Not all customer communities are equal. Does yours stack up?

Today’s consumers have access to more knowledge and options than ever before. This has resulted in a complete shift in power, giving consumers the ability to stop engaging with companies that do not meet their service expectations and find ones that do. More and more, the expectations they have are based on the ability to self-serve. A recent study by Gartner showed that within the next four years, consumers are hoping to manage 85% of their experiences with a brand entirely on their own. The evolution of consumer behaviour and expectations make customer communities a must-have rather than a nice-have.

As owners of your customers’ experiences on your community, you are already aware of the increasing demand for an optimized self-service journey. You are also consumers yourself, so you know the reality of wanting a relevant and customized experience that you can control. You know that searching for information drives the digital interaction with the brands you buy from. You have felt the gratification of a good search experience, and have equally felt firsthand how frustrating it can be to not find the information you need, when you need it. Yet there is still a disconnect between what you expect as a consumer and what you are offering as an organization.

Why is the search experience is falling short on your community site?

If you don’t know what your customers want, how they’re engaging with your content and what the outcomes are, you will continue to struggle to meet their needs. Without that insight, it’s impossible to offer a relevant and customized experience.

Your customers simultaneously want to own the self-service process while feeling supported every step of the way. They expect to find answers quickly and easily, they want suggestions that are personalized to them and feel more invested in your brand when you can predict their intent and suggest the next best offer. If your self-service experience is falling short of your customers expectations ask yourself these questions:

How difficult is it for my customers to find the information they need? If your customers don’t know where to go for help, if they have to go to multiple places to find what they’re looking for, if there’s no way to filter results based on their needs or if they have difficulty engaging with your brand on different devices, you are making it difficult for them to interact with your brand and are significantly impacting their level of satisfaction at the very onset of their experience.

How proactive is my community search experience? Your customers expect the same superior self-service experience from your brand as they’re getting from their day to day applications. If you’re not offering a proactive experience when your customers perform a search, not only are you failing to meet their expectations, you are missing out on opportunities to help them shape their queries based on what others like them have been searching for, and what search terms lead to successful outcomes.

Do I know enough about my customers to predict what they’ll need next? As customers are interacting with your website, they are giving you insights about who they are, what they are interested in, and what they need. Without this insight you cannot accurately suggest content, training or resources they might be interested in and are missing out on additional revenue through upsells and community engagement.

As you can see (and might be feeling), customer satisfaction and community engagement is tough to balance without a proper strategy and the right tools in place.

Bridging the gap to offer relevant and successful customer experiences.

The key to building a community that will drive customer satisfaction is to leverage, unify and learn from the intelligence of your content and customers, which is made possible through AI-powered search. AI-powered search is significantly impacting customer service and overall business outcomes for some of the world’s most innovative brands.

You can improve your community search and your enhance customer satisfaction through AI-powered search by following these three best practices:

Offer a rich and intuitive search interface. This allows customers to easily search content from one place and filter the results to find the best, most relevant answers.

Leverage machine learning. Tap into the insights from the behaviour of other customers. Leveraging the insights from all your customer interactions will help them find relevant and contextual answers that will solve their issue and increase chances of success, based on what helped others like them succeed. Machine learning also helps boost case deflection as it enables you to proactively suggest content during the case creation process and often eliminates the need to create a case at all.

Understand and learn from customer behaviour. Use the insights that surface from usage analytics to improve your customer experience by identifying content gaps. By knowing what your customers are looking for, you can make it accessible to them or create it in the event it doesn’t yet exist. Using your data to constantly drive your self-service strategy and suggest helpful next steps personalizes the experience and will increase engagement, upsells and cross-sells, and improve overall satisfaction.

Incredible self-service is attainable, and it’s easier to achieve now than ever before. Coveo for Salesforce Free Edition enables your organization to benefit from AI-powered immediately. It makes it easy for your customers to discover relevant content by delivering machine-learning directly into your community using content you already have. Learn what your customers want with deep data and behavioral insights so you can continuously improve content and experiences, and deliver extreme relevance and self-service success.

Coveo for Salesforce Free Edition is available to every organization with a Salesforce Community Cloud or App Cloud. Get it for free and start enhancing your self-service experience today.

About David James

David is director of product marketing for Coveo’s Intelligent Customer Service solutions. He has more than 16 years of experience in the customer support industry having served in various product marketing positions supporting CRM, contact center and community management solutions. David is a certified community manager and has penciled in KCS certification for 2017. He lives in Austin, Texas.

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