Category Archives: Customer Support

Bite-Sized is Better: Why You Need to Ditch Long Support Articles

People are presented with an overwhelming amount of information every single day — so much so that they can’t possibly even begin to absorb it all in a constructive way.

Historically speaking, packing in as much detailed data as possible into one place was considered helpful. These days, however, the trend to keep things short and sweet has got people (and consumers) hooked. Mark Schaefer, the author of The Content Code, summarized it well:

“There is a definite trend toward small. If we can’t get big chunks of content through a limited ‘pipeline’ of brain cells, maybe we can get grains of sand through.”

In the customer service world, and beyond, the shift from longer form content to bite-sized pieces of information has started to take over.

Why Take on a Bite-Sized Approach?

Making information easier to chew, swallow, and digest has been adopted across many workforces in an effort to help the learning, engagement, and problem-solving processes. Psychologically speaking, human beings find it harder to sift through and understand large portions of information — these quick-to-read snippets are developed for the customer’s convenience, and significantly improve the retention of information. Twitter, with its 140 character limitation, is an extreme example of this trend.

The digital natives, Generation Y, are those brought into the accessibility of information. From the very beginning, they have been fed small, frequent bits of data constantly, battling the overwhelming distractions of notifications and other digital media that are so popular today. In order to really reach customers and consumers in today’s hyper-digital world, it’s critical for companies to start adapting to the need for shorter-form content and communications.

Cutting Back on Information Overload

Zingtree’s decision tree making platform was built with information overload in mind, making it easy for businesses, call centers, content marketers, and support teams to break complicated or dense topics into simple step-by-step actions. Set in an interactive environment that can be embedded into any website or page, decision trees are an ideal way to help customers without the need for live agents or long support articles.

We’ve made strides to become the most powerful, user-friendly platform for presenting information in bite-sized pieces. Zingtree decision trees allow you to:

  • Guide visitors with a simple click-click-click, so they can find answers to their questions and find the information they need without sifting through manuals and website pages.
  • Present customers with a step-by-step troubleshooter to self-solve issues and resolve problems without assistance from a customer support agent.
  • Create completely interactive experiences that break down any complicated process into easy-to-digest bits.

Check out this video to learn more about how to set up a decision tree:

Ready to see for yourself? Take a look at our Gallery for inspiration, or reach out to us with any questions. 

Customer Support Chart-Toppers: The 5 Best Apps for Zendesk

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It’s no secret that we’re big fans of everything that Zendesk has to offer; so are many of our own awesome customers. With its data-forward functionalities, centralized ticketing system, multiple support channels, and collaborative environment, there’s really no question why their Help Desk platform is so popular.

Another huge perk is their extensive collection of integrated applications, allowing you to do even more amazing things with the platform. In a sea of so many, we wanted to take the time to shout out to a few of the best apps for Zendesk:

1. Tasks

Tasks lets you build simple, to-do-style lists for any complex customer ticket, making it easier for support agents to flesh out (and follow) sub-tasks so customers can get the resolutions they need. With the app, you can track steps within any ticket, and even create templates for repeated tasks so every support team member involved can stay on the same page.

Learn more here: https://www.zendesk.com/apps/tasks/

2. Time Tracking

Time Tracking is perfect for support teams aiming to improve employee performance and identify resource-intensive customers, as it focuses on tracking the time spent on every incoming Zendesk ticket. Using the Time Tracking app for Zendesk, support and operations managers can more easily figure out where bottlenecks occur in agent efforts, as well as which issues tend to take the most time to resolve.

Learn more here: https://www.zendesk.com/apps/time-tracking

3. Swiftype Search

Every kind of customer wants the ability to run a quick search on a help desk or knowledge base – it’s the fastest way to find relevant information and self-solve problems. The Swiftype Search app integrates a completely customizable search bar on your Zendesk Help Center, so customers can easily access information, and your company can tap into search behavior and popular queries.

Learn more here:  https://www.zendesk.com/apps/swiftype-search/

4. Annotate

Honest, effective customer communication is key where problem-solving is concerned. Annotate is an app that allows you to guide customers in real-time through marked-up screenshots and images. This way, support agents can take them through step-by-steps, ask them to click certain areas or links, and more easily work with them to find solutions to more complex problems.

Learn more here: https://www.zendesk.com/apps/annotate-by-driftt/

5. Trello

We know and love Trello as a flexible, visual tool for organizing and itemizing tasks within various projects.  The Trello app for Zendesk lets you integrate the amazing task-based collaboration of Trello with the centralized communication of Zendesk, so agents can add support tickets to Trello cards and organize the boards they’re a part of. It’s an incredibly simple way to stay on top of it all.

Learn more here: https://www.zendesk.com/apps/trello/

In case you hadn’t heard, we have our own Zendesk apps to make your customer service and relationship-building efforts even more centralized, too:

The Zingtree Customer Support app for Zendesk allows you to integrate the steps a customer takes within a decision tree troubleshooter directly into that customers’ Zendesk ticket. If the customer can’t self-solve using your decision trees, your support people get valuable background information with every ticket, which saves everyone a lot of time and minimizes back-and-forth. You can learn more here: https://www.zendesk.com/apps/zingtree/

The Zingtree Agent Scripting app for Zendesk lets you build completely customized scripts that support agents can follow along with during each call, all while integrating with your Zendesk system. This makes it easy to streamline customer conversations, and provides powerful stats and reports on how the decision tree script is being used. You can learn more here: https://www.zendesk.com/apps/agent-scripting/


Any questions? We’re here for you

Decision Tree Maker: Troubleshooting for Tech Support

Troubleshooting has been a key problem-solving technique used by technical support teams and agents for ages. For every type of product or service in existence, there are countless types of issues that can potentially occur; troubleshooting aims to help narrow down what that problem could be for each customer, based on other contextual factors.

