How Knowledge Base Software Can Improve Customer Self-Service

When thinking about the benefits of investing in knowledge base software, it’s easy to focus too closely on the advantages of having an internal knowledge base to better support employees in doing their jobs. Indeed these benefits are many: knowledge base software can lead to consistency and accuracy in daily operations, reduced training time, better collaboration, and improved problem-solving, to name just a few.

Many companies are also experiencing significant benefits of using knowledge base software to create an external knowledge base, one that can provide a self-service support option for customers. As it turns out, customers like being able to provide their own support. In fact, they like it a lot. At least they like the idea of it - although they want self-service options, many customers are frustrated at the poor quality of the ones available to them.

Here are some recent statistics that elucidate how customers feel about online self-service:

  • More than 90% of customers say that they would use an online knowledge base if it were available and tailored to their needs.
  • Three-quarters of customers would prefer to use online support, but fewer than 40% actually do use self-service options because they perceive these solutions as inaccurate or incomplete.
  • Nearly half of customers contact a live customer service agent if they can’t find a self-service option, but almost 60% are frustrated at having to do so—they would rather have the tools available to solve the problem themselves.

These findings suggest that while customers want access to organizational knowledge bases to answer their own questions and solve their own problems, they aren’t always satisfied with what they find there. Below are several ways companies can use knowledge base software to better respond to their customers’ needs.

  • Provide comprehensive, easily searchable resources. If customers can’t find the information they are looking for, they will likely give up. But that’s not all that can happen. In the worst case scenario, they will give up on you and start seeking answers from your competitors. Providing relevant, high quality search results will allow your customers to find what they need…and keep them on your site longer.
  • Optimize the search experience. The vocabulary your customers use to search your knowledge base is not necessarily the same vocabulary you use internally. Make sure that the categories, post tags, and keywords in your knowledge base software match the way your customers will most likely search.
  • Ensure the resources are engaging. People are now widely accustomed to highly interactive online activities. Don’t just use static web pages—instead, provide your customers with an interactive, engaging self-service experience.
  • Curate the knowledge base to ensure high quality. In your internal knowledge base, you may want to store as many resources as possible, including different versions of documents or procedures that are no longer in daily use. This is less true for an external knowledge base. Curate and even occasionally cull your resources to ensure that the information your customers have access to is always up-to-date and of the highest quality.
  • Provide other options that don’t involve picking up the phone. One survey found that 71% of customers would like a virtual assistant for when they need help finding things in the knowledge base. Some customers may want to call, but provide options through other communication channels as well, including online chat and social media.

Customers want to be self-sufficient, which is great news for organizations: part of that customer service budget can now be allocated in different ways. But bad self-service experiences can be just as frustrating as negative customer service interactions. Implement these strategies along with your knowledge base software to provide customers with the best online self-service experience possible.

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