team and can also go a long way toward helping clients have a great experience with your brand. Essentially, an effective self-service support page is a place in your digital ecosystem where customers can register to find information, resolve issues, and when needed, request service. Here are 4 tips to keep in mind as you set about creating yours.

 

1. Make sure it reflects your brand

The look and feel of your help site should match your main, public-facing website. When customers hop on to the help page from your main website, you want them to feel like they’re still within your company’s digital footprint. To make sure they feel that way, use, for example, the same colors, fonts, headers and footers you do on your corporate site. Keep the domain and subdomain consistent (for example www.company.com and support.company.com).

2. Make the page easy to find

Customers need to be able to find the self-service portal. The easiest way to get customers to start using your help site is to add a button on your main site that routes them to the help page. Apart from that, agents can share the Knowledge Base (KB) link in every email reply they make, and use every interaction with customers to drop the good news that for future issues, the help page is a great first place to look for answers. Your app can also offer an unobtrusive help button, as can any newsletter or product updates you routinely send to customers.

3. Offer well-organized, searchable support content

No matter how much content you have, make sure it’s organized. Offer pieces that help people get oriented quickly, such as frequently asked questions or FAQs. In a Knowledge Base section, you might offer, for example, detailed product information, community bulletin boards, and videos with step-by-step instructions for resolving a problem. When the issue seems beyond what a customer can solve alone, it should be easy to submit a support ticket right on the portal. All options for what to do next should be in plain sight.

Make sure any content you offer is well-organized and searchable. Tag every asset with so customers can find it in a category intuitively, whether they are browsing or searching. Every topic and article needs a meaningful name that captures its most important aspects. One way to decide what to name your articles is to look at what people are searching for in your portal. 

It’s also important that your content is crawlable so customers can find answers using just Google search. One way to be sure Google is accessing your self-service content is to copy a sentence from it and do a Google search for that sentence in quotes. If Google shows no results, you need to make your content more accessible

Last but not least, use Google Analytics to monitor your site search trends and stay aware of what keywords your customers use most. This can help you learn what content might still be missing, so you can prioritize what to develop and post next.

Finally, the entire user experience should be simple even for novice users. Do everything you can to make sure your site is ADA compliant and designed to be inclusive for users with a range of abilities.

4. Keep content fresh and relevant

Periodically review your help page content and update it when needed. Run reports so you can see what content is viewed most often. This way, you know which articles are most important to keep in shape. Plan regular reviews of content, including graphics and video. Set expiration dates so you are forced to revisit everything you create and post. Another way to ensure your content stays fresh is to give customers the opportunity to rate it, so they can signal what needs improvement most urgently.

 

The bottom line

Your customers want to help themselves, and you can make it easy and keep it enjoyable with just these 4 tips. If you need further incentive, remember that the more positive an experience your customers have, the less likely they are to tap much more costly support channels like live phone assistance.

 

  1. Source of data: Matthew Dixon, Lara Ponomareff, Scott Turner and Rick DeLisi, Harvard Business Review, Kick-Ass Customer Service.

 

 

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