Online Customer Support Strategies: How to Increase Self-Service Adoption
The subject of self service adoption has been gaining more and more momentum lately. Self service is no longer restricted to pumping gas or supermarket checkout: today this term applies to any form of customer support users can get through their own actions.
Many service providers are discovering the benefits of self service. The chief advantage is lowering customer support costs and saving valuable employee time. It is, however, important to remember the role of self-service in empowering users toward better use of your technology and a more profound understanding of how to navigate the UI.
That said, customer support agents are irreplaceable – with their expertise, their ability to break down complex solutions and with the human touch they bring to a support situation. Therefore any attempt to minimize their role in the support department will backfire, leaving your users feeling neglected rather than empowered.
Find the balance between empowering the user to be more confident and independent with the assurance that someone has their back. How do we do that?
Keep the knowledgebase in sight all throughout the process of seeking help. Many companies remind their users to check the knowledgebase for solutions before contacting a support agent. This positions the help desk as the highest level of customer service, rather than the default support provider on speed-dial.
Confirm importance of knowledgebase
Have your support agents provide support through knowledgebase solutions, whenever possible. This achieves two objectives:
- Positioning of the user and the support agent as equally capable, in regard to support. This does not diminish the expertise of the support agent, rather it inspires more confidence in the user in her/his own abilities (“if it’s as easy as looking up a knowledgebase solution, I can do that too”).
- Leaving the impression that the wait for the support agent wasn’t necessarily worth it. This is a line that should be trodden carefully: the support agent is the expert and his/her input is by no means redundant to knowledgebase solutions. But the user should understand that there is a simple way of dealing with simpler problems: look it up in the knowledgebase.
Much of the user’s willingness to navigate your software independently depends on how much confidence they have in their own technical skills. Confidence can be boosted by encouraging users to try things out. Instead of telling the users what to do, support agents can guide users to the solution (“what would you do?/ what do YOU think is the answer”; “why don’t you go ahead and press that button, see what it does”).
Automate part of the support
There are customer support solutions that combine guidance with self service:
- On-page guides and site tours preserve the interactive guidance quality while relieving customer support agents to deal with the more challenging issues.
- Videos – videos are a great tool for conveying complex procedures in several stages. If you make sure one of your more seasoned support agents narrates the video guides, it can really add to the personal touch.
- Screencaptures – very helpful to users with a more visual perception. Also useful for complex actions, images can be easier to follow than verbal explanations.
- Combine all methods – to cover all your bases and make sure all different user types have a customer support method that appeals to them.