When you encounter a problem with a product, what do you normally do first? If you’re like me, calling into Support or Service is the last resort – I’d much rather try and find the solution myself than making a phone call, wading through an inordinate amount of prompts, waiting for the appropriate time to say “representative”, finally getting to someone and then hoping that the rep on the other end is more of an expert on the product than you are. There are lots of folks like you and I out there: companies need to take care of us even when we don’t feel like talking to them.
Here’s some numbers for you to digest. Kate Leggett at Forrester’s shared some results of a study she did on trends in Customer Service on her blog earlier this year. She noted there was an increase of 12% in web self-service use. In addition, she discovered 60% of consumers use a company’s knowledgebase to find answers. As for Act!, our annual KB article views have grown 55% since 2009 (from ~1.06 million views to ~1.64 million views). Between 2011 and 2012, our annual KB article views grew a whopping 22%.
So what did we do to increase our KB views and enhance self-service? Way back in 2008, we started a journey based around two fundamental thoughts:
1) A good amount of customers really don’t like calling into Support, so we shouldn’t force them to by not sharing what we know.
2) An online Knowledgebase works just like any other website: create valuable content, introduce people to it, and people will keep coming back.
We decided we need to do a better job of sharing knowledge to help those customers who really prefer to help themselves. We also needed to make sure the content was valuable. So we experimented: we started creating more content that was relevant to what our customers were calling in about, creating batch files to execute the steps outlined in some articles, making the KB easier to find for customers and linking KB articles on outside sources like our Community. We took it a step further: we used the data we gathered from KB usage and began sharing this info with our Devs to help prioritize product improvements.
In 2011, I was introduced to David Kay, Knowledge Management extraordinaire and Support thought leader. He enlightened me and a number of fellow Support and Service leaders on Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS). KCS is a support methodology that focuses on the rapid creation, simple structure and constant reuse of knowledge gained throughout the organization’s entire experience. The framework of KCS has evolved over the past couple of decades through the hard work and intense analysis of David and the rest of the Consortium for Service Innovation. KCS was exactly what we were looking for: a system that gave detailed information of what we were already trying to accomplish and it made complete sense! Remember that massive increase in our KB article views from 2011 to 2012? A direct result of implementing the KCS methodology. One other nice result which I’m certain KCS contributed to – our Support call volume also dropped by 11% from 2011 to 2012, allowing us to spend more time with the customers who needed our help. KCS is one of those things if you’re not already doing, you should be.
This all goes back to the Customer Experience. There’s a large, growing population of consumers who would really just prefer to help themselves. Spend time understanding these customers and deploy strategies to enable them and simplify self-help. It’s kind of a big deal.
What to learn more about Knowledge Centered Support? Visit the Consortium for Service Innovation’s website or better yet, check out David Kay’s KCS in 5 Minutes video. Also, I would highly recommend checking out David Kay’s Blog for fantastic insights and thought-provoking points around Support, Service, Knowledge Management and the Customer Experience.