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Customer Self-Support: How to Get Customers to do What They'd Rather do Anyway

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Customer Self-Support: How to Get Customers to do What They'd Rather do Anyway

April 15, 2016

  By Steve Anderson, Contributing Writer

Customers like self-support tools. That feeling of accomplishment as a customer solves his or her own problem is valuable to that customer, and businesses like being able to route service personnel to other problems as well. Getting customers to move to self-support options isn't always easy, though, and companies aren't sure just how to go about it. A new report from TeamSupport shows some ways to help make that move.

First, businesses need to know how to answer the right questions. Turn to support tickets to see just what's coming up most often and how to address those points. Use what's coming up most often in support—and the accompanying solutions taken—to build articles, how-to videos, or similar means to offer up to customers. Not every problem will be addressed here, but total customer self-support is more of a pipe dream anyway.

Second, focus on how the information is offered. Make sure that regular people can understand the answers provided, and consider running it by some regular people to be sure. Information too heavy with jargon, tech-speak, and unexplained acronyms can make your self-support operations an impenetrable wall of text useless to all but a few.

Third, promote your self-support options. Don't expect the voice in Field of Dreams to be accurate: just because you build it doesn't mean they'll come. Show off the links to self-support operations prominently and with some explanation of what it is. Consider customer support tools that automatically refer a customer to self-support options before connecting to larger help bodies.

Finally, don't ignore self-support. Setting it up is just a start, not an end, so be sure to update the service with new material as events warrant. Missing a big new problem is about the same as not offering support at all, with the difference that resources were actually spent to build the half-functioning service. Thus it's important to make sure the self-support tools are appropriately relevant.

It's not always clear what customers need to hear at what given time, or even how to present it in a fashion they will understand. It's worth remembering that, while the goal may be total self-support, it's also a goal that will likely never be realized. Working toward that goal, however, will provide the best results possible, even if the goal itself is impossible. Every call that doesn't happen because a customer fixed a problem unaided is one less call the business has to field, and one more call center rep that can work on a different problem.

Customer self-support means cost savings and a greater customer experience. It doesn't just happen that way, however, so a careful focus on how to deliver customer support can mean the difference between a big win and customers continuing to call in.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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