Turn customers into loyal fans with these self-service support tips

Catherine Heath | March 17, 2021

There’s a lot of debate surrounding what makes good customer support, but most people agree that you need to go above and beyond what’s expected if you want to keep your customers in the long-term. 

User documentation is especially important in the B2B software industry. Customers expect standout content so they can use your products without tearing their hair out.

Customers now expect self-service – 90% of them according to Microsoft, in fact. This is a positive trend because self-service also benefits companies. The more customers you can convince to self-service, the fewer customers you have contacting your support team. This frees your agents up to focus on the more complex queries that require human intervention. 

1. Use a knowledge base to boost your support

A 2015 report by Forrester revealed that customers are now starting to prefer self-service - rather than picking up the phone, which historically has been the first choice. 

One of the reasons for this trend may be because of the huge boom in the software industry. Being able to access high-quality written content is much easier than trying to listen to an agent explain what you need to do over the phone. 

Beat your competition by creating a knowledge base that’s so much more than simply an FAQs section. Provide your customers with a comprehensive library of documentation relating to how to use your products. 

2. Anticipate problems before they happen

Your knowledge base is how you provide your customers with the right support even before they realise they need it. 

In your onboarding process where you welcome new customers, link them to your knowledge base articles that you’ve hand-curated for them to help them get started with your product. 

When you have a knowledge base full of helpful content, include select pieces of documentation in your regular company newsletter so your customers are made aware of it. 

If you provide relevant and helpful content ready for when your customers need it, you’ll show you’ve invested in your customer support and really stand out.  

3. Treat your customers like human beings

For many years there’s been a tendency for companies to view their customer support as a cost center. They try to reduce their overheads as much as possible, and this often results in uninspiring, frustrating and downright shoddy support. Customers turn away in droves. 

Don’t just stonewall your customers and refuse to help them. Hire support agents who have technical aptitude and really understand your product in order to make your support stand out. Empower them to provide effective, specialist help to your customers at the time when they need it most, and to also know when to save time by directing customers to your knowledge base. 

Hire agents who treat your customers like human beings. 

4. Invest in long-term customers, not quick wins

Invest time and effort into creating a wonderful experience for your customers over the duration of their relationship with your business. Give your support team the resources they need to help your customers out with their issues. 

Make sure you have the right software to provide effective self-service content as your company scales, and track which topics are being searched for the most. 

If you notice there’s room for improvement in your products as a result of your analysis - and there always is - make the changes and let your customers know what you’ve done for them. They’ll be thrilled that you’re actively improving your service for them. 

5. Make your agents easy to contact

Self-service is not about hiding your company contact details and refusing to provide human help to customers. Companies often make the mistake of forcing customers to use self-service by making their agents difficult – or even impossible – to reach. 

Customers hate jumping through hoops to reach a live support agent. You may have experienced the pain of yelling into the phone or navigating through a complicated support website. 

Hiding customer support creates unnecessary friction for your customers and certainly lowers their opinion of you. Customers get upset when the company makes it too difficult to contact support, and you end up with frustrated and angry customers when they finally do reach an agent. You’ll have lower customer satisfaction and longer contact resolution times. 

Your customer support strategy will be a lot more successful if you make agents easy to contact. Reduce friction by presenting customers with a clear choice between opting for self-service or contacting an agent. Many customers will still choose self-service if you make it accessible and easy to use. 

6. Identify preventable contacts

Ask your support agents to help you with identifying those customers who could have used self-service but didn’t. This requires a little time on their part but makes a good long-term investment as you can track where your self-service isn’t living up to expectations. 

Many customer service software allow you to track this information. An alternative is asking agents to manually track the reasons that customers contact support and record that information in a spreadsheet. Agents can be trained to ask customers whether they used self-service before reaching out for help. 

This exercise will help you find out the top reasons why customers aren’t using your self-service option and you can also improve your offering, which ultimately leads more customers to use it. 

The top reasons that customers fail to use self-service are:

  • The customer couldn’t find the appropriate self-service resource

  • The knowledge base article was badly written or confusing

  • The self-service support didn’t work as intended

Your support agents can help to track and fix these problems. Many support teams give agents the ability to flag errors in knowledge base articles or even fix articles as they go. 

7. Let your support agents provide real help

Customer support agents often deal with the immense pressure to resolve contacts quickly to keep costs down. They have to run several live chat sessions at once, they’re measured against productivity standards for the messaging queue, and some companies still hold their agents accountable for talk time. 

The end result of all this is that agents are rushing through interactions instead of taking the time to slow down and provide customers with more comprehensive help. 

Instead of this sorry state of affairs, agents should be given free reign to increase future self-service interactions by educating customers. They can put forward helpful knowledge base links or even walk a customer through the knowledge base. 

Adding just a little extra time to a support interaction can eradicate a future interaction entirely. 

Final remarks

View customer support – and especially self–service – as an investment rather than a cost. The demand for self-service continues to grow but well-trained customer support agents continue to be the key to making it all work. 

Your support agents are the safety net that customers turn to when they don’t find what they need in your knowledge base. They should be easy to contact and happy to help, because they have the resources they need to be successful. 

By making a few small changes to how support is handled, you can empower more customers to help themselves in the future. 

KnowledgeOwl considers your happiness our top priority - try out our knowledge base software today!

About the author
Catherine Heath
Catherine Heath

Catherine is the Community Builder for KnowledgeOwl. She is also a freelance writer based in Manchester. She writes blogs, social media, copy, and designs owl-based images. 

You can find out more about Catherine on her personal websites Away With Words and Catherine Heath Studios.

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