Top 10 Social Practices for Support

Social media’s ability to empower consumers by giving them the voice to discuss their problems and perceptions publicly has dramatically shifted the business/customer relationship. Companies need a strategy to engage socially with customers. Service and support organizations should view social media as a platform to gain insights about the issues, questions, and perceptions customers have about their products. If you don’t have a Social Media strategy for Support, it’s time. It’s better to start small than not start at all.

Top 10 Social Practices for Support

Here are ten social practices for Support

1

Identify the communities – not hosted by you – where customers are talking about and seeking help with your products.

2

Establish communities and forums so that your customers can engage with like-minded users of your products.

3

Monitor the topics of conversation to determine what your customers need help with and are interested in.

4

Actively promote the existence of communities to customers and incent participation.

5

Measure the impact communities have on expanding customer engagement.

6

Develop and incent community “champions” to sustain activity through new thread creation, moderation and responses to inactive threads.

7

Evaluate the topics discussed and determine the extent to which these topics are new or familiar and documented within the support knowledge base.

8

Measure the rate that cases are resolved within the communities that may otherwise have been directed to assisted support channels (e.g. Deflection).

9

Provide the means for entitled customers to escalate issues from forums with service levels comparable to established assisted channels.

10

Establish the impact that active community engagement has on customer satisfaction, retention, and revenue generation.

 

Featured: Social Media - Implications and Opportunities for Service and Support

Social media’s ability to empower consumers by giving them the voice to discuss their problems and perceptions publicly has dramatically shifted the business/customer relationship. Companies need a strategy to engage socially with customers. Service and support organizations should view social media as a platform to gain insights about the issues, questions, and perceptions customers have about their products.  If you don’t have a Social Media strategy for Support, it’s time. It’s better to start small than not start at all.  This perspective describes the reasons why business, and particularly service and Support organizations, must embrace a social media strategy.

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Related Articles

Top 10 Social Practices for Support

Social media’s ability to empower consumers by giving them the voice to discuss their problems and perceptions publicly has dramatically shifted the business/customer relationship. Companies need a strategy to engage socially with customers. Service and support organizations should view social media as a platform to gain insights about the issues, questions, and perceptions customers have about their products. If you don’t have a Social Media strategy for Support, it’s time. It’s better to start small than not start at all.

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Where Customers Look for Support Information

More than two-thirds of customers indicate that they attempt to help themselves when they need technical assistance. A general web search (e.g. Google or Bing) is the most likely first action customers take when attempting to resolve technical support issues on their own. In general customers find good information and are reasonably satisfied with their results.  This ServiceXRG study examines the expectations and perceptions of 588 individuals that use self-help resources to resolve technical support issues.

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The Demand for Your Support is Larger than you Expect

The demand for support by your customers may be far greater than current transaction levels suggest. ServiceXRG illustrates the potential unmet support demand by customers and suggests why responding to this demand is important but will likely increase assisted support demand.

Unmet Support Demand

There is a significant unmet need for support.  This is a potentially daunting scenario.  Imagine that customer demand for support would grow by over 100%.  Perhaps the more important consideration is the impact that lack of support will have on customers’ likelihood to remain customers.   

An unmet service need can result in a customer defecting to another product or situations where they stop using your product.  Both scenarios will impact the potential for retention, churn and recurring revenue.

This chart signifies an opportunity for technology vendors to provide more value to more customers through self-help and automated service interaction.  It is cost prohibitive to provide these extended services though assisted means, thus the web and mobile channels offer the best way to interact with more customers and positively influence their perceptions and encourage positive behaviors such as writing positive reviews, new purchases and continuation of existing relationships.

Support Demand vs. Support Need

Recommendations

Ask yourself, are all of your customers getting the help they need?  Are they getting this help from you, through Google searches, or not at all?  Consider the following:

How many customers use your self-help resources but do not seek live assistance?

  • Compare self-help service demand to assisted support.
  • Determine if customers get the answers they need through self-help.
  • Conduct a survey after self-help transactions to establish how effective self-help resources are.
  • Read Where Customers Look for Support Information (hint: it may not be from you).

What are you customers “talking about” on social platforms and communities – yours and other public forums? 

  • Ask customers if they are getting the rights answers.
  • Make certain customers know how to get support directly from you.

Do you conduct relationship surveys with customers (e.g. not post transaction surveys)? 

  • Establish how many customers need help with your products.
  • Determine how many customers seek assistance directly from your services group.
  • Does the expressed customer need match current demand?

