23 July 2014
Customers like quick, and customers like easy. With the ability to instantly access information on the web, customers have become proactive. The proactive customer often takes the initiative to journey from research to purchase to post-purchase support all on their own.
Proactive customers demand that web self-service has to evolve. Whereas customer self-service once specifically referred to how a customer would cope with technical support, self-service now influences a whole range of interactions where the proactive, autonomous consumer deals with your company.
Your Website Is #1
One of the greatest tools for the independent, proactive consumer is your eCommerce website. It’s the number one destination for information about your product as well as a means to purchase it and find support. Research by GetSatisfaction shows that nearly 90% of customers preferred a company’s website as the place to research products and get more information. A website that provides customer self-service provides an improved customer experience and saves your sales team time and money. But how do you encourage customer self-service at the various stages along the funnel?
As the study shows, customers start by doing their own research. And they’re going to your website first. The research phase is a perfect place for you to begin your customer self-service evolution. In addition to your lush images and evocative product descriptions, go further to show off and explain your solutions to your customer. “How-To” and instructional videos acclimate customers to more complex products. Case studies and testimonials also provide your customer with more information about not only your solutions, but also you as a company. And blogs provide a place to learn more about your company’s outlook on your industry. Your content opens the door for the customer to get to know you and begin their own research.
Even once you have the best content in the world, it’s possible that your visitor won’t be able to find exactly what they’re looking for on their own. This is where an eCommerce solution like Dynamicweb really has the chance to shine. Help the customer help themselves with a personalized experience in the form of suggestions and recommendations. For example, if you track a customer who is only looking through pages for sports utility vehicles, you might begin making suggestions about specific SUVs to them. Automating intelligent recommendations bolsters the larger goal of customer self-service with no additional work for a sales squad.
Even buyers of B2B and other complex products like to be proactive and independent. But here’s the challenge: Customer self-service appears at first to be at odds with manufacturing a customized solution for your website visitor. If self-customization is a feature your customers desire, then integrating a configurator is the answer. A configurator allows users to build their own products, down to the most minute specifications (that you permit). Your customers then send in those configurations for a quote. Configurators also have different settings for constraints and dependencies that ensure customers won’t be able to mix and match incompatible parts, furthering the benefit as a self-service tool.
With the evolution of self-service to other parts of the customer journey, we still shouldn’t forget about support. While we do recommend providing a way for the customer to reach you directly (via phone, email, or even an instant chat window), there are times when you’re simply not available. And there are times when the proactive customer just wants to find the answer themselves. In these cases, options for customer self-service make it so the customer doesn’t feel lost or abandoned. Downloadable product manuals, community forums, FAQs, and links for troubleshooting all make for strong support content. When the customer is able to easily find the answers to their own problems, that self-service saves you time and money.
Your customers want to research, discover, and even purchase on their own. They are independent and proactive. By giving your website visitors the right tools and the right content to foster their independence, you create a satisfying customer experience. And satisfied customers are customers that are informed, customers that feel supported, and customers that convert.