Every support ticket that comes in, indicates a blocked user. Someone who wants to do something but can't, and now they're waiting on your team to unblock them. Often that customer is now annoyed, and your support team can be put under undue stress to try and resolve issues quickly. In an ideal world, the customer wouldn't need to reach out for help and rely on the speed of your team to respond.
That ideal world isn't as far away as what it might seem.
Importantly, this should not be confused with preventing people from reaching out for help. Someone reaching out for help is often a great way to start a conversation with someone, and is also often a symptom of a deeper issue that needs to be discovered (and a conversation is the best way to dig deeper to uncover this).
Instead, what we’re talking about here, is making sure your customers not only have easy access to help, but they’re spoon fed that help when and where it makes sense.
Create content as a by-product of support
It’s inevitable that as you grow, you’re going to be getting a large number of support tickets coming in. Over time, you’ll no doubt see patterns in people asking very similar questions, this should be an immediate queue that some optimisation can be done in how your staff are responding to those similar queries by making use of the work someone else has already done.
There’s a great methodology that you can follow here, Knowledge Centred Service (KCS for short). It's what companies at huge scale do, but it's easy to get started at any level, and the earlier the better. The high level flow is as follows:
When a new question is asked via support, rather than directly replying to the user you should look in your existing knowledge base (be that internal or external facing) for a link you can send to the customer, or steps to resolve the issue, then one of three actions should take place:
- If nothing exists yet, then create a new article that explains how to solve this issue, and send that on to the customer.
- If you’re unable to find a KB article that is exactly what you need but there’s one that is close, append to that article with extra information on how to solve the question at hand, and send that on to the customer.
- If you find exactly what will help the customer, simply send that on to the customer.
Over time, you’ll build up a solid foundation of knowledge that if exposed to the public, will not only help your staff in resolving issues as they come in, but will resolve the majority of your customer questions without them needing to contact your team and wait for a response.
In order for this to work, you’ll need to ensure content discovery is easy for your staff otherwise it may end up slowing them down too much that the process gets abandoned.
For more information, check out the KCS Academy.
Deliver help directly to the user
Originally, Elevio was actually born off the insight that
"if we can’t push the user to the help, let’s push the help to the user”
Meaning, even if you do have the world's greatest knowledge base, it’s worthless if it’s not being consumed by people. And if the only way your users can consume that content is to head to the knowledge base themselves and find the relevant content, you’re making it too hard for them, so it won’t happen.
A great way to combat this, is to sprinkle help throughout your interface in what could be imagined as an education layer on top of your product. The aim being to actually marry your product with its documentation, not have them live in silos.
Simply bringing your help into your products interface can not only considerably reduce your support load (like the 71% drop reported by one customer) but also increase engagement as your customer is able to continue moving forward with your product rather than waiting on your team to help out.
Deflect incoming tickets with content
If you’re creating content as a by-product of support as mentioned earlier, a secondary benefit to having a better filled out knowledge base is that given the right platform you’ll also be equipped to automatically surface helpful content to users as a last resort before they hit the submit button on sending a support ticket, by having the platform look at their query and match it up to content you have in your knowledge base in and say “hey, before your submit, we’ve got these 3 articles that will help you out”.
The idea here being that it’s often going to be the first response from your support agent anyway if you’re following the process above of creating content as a byproduct of support, so it might as well be automated and instant.
In a number of cases this will be enough to completely prevent the customer from needing to reach out for help at all (in this instance), in other cases it will at least give the customer the confidence that you’re serious about your support process and you’ve got their back since you’ve put in effort to provide those resources.
While some of the above are easy to implement, and others will take a little more work and be a team effort (which should be followed by everyone on the team for it to work), within a few days to weeks you will see a noticeable drop in your incoming support loads, and a vast improvement in your resolution rates.
The key here, like with building any new habit, is to keep it up and keep your eyes on the end goal.