Brands can improve customer experience by limiting the effort it takes for customers to find what they’re looking for when they visit your website. Customers use to call on the phone when they had an issue, now they go online instead. Industry executives call this “self-service”. Consumer attitudes toward technology have shifted significantly over the past 5 years to a point where consumers are more comfortable using the internet to find information to solve their issues than they are using the telephone, or any other method. It isn’t just younger consumers who are doing this either. A recent survey from Forrester Research revealed that 72% of consumers – regardless of age – prefer “self-service” to telephone communication, or email.
CFO’s will love it too, because it saves money – automated customer support is much less expensive than having a real person manning the telephone. But it isn’t just about being more cost effective, if done properly consumers will appreciate the value of automated digital support. Customers report that they actually feel “empowered” from finding solutions on their own. In order to fully support customer service through digital channels, success depends on the quality and quantity of the information available and the ease of its accessibility. This sounds easy in theory, but in practice it can prove to be rather difficult. Websites today are cluttered with reference materials, social media streams, blog articles, links, and pages of questions and answers. This presents an issue for the consumer.
The way to combat clutter on your website for consumers who are looking for a quick and simple answer to their problem is to prominently display the “self-service” portal. And because the self-service portal is an extension of your main website it should have the same design and interface. As for the content itself – it should be concise, and to the point. The best way to ensure that is by using visual elements like info-graphs, images, or a how-to video. Be sure the graphics are optimized for the web, or else it might take them too long to load. The content should be written at an easy-to-understand level, you don’t want to complicate things. As we’re very quick to point out at Marketing Wiz – it’s also important that your website is optimized for mobile, since about 33% of web traffic today is coming from mobile devices.
Another way to improve the automated self-service aspect of your website is to combine it with an automated guidance system that lets visitors ask questions and then takes them to specific answers, rather than have to search the entire database for the answer their looking for. An example of this would be : interactive on-screen step by step instructions displayed as pop-up balloons that can be programmed to appear automatically if the site visitor scrolls on certain items.
If a consumer can’t find the answer to their question on your website then they’re probably going to leave and go to Google. The problem with that is A) they’ve exited your website and B) the information they see is now out of your control, it could be from a competitor, or something you’d rather them not know.
As with any other aspect of your CRM strategy – you need to measure the results. It’s important to establish the metrics that you’ll want to track. Number one is probably the number of questions that were submitted. Then you’ll want to collect user feedback, this can be completed through the use of customer surveys, web analytic reports, or search logs. Keep in mind that for self-service to be done properly the focus should be on the consumer, not your business. You want the consumer to look for answers on your website because it serves their needs, not because they have no other choice.