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For many businesses, the impact of COVID-19 on their contact centers is resulting in catastrophic customer experiences. You've probably personally felt it, or heard enough about it already. Customer care is an intense place to be right now. On top of the general quarantine anxieties and remote work challenges, there's a huge increase in both volume and variety of critical questions — mostly around a topic where nobody really has the answers.
COVID-19 presents a new type of challenge, but lessons from other crises may help us handle this awful situation a little bit better. The focal point early in a crisis should be enabling and augmenting your frontline customer support teams as much as you can.
As Rachel Happe so eloquently put it in her article, digital communities have innumerable benefits for brands. From a practical perspective, one of the best ways communities improve customer experience is by deflecting support calls. According to our research, communities result in at least a 10% increase in deflected calls, and many of our customers report 3-4x that amount.
But how does this work, and how can you maximize this number in a time of crisis?
For many brands, their online community is something of a footnote under the Support or Resources section of their website. It can only be found by expanding a menu in the header or the footer. This is better than not having a community, but only just barely. Companies like Samsung have taken it a step further; they embedded their community directly into a mobile app that is shipped with every phone. That way, any product owner can immediately connect with the Samsung support team, as well as other customers. It’s had a phenomenal impact on their support experience and costs, and has dramatically accelerated the product feedback loop and innovation.
There are other ways to make your community easy to find as well! Highlight it on your home page, make it a part of every new customer’s onboarding experience in an email, or feature community content the same way you feature other marketing content. We did all three of those here at Khoros, and you can see the impact on Khoros.com today.
Putting a community first not only gets people to the widest variety of support resources, but it also gives you the resources to produce better, more credible content faster and more easily.
Once you’ve made your community easy to find, make sure you are featuring the right content. For example, we're prominently featuring our response to COVID-19 on our community, Atlas. There, we hosted an Expert Forum for our customers to ask questions and get answers not just from our experts, but from other thought leaders in the industry. We created both internal and external groups to serve as a single landing space for all content related to this crisis — from best practices, to support questions, to ways to collaborate with other people who have similar challenges.
We also just released a tip sheet that includes several pieces of advice for how to do this in this current crisis.
As an added bonus, community content has more credibility because the information is written by other customers or has the input of your customers’ peers right there in the discussion. Increased credibility means a decreased likelihood of follow up questions or long explanations, further reducing costs.
Once you have the placement and the content right, then it is time to facilitate feedback and iterate quickly. Most of the time in a community, this happens naturally as customers interact with each other to create the content instead of requiring your team to produce every answer. This means more questions can be answered, and far more detail can be added to every answer with the power of the crowd.
Maintaining accurate, dependable, and rapid communication both internally to your organization and externally to your customers is even more important now in a time of crisis. In organizations with brand communities, the contact centers and support teams should have a direct integration with the community. If you don’t have a community, it is time to think about how you can increase call deflection and build a more agile, credible support experience for your customers by launching one today.