Self-service solutions have democratized the buying process, which is an important step in creating an educated, empowered customer. However, self-service solutions that don’t speak to the customer’s true needs can create friction on par with a frustrating call center experience, increasing the chances of customer churn.
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In the Age of Self-Service Solutions
Today’s customers can afford to be choosy. Companies offering similar products and services are aplenty. However, from a customer’s perspective, the driving factor in brand loyalty lay not with the products or services themselves, but with the customer experience—seven out of ten customers say they’d spend more money for great customer service.
Typically, customers reach out to a call center when they want something:
- A solution to a problem
- More information on a product or service
- To purchase a new product or service
But customers don’t have to reach out to a call center: instead, they can utilize self-solution pages and come to their own conclusions. For example, a series of how-to tutorials can help a customer properly install a thermostat based on the type of wiring they have in their home, and an explanatory video detailing the differences between two similar-seeming products can help customers come to a better buying decision.
An optimized, customer-centric online platform or resource page would field a majority of these queries, whereas an improperly executed one takes the control and decision-making out of the customer’s hands and negatively impacts a company’s bottom line.
The most crucial component to optimizing self-service solutions is accurately reflecting customer needs and searches.
This situation often forces customers to find answers elsewhere—even potentially with another company. And acquiring new customers is expensive. One of the most repeated refrains in business besides “the customer is always right” is the fact that it costs about five times more to attain a new customer than it costs to retain an existing customer.
In addition, companies have a 60–70% chance of selling new products or services to an existing customer, compared to the 5–20% chance they’ll sell to a new customer. Rather than waste time, effort, and marketing spend trying to acquire new customers, brands can increase the lifetime value of existing ones by creating thought-through product, resource, and solutions pages.
Optimized self-solution resources achieve three main points:
- Create a more educated, empowered customer, which decreases the chances of losing a customer when they need assistance.
- Ensure the customer experience remains consistent through the support phase of the customer journey. This sends a message to the customer that the brand cares long after they have purchased something.
- Reduce support calls, thus reducing overhead costs for the company.
A Nest above the Rest
The most important thing to remember when you optimize self-service solutions is to accurately reflect customer needs and searches. These resources are an empathetic bridge that connects a brand to the issues that customers encounter. And when it comes to providing robust resources, Nest stands out from the rest—for two notable reasons:
- Product and Technology. Nest transformed otherwise boring home devices into desirable objects. Due to the wide variety of products Nest offers, customers are able to purchase a mix-and-match interconnected system based on the specific types of products they want.
- Self-Service Solutions. Nest’s support portal is comprehensive and personable. Ultimately, it puts the control and customization of installation, upkeep, and problem-solving back in the customer’s hands.
In 2011, Nest burst onto the market with its smart learning thermostat. It was a completely different type of device than the traditional offerings—the design was sleek and it had all the modern accoutrements like Wi-Fi and machine learning capabilities. More importantly, the Nest thermostat offered customers something conventional thermostats couldn’t: a better understanding of their wants, needs, and habits.
A well-informed and empowered customer is a happier, more loyal one. Optimize self-service solutions and customer care content to empower your customers.
After all, a well-informed and empowered customer is a happier, more loyal one—Nest wants its customer to easily find answers that best represent their issues. The product categories are immediately noticeable, helpful resources for the most common issues are located above the fold, and contact information for both the Nest community and customer service is readily available.
Welcome to Customization Station
A Nest-centric system offers endless possibilities for customization: the power is in the hands of the customer. Customers can have the system of their choice—they can purchase a thermostat, a carbon monoxide detector, and more in one fell swoop or, alternatively, they can build a system over time.
Nest’s customization continues with the installation process. Rather than subject consumers to a multistep process that forces them to speak with an agent, Nest removed the intermediary and put the power back into the customer’s hands with at-home installation and a no-plan-necessary approach. Or, if a customer would prefer an expert complete the installation, Nest has an online resource that locates Nest-certified technicians in the customer’s area.
However, the do-it-yourself method presents a new set of potential issues. To anticipate these potential points of friction, Nest created an extremely thorough support hub that makes it easy for customers to attempt self-solution. Should the problem be larger than expected, the consumer can contact Nest directly by chat, call, and Twitter or they can enlist help directly from the Nest community. This approach lets customers decide how they want to reach out and receive help.
Here’s how a typical customer would interact with Nest’s support services.
- Start with Nest’s support page. Finding the support page doesn’t take much—the tab is easily identifiable in the right hand corner of the home page.
- The support page is broken down into specific product categories and has a “service status” button that indicates whether Nest products are currently experiencing technical difficulties. Customers can quickly determine if the issue is known by the company and widespread. If not, customers can search for the issue or select a product and drill down further to find specific solutions.
- Each product has its own series of resources. There, customers will find myriad resources that speak to each stage of the customer journey. For example, the Thermostat section has a compatibility checker, starter setup, and various other troubleshooting how-to guides.
3A. To make sure customers are buying the right product for their home, the compatibility checker helps the customer verify if their existing systems are compatible before they purchase anything. Customer can also check and see if their Nest products are compatible with other, non-Nest smart home devices.
3B. Nest’s set-up guides are a mashup between installation and product usage, utilizing a mix of online and on-device instructions:
- Which generation of Nest Thermostat are you installing?
- Turn the power off
- Take a photo of your thermostat wiring
- Do any of your wires have two labels?
3C. If a customer experiences issues during or after setup, Nest has a troubleshooting section dedicated to solving potential problems, with common issues and recommended articles listed prominently on the page.
- In the event that a customer doesn’t have an answer to a command or question, Nest deflects to its customer service. Customers can chat with an agent, call the Nest support center, or search the Nest community for help. This allows a user to have a more immediate solution—in their preferred format—rather than having to wait days for a technician to fix it.
Not only does this strategy further cement Nest’s reputation as a dependable brand, but it also reduces overhead to their call center and ensures the customer knows they’re supported long after a purchase has been made. While Nest is primarily known as a product-based company, it manages to angle itself as a lifetime service thanks to its dependable products and up-to-date support content.
Ultimately, all these minute details and supportive components make up a positive customer experience, which translates into a happy, lifelong customer and a Nest brand advocate.
Part of a Bigger Picture
Weaving together the customer experience with the stages of the buying cycle is a crucial component to ensuring the success of companies and brands—knowing customer needs, both target and existing, is part of the equation. Customers want many things, but ultimately they want the decision-making to be on their terms where possible.
The sheer availability of information, products, and services has allowed customers to help themselves—and ask for further help when and how they want it. This puts customers directly in the driver’s seat and enables them to feel confident about their purchase, as well as solve problems on their own. Optimize self-service solutions to appeal to that sense of independence and confidence.
It’s crucial for companies to not simply do as Nest has done and connect the dots: companies must create a seamless support experience during and long after the customer has purchased. Brands that implement this strategy will see customers returning to the top of buying funnel for another purchase—and who can argue with that?