7 Reasons Your Support Team Should Produce Self-Service Content
As the old proverb goes, ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’ Your customers are just the same: you can help them through their problems and leave them reliant on you, or you can educate them so that they are self-sufficient and ultimately, successful. Webinars, support calls and structured training programs can help you achieve this goal, but a self-service help community should always be the backbone of your customer education and support program.
Few would argue that providing great online help isn’t a good idea, but getting buy-in from the business can be much more difficult. Too often, creating and updating your customer-focused content takes a back seat to resolving new support tickets. Realizing that great help content reduces ticket build up means these two tasks shouldn’t be competing with each other.
Here we explore some of the benefits to good online content and how that affects both your business and the customer. Note that I avoid the word ‘documentation’; this is not a dump of everything you know about the product or cutting up your old PDF manuals into individual pages on a site. This is rich, interactive content and user stories that form part of a community for your customer to engage in.
1. It’s cost effective
When thinking about the cost of scaling your support organization, self-service content should always be the first thing you look at. Unless you are a very large organization, offering 24/7 support is not a viable solution. Comprehensive online help content provides much of the benefit of having someone working nights or building a new team in a different country at a fraction of the cost.
2. Your support team is more engaged
Keeping your support team motivated is just as important as any other department. However, the role often at risk of not being varied enough to prevent what is commonly one of the highest turnover rates in a company. If your agents are constantly working through a backlog of tickets with no end in sight, apathy quickly sets in. Properly dedicating time and resources to creating and managing your online help content is a great way to give your team that much needed variety.
Your help site will also change the distribution of incoming tickets that your support team work on. When customers have adequate self-help resources, they typically raise fewer tickets. The tickets you cut out will be the most trivial and repetitive issues, leaving your team with just the more advanced work, and making the job more interesting overall. More engaged and motivated employees mean reduced turnover, which again saves on the bottom line.
3. Your help site is content too
A well written article on a feature of your product will draw people to your website: not just your current customers, but also prospects that are looking for a solution to a problem that feature solves. Just do a search for ‘how to change a car battery’; how many of the results provide instructions but then go on to try and sell you a battery? If you can address a common problem with content based in your product or service's core strengths, take advantage of the opportunity.
4. It provides better, more accurate feedback on your product
Reporting on ticket trends gives you a better idea of what your most common issues are, allowing you to tackle the biggest problems first. But beyond that, feedback is usually just anecdotes you hear from support agents and the most vocal customers. A good online help system allows your customers to provide detailed comments on a specific article. You can use this feedback when you review the article, or help to direct product enhancements.
5. ‘RTFM’ does not help anyone
Providing well written, discrete user stories makes learning your product much more manageable than shipping an aircraft manual in PDF format and politely telling the customer to come back when they’ve finished reading it. No one reads manuals because they are difficult to navigate and don’t get updated. Even if you update the documentation with every release, you will still have old versions in circulation.
6. You can change customer’s perception of your product
Good support helps to fix problems but without good help content, the customer might feel the product is difficult to use. If you can demonstrate to a customer that any question they have has already been answered and documented, even the most advanced product becomes simple to use.
7. You give your customers choice
Responsive and helpful support is essential to be competitive in today’s market, but to make a difference you need to allow the customer to choose how they get help and learn. Some customers will always want to speak to a person, but much more commonly people will exhaust Google before picking up the phone. If you force someone to call or email when they’d prefer to read about their question online, they will already be upset before you start your conversation.
Don't think of content as strictly the purview of your marketing team and irrelevant to your customer base. Create a library of support content to help future and existing customers, and make your customer support team more effective.
Hailing from Oxford, England and settled in the U.S. just three years ago, Peter manages Percussion's intrepid support team. With over a decade in support ranging from call center, to in-house IT departments, consultancy, and software, Peter brings broad experience and passion for customer success to Percussion. In his spare time, Peter loves outdoor activities like hiking and rock climbing, and getting as much sleep as possible while living with his 6-month-old daughter. Educated in physics at the University of Nottingham, he also loves science fiction and has probably read Dune more than once.