How many active customers do you have (e.g. how many products have you sold in the past year, 2 years, 3 years, etc.)? 

  • Establish the size of your installed base.
  • Determine the percent of customer covered by a service contract.
  • Establish what percent of the total installed base you hear from.

Do you have a high churn rate? 

  • Conduct win-loss analysis to establish why you lose customers.
  • Determine if top churn issues are related to product usability.
  • Identify if/how support could lower churn rates by providing needed assistance.

Bottom Line

You have customers that need help but are not asking you directly.  When customers are in distress with your product but not getting the help they need you risk of losing them.

Yes, you have a full plate handling the customers that do seek assistance.  However, you need to engage the customers that need help, but do not ask for it.  If you don’t you will lose them. Customer onboarding, adoption, retention and other customer success related activities will likely increase support demand but lower churn – be prepared.

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Creating Positive Customer Experiences

The way we interact with customers directly affects the way they perceive us. When we are responsive, attentive, willing, and able to provide the information or assistance they need, we increase the likelihood of providing a positive experience. When we are difficult to do business with, unable or unwilling to satisfy customers’ needs, indifferent, inept, or rude, chances are the customer will have a bad experience. A satisfying customer experience is critical if we want to positively influence the way customers behave.

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The Demand for Your Support is Larger than you Expect

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Measuring the Return on Knowledge Management

For knowledge management to yield maximum benefit the organization must properly fund and support the initiative. The lack of support is the primary reason for the failure of knowledge management projects.

Knowledge Management

The single largest asset of a service organization is the collective experience and expertise of its staff.  The ability to harness this asset through formal knowledge management processes and tools presents a significant opportunity for service delivery efficiency, yet it comes with a cost.

It is the need to access this expertise that compels customers to initiate a service request. The successful response to a service request depends upon the efficiency by which the appropriate knowledge can be transferred to the customer.

Like the oil under the ground, knowledge assets wait to be extracted, refined, and leveraged.  Effective knowledge management – the processes to capture, enhance and reuse an organization’s experience and expertise – offers the means to optimize service efficiency and maximize customer success through effective knowledge transfer. Whether through live assistance or self-services, knowledge is the fuel that drives service efficiency, innovation, and customer success.

The Need for Cost-Benefit Validation

Knowledge management appears to make good business sense and has led to many formal and informal knowledge management initiatives.  Informal knowledge management initiatives have largely been possible due to the minimal investment required to get started and make meaningful progress.   Formal projects often require more investment and the accompanying business justification.

Informal knowledge management initiatives are effective at leveraging common knowledge to address frequently asked questions, yet they are not capable of maximizing the return on knowledge assets.  As awareness of the power of harnessing intellectual assets grows and demands on knowledge resources increase, there must be a concerted effort to invest in the tools, technologies and people to achieve sustainable knowledge management activities.

For knowledge management to yield maximum benefit the organization must properly fund and support the initiative.  The lack of support is the primary reason for the failure of knowledge management projects.   Under funding of knowledge management initiatives is due in part to the difficulty in quantifying the tangible business impact from the efforts to capture and reuse content.

Featured: Measuring the Return on Knowledge Management

As knowledge management mature, it is essential to conduct a formal cost – benefit analysis to determine the proper level of investment. Continued success will come from efforts to enhance content creation processes, employ enhanced technologies and deliver tangible business value by leveraging knowledge assets. This research report introduces an approach to measure the return from knowledge management initiatives.

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*Membership level determines your access to ServiceXRG research and other member services. Paid memberships include access to research and playbooks. Free memberships include access to some reports and discounts to others. Please visit our membership page for a list of available membership programs.

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Beyond Deflection – What to Do with Your “Savings”

Self-help and service automation (e.g. chatbots) provide a means to save money and lower the overall costs of service delivery.  Consider however that savings from deflection represents an opportunity to reinvest to improve service outcomes by reallocating staff to high value activities (e.g. onboarding, adoption, retention, expansion, etc.).  This article introduces the top opportunities to reinvest in service.

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How to Define and Measure Deflection

Using an accurate measure of deflection is imperative. If not measured correctly it is easy to overstate the impact of self-help and service automation on assisted support demand.

The average rate of case deflection within the technology industry is 23%. This article defines deflection and provides a step by step guide to implement a reliable deflection metric. This report is FREE with registration.

