Main illustration: James Heimer
Technology plays a critical role in providing customer support at scale. With the right automation underpinning your tech stack, your support team can be empowered to strike the right balance between personalized support and efficiency – something that’s no longer a “nice-to-have” when customer expectations are at an all-time high.
On top of that, bottom-line business metrics like customer retention and expansion are in focus for support teams now more than ever. Where once the ability to measure the ROI of support eluded many companies, our research shows that 57% of teams are now measuring the impact their support has on revenue. But in order to move the dial on support revenue and boost the bottom line, you need to be able to provide customer support at scale – as well as give customers the personal support experience that they expect. The key to this balancing act? The Conversational Support Funnel – a framework that combines powerful elements of proactive, self-serve, and human support to ensure your support is scalable, personal, and efficient.
Each layer of the funnel serves to empower support leaders to achieve next-level results across every aspect of their support. The self-serve support layer is key to being able to provide personal support at scale, serving as a resource for customers to find answers to their own questions and get quick resolutions through help content, bots, and automation. This powerful combination of technology and the knowledge and expertise of your team makes it possible to offer what feels like a one-to-one support experience to every customer. Here are some proven ways to leverage self-serve support to boost the bottom line for your business.
Saving valuable time with automatic answers
Support leaders looking to expand their support offering will often seek to answer questions like “How can I scale my support without increasing headcount or budget?” or “Phone and email support are inefficient and causing my team to get swamped with inbound conversation volume, how can I fix this?” With self-serve support, your team can be empowered to provide support to more customers than ever before – and still reduce your inbound conversation volume.
By combining the power of automation and bots, teams using modern conversational support tools can answer simple and commonly-asked customer questions automatically, as well as serve up relevant help center documentation to empower customers to help themselves at the precise moment they need it. Not only does this satisfy customers’ expectations of on-demand support and instant answers, it also frees up your support reps to focus on more complex or urgent issues.
“By leveraging Intercom’s Custom Bots, the team at Stuart was able to reduce their support workload by more than 2,500 hours a week”
By leveraging Intercom’s Custom Bots, the team at Stuart was able to reduce their support workload by more than 2,500 hours a week. This huge increase in time saved enabled the team to manage the high number of support queries they were receiving across their global markets, maintain fast response times, and provide customers with quicker resolutions – all without increasing the team’s headcount.
Boosting customer satisfaction through efficient, personalized support
Given that self-serve support offers the opportunity to rapidly scale your support operation to serve more customers – and faster – you might ask, “Won’t automation make my support less personal?” Put simply, it’s about striking the right balance. Our research shows that support teams that use chatbots are 60% more likely to report a definite improvement in resolution times and are 30% more likely to report a definite increase in customer satisfaction.
Video conferencing platform Livestorm invested in Custom Bots and Resolution Bot to help them manage their tiered support system with increased efficiency, provide their customers with faster resolutions, and free up their support team to focus on more complex and urgent issues. And the results speak for themselves – with the help of self-serve support, the Livestorm team has been able to maintain an impressive 94% customer satisfaction score, with one in every four customer queries being automatically resolved by Resolution Bot. “When I joined the team, we were using Drift,” says Elif Koral, Head of Customer Experience at Livestorm. “I lobbied to make the switch to Intercom because of its superior UX and automation capabilities.”
Keeping response times low as your business scales
When it comes to choosing a support solution, it’s important to pick a tool that’s going to be flexible to meet your customers’ and team’s needs – as well as one that can expand with you as your business grows. Intercom’s self-serve support capabilities not only enable your team to be efficient in answering complex or challenging customer questions, they also make it easy to manage high conversation volumes as your business continues to grow.
“SMARTY, a mobile virtual network operator powered by Three UK, is saving 7,000 support team hours a year with the help of Resolution Bot”
SMARTY, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) powered by Three UK, is saving 7,000 support team hours a year with the help of Resolution Bot, which is answering commonly-asked and easy-to-answer questions automatically. This huge efficiency gain also resulted in the team’s median first-response time being reduced by a whopping 99%.
Speaking to the importance of self-serve support at SMARTY, Gill Fisher, Head of Customer Experience & Delivery, says, “I think chat should just be there for those more complex queries. If there’s something a customer can do really easily, why not utilize the bot, why not utilize the help center?”
Adding more power to your support – with less effort
When assessing how to scale your support, it’s important to consider every channel you’re using to communicate with your customers. Modern conversational support tools like Intercom enable you to support your customers across multiple channels all from a single Inbox, which is crucial if you want to remain efficient and avoid the time lost by using outdated technology.
“A customer service agent can be on one phone call with one person at a time. With chat, you can handle anywhere up to 10 conversations and help so many more people in the same amount of time it would take to resolve that phone call”
Having made the decision to move towards chat and away from phone support, Gryason Bagwell, Director of Business Development at Rugs.com, explains that the team has increased their support efficiency by a whopping 10x since implementing Intercom. “A customer service agent can be on one phone call with one person at a time,” he says. “With chat, you can handle anywhere up to 10 conversations and help so many more people in the same amount of time it would take to resolve that phone call.”
Martin Mason, Head of Customer & Employee Experience at tado°, also made the decision to go all in on conversational support, shutting off phone support entirely and redirecting the 45,700 calls they were receiving every year to the Intercom Messenger. Despite this sudden change in their support infrastructure, Martin and his team managed to reduce their overall first-response time by a whopping 92%. “We felt that phone support was a very inefficient way of working,” he says. “And we could get swamped with volume without knowing when it was coming, or what the topic may be.”
Intercom gives the tado° team peace of mind that customers won’t be left indefinitely on hold waiting to get through to the support team, with Resolution Bot offering up instant answers to customer questions and Custom Bots collecting valuable information about their queries to give support reps the context they need to help customers with more urgent or complex queries that require help from the team.
Building a self-serve support tech stack
A robust self-serve support tech stack combines all of the tools your team needs to empower customers to help themselves. Intercom offers a suite of features that enable support teams to leverage and maximize the power of self-serve support to make their support more efficient and scalable and delight customers with speedy responses and resolutions.
- Resolution Bot automatically answers up to one in three frequently-asked questions to free up your support team to focus on more complex or urgent queries. With Resolution Bot’s help, MongoDB is saving 3,686 hours of customer time every month.
- In a test with one of their UK pharmacy clients, the team at delivery and logistics platform Stuart was able to use a combination of Custom Bots and Articles to share relevant help center articles to customers who were writing to the team. This resulted in a staggering 70% of inbound customer queries being resolved through self-serve support.
Getting set up for success
With self-serve support, you can ensure that your team is set up for success to provide personalized support at any scale. This growth lever will enable your team to boost customer satisfaction with faster response times and quicker resolutions, influence bottom-line metrics like retention and expansion by providing a high quality of service that customers are willing to pay more for, and truly position customer support as the key value driver that it is.
To learn more about how Intercom customers are scaling personalized support while also reducing first-response times, boosting team efficiency, increasing customer satisfaction, and more, check out our customer stories.