Your customers have questions and are chronically pressed for time. They’re turning to your support center to get answers… don’t make them wait. They rely on you to simplify their lives and if they fall down the rabbit hole of endless, irrelevant content, they’re not going to be pleased. A study by Coleman Parkes showed that a whopping 91 percent of customers would use an online support center if it were available and tailored to meet their needs. But more than half of them would abandon their search if they couldn’t find quick answers to their questions. So, what are you doing to offer a tailored, personalized experience?

If you’re using basic search on your support site, if your company’s knowledge and content are not easily findable, and if you haven’t optimized your customer’s digital experience, you’re creating barriers to self-service success that are draining profitability in ways you may not even recognize. A poor search experience leads to abandoned carts, case creations, and an influx in calls to your call center–all of which are costing you serious coin. These barriers are threatening your company’s efficiency, responsiveness, and growth.

Removing the barriers to self-service success

This may sound easier said than done. How are you going to deploy and test a self-service strategy that’s intuitive and personalized for your customers, that saves your company money, while on a budget? It is possible, and you don’t need to be a data scientist. You need intelligent customer self-service. This new wave of customer support is powered by AI-capabilities, using machine learning and rich data analytics. It improves the digital experience for your customers, increases self-service success and case deflection by putting search at the core of their self-service journey. Intelligent customer self-service helps to eradicate barriers to success by enabling a smart, easy and truly personalized experience for each and every one of your customers.

AI-powered self-service is not just a thing of the future, it’s being leveraged by leading organizations today which are seeing dramatic increases in their case deflection and self-service success rates. But before we dive into examples, here’s how it’s made possible:

Customer identification. It is important to get well acquainted with who you’re servicing, you are in it for them, after all. But your customers have a diverse set of needs based on their age, gender, location, purchase history, and many other factors. You need to be able to identify who’s engaging with your support center and what content is needed to answer their questions. Knowing who they are will also allow you to further personalize their experience and delight your customers, as it gives you the ability to offer related content based on previous searches and other interests.

Search bar. What’s the first thing you look for when you ask a question online or in-app, regardless of the vendor or type of query? The search bar. Whether you’re in need of photoshop help, or looking for directions, the search field is the universal go-to place for answers. Yet 63% of customers say they are annoyed with the search field found in self-service portals. Don’t annoy your customers, accommodate them by offering a prominent and easy-to-use search bar.

Search results. Emphasizing your search bar is necessary, but even more important than that, is making sure the results that surface are the results your customers need. And while you may not be able to read their minds, you can use the power of machine learning to accurately predict what will allow them to successfully self-serve and drive search behavior. You may be cranking out content but the reality is, 80% of your customers use 20% of what you produce, that’s the golden rule. And chances are, they’re asking the same, or similar, questions to find it. If your support agents are responsible for responding to these queries, or creating content from scratch every time, you might as well throw your hard earned dollars out the window. Instead, document your most frequently asked questions, publish the answers–whether they’re articles, videos, images, etc.–to your knowledge base, and enable customers to find it themselves. By adding filters and facets to your content, your customers will be able to sort through the clutter and find exactly what they need, when they need it. Machine learning will identify what helped other customers like them succeed, and suggest it automatically; deflecting the case and therefore reducing the amount of calls into your call center. I hate to break it to you, but they don’t want to call you.

Support center design. Don’t think that once your search experience is optimized that you can skimp on the design. The aesthetics and functionality of your support center will have a critical impact on how your customers engage with your self-service tools. It needs to feel like it was made for them, remember, they don’t have time to fiddle around and see how things work. Your support center needs to be intuitive, simple and consistent across channels, regardless of what device your customers are using. Most importantly, do not allow any dead ends. Under no circumstance should your customer have to start their query over if they’re unable to find what they’re looking for. If content does not yet exist to help them self-serve, transition them to agent-assisted support and make sure that their self-service activities were captured so that if and when they do need to speak to an agent, the agent can act quickly and efficiently to uphold the positive customer experience.

Communication. It can be easy to get lost in the data and neglect the “relations” part of customer relations. This is one of the driving factors that will truly differentiate you from your competitors and create brand loyalty. Every time your customer engages with your support center, they are having a conversation with your brand or product. And in like any other conversation, you must share and ask questions to keep the conversation moving. Self-service portal must account for these conversations and employ strategies to keep your customers engaged and empowered.

How Real, Leading Companies Are Doing It

Removing the barriers to self-service success is not an overnight fix, it takes effort, as well as buy-in from various levels of your organization. But the impact it has on your support agents, your customer satisfaction, and your company’s bottom line is astounding.

Informatica, the number one provider of enterprise cloud data management solutions, broke down the barriers to self-service success and experienced a 120% boost in case deflection by 120%, increased its customer satisfaction score, and decreased its content gaps.

Learn more about how they did it, some of their results, and how you can deploy the same strategy within your organization.

About Samantha Demers

Samantha Demers is Coveo’s Senior Content Editor, based in Montreal, Quebec. She is a passionate marketing and communications professional who has built her career in the tech industry by helping companies bring their brands to life and remain relevant in their field. Her motto; “engage like a consumer, not like a marketer” helps Coveo connect with its audience throughout their Intelligent Insights journey.

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