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Where Customers Look for Support Information

More than two-thirds of customers indicate that they attempt to help themselves when they need technical assistance. A general web search (e.g. Google or Bing) is the most likely first action customers take when attempting to resolve technical support issues on their own. In general customers find good information and are reasonably satisfied with their results.  This ServiceXRG study examines the expectations and perceptions of 588 individuals that use self-help resources to resolve technical support issues.

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Seven Critical Steps for Successful Service Delivery Automation

Automation of Technical Support or Customer Success functions may yield great returns, yet some service activities can be difficult to replicate with systems. Automate what you can, but don’t over automate.

Cost Efficiency and Effectiveness Through Automation

The goal of any service organization must be to achieve the optimal balance between cost efficient service transactions and comprehensive customer engagement that drives customer success.  Automation of Technical Support or Customer Success functions may yield great returns, yet some service activities can be difficult to replicate with systems.

The key to achieving this balance is in the approach a service organization takes to truly understand customer needs and formulating the most cost-effective ways to respond.  Effective customer engagement may require a high rate of live assistance (personal-touch). Over time as the knowledge of customer issues is captured and the tools to help customers express their needs are available, service transactions can become increasingly automated (tech-touch).

Seven Critical Steps for Successful Service Delivery Automation

Here are 7 steps to consider for successful service automation:

1.    Define and document key service delivery processes.

Establish which processes are conducive to automation.

2.    Establish the Appropriate Level of Automation

Establish how much automation is appropriate for customer interactions. Factors should include the level of intimacy desired for customer transactions, they ability for customer to use automated systems and the availability of tools to successfully support automation.

3.    Evaluate Available Technologies

Technology is the enabler of service automation. Identify the technologies that can provide the capabilities necessary to deliver a satisfying customer experience.

4.    Focus on Content

Service automation is about understanding what customers need and providing them with an effective solution. Service automation relies on the technologies that facilitate the service delivery processes as well as the underlying knowledge and expertise that customers seek. Content development is a critical factor in service automation success.

5.    Define and Measure Success

Determine how successful automation will be measured.  Are you seeking cost efficiencies, revenue growth, service level performance or a target customer satisfaction rate?  Be clear about your desired outcomes with careful attention to optimizing the right balance between multiple performance objectives.

6.    Treat this as a Journey

Service automation and the creation of self-service offerings is an ongoing effort to identify ways to provide customers with the resources they need quickly and efficiently. An ongoing commitment to analyze performance and allocate resources is essential to maximizing the benefits of automating the service experience.

7.    Don’t Over Automate

Automate service transactions and processes but do not try to use automation as a surrogate for sustaining a customer relationship.  Sometimes direct personal interaction is essential.

Automating Service Delivery

This topic is explored in further detail in the report titled Automating Service Delivery. Log-in to download your copy of this 26-page report.

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How to Define and Measure Deflection

Deflection Defined

Deflection is the rate that automated and self-help resources satisfy service demand that would otherwise be handled by assisted service staff.  The average rate of case deflection within the technology industry is 23%. The attainable rate of deflection is highly dependent upon factors such as the maturity and complexity of a product, the skills of the users, and the quality of tools and content provided by the service provider.

It is easy to overstate the impact of self-help, community and service automation by equating its overall effectiveness with a direct impact on assisted support.  Many issues may be resolved through self-help and automated means yet not all are destined for or entitled to resolution through assisted support channels.  For a case to be deflected it must meet the following criteria:

 

  • The customer submitting the case must be entitled to assisted support.
  • An issue must be successfully resolved.
  • The customer submitting the case requires no further action from assisted support resources to validate or clarify the answer provided through self-help or automated means.

Measuring Deflection

ServiceXRG offers the following approach to measuring deflection.  Each of the inputs for the deflection calculation are described below.

How to Measure Deflection

Multiply the number of Self-Help Service Events by Entitled Customers for a specific period of time by the rate that these customers indicate success in finding an answer using self-help resources (Success Rate).  Multiply this by the percent of entitled customers that successfully found an answer and indicated an intent to request assisted support if required (Intent Rate).  Multiply this by the percent of entitled customers that successfully found an answer and indicated an intent to request assisted support if required and indicate that no further action is required to resolve this issue (No Further Action Rate).

Target Value
Deflection = Self-Help Service Events by Entitled Customers * Success Rate * Intent Rate * No Further Action Rate

Entitlement

For a case to be considered deflected it must be submitted by a customer entitled to receive assisted support.

