Self-service customer support is table stakes in today’s 24/7 world. Digital-first customers like to find their own answers, and most would rather use self-service portals than pick up the phone and talk to someone.

Building a customer-friendly, self-service support centre is an effective and cost-efficient way to grow your business. You just have to do it right. Here’s six tips to deliver an amazing self-help centre experience:

 

1. Direct customers to your self-service site

 

Sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s true. Your support site can only be successful if customers know it exists. This can be especially challenging for established businesses needing to transition customers over to a newly launched support site.
 

"Your support site can only be successful if customers know it exists."

 

Calls-to-action that send customers to your new self-service portal are the simplest way to do this is – place links to your support centre throughout your website. And if your product is online, you should weave links into it also. You want to make it as easy as possible for your customers to find your self-service offerings.

 

2. Create the right self-service content

 

Your self-service portal is only useful if it has the answers your customers need. To help identify what content you need to create, keep and mine the records of service calls. Then use this information to create articles and other self-help content that addresses these common support requests.

Great formats to deliver self-service content include FAQs, a knowledge base with detailed product information, community bulletin boards and videos with step-by-step instructions for resolving a problem.

 

3. Keep your knowledge base up-to-date

 

Your knowledge base is never really ‘finished’. To get the most out of it, you need to continuously improve your articles. Plan periodic reviews of all of your knowledge base content (including images and video), and set expiration dates that force you to revisit everything you’ve already created. This is especially important for FAQ content.

Giving customers the opportunity to rate your content is another great way to find out what needs improvement, as is tracking changes in the topics your customers are using your other service portals for. If enquiries via other service portals drop significantly across all but one or two topics, you probably need to consider whether the information you're providing about those topics is as useful as it could be.

 

 

4. Make your self-service portal easy to navigate and crawlable

 

Once you’ve filled your self-service portal with great content, make sure it’s easy for customers to find what they’re after.

Include a search bar, and make sure every topic and article is clearly labelled and properly tagged. This will help customers find the content they need easily, whether they’re browsing or searching via the search tool. You also want to make sure your content is crawlable, so that it pops up in Google search results.
 

 "Include a search bar, and make sure every topic and article is clearly labelled and properly tagged."

 

Don’t forget to add links leading back to all available support channels and even include a contact form in the footer of your portal. This builds trust by making it easy for customers to escalate their help request – whether it be through email, live chat or phone – if they can’t find the answers they need from searching your self-service portal alone.

Self-service should be an extra option for customers who prefer it, rather than making customers feel like it's their only option or that your business prefers it.

 

5. Make sure your self-service portal is on-brand

 

You want customers to feel comfortable with your service experience. Make sure your support centre uses the same header and footer as your regular website, and that the domain and subdomain are consistent (for example, ‘company.com’ and ‘support.company.com’).

Sticking to your company's style guide also ensures consistency in tone, voice and formatting across the content on your sites - after all, this is a customer touchpoint just like your marketing and sales collateral.

If your business doesn't have a style guide, find a public style guide online that suits your brand and your customers.

 

6. Optimise your support centre for all devices

 

According to Forrester, 72% of customers prefer self-service to resolve their support issues over picking up the phone or sending an email to customer service agents. And chances are they’re going to pick up their smartphone to kick-off the search.
 

"72% of customers prefer self-service to resolve their support issues over picking up the phone."

 

Responsive design – meaning, no matter what size screen your site is viewed on, the content automatically reformats to fit on the screen – needs to be the standard for your product interface, your website and, of course, your self-service portal. Also be sure to integrate support into any mobile experiences that are directly part of your product or service.

Ready to take your self-service customer support to the next level? These six steps will help get you there. Find out more about how to start your CRM journey today, download our Getting to know Saleaforce Essentials ebook.