This Way for Self-Service

By Mandy Reed, Marketing Manager (Global)

Every organisation faces obstacles when it comes to customer support management. Customer expectations are high and customer experience budgets are low. Many companies are turning to self-service options that not only fit with busy customer lifestyles, but also help to significantly reduce support costs. At the end of Creative Virtual’s 2015 Global Customer Support Outlook Survey, participants were given a chance to share the biggest problem in customer support management they hoped to solve this year. Not surprisingly, we received answers such as: ‘Directing callers to self-help.’ ‘Migrate people to self-service channels.’ ‘Move high telephone volume to self-serve.’

While deploying a self-service option, such as a Virtual Customer Assistant (VCA), is a proven way to reduce the volume of customer calls, emails and live chats, organisations can not see full benefits if the solution isn’t adopted by their customers. Humans are creatures of habit, so if your customers are used to always calling or emailing you for support they may not realise they have the option to instantly help themselves on your website. Whether you already have a VCA available or are looking to launch one this year, here are four ways you can increase self-service engagement with customers:

  1. Introduce your VCA to your customers – Your customers won’t self-serve with your VCA if they don’t know you offer one, so don’t be shy about introducing them to your self-help tool. Include an announcement in your customer newsletter, send an email campaign or create a video to introduce customers to your online support option. Having a webpage or blurb on your site about your VCA can also help your website visitors understand and adopt the solution as a means to instantly find answers to their questions.
  2. Make your VCA easily visible and accessible – Often a support or contact page is the first place that comes to mind when implementing a self-service tool, but think about all the areas current or potential customers may have queries on your website, such as product or service pages. Making your VCA prominent on your website encourages usage and improves the experience because customers don’t need to go looking for help – it’s right there. Consider placing your VCA in the header or top menu of your website, as a tab that’s accessible along the side of every page or integrating it with your site search.
  3. Proactively offer your VCA – Don’t just wait for customers to engage with your VCA, use a proactive invite to get the conversation started. This highly customisable feature allows you to pre-emptively offer support to online customers through the VCA at the times that make sense for your organisation – as a welcome when customers first arrive on your website, as a source of more information when a visitor has been on a certain page or area of your site for a predetermined length of time, as a helping hand when a form is submitted incorrectly. A proactive invite anticipates customer needs to reduce frustration and encourage instant self-service.
  4. Remind customers about your VCA – Don’t be afraid to point your customers in the direction of your VCA even when communicating with them off your website. Encourage customers to self-serve in email notifications about orders and invoices by including a link to the self-help tool, remind customers in tweets or other social posts that your VCA is available 24/7 (even outside of your support team hours) and promote your VCA in your brick and mortar or branch locations as a reminder to customers of your online support.

For more insights from the 2015 Global Customer Support Outlook Survey, including contact deflection rates organisations are currently seeing from VCA solutions, download a full copy of the results.