Why Customer Self-Service Portal is a Must, not an Option

What’s the point of customer self-service portal for customer service? There are a support service reps to fix any issue. Many business owners think this way. But wait for a moment and check out some numbers. Zendesk survey reveals that 67% of customers prefer using self-service for handling their questions instead of connecting with the company personally. 91% of respondents enjoy using the knowledge base and FAQ section if they are available and suit to their requirements.

Sounds great! Customers help themselves, and you spare budget and human resources, plus your support reps can work on some other strategic projects. Don’t buy it - these things demand time and efforts to be indeed useful for your customers.

The significance of FAQ section

The FAQ section for customer self-service is the resource that directs not only the questions customers have but also common concerns or objections. This is a kind of specific knowledge base about your business, product or service.

Quite often the FAQ section is a first destination of the customers before they reach your support service directly for answers. One of the most interesting aspects of the FAQ section lies in the ability to handle buying anxieties on the different parts of the customer journey.

Being one of the most often forgotten parts of the website, the FAQ section effectively solves a couple of essential functions:

  • Mitigates the potential purchase anxieties in case your product page address them in a half-understood way.
  • Leaves more time for support service agents by dealing with common questions.
  • Adds more value to website navigation and bring some improvements for your SEO.
  • Builds a reputation of the product expertise and put the lights on your business model.
  • Delights your customers with short, but creative answers without annoying verbose style and useless additional information.

What is a proper place for the FAQ page?

Too much help tends to deliver no help at all. The FAQ page can also play a distraction role, and it is urgently important to place it in the right place on the website. Let’s illustrate some common situations:

  • There are dozens of requests with the same question or problem. Save yours and customer’s time and provide the public answer to these questions.
  • Your team is planning a connecting landing page for pushing the customer from a question to a conversation.
  • The questions and concerns of your product or service are better dealt with in a direct way, and no answers in the FAQ section will only throw your customer for a loop.

The actual place of the FAQ section depends on the business model you run. If the customer service is the heart of your business, then you might want to design a kind of support center where FAQ section will play a part in the support service flow. On the other hand, in case you sell some product or service that comes out with a bound of questions along the customer journey, then you are better to display a link to the FAQ page in the navigation or integrate it into the product page.

Where to find those “frequently asked” questions?

The first and significant place to check for the FAQ questions is the customer support tickets and inbox. Don’t leave out of your sight the objections. They can quickly become questions to be solved.

All that sounds easy - you got a question and offered an answer. But writing those questions should include the strategic aspect and also educate your customers about the product or service you sell.

Think how the question you want to include may lead a customer to another stage of buying journey. Make sure you place focus on relevancy and utility. In case, you collected a quite long list of potential FAQs, group them into the categories for ensuring that your FAQs are searchable on self-service portal.

If you work in the B2B sphere, then you can improve your FAQ section for customer self-service with video tutorials. Surely, you have some technical material and this “show and tell” approach will be much more efficient than a long “how to” answer.

Tips on answering the FAQ section

Satisfactory user and customer experience are paramount for every business. To get the winning recipe try to figure out the questions that customer actually put, but not that your team thinks they might have set.

Remember about the power of positive language for customer service. It is helpful in direct interactions with clients as well as in setting a right position in the answers that may display a possible shortcoming of a product or service. Use a positive language to frame it.

To keep your audience, ensure that you provide them with the information they need - avoid too much data and showing off. The no-brainer part is in setting the question from a customer’s perspective and giving the answer from a business’ perspective.
The focus of the questions may lie in a) dealing with purchase concern, b) educating your customers, c) fixing a common problem. So don’t step away from the primary purpose and keep the answer clear.

There is also may be a category of questions that deal with some technical stuff or navigation. Here is a right place to use screenshots or brief video tutorial. As they say, a picture paints a thousand words.

Do your best to avoid popups and other possibly annoying stuff. Once you distract your customers from accomplishing their goals, deliver an irritating experience.

And one more thing: put a call to action after the answer, so your potential customers could return to the sales funnel. This opportunity is more than often missed out. If you think that a call to action isn’t very appropriate in some cases, you can add a link to another relevant page to keep your audience on their customer journey.

5 best practices of designing a practical FAQ section

Perhaps, you heard, read, and seen a lot of stuff on how to craft a sound marketing strategy and take a holistic approach to sales. And have you seen such tips on working out a customer support journey tactics at least? There is a lack of such materials as well as of the actual designing of this journey. Customer knowledge bases are fully packed with information that is thrown into a customer. “You want help? We will help.”

Although, the support service shouldn’t work like this. Here are some best practices of a well-thought FAQ section for customer self-service that bring you a few ideas of what you can do to fix your section.

#1 Be short and put limits

To derive the most advantage of the FAQ section, add a search box (we already mentioned that FAQs should be searchable) and put under that box a couple of the most frequent questions from different categories, but don’t overload the page.

The customers check the top issues and then go to look for the answer to their question. What is the gain? A client doesn’t feel exhausted and doesn’t leave your website and, therefore, goes further into the sales funnel.

#2 Long FAQs bring false analytics numbers

The more questions you covered in the FAQ section, the better the customer self-service you offer. That sounds like a good idea, but it would work differently in practice. Let’s say your customer read the whole list of available FAQs and some topics were interesting, so the customer went to read them - just because of curiosity. And when you collect a weekly report from analytics, you may see quite puzzling trends. Here is how that a customer’s interest make data mountain of a molehill.

How to fix it? You may avoid adding the new articles to the customer self-service and leave the task of figuring out what customers are looking for on the search engines.

#3 Don’t treat FAQ section as a routine

In the ideal world, the FAQ section of the customer self-service will be updated nearly every day. However, the real life is different. Your teams quite often put aside the updates of the FAQs due to the search trends. What’s worse this task mightn’t even be included in the do-to lists. Later, when there is a whole bunch of updates, the job becomes time-consuming.

Time is such a precious commodity so use it wisely. Add a habit to check if there are any updates required to the FAQ section every Friday.

That has nothing to do with the Halloween or ghosts. However, the trending FAQs either way isn’t a good thing to have. Some companies tend to use dynamic FAQs - populate the fresh or popular articles by displaying.

Why is this bad? Well, once the FAQ reaches to the top, it stays there for long. That brings you false data and create a new loop of false results. Manual editing takes time, but it is worth the data accuracy you will collect later.

Despite the circumstances and time, people what to type in a question and receive a fast answer. Coming up next: the biggest fear of support service agents is the empty result for a customer. Every problem has a solution. Be ready to spend some of your support team time on creating the content with relevant titles, tags, and keywords to make it more searchable.

Summarizing

One of the many general truths about the customers is that they want to solve their problem and go on with their business. The customer self-service portal can boost the quality of the customer experience you offer. Although, it requires time, patience and working hard on creating relevant and comprehensible FAQs. The effort is worth the results: fewer repetitive tickets, support reps work on other important business issues and more of your customers happy with the service.

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