Gone are the days of siloed customer support, successful organizations can and must collaborate to truly enhance the customer experience. Forrester's Kate Leggett said it best, "Executives don't decide how customer-centric their companies are, customers do."
Customers prefer omnichannel support options
While multi-channel, or omnichannel, is a term that's thrown around a lot these days, it's important to understand the difference between simply offering different channels for customers to use, versus making those channels unified so that each request is recorded and easily answered in one system. This is beneficial to both agents and customers (and as a result the company as a whole) because:
- Customers don't have to repeat themselves every time they use a new channel or talk to a new agent.
- Agents know all the history a customer has with you as soon as they get a request (no matter where it came from).
- Companies save time and money by reducing handling times and increasing first-contact resolution.
Industry research implies that most organizations still haven't implemented omnichannel support, and in fact many don't have agents cross-trained to handle multiple channels at all. With the right system all channels feed into the same customer support software, making it easy and efficient to train your agents on that software. Of course, doing this right, to ensure a superior customer experience, requires a few key components:
Hire the right people
Customers report that one of their biggest frustrations is having to repeat their question or issue over and over. They want to feel valued and having empowered agents with the right tools and the right system in place will show them that you do.
Add humanity to your self-service support options
These days, many customers prefer to tackle their own issues before contacting your customer support team. They do this through the use of self- service support options. It's important that self-service entries are written less like a computer manual and more like an introductory textbook, taking complicated information and introducing it in a manner that is engaging and easy to grasp. Not only does this maximize satisfaction, but it also further emphasizes the fact that your business puts customers first. Here are a few tips for adding humanity to your self-service support options:
- Apply your buyer personas: Many businesses create an idealized customer and use that profile to guide their marketing, design and other business choices. Your marketing team already has tons of research on this type of person, including metrics such as how they search for information, how much time they spend on each page of your website and how their eye travels from top to bottom. This will guide the style, tone, look and keywords of each support entry.
- Keep things clear and simple: Short sentences organized in clearly defined sections are easier to read than long paragraphs. Make good use of headlines to summarize each section so your customers have an idea of what they're reading at first glance. Also, break detailed tutorials down into bulleted or numbered step-by-step lists to make the elaborate instructions simple to understand. B2B customer support software that provides self-service options helps your agents arrange, manage and maintain entries so they remain up to date. Be sure not to overwhelm your customers with unnecessary technical jargon. If you must use industry terms your customer might not know, define them on the same page or link to another support entry with additional information.
- Use anecdotes: Writing stories helps customers better understand the point you're trying to make. Anecdotes present abstract concepts and customer support solutions as the answer to actual queries. Additionally, real- life examples help the customer apply knowledge to their own situation, whether or not the case provided matches their current issue.
- Include video and images: Using videos of your agents, developers, or technicians puts a human face on what might otherwise be a boring topic. The actual words might not be the most interesting, but the gestures and facial expressions people make engage customers and help them follow the video content. You can combine these videos with graphics, screenshots or statistics to better illustrate your point. Images are another way to provide customers with the answers they need. You can outline solutions with a series of screenshots which are easier to understand than paragraphs of text. If that's not practical for certain entries, basic pictures of people or custom illustrations break the monotony of a page full of text.
Your business needs self-service support options that help customers, not ones that leave them even more confused. Making the right choices in terms of style, tone, content and organization ensures your FAQ section, wikis, knowledge bases or other options are written to meet your customer's needs.
Industry research has shown the increasing popularity of self-service from both company and customer perspectives. In Part 3 we’ll we explore why omnichannel self-service options are beneficial to both agents and customers (and as a result the company as a whole) and examine how to measure the effectiveness of your self-service across all channels.