Web Self-Service, Part Two
Web self-service helps customers help themselves.
As shown in the studies we cited in Part I, it’s what customers want, and it also saves the business money. Web self-service is the epitome of a win-win. And any time you seize a win-win for your eBusiness, you gain a real competitive advantage. In Part II of our series, let’s check out the content and tools that customers look for on their path to self-empowerment:
The search tool is the lynchpin of web self-service. When customers arrive at your site with a problem, among their very first options is to look up to the upper right-hand corner of your webpage and find the search bar. If you’re missing this, half your customers are already pulling out their follicles.
A good search tool, however, is more than just the presence of a bar for text entry and an icon for a magnifying glass. Make it even easier for customers with a search tool that autocompletes their entries, compensates for misspellings, and also gives helpful (and intelligent) suggestions. Advanced search options, such as filtering and sorting various products, further boost their web self-service options.
Naturally, when your customers enter a search, it means they want to find content. One of the most obvious forms of web self-service content is your product info. Unfortunately, many eBusinesses, especially for complex B2B products, give up after listing the specs.
Video content such as instructionals and How-To’s solve customer questions without them ever picking up a phone. Similarly, downloadable manuals are often just as helpful as any emailed explanation. And any other related product info that you make available (such as warranties) may result in one less call or email sent through your system.
Your prospects and leads do want to know about much more than the products. But what else do these potential customers want to know about? They want to know about YOU!
Web self-service means helping and informing all of your customers, whether they are in the research phase or require specific product assistance. An “About Us” page is a good start, but make an effort to go beyond that. Blogs, whitepapers, and case studies all tell about your company and your vision, objective, and uniqueness for the industry you work in. This is often equally as valuable as product specifications.
FAQs and Customer Forums
Some customers have routine questions that you’re able to anticipate if only there was a singular place for your customers to go to ask them. For the questions that get repeated over and over again, FAQs and customer forums make excellent web self-service resources.
Customer forums also help build a community that exists to not only help one another but also discuss your products. This is an excellent resource not only for your customers, but also for your own research into what people do and don’t like about doing business with you.
Integration and Personalization
As we touched on in Part I of this blog series, integration of your website with your backend systems such as your ERP and your CRM is important to giving your customers the web self-service options they’re looking for.
For customers who have already made a purchase from you, they frequently have simple questions with simple answers. They want to view their order status, track their shipment, or review their accounts. And you save money when these customers aren’t tying up your phone lines to find out this information.
Integration is what allows all your systems to talk to each other, so that the customer on the frontend only has to click a few buttons to get the data they want. Furthermore, when you integrate with your CRM, the customer’s vast history, including past orders, is at your disposal. This information opens the door for you to present that customer with personalized content (such as the types listed above), which ensures a greater chance of relevance and a greater chance they have their questions answered with web self-service rather than a call center.
The research is in, and web self-service is proven beneficial to the customer and the company. Customers want it, and companies save from it.
It’s not efficient to have an hour-long phone conversation with a customer every time they want to make a single purchase and every time they have a technical problem. Instead, if you empower the customer to buy products and solve problems themselves, they might just return to your business.