7 Integrate support into your product and company
Why Do You Need a Customer Service Knowledge Base?
Speed and knowledge both play a crucial role when it comes to customersatisfaction.Your customers don’t just want fast and accurate information. They demand it.In our recent customer service benchmark report, we found that the averageresponse time is 12 hours and 10 minutes.And according to the Harvard Business Review: * 65% of customers want their problem resolved the first time * 62% of customers think that having knowledgeable employees is the third most important aspect needed for a company to provide good customer service. * 50% of consumers give a brand only one week to respond to a question before they stop doing business with them.And one of the best ways to deliver a timely and high quality service is touse a customer service knowledge base.Most customer service agents will have their own knowledge base in the form ofa Word document or notepad file. And while this save them writing eachresponse manually, the information might be inaccurate and outdated.By using a dedicated knowledge base, customer service teams can find accurateand up to date information to respond to customers quickly. And that, is thename of the game (as shown in the chart below):Many businesses are overwhelmed by the idea of creating a new knowledge baseand instead, choose to stick with their less efficient system. However, a goodcustomer service knowledge base not only improves customer relationships butwill also reduce the time new staff spends on training and help you cut downresponse times.
Selecting customer service software
Your customer service software is your primary platform for customerconversations. This is the tool you will use the most, so select it with themost care.If youâre not regularly answering customer questions yourself, it is easy tounderestimate the value of a smooth workflow and a pleasant, efficient tool.Be sure to involve the people who will be using the help desk and weight theirinput accordingly.Key questions when selecting customer service software: * What functionality do you need? How many people need to use it? What sort of conversations will it be handling? What platforms does it need to support? What do you want to report on? * What are your ânice to haveâ features versus necessary features? Try to differentiate between the âit would be nice ifâ features and the âeverything will break if it does not do thisâ features. Itâs far better to pick a tool that does the essentials really well than one with more features that your team struggles to use. * What apps do you need to integrate with? Do you have a requirement to connect with your CRM or your social media tools? Do you need API access for critical functions?Even a small improvement in usability, performance, and functionality can makea huge difference when you multiply them by all the hours your support teamwill be using them.
7. Integrate support into your product and company
No matter how nice the person at the counter is, a disappointing productwonât attract loyal customers. No matter how great your frontline staff is,their experience is inevitably shaped by what the rest of the company does,too.The goal of a customer-focused company should be to build in systems acrossteams that support great service so that delighting customers is more of anautomatic outcome of doing business rather than an occasional, heroic feat.Support managers can take these steps to build systems into their teams: * Push decision-making to the front lines. Donât make your support team ask for permission to issue a refund or bend a rule. Give them tools and information to make better decisions, and back them up on it. * Automate customer-friendly processes. This ensures a more consistent customer experience and requires fewer decisions, which saves time for everyone involved. * Create feedback loops. Actionable input from customers needs to make it past support to be useful. Make sure you are providing a framework for your support team to share customer feedback with your product team and others. * Support your team. Your customer support team is fielding the good, the bad, and the ugly day in and day out, so treat them with the respect they deserve. They are also the voice of your customer, so involve them in product and strategy meetings. Celebrate their successes, and hold them accountable for their work.
Your master customer service email template
First things first. We’ve designed the templates below for specificsituations—and use them ourselves. But, you have to start with the master ofall automated scripts: your auto-reply email.Sadly, while customers expect an immediate response to support requests (evenif that’s just a friendly note saying it’s been received), the majority ofbusinesses fail on this front.As one recent test of roughly 1,000 small, medium, and large companies found:Source: SuperOffice Customer Service Benchmark ReportEqually as bad, however, is an autoresponse that screams “auto.” Notnecessarily in the written content but rather in the tone and, especially,mixed up dynamic insertions—like the wrong names, operating hours, or producttitles.> If your business doesn’t already have a friendly, informative, and human> auto-reply, then feel free to use ours…Example email templateHi [first_name],Thanks for contacting [company_name]! This automatic reply is just to let you know that we received your message andwe’ll get back to you with a response as quickly as possible. During[business_hours] we do our best to reply as quick as we can, usually within acouple of hours. Evenings and weekends may take us a little bit longer. If you have a general question about using [specific_product], you’re welcometo browse our [knowledge_base_link] for walkthroughs of all of our featuresand answers to frequently asked questions. If you have any additional information that you think will help us to assistyou, please feel free to reply to this email. We look forward to chatting soon!Thanks, [agent_name] and [agent_headshot]
What does a career in customer service look like?
The good news is that customer service career options abound; working insupport can lead to so many different career paths, it would be practicallyimpossible to cover them all.Here are six career paths that six different support professionals havefollowed:
Defining your customer service career path
Since customer support as we know it is both relatively new and rapidlyevolving, you may still wonder what kinds of career paths are available toyou.The good news is that support career options abound. Weâre not limited by alinear track. If you go to nursing school, youâll probably wind up being anurse; when you work in support, you get to write your own ticket based onwhat interests you.The flip side of having all these options, of course, is the tyranny ofchoice. If youâre not really sure which direction you want to grow in, itcan be hard to figure out your next step.Thatâs why itâs good to set aside time on a regular basis â Iâdrecommend quarterly â to think about where you want to go and the stepsyouâll need to take to get there. Put a recurring event on your calendar ifthatâs what it takes.And hereâs a super special magic trick that works like a charm: Write downwhat you want. Put it out there in the universe, as Oprah would say.Think about where you want your career to go and write it down. That simpleact helps transform wouldnât-it-be-nice daydreaming into concrete goalsyouâre working toward, even subconsciously. And then tell your supervisor!Make your supervisor a partner in getting you where you want to go.
