How To Create Customer Support Content That Rocks
Customer service isn’t just about solving any problems customers have, it’s about making journey from web surfer to loyal customer as easy as possible. Having all your potential customer’s questions answered before they’ve asked them is the smartest way to do this…
When talking about your homepage, we noted that the big messages you communicate there (“free shipping” or “30-day returns” for example) also impact your customers’ service expectations. So it’s important to bear those in mind.
We now know having conversations with your customers is a good thing — unless their questions could’ve been answered even before they were asked.
Essentially, a customer would rather not talk to you. They would much rather find all the answers to their questions on your site itself. Besides, wouldn’t you prefer to focus your resources where they will get the most bang for your buck?
That’s where having strong defense lines comes into play.
We divided those defense lines into four sections:
Your product pages — often the main source of the (avoidable!) questions that end up in your inbox.
Your support pages or FAQ — typically the first port of call when a customer cannot find an answer to a specific question on a product page. Also the first stop when a customer wishes to check out your shipping, returns, any other policies, and/or terms and conditions.
Your knowledge base (or community, if you have one) — where people go to get more tricky or detailed questions answered and customers share their own input.
Your blog — which, if you manage it well, is where people love to check out all that valuable product- and brand-related content you create to share with their networks.
And why are all these customer service content resources so important? We’re sure you already know, but here’s a quick stat blast from Forrester Research to refresh your memory:
71% of customers believe that “valuing their time” is the most important thing a company can do to provide good customer service.
52% of customers are very likely to abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their questions.
Only 52% of customers actually find the information they are looking for.
And at only a $0.10 cost per contact, self-service (not having to contact a representative) is by far the cheapest way to serve a customer.
All of which means: If you manage your resources well, and provide your customers with the right answers as quickly as possible, you will improve conversion, keep happier customers, and do it all at less cost!
We’re going to look at each one of your content defense lines in turn. And then — at the end of this section — put them back together in one easy task list that will make certain your customer support content is best-in-class!
As we already covered, it’s best to optimise your product pages first. Assuming that’s done, it’s a good time to look at the customer journey in your store. That way we can better understand what questions your customers might have and when.
Role-play the customer journey
If you already have a map of your customer journey, great. If you are looking to design one, here’s a great E-Commerce customer experience map you can use as a template. We’ve simplified the model in the image above to help you better understand the questions that arise in each stage of your customer’s journey.
Now it’s time for a little role-playing.
The first stage is to go to your store. Try to list the main questions you as a consumer would have. If, at any point, you cannot quickly and easily find the answers to your questions, then you know to make improvements.
If you are struggling to be completely objective, why not grab a friend and ask them to role-play for you? That way, you will be sure to get an objective point of view.
These are your five stages of an online shopper:
Research and planning — Where shoppers browse categories, products, specifications, prices, and offers. While in this stage, people often leave your website to return at a later date and compare your products or prices with those at other sites.
Product discovery — Where shoppers narrow down their search to one or two items, check for hidden costs, look for social proof/reviews, and often check out your policies on shipping, payment options, or your FAQ.
Product ordering — Where people have made their decision to buy, check out the delivery and payment options, and add their product to the shopping cart just before paying (and thus waiting for their product to arrive)!
Shipping and delivery — Your customers are now in their holding pattern. They may check their order status on your site or even contact you to change their mind or ask additional questions.
Refunds and returns — After receiving their product, things may not be as expected. At this point, customers will check your refund and return policy in more detail, contact you, and even share their disappointment!
Now let’s take a closer look at your support pages and FAQ and check out the six web store policy basics you absolutely need to have in place.
Support Pages and FAQ
When customers first encounter your E-Commerce store, they think exactly as they do when they visit a brick and mortar store: They check it out to see whether they like or trust you. Your support and FAQ pages help with that.
Many web stores have a simple support page or two which highlights the key points about product selection and key policies. The same with a FAQ — list just a few key points. The whole purpose of a FAQ is that it is solely highlighting your most frequently asked questions about your brand or products.
You would be surprised at how many online shops miss the basics and end up with many avoidable questions in their inbox. To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, you need to have the following six policy basics in place:
“You need to have your six policy basics in place!”
Product FAQ — Where you should state clearly any major ingredients, materials, production methods, or warranties about which customers may have questions.
Order Status — Whether it’s by track and trace or a simple, automated order status, you need to clearly communicate how you help your customers track their order. This makes them feel like they are in good hands.
Payment and security — Have all of your payment options clearly displayed and any specific terms and conditions that go along with them. Also be sure to mention your SSL certificate.
Shipping — Be crystal clear about where you ship to, which courier you use, arrival date, packaging (including surcharges for options if you offer them), what happens if the item is out of stock, and include any details about expedited shipping if available.
Returns — Specify your return policy in detail. State the return time and the conditions under which returns can be refunded. Also include packaging in that returns policy.
Privacy — In your privacy section state that you treat all data as private and confidential and that you will not share any data (payment, address, etc.) with anyone under any circumstances. This helps build trust.
Once you have clearly covered all these FAQ and policy statements, and made certain that they are easily accessible with a single click, you should be in good shape. If there’s anything missing, plug that gap now!
Knowledge base and community
The majority of online store owners do not have a knowledge base in place. And that’s a good thing. In reality, you should clearly answer all your customer questions in your product pages or on your support, policy, or FAQ pages.
