Is your support team feeling overwhelmed?
Are you repeating the same answers, over and over again?
You need a self-service customer support system.
72% of consumers report they are likely to switch to a competitive brand after just one bad experience.
If you can be the brand that answers every question your customers have in a simple, fast way, you’ll keep your customers happy, and have a clear competitive advantage over your competitors who aren’t prioritizing support.
In this guide, I’m going to show you:
✔ What a Customer Self-Service System Is
✔ Benefits of a Customer Self-Service System For Your Company
✔ Problems with Most Self-Service Systems (and How to Overcome Them)
✔ How to Create a Self-Service Systems
By the end, you’ll be ready to dive into creating your new customer self-service system to answer common questions, boost retention, and free up your support team’s time.
Let’s dive in.
Customer self-service is a way to handle customer support where your users can get the information they want by themselves, without reaching out to support reps.
The goal of customer self-service is to provide users access to as many resources as possible in the easiest and fastest way at a 24/7 availability.
This approach is taken by many SaaS companies, as there are often high-support costs associated with handling every request via live support agents.
It’s also ideal if you have a customer-type that may not want to engage with real people for every request, and just wants to handle things themselves.
Customer support costs can quickly add up as your company grows.
For fast growing SaaS companies, your user base is likely growing faster than you can hire new support reps, so a self-service system will help you provide high-quality service, without the associated costs.
According to a study by Harvard Business Review, the average cost of a live service interaction is more than $13 for a B2B company, whereas a Do-It-Yourself, self-service transaction costs pennies.
A self-service system will also be a useful resource for your support team, as they can quickly access up-to-date information on how to do specific tasks with your product, which will help when they need to answer customer queries.
Having a self-service customer support system will increase the trust your users have in your company and build customer loyalty.
Well, you’re helping them feel empowered, as well as solving their problems.
In fact, 81% of customers try to solve problems before reaching out to a support representative.
If you can consistently help your users solve their problems in the quickest possible way, you’ll boost customer satisfaction, as well as improving related metrics like your NPS, which is closely related to retention. 💪
The problem with traditional customer support systems is that your support team will end up having to repeat themselves all day.
Almost half of business owners say that over 30% of their team’s support tickets are “repetitive, yet easy to solve”.
With a self-service customer support system in place, your team can focus their attention on important tasks and more complex support requests.
Commonly asked questions can be answered in detailed help documentation and FAQ sections on your website.
Today, customer support is a key part of marketing. Buyers trust referrals, and word-of-mouth.
If you provide an amazing support system for your customers, they’ll never run into annoying problems with your product.
As you enable people to use your product successfully, they’ll be more likely to recommend your product to their friends and others in their network, and more likely to keep paying you every month.
As well as that, there are SEO benefits to a knowledge base.
Unfortunately, self-service systems aren’t a silver bullet.
Many companies don’t have good systems to implement them.
Gartner research shows that 70% of customers use self-service channels at some point in their resolution journey, but only 9% can fully resolve their issues via self-service channels.
In most cases, that’s due to poor information structure.
If your customers can’t find your knowledge base, they won’t use it.
Make your knowledge base easy to find, and easy to use.
The more accessible it is, the more likely you are to see success with it.
So, you’re ready to start building your customer support self-service system.
But, how exactly do you create one that works?
There are a few ways to go about it. Here are three of the most effective.
Knowledge bases are centralized information hubs, containing guides and documentation on solving common problems with your product.
They’re often organized by topics related to the services or features a company provides.
For example, Webflow’s help database is categorized by key areas related to their product, such as:
At Customerly, ours is organized by key product features, including:
✔ Customer support
✔ Live chat
It’s a simple and effective way to host all of your FAQs and guides in one place.
Add links to it from your website footer and support pages, and it’ll be easy for your customers to find it when they have questions.
With the Customerly Help Center, it’s simple to set up a self-service knowledge base just like these.
First, head to your Help Center and click Create New Collection.
Once you’ve created your collection, click on it.
You can then add a new article using the green button on the right-hand side of the screen.
You can add as many articles as you like, covering all aspects of your product.
