3 Customer Service Technologies to Boost Self-help

This article originally appeared on the FCR blog on January 13, 2017. Click here to read the original.

Have you ever searched a company knowledge base only to be inundated with articles, long and complex enough that you were unable to get your issue resolved? Or don’t you love it when you send an email to customer service and they regurgitate back a bunch of similar knowledge base links as if you have the time to sit there and read them? I think we can all agree that our top motivation for contacting support isn’t to learn — it’s to get our problem solved!

My mind is actually still blown after reading The Effortless Experience last month. In the book they talk about the fact that self-help is a customer service channel. This includes the company website, knowledge base, and other resources that might be housed in the customer’s account. When customers search for their answers in self-help and fail to get their problem solved, they have to switch channels to phone, email, web chat, etc.

The Effortless Experience would term this a “high-effort” experience. They go on to say of these experiences:

“96% of customers who had high-effort experiences reported being disloyal, compared to only 9 percent of customers with low-effort experiences who reported being disloyal.”

The book goes on to say that companies that offer low-effort web issue resolution (self-help) outperform their peers by 53 percent.

Benefits of Robust Self-help

There are a number of benefits to having excellent self-help resources on your website. These include:

  • Reduced agent training time- New hire training can so easily turn into a dump of overwhelming amounts of information — resulting in expensive training where agents are ill prepared to interact with customers. A strong knowledge base is a tool, that when used effectively, allows agents to quickly find answers to questions as they arise. It’s much easier to train new agents to find answers quickly than it is to teach them all of the answers up front.
  • Reduced time to full proficiency- My typical indicators for fully proficient agents are that their handle times fall more in line with team averages, service quality increases, and they ask leadership less and less questions. Like training, self-help resources definitely accelerate this process.
  • Deflected contacts- The tools I’m about to highlight all ask customers to mark whether or not the self-help solution provided solved their problem. The goal is to allow customers to solve their own problems without contacting support, and the right tool will indicate whether or not this was successful.

3 Self-help Technologies to Consider

With the benefits of robust self-help clear, here are three companies that are really changing the way we think about doing self-help as a customer service channel.

Nanorep

I’ve highlighted Nanorep in the past but they are worth mentioning again. This is a knowledge base system that allows customers to type their question for support in their own words. Using natural language processing, the system finds the best answer to the question and delivers that to the customer. The Nanorep search box can be placed in front of your web chat window and if Nanorep doesn’t know the answer, it transfers the customer to chat live with an agent.

Nanorep keeps a record of frequently asked questions so you can go in and tune the system by answering those questions for the customers who ask in the future. Check out our webinar to learn more about Nanorep.

Solvvy

You can harness the power of self-help and contact deflection in your ticketing system with Solvvy. Their system allows you to modify the “submit” button in ticket systems like Zendesk, Desk.com, and others to instead say “Next.” Using natural language processing, Solvvy interprets what the customer wrote and offers self-help options on the next screen. If the customer finds the answer to their question, they can mark that it was solved and it gets tracked as a ticket deflection. If it doesn’t answer the question, the customer can proceed with submitting their ticket.

Automatic Answers by Zendesk

Popular customer service communications platform, Zendesk just keeps getting better. With Automatic Answers, customers can submit support tickets. An automatic response is then sent back to the customer confirming their ticket and providing possible answers to their question. Zendesk uses machine learning to determine the best answer and customers have the option to close their ticket if the knowledge base article solves their problem.

Each of these solutions is incredibly simple and flexible enough to work for just about any business, regardless of their customer service technology stack. Also, if you have an idea of what your cost per contact is, you’ll quickly begin to realize how much money you’re saving by tracking the number of contacts that are deflected from more expensive channels like phone, email, and chat.

A robust self-help platform is essential for an effortless customer experience and it’s fascinating to see the incredible new technology that’s hitting the customer service marketplace. If you are aware of others I didn’t mention that enhance self-help, please share.

Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

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