Career paths for customer service agents at Help Scout
Help Scout is still a small company, and our Customers Team finds itself notjust delivering great support for a constantly improving and expandingproduct, but also delivering elements of our sales, finance, businessdevelopment, and marketing functions.So when our Head of Customers Team Abigail Phillips is hiring new teammembers, she is looking for people with a diverse set of skills and awillingness to constantly learn.Those folks are out there, but they are in high demand and always looking togrow. Keeping them engaged and satisfied in their roles means giving themplenty of opportunities to progress in their careers.As in many small companies, there is no clearly defined âcorporate ladderâfor Help Scoutâs Customers Team members to clamber up. Instead, Help Scoutoffers two broad paths for customer support career growth: Generalist andSpecialist.
Elevating customer service as a profession
Part of building a career in customer support is elevating the professionitself.Many organizations still view their customer service department as a costcenter, and itâs hard not to internalize that negative perception.Even when we get a great new customer support job, we donât race to tell ourfamilies about it â we know what kinds of experiences theyâve had withComcast. We know what people are picturing when we say we work in support, anditâs not pretty.But thatâs a counterproductive attitude, says Automatticâs Andrew Spittle,and weâre not going to change the public perception if weâre sellingourselves short:> âThereâs a lot that support teams can do to influence and impact a> company, but we too often get hung up on the idea that the only way to have> influence is to move out of support. We have to be confident that the work> we do adds value and, if others arenât that confident, seek out the> information that proves it to them.âThat doesnât mean support professionals should have their figurative dukesup all the time, justifying the importance of their work, but it does beg thequestion: If support needs defending, is it really all that valuable?âIf all you do is defensive justification of your work, then it isnât aringing endorsement that you know what kind of impact you have,â Spittlesays. âDonât defend it; advocate for it.âFor those of us interested in changing the conversation around support andbuilding successful careers within it, here are five ways we can do just that.
Improve Customer Experience
When we’re looking at the customer-facing side of a knowledge base, it has thepotential to empower your customers to self-help or troubleshoot theircustomer questions.ÂA customer-facing knowledge base is not only for answering concerns orproblems. It can lift a customer’s experience by enhancing their knowledge ofyour product or service, helping them understand release notes or docs, andgetting the maximum potential out of what you’re providing.âBy setting up a detailed and UX friendly customer knowledge base, you’ll freeup your customer success and customer services teams so they can focus onlarger issues or more impactful cases.ââ
6. Customer Support
I launched my book with a common policy of no-questions-asked, 30-day refunds.If people are unhappy, I’d rather they get their money back.I’ve found it a challenge to get feedback from customers on what they missedor did not like about the product. My sample size is small, with 5 refunds. 3of these never responded after I refunded and asked what they missed. Oneperson said they were in a different industry and wanted to see if the bookwould help them, and it didn’t. Another person was hoping for a more specificexample on bullet points – at least this one, I could work with.Because I’m not set on revenue, I have no issue sending a refund. However, ifI was running a company, selling a product, I’d invest more in this area. Alost customer is one thing, but losing more customers due to the same issueyou’re not aware of is another.I’m far more empathetic on why companies with great, in-house customer supportoften fare better, Zappos being a frequently quoted example. At the same time,I am far from being an expert in what good customer support looks like.Starting a business, I’d want to be involved in all customer complaints to geta sense of where things go wrong.
9. Integrate it into your customer support processes
If you integrate the knowledge base with the help desk software (and sometools, like HelpCrunch, include both and allow setting up integrations betweenthe knowledge base and the customer support environment, you might notice somereduction in support tickets.The reason is quite simple – when the customer turns to support but manages toresolve their issue on their own, they no longer need to create a ticket.An optimal practice is to provide links to your knowledge base right from theSupport or Contact Us page. This way, you are giving your customer the optionto search the KB before contacting the support.If you implemented live chat as one of the channels, it is even a better ideato integrate it with your knowledge base, too. This way, the customer openinga new chat will be offered a choice of articles related to their inquiry.Again, such an integration will reduce the number of support tickets and,consequently, the load on your service agents. Moreover, since customers dotend to prefer self-service over contacting a person, the level ofsatisfaction may also increase.
12. Promote your knowledge base content
It’s time to make your knowledge base available to your customers and promoteits use. There is more than one way to do it: * If you have a practice of issuing release notes for your product, mention the knowledge base there, too. * Post a banner on your website containing the link to the knowledge base * If relevant, include the links to the knowledge base in your product * If you have implemented integration between your knowledge base and the help desk tool or live chat, start showing links to the knowledge base in the chat or support tickets.Use all possible ways to promote your knowledge base. The more activelycustomers use it, the more effective your customer self-service will be.