If you have multiple team members working on your self-service documentation, you’ll be able to quickly see who’s created the articles, and the status (Draft or Public) of them.
To help ensure your customers can find your articles in your knowledge base, you can add keywords to it in a few clicks.
Start editing your article, and the “Edit article” sidebar will open.
From there, you can start editing the article itself, and add specific keywords to the article.
When a customer or potential customer searches your knowledge base for help (accessible from the Customerly live chat or in your help center), articles that match based on keywords will automatically be suggested.
For example, if I was looking for help setting up my Customerly NPS, all I need to do is search in the live chat, and I’ll automatically be suggested articles to help with my problem.
It’s a simple and effective way to boost customer self-service adoption and remove the need for every support request to go through your support team.
A live chat widget is one of the best ways to answer common questions.
41% of customers – almost half – prefer to use live chat over other types of customer support avenues.
If you can create a live chat widget on your site, you’ll be giving your customers a fast, simple way to find answers. 📲
In Customerly, it’s simple to set up your live chat.
Choose your installation option. You can install it via a small code snippet, a WordPress plugin, Angular, iOS or Android SDK.
Customize your settings, including:
Once everything is ready, you can launch your live chat.
Your customers will be able to access it at any time, find answers to their questions, and get in touch with your support team if they can’t find their answers.
When customers can’t find their answer in the help center, they can send you a direct message using your live chat.
You and your team can manage your responses from a simple, unified dashboard.
Different team members can jump in and out of conversations, and see details on the user you’re talking with (email, location, user properties).
A major advantage to live chat is the speed.
53% of buyers in the US say they’re likely to abandon a purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question.
A live chat is a signal to your users and customers that you’re available and responsive.
An online community is another great way to have a self-service customer support system.
However, once your community grows, it can be a hands-off, organic knowledge base mainly maintained by users.
While a community isn’t a perfect fit for every business, it’s ideal for companies with:
✔ A complex product
✔ Multiple types of use case
✔ Opportunities for UGC through templates
Notion is a company taking advantage of the online community for customer support.
Rather than every customer question going through the team, they can find Facebook groups, Twitter hashtags, and even a dedicated subreddit on Reddit with over 70,000 members.
If you can cultivate an active community around your product, it’s an amazing way to help manage the load on your support team.
People will ask their common questions there, relying on more experienced users to help them.
Your support team will still be there as a backup if your users can’t find the answers they’re looking for, but a large percentage of people will find their answers.
Your knowledge base is a living part of your website.
You should always be updating it, and looking for ways to improve the content on there as your product evolves.
A simple way to do this is to choose one with a user feedback system built-in.
This is important because it’s a good way to gauge if your customer service system is actually helpful.
For example, your knowledge base built with Customerly will automatically collect customer feedback on the articles.
If you consistently see people saying your documentation doesn’t answer their questions, you know it’s time to update the articles receiving poor feedback, or spend more time talking to your customers to identify their real pain points.
Another key feature to look out for is analytics on how people are using your knowledge base.
As well as showing you analytics on your most viewed articles, you can use Customerly to find new opportunities to improve your knowledge base using the “Failed Searches” feature.
Customers in your knowledge base will type their query in, as it’s the fastest way to find the right article.
But, what if you don’t have an article answering a specific question?
Well, head to your Help Center inside Customerly.
Click on Analytics, next to the New Collection button.
In your Analytics dashboard, you’ll see a “Failed Searches” report.
This compiles every search your customers made that didn’t return an article, as well as how many times it was searched for.
For example, maybe you released a new feature, but didn’t update your documentation yet.
If your users are having trouble with it, it’ll show up here that they’re looking for help. You can then prioritize which articles you create first, based on how many people are searching for them.
It’s a simple and effective way to continuously improve your self-service knowledge base.
Finally, it’s always key to remember that your self-service system should work in combination with your support team.
The self-service system won’t replace your support team, but it will enable them to stay more productive and focus on the support requests that can’t be answered in a simple help documentation.
You’ll have happy customers, and a happy support team. Building a self-service knowledge base is a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Luca Micheli is a serial tech entrepreneur with one exited company and a passion for bootstrap digital projects. He's passionate about helping companies to succeed with marketing and business development tips.