Guide to Content Driven Support on the Web

The desire from digital enterprises to reduce their support costs by eliminating traditional inbound phone call support is a recent trend that demands the attention of Internet professionals.

Reducing costs should be encouraged but what may be disturbing (and potentially damaging) is that some enterprises are throwing caution to the virtual wind, failing to have a content-focused strategy that supports high-quality customer service initiatives while engaging in those key cost-reduction initiatives.

Brands are wisely turning off the phone and turning on their help desk and live chat features, but it's important for companies to be ever more proactive in their communication strategies. Help desk and live chat solutions are two very different approaches to digital customer service that stand to give your enterprise a genuine edge in the quest for more meaningful consumer engagement. What should you know when implementing these solutions? Consider these communication tactics in your day-to-day operations.

Optimizing the Digital Help Desk

Help desks, support ticket systems and the like can feel cold and empty without a formal strategy in place by the business. Keep in mind that the aim is to live up the name (help) and you'll be on the right track.

- Propagate help desk availability throughout the digital messaging. From the website to email (informational or transactional), including reference to the presence of a help desk/knowledge base can dramatically reduce inbound phone calls for support. Customers are happy to engage in self-service when brand give them the opportunity to do so.

- Feature frequently asked questions in high profile (sticky) positions. Ask any support representative and you'll find that they answer the same questions over and over again. Profile three to five of the most frequently asked questions in a high-profile position in your help desk, and you'll reduce consumers' frustration and reduce time spent by your support staff repeatedly answering the same questions.

- Categorize support tickets by severity, tone, and opportunity. It is important that enterprises have a process in place to "triage" the tickets - sorting them based on some quality. For example, your help desk might give users an opportunity to indicate the severity of the problem. Or, if you've got a really sophisticated system on your hands, it might even have sentiment analysis built it which can categorize tickets by tone automatically. The point is that by prioritizing requests appropriately, your support team can make better use of their time.

- Create searchable, foundational knowledge bases: There will always be users that want to call or submit a support ticket by default. Making available knowledge bases available however, where all possible questions are answered or issues explained, is a key component of optimizing a digital help desk. Instead of leaving users on their own to find an answer to their problem or request, sending users to a specific location to find a solution to their problem works far better. Replies to support request tickets are important, make no mistake, but replies should empower users with the information they need immediately, and the guidance to help them solve future problems too. For example, use support ticket replies to send direct answers, but also direct them to category guides which cover a topic in a more comprehensive fashion (e.g. setting up an account).

Optimizing the Live Chat Experience

Most Internet professionals have come in contact with a live chat feature on websites they visit, but few have mastered their usage on their own digital properties. Remember that a "chat" is casual and you'll be surprise at just how quickly web browsers (users) turn into qualified prospects or better yet, leads.

- Take a soft approach. No one like an overly aggressive salesperson and it's hard to deny that live chat operators can be seen in this light. Instead of asking, "How can I help you today," consider instead letting site visitors know simply that "they're available if they have any questions." Live chat response rates increase dramatically with a softer approach in language use; try it and you might be surprised at the lift in conversion.

- Engage carefully (don't be pushy). It's not easy to know when the right time to initiate a chat is, but the leading chat software solutions make available a "rules engine" which helps your support staff know when the time is right. For example, in some instances on ecommerce sites, live chat support can be started when a user's has conducted a specific number of searches or viewed more than a set number of products. This behavior indicates that the user is already engaged and may just need a helping hand to find what they need.

- Know the users. Quite a bit of information is available about users - from their geographic location to their on-site behavior. They might be first time visitors, or repeat visitors with a history of high-value purchases. Knowing the difference matters, particularly in the approach/style of communication and the information that is shared and exchanged. Every consumer wants to be treated "special" and it's the responsibility of digital enterprises and their customer support teams to act accordingly.