How Businesses Can Make Their Customers More Autonomous

Having an attentive customer support team is a key part of running a stable business. There will always be issues that prompt your customers to seek assistance, whether they’re eager to resolve problems with your service, looking to complain, or simply seeking guidance — and it’s vital that you do everything you can to be there for them.

Autonomous customer service

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But that doesn’t mean that you should build around being proactive with customer support, or even reactive. The more you need to be directly involved with minor queries, the less time you’ll have to put towards vital tasks like sales (or even your most important support issues). In ideal circumstances, you wouldn’t need to be there to help your customers. They’d simply have everything they needed to resolve their issues without reaching out.

Now, you can’t realistically reach that ideal scenario, but you can work to reduce your involvement in the support process. There are some practical steps you can take to make your customers more autonomous, allowing them to get things done for themselves. Let’s take a look at a few of those steps so you can figure out a path ahead:

Add key resources to knowledge bases

Throughout recent years, there’s been a huge move towards self-service in the grocery industry. This is for the simple reason that it benefits the stores (they can reduce their staff costs) and it’s preferable, or at least acceptable, for plenty of shoppers. Meanwhile, those who want to have their items scanned by an employee can still do so. In the world of online business, the equivalent of adding self-service tills is creating and providing knowledge bases.

A knowledge base is a compilation of relevant resources. Product guides, troubleshooting tips, FAQs, disassembly videos, service updates: basically anything that someone might want to know about whatever it is that you sell. It’s easy enough to make, too, with knowledge management software being exactly what you need. Using knowledge base software will empower you to create a comprehensive repository of information extremely quickly.

You can then point your customers towards that repository so they know roughly what it contains. When someone needs to check something simple, they can go there first — then, if it doesn’t have the answer they need, they can reach out to your support service.

Implement multifunctional chatbots

Since the goal here is to reduce your involvement in support matters, there’s tremendous value in introducing elements of automation to your customer service process. That way you can still appear to be helping even when you’re not participating. Modern chatbots make this eminently possible. Provided you choose a flexible foundation and program it appropriately, a chatbot can carry out various tasks: it can provide an order update, for instance, or rebook an appointment.

You need to think about which actions you can readily automate. Some may be too complicated to work consistently, after all. You also need to ensure that you get the language right in your chatbot scripts: you need to make it abundantly clear when someone is dealing with a chatbot, of course, because it can be damaging if a user concludes that you’re trying to trick them.

But if you get the phrasing right, and straightforwardly note that regular human support is available if the user runs into issues with the chatbot, this is a great way to make your support service active on a 24/7 basis without adding to your regular workload.

Encourage customer communities

Lastly, an underrated way to help your customers help themselves is to push them to support one another. You have the answers to many questions, naturally, but so do your longest-serving customers — and they’re better positioned to help because they often understand that end-user perspective better than you can. The obstacle tends to be that people don’t share knowledge, but you can change that by finding ways to encourage collaboration.

The simplest route is to create communities that your customers can join. In addition to having public social media profiles, you can set up a private forum and invite anyone who does business with you. If they need help with something (or want to help someone else, which is generally quite enjoyable), they can participate in discussions on that forum.

These steps won’t allow you to eliminate your support service, but they will free up a lot of your time and resources by giving your customers ways to get help without engaging directly with you. Give them a try.

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