Priming the self-service pump with the right tools

How to scale your customer care content strategy

If you’ve ever set up a wifi network without waiting on a technician, or scaled a troubleshooting tree when the latest software update bricks your phone, you know there’s satisfaction in doing things by yourself with minimal help.

DIY customer service is making big strides beyond the gas pump, supermarket checkout and ATM. It enables customers and partners to find the assistance they need without getting lost in links, firing off emails to a generic info address or picking up the phone.

Most businesses already have help docs, FAQs, tutorials and customer care portals. The challenge lies in unifying that knowledge base content to manage it efficiently and deliver it consistently across support channels.

Anywhere from half to three-quarters of customers want to solve problems on their own, according to stats collected by Customer Thermometer from businesses including Zendesk, American Express and Aspect Software.

But customers are often frustrated by the lack of available information. When consumers couldn’t solve issues on their own, more than half blamed the lack of information available online, according to Microsoft’s State of Global Customer Service Report.

“Customer service organizations have to make self-service easy and effective. It must connect the customer to the right answer or resolution. Self-service should be delivered when the customer is engaged, with a full understanding of their context and in the flow of their actions within the application that they are using.” — “Your Customers Want to Self-Serve — It’s Good For Them And Good For You,” Forrester Research, Inc., May 23, 2019

Contentful helps companies unify their existing knowledge bases of customer service information to improve and power the second half of the customer journey — beyond the purchase. It’s essential to creating lifetime value: ensuring customers happily use the product, and then return again to purchase and refer their friends.

Support portals reduce customer service costs

The humble FAQ predates the internet, but with the right tools, modern support connects customers in record time. Canadian telecom firm TELUS wanted to help customers help themselves with more useful digital content.

Their existing processes and legacy CMS meant that customers couldn’t easily solve their issues online, causing a call surge to the customer support center. Worse, some of the support articles contradicted each other, differed in tone and structure, or simply oversaturated users with too much content.

With Contentful, Telus was able to pull together the existing knowledge base of thousands of articles and videos scattered across multiple CMSes. Telus created a seamless user experience that increased help article traffic within the website and cut support visits originating from the Contact Us page. The switch to Contentful resulted in a 9% reduction in overall support costs.

A major luxury car manufacturer uses Contentful to fuel the entire customer journey. Their portal offers owners and prospective owners content tailored to the vehicle they own (or want to own), as well as events at nearby dealerships. Once the car is in the garage, the portal helps schedule maintenance visits, sends appointment reminders and tracks invoices. It also allows customers to connect with other owners, growing brand loyalty and creating a community.

Delivering more to many — with less

In many organizations, knowledge content is housed in silos, with different teams responsible for product information, customer service, partner service, etc. Because much of the information is the same — the company address or a support number — this duplicate content can be spread across different systems to populate FAQs, email support, chat bots, how-to articles, mobile support, social media and other channels.

Synching content manually across all these systems ties up resources in redundant work. No one wants to spend hours changing a phone number in a dozen places.

When content infrastructure unifies your knowledge base, you can manage and deliver an array of self-service tools and content to meet different needs with fewer resources, as Lyft does with their driver and rider support portals.

Lyft populates their driver, rider and call center portals across web and mobile with content from a central knowledge base powered by Contentful. Content teams can curate information for each portal, manage variations and present it in different contexts for each audience.

Atlassian uses Contentful to manage content for a growing list of support services: help and technical documentation, FAQs, help articles, product documentation and evaluative resources. They maximize the value of their content by pulling information from support documents to provide in-product support. Atlassian can also use the same content hub to power future use cases — one of the reasons they chose to partner with Contentful.

Partner portals

The knowledge base solution can also be applied to partner portals to accelerate business. For example, athenahealth provides billing and other digital services for 160,000 medical providers and stores more than 110 million patient records. Their marketplace showcases products that integrate seamlessly into the athenahealth ecosystem, from billing to prescription management.

As a result, partners can now independently manage content in the virtual shopfronts. There are more than 200 products in the marketplace, with 10 to 15 new products added and between 8,000 and 10,000 visits per month to the app store.

Bill.com automates paperless bill management and integrates it with accounting records for small and medium-sized businesses, managing some $70 billion in payments annually. Their knowledge centers are tailored to partnerships; 80% of the content applicable from their main help center and 20% of the content is unique to partnerships. Contentful helps them sync everything, including QuickBooks and payment setups to water, power, cable, phone and electric companies.

These are just a few of the ways that customers are using content infrastructure from Contentful to harness the power of existing content in a knowledge base. For more on knowledge bases, check out the white paper or contact sales for a demo.

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Learn how to use your knowledge base to win the customer experience battle.