A case cannot be deflected from assisted support if it is submitted by someone that is not entitled to receive support assistance. Including visitors that are not entitled to assisted support in your deflection calculation will overstate the impact of self-help on assisted support demand.

How to Measure Self-Help Service Events by Entitled Customers

Establish entitlement to assisted support.  To accomplish this, you will need to authenticate customers engage in a self-help event (e.g. support site and community visitors and those served through other automated means).  Only customers entitled to assisted support should be included in your deflection calculation.

Target Value
Self-Help Service Events by Entitled Customers = # of self-help and service automation events within a specific period of time for customers entitled to receive assisted support.

Success

For a case to be considered deflected it must be successfully resolved using self-help resources or through unassisted automated means. 

Visitors will come to a support community or portal for a variety of reasons.  They may come to view a discussion thread, read an article, browse documentation, view a video or download a file.  While the use of service resources is positive, these “service events” do not always equate to a successfully resolved customer issue. Customers indicate that on average they find useful information 70% of the time when visiting a support web site and 68% of the time when browsing support communities. Useful does not however translate in to complete and successful answers.

How to Measure Success Rate

Identify the rate that service events result in successfully resolved customer issues.  The best method for determining success is to ask customers directly.  Use on-site pop-up surveys, post transaction event surveys and questions embedded in service resources.  Unfortunately, customer response rates to these types of data collection methods can be low.  Nevertheless, customer feedback is essential to establishing the effectiveness of self-help resources and automated issue resolution tools.

Target Value
Success Rate = Rate that self-help and service automation events within a specific period of time are successfully resolved.

Intent

A deflection will occur when there is intent by a customer to seek assisted support to find an answer.

In situations where customers are “browsing” available support resources, but do not intend to seek support assistance, there is no opportunity to deflect from assisted support.  Including “browsers” (visitors with no intent to seek assisted support) in the deflection calculation will overstate the impact of deflection on assisted support.

How to Measure Intent Rate

Identify customer intent to request assisted support.  The best method for determining intent is to ask customers directly.  Use on-site pop-up surveys or post transaction event surveys to establish the reason for a community or support web site visit.  Determine if the customer intends to seek assisted support if the self-help event is unsuccessful.

Target Value
Intent Rate = Rate that entitled customers indicate that their reason for using self-help or service automation is a first step in problem resolution and intend to seek assisted support if necessary.

No Further Action

For a case to be deflected a customer must indicate that the answer found through self-help has completely resolved the issue and that no further action is required. 

Some customers may successfully receive the information they are looking for but may still request assisted support to verify the answer.  Customers that request assisted support to confirm the answer provided through self-help or automated means should not be included in the measure of deflection.

How to Measure No Further Action Rate

Determine if any further action is required to resolve a customer issue.  Use on-site pop-up surveys or post transaction event surveys to establish the if a customer sought assisted support to validate, clarify or confirm an answer received by an automated or self-help event.

Target Value
No Further Action Rate = Rate that self-help and service automation events within a specific period of time are successfully resolved and require no further action.

Implementing a Deflection Metric

Using an accurate measure of deflection is imperative for establishing the true impact self-help and service automation resources have on assisted support demand.  The inputs describe above are stringent, yet necessary.  If you require any assistance in defining and implementing a proper deflection metric please contact ServiceXRG for assistance.

Featured : Measuring the Return on Knowledge Management

As knowledge management initiatives take hold and mature, it is essential to conduct a formal cost – benefit analysis to determine the proper level of investment for knowledge management and define the expected return on this investment. Continued success will come from efforts to enhance content creation processes, employ enhanced technologies and deliver tangible business value by leveraging knowledge assets. This research report introduces an approach to measure the return from knowledge management initiatives.

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*Membership level determines your access to ServiceXRG research and other member services. Paid memberships include access to research and playbooks. Free memberships include access to some reports and discounts to others. Please visit our membership page for a list of available membership programs.

Related Articles

The Demand for Your Support is Larger than you Expect

The demand for support by your customers may be far greater than current transaction levels suggest. ServiceXRG illustrates the potential unmet support demand by customers and suggests why responding to this demand is important but will likely increase assisted...

read more

Beyond Deflection – What to Do with Your “Savings”

Self-help and service automation (e.g. chatbots) provide a means to save money and lower the overall costs of service delivery.  Consider however that savings from deflection represents an opportunity to reinvest to improve service outcomes by reallocating staff to high value activities (e.g. onboarding, adoption, retention, expansion, etc.).  This article introduces the top opportunities to reinvest in service.

read more

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