Maintaining that bond between customer and company is critical to a successful business, and as the way customers interact with you changes, so should the way you interact with them. The desire for self service is a growing trend among online customers, particularly with the millennial age group. When 73 percent of consumers say that they should have the ability to solve most product and service issues on their own, you can’t continue to serve them the same-old, same-old.6 You need to bring the customer support to the customer, you need to abandon the help island and bring it ashore for the customer to directly access whenever and wherever they please.
A help island is the embodiment of antiquated customer support. It’s the last thing a customer wants to see. Having your FAQ, knowledgebase, forum, and other support resources isolated from the core experience is creating a “help island.” It detracts from the overall experience and requires extra effort on the customer’s end to attempt to serve themselves. Less than 1% of users go to a help island and oftentimes when they do, the collection of resources isn’t able to solve their problem, which means their issue gets escalated through the common channels of email or live support - after they’ve already become frustrated by the help island. This traditional means of customer support is bad for customer’s experience and just plain bad for business.
Americans tell nearly twice as many people about poor experiences as good experiences,1 so you can understand the importance of making sure their experience is a good one. Customer experiences and the subsequent word of mouth plays a crucial role in your business’ success. If one customer is unsatisfied, you’re not only losing a recommendation, but losing the opportunity to satisfy other potential customers that get advised against going to your company. Yet that’s not where it ends, as 78% of Americans have actually abandoned a transaction due to a bad customer service experience.1 You’re not only losing potential business, but existing business too. Self service and short wait times are the desires of a happy customer, and failing to fulfill those desires through traditional means of customer support is costing you money, time, and customer satisfaction.
One negative experience also takes up to twelve positive experiences to remedy2 and 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with you again.3 Convincing an unhappy customer to come back can be difficult, and convincing them to keep coming back when nothing’s changed for the better, is even harder. Offsetting those poor customer support experiences means more, regular effort on your part, when all they want is to serve themselves at little to no effort for the company. Self service is mutually beneficial and means happier customers, cheaper customer support, more business, and less time wasted on both ends.
The costs of gaining a new customer is 6 - 7 times that of keeping an existing one,4 so turning away existing business with poor customer support is not good business. Once you’ve gotten a customer doing business with you, it’s much cheaper to keep them happy than it is to try to replace them with someone else - especially with all of the subsequent damage a customer’s negative experience can have on your reputation through word of mouth. When combined with the cheaply providing the ability for self service rather than forcing assisted service, it results in substantially decreased costs overall. You’re also increasing those customers’ potential lifetime value and preventing them from increasing your costs of customer acquisition even further due to your negative reputation.
Even if things seem to be going well for you with your traditional customer support, think of how much better it could be. The help island of customer support means that people only travel there when they need it and it isn’t immediately available and relevant. Even your loyal customers who have had good experiences in the past will potentially have a 25% drop in loyalty after a single poor experience,5 like when they have an issue and realize how complicated, tedious, or unhelpful your antiquated customer support is. In fact, 76 percent of all generations view customer service as a “true test” of how much a company values them.6 The impacts of negative customer experiences and poor customer service are substantial and far-reaching; however, don’t fret, for when it comes to customer service, a little goes a long ways! Doing away with your help island and enabling self service is what your customers want and is actually easier and cheaper than the traditional means of customer support. Don’t just take my word for it, see what other companies are saying and how it’s benefited them!
Written by Evan Oeflein
(1) 2011, Global Customer Service Barometer, American Express
(2) 2008, Understanding Customers, Ruby Newell-Legner
(3) 2015, Customer Service Research, Lee Resources Inc.
(4) 2011, Consumer Affairs Report, White House Office of Consumer Affairs
(5) 2016, Industry-Specific Research, CTMA Research
(6) 2015, The Millennial Report, Conversion Research