Self-service customer support

8 Min Read

Breathe new life into your self-service

Earlier this year, inSided was featured in Forrester’s exclusive report, “How to Modernize Digital Customer Self-Service”. In this report, a Forrester Principal Analyst takes readers through three steps to scaling and improving customer experiences for the future.

Did you miss out on getting your copy of the report via inSided? Never fear! We’ve put together a round-up of the main report findings, because self-service is the future, and we want to help you nail it!

Why is self-service so important?

It’s no secret that customers are increasingly using self-service as their first point of contact when it comes to customer service and support. 47% expect to find a quick answer to their question online.

Good self-service addresses routine requests and questions and allows agents to focus on exceptions and escalations. Over half of Microsoft’s customers said they can’t resolve an issue because there is too little information online!

It’s also clear that positive self-service experiences lead to more satisfied and engaged customers. With proper self-service, users can get fast answers from people they trust (those that use your product every day). But driving engagement is only the start. The whole point of increased engagement is so that users can get the most value out of your product quickly and easily.

This, in turn, means not only are customers using your product to its full potential, they are also in a position to give you feedback on what’s right and what’s not. All of this boosts your customer success, makes users feel like they are really part of your brand, and therefore more likely to stick around. You reduce churn, they maximise the potential of your product. Win-win.

Forrester’s report highlights the importance of getting digital self-service capabilities right and helps customer service leaders understand what their tech stack should comprise of in order to power great self-service.

Key steps to modernizing your self-service

    1. Drive customer engagement to promote self-service and lasting customer relationships…hello, increased retention rates!
    2. Self-service should be available across all digital channels and touchpoints.
    3. Great self-service takes time to build and maintain—so you’ll need to be constantly evolving. 

We will cover each in-depth below, along with some key examples based on our own experience from working with B2B SaaS companies (and being one ourselves of course)!

Focus on driving engagement to boost self-service and forge lasting customer relationships

The number of vendors on offer with the rise of SaaS and subscription based business models has exploded. Consumers and B2B purchasers alike have a much wider range of products and solutions to choose from than ever before. 

While these subscription-based products and services are easier to purchase, they’re also easier to abandon. If customers don’t receive the value they anticipated from your SaaS product, they’ll churn and your ARR will suffer. The pressure to retain your customers has never been greater, especially when you consider it can be 5 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than retain a current one. This is where self-service is a real game changer: It’s a key tool for both driving engagement within your current user-base and creating lasting customer relationships.

Forrester believes that Customer Success and Support leaders should focus their efforts on making self-service quick and easy for users—and we at inSided wholeheartedly agree. You can start by making sure the most relevant and helpful answers to the most commonly asked questions are readily available and that your self-service platform instantly connects the customer to the right answer. This process should be frictionless. An online community can go a long way to both increasing user engagement and improving self-service, not least as customers help each other by sharing best practices on your product. Check out how online communities can boost engagement and customer success efforts.

Self-service should be about empowering your customers with the information you know they need to be successful. When you ensure effortless satisfaction and success, customer relationships last.

Make self-service available across all your customer facing channels

Great content needs to be findable. You may have great curated content capable of answering most of your customers’ questions. However, when they can’t find it, it’s useless. Part of solving this is to have a good and intuitive search capability in your channels. But it also relies on you being able to identify customers’ needs, at the right stage of the customer journey, in order to be effective. Customer journey may sound like a buzzword but all we mean here is providing contextual support to customers based on wherever they are on your site. 

This is where things have the potential to get complicated.

There is no such thing as just one ‘self-service experience’. The customer journey varies greatly from user to user—from visiting your website homepage, searching in your knowledge base, browsing the FAQ page, messaging the chat bot, or indeed all of the above.

Most self-service experiences will be simple. A customer has a single question, and there’s a specific (company-created, or user-generated) answer available to quickly resolve their query. Easy enough, but it still needs to be done well. Others might be more difficult. For example when more complex processes are in play, or you need to figure out a customers’ intent before sending them to the next step of the process. If a question can’t easily be answered by you—or other customers—at least make it very simple to get in touch with your agents. Don’t overdo it and try to handle everything through self-service—if it’s not easy and fast, the overall experience will suffer. Sometimes there’s no replacement for human interaction.

Of course, there is no one tool alone that will do all this for you. So, you’ll need to be vigilant on the tools you’re choosing, and how they fit into the overall customer success tech-stack at your company. You’ll also need to have an integration strategy, or at least a plan on how you expect these tools to work together and when a customer gets to deal with each of them.

The key question to keep in mind: How can you readily provide the right support to the customer at the right stage of their journey—always? 

Self-service is ever evolving, and you should be too

You will never be ‘done’ providing content and answers to your customers. Contexts will change, your product will expand, and customers will find new ways of using it. To account for this ever-evolving nature of self-service content you need to implement a feedback loop between you and your customer. Data and analytics are especially important here. Be sure to monitor trends and new topics as they are presented. This will consistently feed you with the ideas you need to optimize your self-service experience.

Extend beyond curated questions and answers. Companies are used to creating content for the most commonly asked questions. Trying to keep that content up-to-date, and making sure you cover all subjects is an extremely time intensive process. You need a smarter way to create knowledge. Forrester lists leveraging community content to extend the reach of curated content as one of the best ways to scale your self-service content.

So why did Forrester list inSided as a solid choice for optimizing self-service?

Forrester picked up on our idea that the value of self-service extends beyond just issue deflection. We illustrated this using the following model:

Lasting Customer Success
Self-service is no longer just a way to scale customer support. It still starts as a means to provide better answers, quicker. But it goes further than that. It helps to create what we call ‘lasting customer success.’ How? Using self-service content you can proactively engage customers at critical stages of their lifecycle and increase product and feature adoption to strengthen your companies’ bottom line.

inSided is listed by Forrester as the key player for:

  • Building a foundation of answers using knowledge management and company curated content.
  • Extending reach with community answers. There is a limit to the amount of curated content that your own knowledge workers can produce. User-generated community content extends the reach and depth of curated content.
  • Providing better service, using context to understand what your customer needs at this very moment.

“User-generated community content extends the reach and depth of curated content. In addition, it is often written in approachable language that customers can easily understand. Forty percent of support questions at software provider Infoland are answered by other users, [using inSided’s customer self-service platform]. And these users are active — they create more content than all of Infoland’s knowledge workers combined.”

– Kate Leggett, VP, Principal Analyst Forrester

Along with vendors such as Solvvy, Bold360, MindTouch, and Helpshift, inSided’s maturity model was featured as a key figure in this report and one of our customers, Infoland, was mentioned as a prime example of leveraging community content to extend the reach of curated content (using the inSided platform).

We’d love to know what you think about the changing nature of self-service. Check out our free eBook to find out the 5 rules for Customer Success in the age of self-service and be sure to send us a mail if you have any questions or comments.  

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