Driving customers to web self-service support

It's no secret that customers prefer self-service customer support options, even in B2B customer support. Yet many companies still rely on phone and email options and ignore the great potential for providing self-service alternatives, namely cost savings and increased performance. Many times the options are there, but the company doesn't know how to change customer behavior and drive customers to use their web and self-service features. Here are 4 tips to get your customers using self-service options: 

1. Answer the Right Questions

It's simple: If your online self-help resources aren't answering the questions your customers need answered, they won't use them. Examine your support ticket issues to identify the most common reasons for customers to contact support. These can become the basis for an online FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page on your support site for simple inquiries, or a list of articles to populate your knowledge base if the solutions require more explanation. Many training requests are also addressed easily through self-service options like training videos, tutorials, and technical documentation.

2. Display Information in an Understandable Way 
Remember that all customers are not created equal, so your self-service support resources need to be written in a way that all customers can understand.

Display information in an easy to understand way.

Try not to use too much jargon or highly technical language - unless of course all of your customers are highly advanced users who will understand it. Step by step tutorials or instructions are a great way to present a lot of information in easily digestible bites. Using headers and lists is another way to break up information so it's more easy for customers to consume. Images and video are also excellent ways to provide information, and provide clarity where text alone may fall short. 

Also remember to include relevant links within knowledge base articles or web support documents. In many cases one topic may lead to another and you want to make it easy for your customers to find information - so if an article mentions another issue or feature, include a link to the related article so they don't have to search for it.

3. Promote Web Self-Service Options
Just because you build it doesn't mean they will come. You have to let your customers know about the self-service options available, and promote them at every opportunity. Display links to resources prominently on your support site, and make sure your site is responsive so it works on any device. Customer support software that supports ticket deflection (providing suggested articles to address an issue without creating a ticket) can also be a huge help in promoting customer self-service support.

Web self-service sites should be responsive to support multiple devices.

Make use of existing channels to promote your self-service options. Remind callers who are on hold that they can access your resources online, and include links in your outgoing support emails. You could also have your agents inform customers of these options when they complete a ticket.  Finally, you may want to make a more aggressive switch and direct customers to online support as the only option (keeping in mind you should always offer one-on-one support options like phone and email if the issue can't be resolved without agent assistance).

4. Don't Ignore Self-Service
Just like a website or customer support software, self-service is not something you can just "set and forget". It takes ongoing effort, including monitoring usage and examining content for relevancy and recency. For software support especially, make sure articles are up to date with current versions and revisions. It's a good idea to include the date on support pages so customers know whether the information they are reading is still applicable.

In the end, providing useful customer self-service and web support options is about making your customers lives easier. Provide information in a way that is easy for them to find and consume, and as always remember that self-service should be an option that is provided in combination with other omnichannel support alternatives.

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