The Future of Customer Service: Evolving Your Help Desk to Support A Better Customer Journey

When something goes wrong and you need customer support, what’s the first thing you do? It’s safe to say that the majority of people will try to find the answer to their problem on the internet before attempting to contact a representative. Zendesk’s 2017 Multi-Channel Customer Care Report confirms this, finding that “Looking at a company’s FAQs” (88%) and “Googling my issue” (85%), are widely cited by respondents as routes to informing or resolving an inquiry (Fig.6).”

Help desks are a key component of any modern customer support (CS) strategy. According to the 2015 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report, 90% of consumers expect a brand or organization to offer a self-service customer support portal. But even though the expectation for self-service has been around for a while, reports show that current Help Desks are not where they need to be: live assistance still has a higher satisfaction rate compared to self-service (Forrester), while live chat / click to chat through a website have boomed in popularity since 2013, growing from 18% to 32% (Zendesk).

Though Zendesk found that 88% of people are seeking answers in the FAQ section, they also found that only 17% of customers identified self-service as their customer service channel of choice. That means that though people look to self-service first, they arent finding the answers they need and therefore don’t prefer it.

Customers aren't finding what they need: 88% seek answers in FAQ, but only 17% like self-service results. Click To Tweet

Future-Proofing for the Increasingly Important Customer Journey

So how do you make your help desk better and should you even try? The answer is overwhelming yes. According to a Walker study, by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. If customers are looking to self-service first, then not finding what they need the customer journey is negatively complicated when they have to seek another channel for help.

Source: SuperOffice

Companies need to do more than simply investing in building comprehensive knowledge bases. They must create delightful, self-help experiences that are simple yet powerful. This isn’t a task companies should be saving for later – Gartner predicts that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with a business without any human interaction at all.

Here are four fundamental steps to future-proofing your help desk.

1. Create a dynamic, integrated help desk—not a “help island.”

If you’re sending customers to outdated “help islands” like a static FAQ page or a knowledge base that requires searching, your company already faces a disadvantage. Help islands generally aren’t helpful to customers, because they take customers away from the original point-of-action. And they’re often too one-size-fits-all—but personalization is key to an effective help desk. Ultimately, this means that much of your help desk content may go unseen by the people who need it. To create a truly accessible help desk, you need to build it intentionally, with a good customer experience as the top priority.

A great example is Apple’s help desk, which features an easily-navigable way to find answers. Users can browse topics by product (by clicking on a picture of their device), by popularity, or through an old-fashioned search. And the helpdesk groups related topics together; clicking “Are you a new Mac user?” yields a beautifully laid-out guide to getting to know your computer, from switching it on to more complex troubleshooting.

2. Engineer a seamless transition to next-level support, and don’t settle for static content.

You can’t resolve every customer issue with a help desk article; some problems just require the human touch.  But moving beyond Tier One support can be frustrating for the agent—especially when there’s no visibility into which solutions the customer has already tried. And if there’s one thing customers hate, it’s being asked to try failed solutions over and over again.

With integration and automated workflows, you can easily offer next-level support to customers directly from your helpdesk. At the end of a help desk article, you can embed a question asking whether it resolved the customer’s issue or whether they still need help. If they indicate they need further assistance, it can prompt the customer to submit a support ticket, which automatically triggers a service survey. This workflow not only provides visibility into which self-help solutions the customer has already tried, but it also helps hone your help desk content by collecting data as to which articles are consistently less than helpful.

3. Make your help desk mobile.

60% of consumers have a more favorable view of the brand if their self-service offering is mobile-responsive. With an increasing number of customers using mobile devices for just about everything, a mobile-friendly UX is crucial. If your help desk isn’t easy to navigate on a mobile device, or if it’s replete with bugs, customers are less likely to access the wealth of information you’ve curated. It also immediately turns seeking support into an unpleasant experience—something no business wants for its customers!

4. Encourage employee use.

Most companies think of help desks as a customer-facing tool. But employees often have questions, too, and they can waste a lot of time trying to find the right answers and waiting for people to get back to them. With intelligent integration, you can make help desk material accessible via the apps employees use most, so they can easily find answers to common problems.

For example, you can create an automated help desk for internal use. When an employee asks Workbot a question in Slack, Workbot will query Zendesk to see if a help article exists for that question. If anything related is found, Workbot sends that article back to Slack. If Workbot can’t match the question with an existing answer, it will create a new ticket in Zendesk so a CS agent can handle it. An automation like this not only promotes self-help—which means faster resolution times and a lighter workload for the CS team—but also allows the employee to stay in Slack the entire time. No context switching means productivity for all!

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