B2B Customer Support | 8 min read | Published April 13, 2021

Part 3: Omnichannel Self Service for B2B Customer Support

Self-service is not something to "set and forget." It takes ongoing effort, monitoring usage, and examining content for relevancy and recency.

Industry research has shown the increasing popularity of self-service from both company and customer perspectives. One report from Software Advice validates that self-service really does have a positive and measurable impact on both quality and quantity of customer service issues requiring an agent’s attention. Over 75% of respondents confirmed that First Level Resolution, First Contact Resolution, Cost Per Contact, and Cost Per Incident were improved. Speed to answer was reported as improved by 80% of the respondents, and 65% reported improved (reduced) call abandonment rates.

Illustration of people with a measuring tapeWhat Should You Measure?

If you offer customer self-service, you should be monitoring and evaluating each of your channels on a regular basis. Your knowledge base should be actively maintained as new information and updates become available, and while an FAQ page likely won’t change as often as your KB articles, it’s important to track page visits to understand if it is being used. Also, note trends in issues being submitted to your support department to determine if you need to add questions and answers to your FAQs.

Here are some of the most popular omnichannel metrics used to measure channel performance:

Surveys and User Ratings: Surveys and user ratings are the best metrics because they go straight to the source (your customer) and are focused on customer satisfaction. Either follow up to a self-service event with a survey or include ratings on your articles/self-help documents to gather feedback from customers.

Return visits to the support page: It’s helpful to measure the number of visitors returning to a support page within a set time frame as this can measure effectiveness of the page. For example, if the issue is solved on the first visit, the customer won’t need to return to that page.

Page views & average time spent: Measuring the number of page views and time spent on your support pages, knowledge base, etc. can be effective at measuring the growth of the channel over time. Keep in mind, however, they don’t tell you if the page is actually meeting customer needs, so don’t misunderstand the purpose of these metrics.

Ticket deflection: If your B2B customer support software offers it, make sure you implement ticket deflection and keep an eye on the metrics. This can show you how many times a ticket was started and not completed thanks to a recommended article. If it doesn’t offer ticket deflection, maybe it’s time to switch software!

Driving customers to web self-service support: It's no secret that customers prefer self-service customer support options, even in B2B. Yet many companies still rely on phone and email and ignore the benefits of 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 four tips to get you started:

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 ticket issues. These can become the basis for an online FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page on your support site, or a list of articles to populate your knowledge base. Many training requests are also addressed easily through self-service options like training videos, tutorials, and technical documentation.

Also remember to include relevant links within knowledge base articles or online support documents. In many cases one topic may lead to another and you want to make it easy for your customers to find information.

2. 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 optimized for mobile, 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.

3. Make use of existing channels to promote your self-service options. Remind callers 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 primary 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 your website or customer support software, self-service is not something you can "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 customer self-service and web support options is about making your customers' lives easier. Provide information in a way that is easy 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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