Customers want quality service from businesses. That’s a given. But they also want the quality of customer engagement from their preferred brands to get better over time.
About 54% of them expect that companies will offer better customer service compared to a year ago. If they are between 18 and 34 years old, they will be even more demanding; 66% of them want to see firms up the ante on their customer service from the previous year.
Here’s what this means — businesses have to continually revise their service strategies to maintain a stable relationship with their customers. The best way to do this is to listen what they say about how they wish to be served.
But What Are Customers Saying About This?
About 73% of customers prefer to solve their product or service issues themselves. Also, 50% of potential buyers of various brands insist they want to be able to deal with product or service issues on their own.
In simple terms, they don’t think they must speak to an agent to get the answers they are looking for. They are demanding companies to facilitate effective customer self-service.
What Is Customer Self-service?
Customer self-service happens when a customer accesses the information that answers his questions about a product or helps him solve issues related to the product, without getting assistance from a customer service agent.
He will be able to do this only if the information he needs is made available to him. Today, most companies provide this information through digital media; many popular brands have come up with online channels designed specifically to provide the information sought by their customers.
The image below lists the digital tools used to facilitate seamless customer self-service.
Web pages: The most commonly used self-service tools are pages on companies’ websites. Web pages are very useful to present detailed product information and provide a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about products. Businesses have relied on websites to supply customers with vital product information; this is likely to continue for years to come.
Chatbots: Chatbots powered by artificial intelligence (AI) based technologies are the most recent addition to the list of tools businesses use to connect with their customers. These ‘digital agents’ are programmed to receive and respond to customer queries in a manner that mimics human correspondence. Ground-breaking developments in AI and machine learning (ML) domains have enabled chatbots to capture data from customer queries and use the data to enhance their abilities. As AI and ML technologies continue to develop, so will the abilities of chatbots. Many companies are increasingly relying on chatbots to serve their customers, and this trend will only grow in the foreseeable future.
Online Communities: Instead of just relying on websites and AI, companies may also opt to create online communities where customers can ask and answer product-related questions, share information and learn from each other. These answers could be moderated and approved by a team assigned to manage the community platform.
Knowledge Base: The information provided on the forums discussed above could also be a part of a knowledge base — a collection of web-hosted data resources customers can access easily. Other components of a typical knowledge base include manuals, runbooks, FAQs and troubleshooting guides.
Customer self-service communities are particularly useful because they achieve multiple goals. By building these communities, you can convert product users into brand ambassadors, leverage word-of-mouth marketing and take advantage of user-generated content to boost your online search rankings and visibility.
But, the biggest advantage of developing customer communities is your prospective customers can get the information they need from existing users of your products. This will help create an impression among the prospects that they are getting honest reviews about the products, increasing the chances of purchase.
How to Build a Customer Self-service Community with Salesforce Community Cloud?
A customer self-service community is typically built using enterprise software applications. One of the widely used enterprise software applications is Salesforce Community Cloud; Community Cloud is a platform that allows your employees and customers to interact at and share content in one location.
Platforms such as this will give you the freedom to design the space within which the customer self-service community will exist.
Here are a few best practices to help you build a self-service community that works.
1. Make It Easy To Use
You want your visitors to spend more time getting answers to their questions and less time on learning how to navigate the environment. Make the transitions as straightforward as possible, and ensure they fit in seamlessly with your customers’ broader web experience.
2. Deploy an Efficient Search Function
Visitors should be able to find resources related to their queries with minimal effort. An optimized search function will list only the resources that match the query typed by the customer, helping him find the information he needs quickly.
3. Create Personalized Experiences
About 88% of marketers say they have improved their businesses by personalizing customer experiences. Customers are more likely to buy from you if your answers to their product-related questions are tailored to address their specific concerns.
Salesforce Community Cloud uses an AI-powered function to deliver personalized advice to customers. It can also direct them from a chatbot or an online community to a customer service agent in a seamless manner.
4. Update Your Content
Your team should supply the customer self-service community with the latest information about your products. This includes the introduction of new products, changes to existing ones, ongoing projects and upcoming events. Updating information regularly will help you ensure your customers don’t have to contact a customer service representative to stay updated about your company’s latest plans.
Salesforce Community Cloud solution gives you plenty of room to implement the best practices and build a robust self-service community for your business. You can provide a link to the community in your customer portal, so that people using the portal can find the resources they need with ease. Community Cloud’s drag-and-drop features allow you to create a customized platform that caters to your company’s unique needs very easily.
How Self-service Communities Improve Customer Support
About 70% of customers expect companies’ websites to have a self-service application. And 77% of consumers say they have used a self-service support portal. Businesses need to be aware customers want to find answers by themselves, and they should tailor their strategies accordingly.
Here’s how building a self-service community can give customers access to high-quality support and delight them.
1. Customers Can Access a Wealth of Information about Your Product
As customers on the community platform ask and answer questions, they build a treasure trove of information that visitors to the customer portal can use.
Businesses can leverage user-generated content to boost their SEO efforts and demonstrate they have a loyal, engaged following of customers. This will help drive traffic to their websites and trigger an uptick in conversion rates.
For the customer, it’s more about finding answers to the questions they have about a product or service. Studies show people are more likely to trust information about a product if it’s provided by another user than by the company that produces it.