We’ve seen some stores use knowledge bases as a big rug to sweep their customer questions under. Then they let their community sort them out for them. That’s the sort of “self-service” you want to avoid at all costs!
“Treat your knowledge base as a living, breathing thing that needs continuous maintenance. Set regular review dates for each topic and adjust as needed!”
Remember 52% of customers cannot find the answer they are looking for! So, if you have a complex product that requires a knowledge base, here are five pointers to help make certain that knowledge base is in good, competitive shape!
Help customers find the right answers. For instance, you can sort your knowledge base by the most popular topics. Or add customer community ratings. Autosuggests are helpful too — they save your customers valuable time!
Review your articles regularly. Treat your knowledge base as a living, breathing thing that needs continuous maintenance. Set regular review dates for each topic and adjust as needed!
Create new knowledge base articles based on any new questions that occur or when you introduce new products, terms and conditions, payment methods, etc. Be certain to add them before you introduce the changes; that way you’ve anticipated customer questions in advance.
Optimize your knowledge base for all platforms. Including mobile and search engine capabilities! A knowledge base that is indexed by your common search engines will also contribute to your marketing goals.
Involve your full support team — especially your front line. By delegating and empowering your customer service team to create and review your articles as they encounter new questions, you can be confident you are heading in the right direction.
Managing a knowledge base (whether it’s on Desk, Kayako, HappyFox, or elsewhere) can be complex, but when done well, with care and attention, it can also help you better meet customer needs — and reduce your contact costs too.
Now to the final part of your four customer service defense lines (and our personal favorite!) — your blog.
Your web store’s blog is the innermost of your defense lines against unhappy customers. Why? A blog can help you answer many of the initial questions customers encounter during the research or product discovery phase of their decision-making process. It can also help build that emotional connection that is so important for today’s online shopper.
If you have a blog, this is your opportunity to speak loud and proud about your brand and products. When it is optimized for search engines, and social too, your blog can become a valuable marketing resource.
We’re not going to go into too much detail (as this is crossing over into marketing territory); there are already a lot of great resources about utilizing your blog to improve sales — here and here, for example — so let’s just get to a couple of examples…
Helm boots does a fine job of telling the bigger brand and product stories that convince a potential customer they are in great hands. Helm incorporates Instagram and Pinterest and ensures all their content is shareable too.
Pure Fix Cycles is also great. The company’s blog is one of the very best examples we have seen that incorporates almost all of the best practices of an E-Commerce site blog that really gets it right.
Taking both of these examples into consideration, there are three guidelines to follow when taking your blog to the next level. The goal is for these guidelines to help customers through the product discovery phase of their decision-making journey.
1. Establish product-related content themes
If you are selling organic health products, then it makes sense to offer healthy recipes or even fitness tips. If you are in fashion, perhaps cover local fashion events, curate some fashion tips and/or the trends from other blogs. If you are in home and garden, consider exploring related furnishings, accessories, and more.
The key is to tap directly into the aspirations and lifestyle of your customers. Doing this will not only support your brand positioning but also trigger people to share your content.
2. Show your product in context
Videos are a great way to show your product off. They give people a chance to see the product in a more relatable environment. This Hard Graft shoes video is an excellent example. Litter has a good one too. It need not cost an arm and a leg to make a video. With a little editing and a logo on top, even a simple smartphone video can help people feel much closer to your product.
If video is a step too far, then we suggest getting social. Why not encourage your customers to share their own pictures of your product or products? Take the best of the best and create a weekly post that shares those pictures on your blog. This way you can keep your costs low (and profile your customers too). That’s a win-win situation!
3. Give your people a voice
Introducing your team in your blog is a great way to beat out the competition. It’s something bigger web stores will never do. By asking your team members to each write a short profile about themselves, adding a pic, and sharing it all on your blog, you can build trust with customers-to-be and existing customers as well. It’s always nice to know who you are dealing with. Tattly does a great job on this front.
Once you have your team profiles up, and your customers are getting to know the members of your team, you can then start to position yourself as an authority on not only your products but up-and-coming trends as well. Sharing your insights on your passion will start to ignite their passion for your brand.
To sum up, your blog is the innermost of your defense lines. If you keep your content relevant to your product, show your products in context, and address your customers in a personal “voice,” you will not only head off potential questions but also spark people further down their decision-making journey toward you and your brand.
Now, we’ll look at putting all of those defense lines together.
Putting it all together
Our goal with this section was to make certain that your support content is ship-shape, so you can avoid as many questions in your inbox as possible.
By following the advice for each of the four defense lines, and bearing in mind your customer journey, you should now be ready to better manage — and meet — the expectations of your customers.
Just to quickly go over them once more, the defense lines are as follows:
Product pages — Analyze your support questions to make certain all of your site’s most frequently asked questions are clearly answered in your product pages wherever possible.
Support pages and FAQ — Cover all six policy basics: Product FAQ. Order status. Payment and security. Shipping. Returns. Privacy.
Knowledge base and community — Sort topics by the most popular. Review regularly. Create new articles based on new questions. Optimize for mobile and search engine capabilities. And be certain to involve your team!
Blog — Establish clear product-related themes. Show your product in context via video or images. Give your people a voice. Publish, promote, and be social!
Your customer defense lines strengthened, there are still other ways to make your website and your store even stronger. And it all comes down to understanding what the customer needs before asking for it.