Our Community Blog takes another dive into Community Support with a guest post by Hanna Johnson from Get Satisfaction.
I don’t have to tell you the importance of good customer service—you already know that, when faced with cheesy hold music, automated robots that continually tell you how much they value your business (as they refuse to connect you with someone who can actually help), and the support email black hole of death, most of us switch service providers on the spot.
Smart companies are learning that they have to provide a better experience if they hope to attract and retain new customers. Community-based support is a refreshing option, both for customers and for service agents. But what is community-based support, and how is it different from traditional customer service? Oh, let us count the ways:
1. Community is SEO friendly
What’s the first thing you do when you have a question or problem with a product or service? You go to Google, right? Today’s customers share your preference to find their own answers, especially when plan B is to sit on hold or wait for an email response.
Get Satisfaction topics are highly indexed by search engines, so new topics begin showing up and ranking well in search almost immediately. These questions are asked in the natural language of your customers (oftentimes different than the internal lingo you use for bugs, features, and products), so it’s easier for others to find what they’re looking for by searching in the community or using search engines.
2. Reduces repeat questions
When a customer files a support ticket or sends your help desk an email, they have no way to know if their question has already been asked or is answered somewhere just a click away. Community, however, searches the entire database and pulls up relevant content before allowing customers to post a new question. Only if there’s no existing content that can help solve their problem do they post a new question. This means your support agents are finally free from repetitive questions and can focus on other, most complex issues.
3. It’s always on
Today’s customers expect answers quickly, no matter their time zone, the hour, or the day of the week (and yes, there is a special force of nature that encourages them to contact you on holidays). Support agents in the traditional model had two options—forgo sleep or provide less than responsive service….until now. Customer communities are always on, and your Champions tend to be online long after your agents have gone home.
Canada’s most recommended mobile service, Koodo’s, customers resolve 97% of conversations in the community on their own, without any employee involvement. Their customers are using the community to actively answer each other’s questions, connect one another to resources, and share work-arounds. On top of that, their 12 Champions spend 15 hours a week or more in the community. This is the power of community-based support.
4. One-to-Many Communication
Closing the loop is a key piece of providing incredible customer service. When you have a big service issue, it’s important to be able to communicate updates to affected customers quickly, easily, and often. That means not wasting time sending the same email or tweet over and over again. A community allows you to communicate important updates to all your customers following a given conversation at one time. Watch this video of Ustream co-founder and CEO, Brad Hunstable, as he discusses how the video streaming company communicated updates to millions of users during a denial of service attack from Russia.
5. It’s collaborative
Traditional support models rely entirely on the support agents for their knowledge and know how. Communities, however, bring together customers, employees, prospects, and other stakeholders. This allows them to share experiences, best practices, and learned knowledge. There will still be instances when company employees are the best source of information. But often times your customers are a better source of work-arounds and suggestions. By connecting them to one another for collaborative, social support, your customers and your support team benefits from the communal knowledge.
Hanna Johnson is the Marketing Manager at Get Satisfaction. She loves creating, seeking out, and sharing great content. She has traveled to every continent except for Antarctica, but she's working on that...