Ah, summer. Long days, warm nights, and a pace of life and work that reminds us why it’s good to be alive. For online businesses, summer can be a period of new initiatives, design overhauls, and preparation for the fall, when buyers once again begin looking in earnest for the latest deals and best services.
Naturally, summer means your overworked customer service teams need to go on vacation, or risk 5150 holds at the local psychiatric hospital. Perhaps you start nervously sweating just thinking about your rising support time-to-resolution (TTR). If you’re an online business, you know that your customers can reach you from anywhere at any time. And when your customers have questions on your website, you have to be there to help them.
Or do you?
Website self-service has been gaining traction, and as an industry, we’re just now figuring out how to do it right. Almost anybody can agree that customer self-service—enabling your customers to answer their own questions under their own steam—is a great first step prior to customers being assisted by a live human being. Having a support staff is expensive and most questions are common ones, meaning self-service solutions can often handle them. When done right, self-service enables your customers to do the work of your support team for themselves. So in summer, when your live chat operators, telephone support agents, and email response personnel need to take a break, website self-service shines brightly.
The psychology of availability
There’s an ironic downside to assisted-service solutions like live chat or telephone support: they’re actually worse than no support when they are shown on a site but not actually available. Studies show that 58% of customers have been let down by a company because the company was not available to help them. Rather than having a telephone number that, when called, causes a customer to hear what your business hours are (translation: not now), or having a live chat service that is placed in a state of “leave a message,” you do better to show nothing at all. If you can’t support the expectations you create, don’t create those expectations in the first place.
The availability of website self-service
The beauty of online self-service is that it can always uphold the promise of availability. Common self-service solutions like knowledgebases, FAQs, and forums are available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Every user knows what they are getting when they visit such self-service solutions. They know they are on their own to find the answer they need, and that the system will support them as long as they are willing to keep after it. The issue therefore shifts from availability to efficacy—namely, how effective it will be for the user to find their answer and how long it will take? When self-service is done right, this shift is in your company’s favor. When self-service is done wrong, the user can become more frustrated than when they began looking for help in the first place.
How do I get started with self-service?
So how do you know whether self-service will work best for your online business? Summer is a great time to experiment!
Summer affords a great time to experiment for most businesses. Because 10-20% fewer people are online during summer, you can push changes to your site, measure their effects, and determine what works best with minimal downside. Techniques like A/B testing can help you isolate which self-service solutions are working. Key metrics for self-service solutions include their engagement rate, answers delivered, and whether content is marked helpful or unhelpful. You can also determine, for each customer that visited your self-service solution, how many went on to make a purchase or contact customer support. As website self-service is much cheaper than other support channels—about 4% the cost of email, 2% the cost of live chat, and 1% the cost of telephone support—it is well worth a summertime experiment to discover if self-service is right for your business.
AnswerDash’s take on website self-service
Because it is always available, AnswerDash doesn’t risk letting your customers down. When a customer has a new question nobody has asked, they can ask it over email or live chat. Unlike traditional email or live chat channels, however, once you answer a question once, it then lives in the “answer layer” building up over your site, meaning it will be there to help future customers who have the same question without any further effort from you. AnswerDash has shown that it decreases customer support costs by over 60% by heading off the most common questions your customers ask.
Give self-service a try
Summer is a great time of year for self-service to shine. By giving your customers the power to help themselves during the summer, you can lessen the burden on your support team, lower your costs, and help your valued employees get the rest and relaxation they need and deserve.