The Evolution of Customer Support: How Self-Service Has Become Synonymous with Tech Products

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The face of technology has changed over the last decade, and the end-user has changed along with it. Increased connectivity, the proliferation of general computer knowledge, and the enormous knowledge-base that is the internet have all helped shape a new wave of technology savvy end-users. Not only are these new-age techies more proficient with computers in general, but they also possess a desire to be able to troubleshoot their issues when possible. With these new skills in mind, the need arises for a self-service solution for troubleshooting and support.

Self-service systems can be found in a variety of businesses these days, from supermarkets to online stores. Large software companies keep extensive knowledge bases and make use of automated support systems to streamline customer support further and limit customer dissatisfaction. These companies recognize the shift in customer need from a personal, in-person support experience to a reliable, always-on, always ready customer-support service.

An ever increasing percentage of customers now prefer to find their answers to hardware and software related questions. This preference can have an enormous impact on customer’s purchases, going so far as to exclude products that lack an automated method of support. Even when presented with a product lacking a self-service portal, customers tend to seek answers to their questions on their own, often turning to the internet for help. Unfortunately the technical support they find there may not always be useful and can even be detrimental, causing further frustration and reluctance to continue using the product they are seeking help for. Providing a useful self-service portal contributes to alleviating these mishaps, giving customers an accurate knowledge base to aid in troubleshooting, and a direct route to seek further help as needed. This not only raises end-user satisfaction by being able to receive solutions to their problems quickly, but it can also result in increased repeat business.

Adapting to Customer Demand

Customers demand quick, responsive, and thorough customer service more so now than ever before. Providing round-the-clock, on-demand customer support is essential to long-term software deployment. This service must be fast, convenient, and proactive. With the addition of a comprehensive knowledge base via a self-service portal, end-users can find accurate answers when they need them. Allowing customers the ability to rapidly troubleshoot their product woes reduces customer service person-hours, saving precious time and money. More complicated issues can easily be redirected to a live customer support chat, giving customers rapid response times and making their continued business feel valued.

Without the implementation of a high-quality customer service portal, the majority of customer support has to be offered “by hand,” further taxing company resources and workforce. The need to personally respond to every technical issue that arises certainly adds a personal touch to a business’s’ image, but lacks long-term sustainability. More customers than ever before are beginning to request access to personalized self-service solutions, preceding the preference of one-on-one interaction for fast answers.

A well-maintained self-service system will also help streamline the management of technical support tickets when a more personalized response is needed. End-users who need additional troubleshooting for their issues can submit their help tickets instead of waiting for a customer-support employee to do it for them, resulting in a faster response. Customer submitted tickets also allow for technical support personnel to be assigned rapidly, placing attention and resources where they are needed most.

A customer-support portal can be used to provide up-to-date product information, solving issues before they begin. Global and local announcements posted through the portal lets users now of known issues and ways to fix them, or if a fix is already in the works. This further reduces the need for the customer support time that could be better spent elsewhere.

Self-Service is the New Standard

Customer self-service is becoming an industry standard these days. With the need for immediate customer satisfaction to handle technical troubles, using a system limited by manual support or bare-bones automated answers leads to customer frustration and can potentially become the cause for lost business. This isn’t a trend that’s going away anytime soon, with a new-generation of end-users requiring self-service portals to satisfy their technical support needs. Implementing a trusted and proven a customer service portal is no longer a convenient option utilized by a progressive few; it’s the new expectation of today’s technology-oriented consumer.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.