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Written by Finn Ruijter, 14 September 2020

Support website for your existing customers: 7 benefits

A support site or self-service portal (SSP) helps customers and associates who are experiencing problems-we prefer to call them challenges-with a product or service. In this blog post, you’ll discover why you’d better set up a support site today rather than tomorrow.

What is a self-service portal?

Before we dive into the benefits, it’s good to take a moment to consider what an SSP entails. As the name implies, customers (or associates) can help themselves to this. Generally, such a support website consists of two elements:

  1. A knowledge base or FAQ
    Depending on your product(s) or service(s), an FAQ is sufficient, or a knowledge base with roadmaps is a better solution. Whenever possible, divide the questions and answers into categories. This allows users to find and consume information at their own pace.
  2. Direct contact
    For questions that the knowledge base does not answer, or for complaints, there is a contact form or chat(bot). Make sure you clearly state the time frame within which you answer questions.

Now that we are clear on what we mean by a support site, we can look at the reasons why a self-service portal is such an important part of a successful business.

Benefit 1: increases efficiency

In terms of efficiency, the knife cuts both ways. On the one hand, customers can get answers to questions and solve problems 24/7. He or she no longer has to call between certain times and possibly be on hold for a solution. As a business, you relieve the pressure on telephone customer service or you can do away with that number altogether.

A support website is particularly well suited for answering regularly recurring questions and explanations that require large amounts of text or extensive actions. This will save you time and expense.

We also find that there is a rapidly growing group of users who nowadays expect to be able to find immediate, self-directed answers to questions. Super nice that an organization has an easily accessible telephone help desk, but many customers today expect more.

“Support sites are proving a hit with the COVID-19 pandemic. Providing service remotely was not a problem.”

Nelice Kuijpers-Comperen, Vivisol

Benefit 2: Discover areas for improvement

A well-designed support website provides you with a wealth of statistics. Not only will you see what the most popular articles in your knowledge base are, you’ll also discover what search terms customers enter to get answers to their questions. The questions that your support site does not directly answer should come in through the form. That way, you can still add these questions to the FAQ and then answer them via email. That way, the user is helped, your knowledge base is another article richer, and you save time the next time this question is asked.

Benefit 3: Gain insight into customer needs.

Ideally, your also provides the option to send suggestions or ideas. Perhaps customers are missing certain features or an entirely new product. Because it is easier to sell to existing customers – called cross-selling – than to bring in new customers, their input is worth its weight in gold for expanding your offerings.

Benefit 4: Retain customers through good service

It can be quite a turn-off for a customer if a purchase turns out not to work properly, or if it turns out not to be able to do something that the customer expected. By showing that you share the customer’s concerns and are working toward a solution, you build trust and may even win a long-term customer. Your customer-centric approach can also provide positive word-of-mouth advertising.

Benefit 5: possibility of up-sells

A customer’s question or complaint exposes a need. A desire that another service or a better product from your offering can fulfill. Or perhaps the customer tells something in passing, to which an unrelated product fits.

An example is a customer who calls the bank with a question about his savings account and says, “With interest rates this low, I’d better put the money under my mattress.” The bank may then recommend an investment product. Another well-known example is the telephone provider who resolves a complaint about a bill and takes advantage of it to achieve, at a discount, an up-sell to a TV package.

Benefit 6: Customer can vent frustration

What do consumers who are dissatisfied with a product or service do? Some bottle up their frustrations but others spew their bile in social media or through a review. Wouldn’t it be much better if you could make things right as an organization before customers shared their frustration with other (potential) customers?

A support site makes that possible. With such a site, you answer frequently asked questions and offer solutions to common problems. In the cases where the self-service portal is not sufficient, the customer can tell in his or her own words what is wrong and thus blow off steam.

Benefit 7: Increase your findability

Google is there to answer questions from Internet users. If your website helps Google in that mission, you can expect good rankings and therefore lots of visitors. That’s search engine optimization (SEO) in a nutshell.

Not entirely surprisingly, we see that companies with knowledge bases and a support website receive a lot of organic traffic. By showing that you care about customers, you may even cause people to switch from competitors to you.

Trendwatch 2021: Voice search

You may have seen or even used them by now. Voice search options through virtual assistants such as Siri, Alexa, Google Home are becoming more and more extensive. Smartphones, tablets, cars and smart speakers are being equipped with it. Support websites are also future-proof a huge enrichment for customers who ask their questions to companies through the virtual assistant via voice search or chatbot.