Businesses need to deliver support wherever their customers are located.
For customers seeking help online, there is no better place than on the business website. Providing customer service through the website makes a lot of sense. It's convenient for the business and for the customers. It’s cost effective and the running costs are considerably lower than channels like phone support ... and obviously lower than setting up a network of support centers.
In fact even the smallest of businesses can deliver excellent customer support through its website if done well. The availability of great social business software platforms that can be easily integrated into websites make it a breeze to add a fully functional support section to your website so customers can sign up and login to access a host of features that can help them.
One of the greatest aspects of leveraging knowledge management software and community platforms to deliver customer support is that it gives you the ability to offer “self service customer support” in the form of guides, FAQ’s, user forums and other content as well as manned support delivered through the site. They can be customized and tuned to deliver the types of support by integrating the various options on a single delivery platform – your website.
Here are four reasons which instantly stand out:
It gives you the ability to offer a range of support channels to your customers. Once customers are on your website, it lets them decide whether they would like to look through documents, download manuals, watch videos to learn something, email someone for specific answers, chat with someone, discuss with other customers, or call you up on the phone. While some will still insist on connecting with a customer representative, most will opt for a way to find answers on their own, which saves you time and resources.
Community and social software platforms that use forums, blogs, wikis, activity streams, and similar features inevitably end up creating a vast resource of content and wealth of information about your product or service. When you have such a resource on your website, it becomes a resourceful knowledge base that customers and prospective customers will frequent.
Going back to the last point, when the wealth of information builds up, and customers can simply find just about any answer within the resource, they simply help themselves by searching. Furthermore, opportunities arise to create additional content based on the knowledge gathered and questions answered. See a question being frequently asked? Then write a blog post or create a wiki that covers it. You can also use this information and share it across your social networks, like Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Your customer service community becomes a resource for customer feedback, customer satisfaction, and product development ideas. This information can go a long way in developing better products and ultimately understanding what your customers want and need.
Whenever you face a problem or challenge, where do you go for help? I would bet that your first option would be a search engine. Online communities are execellent way for customers to discover and get answers about your website and your product or service. Since your existing customers are asking questions in natural language, language they use to find answers, there's a good chance that other people will search the same way. And if you're community is active and content is being generated daily, it's know that Google will love to gobble up all of that helpful data and index in their engine.
Since you're providing a wealth of information online, your customers can bypass the support phone number and go directly to your support community. They can search on their own, at their convenience, when they need the answers to their questions. Regardless of their location or timezone, they can always access self-help information. And you'll probably find that most people prefer finding their own answers.
As a delivery platform for customer service, social software is making its way through as a strong option to businesses of all sizes.
Is it time to take those helpdesk numbers off the contact list ... and instead launch an online community?
Tim is president and co-founder of Axero Solutions, a leading intranet software vendor. He's also a bestselling author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. Tim’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.
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