What does it mean to deliver an exceptional customer experience? That question is extremely nuanced, which is why this is part two in a four-part blog series dedicated to best practices for enhancing your customer relationships. In part one, I discussed how the shift in customer expectations on support are pushing businesses toward deploying self-service platforms. Unfortunately, a self-service solution is only part of what is needed to improve customer satisfaction and deliver an exceptional customer experience.

Self-service portals are not enough

Many companies have created self-service portals where customers can access knowledge articles or interact with other customers to find answers. But what happens when a question goes unanswered in the support forum or a customer needs more information than what’s contained in your knowledge base? Customers leave your site with a disjointed service experience because these traditional self-service portals are unassisted touchpoints, disconnected from your help desk. 

Gartner predicts that one-third of all service requests next year will still require help through assisted touchpoints such as Web chat or call centers. This means businesses risk damaging their brand’s reputation by not delivering an omni-channel service experience. Companies must invest in a connected community that allows for a seamless transition between touchpoints to reduce friction and help customers find answers fast.

To do so, a self-service community must have the ability to escalate cases to an assisted touchpoint. A comprehensive self-service community handles case escalation in three ways:

  1. Allow customers to create cases.

  2. Give agents the ability to create or respond to cases in the feed.

  3. Escalate cases automatically if a question goes unanswered.

The need for a 360-degree view of your customers’ information

Multimodal engagements in service are difficult to execute effectively. For example, Jeff is a customer who bought a cell phone from my brick-and-mortar store and now wants to learn how to change the battery. He logs in to my self-service community to search the knowledge base, but cannot find the instructions for his model. Jeff then posts a question to the community, but his cell phone is so new, that no one has the expertise to help. Preset rules in my community create a case and escalate the question to a help desk after the question goes unanswered, but now Jeff expects my service agents to start the conversation with the understanding of his journey thus far. It is this transition between unassisted to assisted touchpoints where companies falter.

Having a 360-degree view of your customer is critical at this juncture to deliver an exceptional experience. According to the Harvard Business Review, 22% of repeat service requests involve issues related to problems after the first contact, even if the issue was resolved the first time around. In order to personalize the experience, businesses must give agents insight into service journeys like Jeff’s. This requires a connection between the community and the help desk, so agents understand what Jeff has tried so far. To truly become a customer company, agents should also be able to view Jeff’s purchase history to gain a deep understanding of who this customer is and how he has interacted with the company to date.

How to connect your help desk and self-service community

AVG, a leading online security provider, has decoded the secrets for creating an exceptional customer experience. Its community makes it easy for consumers, business customers, and partners to choose the experience that’s right for them — whether that’s self-serving through hundreds of knowledge articles and videos, posting questions for other members and Community Gurus, contacting support via live chat, or by logging a case. Since members log in to the community using their Facebook or AVG MyAccount credentials, the registration process is seamless, and agents have an immediate 360-degree consolidated view of the customer and all previous interactions through the phone, email, Live Agent, community discussions, or social media engagements.

“Supporting millions of customers is quite demanding,” said Daniel Urminský, director, ICT for sales, marketing, and service. “We are able to provide support successfully while maintaining a relatively small customer care team.” Since launch, the AVG support community has brought in more than 11 million unique logins, raised Net Promoter Scores from 50 to a record-high 70, and helped the company exceed its self-service goals by 25%. “I think it really goes to show that when you have all the pieces lined up — when you have an attractive site, good quality search, good quality articles, and you’re able to guide the customer quite easily through the service process — it works phenomenally well,” said Jas Dhaliwal, AVG’s social care director.

Crafting an exceptional experience, as AVG has done, exponentially improves the service experience. But now that customers are happy, how can businesses use the same self-service community to profit? Check back next week to learn how to mix e-commerce into the community to augment your bottom line. If you would like to learn more now, please check out the Salesforce e-book, “Customer Community 101.”