Customer self-service communities are among the most effective means for cutting down help desk operational costs. But you can’t just flip on the switch. Public knowledge bases, customer groups and discussion forums are useless if no one wants to use them.
Analyst firm Software Advice hosted Zendesk Vice President JD Peterson recently to gather his thoughts on designing a thriving self-service customer community. In this video guide, he describes key components for this customer service model, including: gamification, usability, employee engagement, measurement and smooth integration with other customer service channels.
Peterson says start with usability. Design experts can help properly place navigation signals, while marketing professionals devise titles and buttons that are appealing and immediately meaningful.
“Think of it as a science, rather than an art,” he said.
Along the same vein, the design should clearly point to an “escape valve,” or a place visitors can get the answer they need if they don’t find it on the forum or discussion board. This should integrate seamlessly with other customer service contact channels, such as phone, email or live chat.
At the same time, Peterson emphasizes the need for employees to engage in the community–not just through the escape valve. Customers will interact more if they know the organization is actually listening. Staff should keep a close eye on discussions and chime in if the answer isn’t available. Staff can also pick up on valuable customer feedback that can then be shared with product and feature development teams.
Gamification is an important means for driving continued engagement. Tools such as leader boards, score boards and badges reward users for their contribution. These achievements can also be linked with social sharing buttons so customers are encouraged to post on Facebook, Twitter and other channels. See more on the impact of social on customer experience.
Finally, Peterson said measurement and continual improvement are crucial to success. Look for trends, such as which topics are getting the most comments and views, reoccurring negative feedback or hot topics people search.
For other tips on how to build a successful self-service community, watch the entire video here.