According to Forrester (News - Alert) Research, 72 percent of U.S. online consumers would rather use a company’s website to answer their questions than contact them via telephone or email. People of all ages (not just impatient millennials) want their answers fast – within four hours – and they want to solve their problems in one interaction without talking to another person.
Despite this, most businesses are failing at self-service, with only about half of customers today able to find the information they need online. As a result, a properly run online knowledge base and help center is now a significant competitive advantage.
So how can companies meet this expectation and deliver a positive self-service experience?
Deliver on Mobile Search
According to IBM (News - Alert), 51 percent of consumers expect their experience solving problems on a smartphone to be easier than interacting with customer support. To meet this expectation, companies must focus on the most vital part of a consumer’s mobile user experience: easy search and navigation.
Give people the autocomplete results Google (News - Alert) has trained them to expect and back it up with simple, faceted search. Don’t hide your search bar or expect people to spell their questions perfectly. If you do mobile search correctly, you will be rewarded as 70 percent of mobile searches lead to action on websites within one hour, according to SurveyMonkey.
Surface the Right Content
Customer support teams need to deliver the right content to the right user at the right time. According to Salesforce Desk, 45 percent of customers are likely to abandon their online purchases if they can’t find quick answers to their questions. Optimize your search to surface the best content so people don’t get frustrated and abandon your website.
Rank your best content higher in search results, use a weighted search algorithm to organize results, and account for synonyms in search. When people are experiencing a service issue, they need all the help you can give them.
Use Search Analytics to Set You Apart
Finally, every company kicks off its self-service strategy by creating the help center content it thinks customers need. You can gain a competitive advantage by using your help center search data and content interactions to make improvements.
If customers aren’t finding answers fast, then the chance of them getting frustrated with your company increases. With real-time search analytics you can discover what customers are looking for and see how they’re using your content. Search query statistics reveal missing answers and help prioritize content, processes, and products based on what customers actually want.
As you start to analyze search data, look for recurring themes in queries, questions that aren’t being answered, and metrics like time on page and navigation paths. Do your customers exit in a meaningful way? Did they convert to a ticket, a sale, or just drop?
Also look to see how much time a visitor spends on certain pages before sending a ticket or making a phone call. If it is low, then the content might not be as helpful as you thought. It’s vital to look for improvements to these problems because of the financial impact on your team. Support calls cost roughly $12 each vs. $0.10 for a self-service interaction.
Prioritizing the Customer Experience
Self-service is already the new experience benchmark and your knowledge base holds the key to mastering it – search. It’s a clear window into the problems your customers are trying to solve and where you’re failing to meet their needs. Using search to its full potential gives you the knowledge you need for happier customers and reduced support costs.
Matt Riley is CEO with Swiftype (www.swiftype.com).
Edited by Alicia Young