A lot of people wonder if they can really make web-based support work for their business. Will clients tolerate having to do everything online, waiting for replies to their tickets, wondering about the response time? Don’t people just want to talk to you on the phone?
When it comes right down to it, web-based support is often simply the most cost-effective and efficient way to assist your clients. But there are some things you’ll need to do to make sure that your online support center is convenient, friendly, and responsive from the client’s perspective.
- Make it easy to find. If people can’t find the link to support on your web site, they’ll quickly assume you simply don’t offer online support. Soon they’ll be on the line with your salespeople demanding service, and getting more frustrated by the moment. It’s a bad situation, and one which can generally be avoided very easily by making sure your support center is highly visible. If you look at our main site, you’ll see that support is available right from the menu bar at the top of every page, and then again at the bottom of the sidebar. Don’t be afraid to put links in more than one location.
- Make sure help is available quickly. Any frequently asked questions should be available on the site with no interaction necessary. Clients will appreciate knowing that any questions they have are probably already answered on your web site, so make sure to set up a knowledge base with in-depth answers, descriptions, and pictures to make sure everyone gets the message. If you’re using ActiveCampaign Help Desk Software, you can even set the software up to automatically search the knowledge base for relevant articles before each ticket is submitted. You can’t beat zero wait-time. Another great way to make your clients feel well-support is by offering live chat. Even if the only thing you can tell the client in chat is that “this is a complicated issue that we’ll have to look into through a support ticket,” they’ll feel better knowing that there is a reason they are waiting and that they have actually made contact with someone at your company. And live chat is far more efficient than phone support, as a single operator can handle more than just a single chat at a time.
- Make sure your clients know what to expect. Make information about the length of your queue and the average response time readily available. There is nothing worse than submitting a support request and having no way to know whether it will be answered in one hour, or one month. So make a commitment to answer tickets within a given length of time, and stick to it.
- Exceed expectations. It’s better to over-estimate your response time than to under-estimate it. No one ever got upset because the answer to their ticket came in 5 hours sooner than they had thought it would. In our own support center, for example, we promise a response from support within 1 business day. In practice, most tickets are answered within just a few hours. Be sure to pay attention to the newest tickets in your queue as well as the oldest. If someone you just responded to is asking for clarification, it’ll be much more valuable to them to get an answer in 2 minutes than it would have been for someone with a more complex support request to receive an answer 2 minutes sooner. You might also consider using a survey service to determine what areas your customers would most like to see improvement in.
- Be friendly. Of course you want to maintain a level of professionalism in all of your communications with clients, but don’t be so corporate that people can’t understand you. Let people know that you empathize with their situation and genuinely want to help them. Don’t make people feel like they are lost in a bureaucracy; they will likely find solace in the arms of your competitors.
The main thing to remember is just to approach the situation from the client’s perspective. How would you want things to work if you were in their position? The idea is to offer them a support experience that, when all is said and done, will actually be better than what they could have had if they had reached you on the phone. The web is a truly robust medium for doing exactly that; you just have to put a little planning into designing the right type of experience.