Zingtree makes it easy to build custom, interactive troubleshooters for tech support that are simple and straightforward enough for anyone to use and understand. When YouMail, the leading provider of visual voicemail, realized that they needed to resolve their support inquiries more quickly, they looked to automated troubleshooters to help. Using a clever mix of our interactive troubleshooters and YouMail’s own technical support staff, the company was able to amp up their customer support efforts, and assist customers in a wider range of questions and issues – all while saving money.

Here’s how our interactive troubleshooters have allowed YouMail and other companies to streamline their tech support departments.

Improving Self-Solving for Customers

While traditional methods of customer support are still in practice today, the vast majority of customers (72%, in fact) prefer to use self-service support options before reaching out to a live agent to resolve their issue. Turning a complex interaction into a simple click-click-click provides an easy-to-digest platform for people to find solutions all on their own, at any time or place. Offering these types of avenues for customers to find answers, understand technical processes, and troubleshoot problems, will greatly improve how you serve your customers, and, in turn, how they will feel about your company.

Providing a Complete, Guided Path

Information is always easier to follow and retain when you’re being gently guided through bite-sized pieces of information. Interactive decision tree troubleshooters are a more user-friendly way than traditional troubleshooting methods to guide people through a series of in an interview-style way, which helps to keep the process moving along and customers more engaged with the information being presented. You can even add customizations and visuals like GIFs, videos, and photos to help display information in a more fun and engaging way.

Connecting with Existing CRM

Effective technical support strategies should integrate every method and means of customer communications in a centralized way. For most companies, this means having a built up knowledge base, FAQ, and live support that can share information with one another seamlessly.

Zingtree troubleshooters Integrate directly with Salesforce, Freshdesk, and any other CRM platform, making it easy to pass along proper information from the troubleshooter straight to an agent. If the troubleshooter doesn’t solve the problem, the entire Q&A session history is sent to you, or imported into your CRM, saving tech support from a lot of back-and-forths.

Here’s an example of how a Zingtree session transcript appears inside of Zendesk:

Optimizing with Reports & Analytics

With built-in, real-time analytics and powerful usage reports, businesses can view the direct impact of their interactive troubleshooters for tech support.

  • Performance/Results Report: see how your help system is performing.
  • Session List Report: see all the different customer sessions during a date range, and easily click for more details such as what parts of your troubleshooter they visited, their node-to-node path, and for how long they stayed on each node/question.
  • Traffic Map Report: quickly access a complete view of the content in your decision tree nodes, as well as a breakdown of the traffic to each, shown in both number of clicks and percentage of total traffic.

The Basics: How to Build a Troubleshooter

To get your troubleshooter up and running as quickly as possible, we recommend using the Zingtree Wizard tool.

Set up in a guided, form-based way, the Wizard allows you to supply every question, answer, and other pieces of content for each stage of the troubleshooting process. As you dive further into the creation of your troubleshooter, you can fill in more of the nitty-gritty details, and see a live preview of what the page will look like:


Companies that integrate Zingtree troubleshooters into their customer support processes have seen a 20% reduction in technical support costs on average, as well as improvements in the overall volume of incoming tickets. 

Get started with an interactive troubleshooter, check out our Gallery for more inspiration, or reach out to us with any questions!

25 Customer Support Statistics You Should Pay Attention To

It used to be that winning products and services spoke for themselves, and kept customers loyal and happy; an era that’s long since been over. We think Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, said it best himself: “In the old world, you devoted 30% of your time to building a great service and 70% of your time to shouting about it. In the new world, that inverts.”

Customer support and experience are fundamental to the performance, and ultimately, the long-term success of modern-day businesses. These customer support statistics pulled from various industry reports and studies tell a story of how increasingly important it is to provide full-service, multichannel, round-the-clock, easy-to-digest support to every customer in 2017.

1. Companies lose more than $62 billion due to poor customer service every year on average. (Source: New Voice Media)

2. researchers found that among thousands of customers studied, customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience. (Source: Harvard Business Review)

3. 32% percent of those surveyed in a recent State of Social Customer Service Report found the phone to be the most frustrating way to engage customer service. (Source: ConverSocial)

4. 54% of millennials said they stopped doing business with a company because of poor customer service. So did 50% of Gen Xers and 52% of baby boomers. (Source: Conversion Research)

5. 40% of customers switch brands or services because a competitor offers better customer support. (Source: Zendesk)

6. There’s a $3 return on investment expected for every $1 invested in the customer experience. (Source: SiteCore)

7. 95% of consumers have taken action as a result of a bad customer experience, and of those consumers, 85% wanted to warn others about doing business with the company. (Source: Zendesk)

8. On the other hand, 23% of customers who had a good customer experience told 10+ people. (Source: Harvard Business Review)

9. 67% of consumers list bad customer experience as one of the primary reasons for churning. (Source: Kolsky)

10. 32% of social media users who contact a brand expect a response within 30 minutes, and 42% expect a response within 60 minutes. (Source: The Social Habit)

11. 77% of people say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service. (Source: Forrester)

12. 90% of consumers say they expect consistency and continuity from a brand across channels. (Source: Microsoft)

13. 97% of global consumers say customer service is important in their choice of, and loyalty to, a brand. (Source: Microsoft)

14. 51% of B2B companies avoid vendors after a poor customer service experience, and 66% stopped buying completely. (Source: Zendesk)

15. 66% of customers said that they would spend more with a retailer for improved customer service. (Source: Salesforce)

16. Only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers complain, and the rest churn. (Source: Kolsky)

17. Live chat support has a customer satisfaction rate of 73% – the highest of all customer service channels – with email at 61% and a low 44% for phone support. (Source: Econsultancy)

18. 55% of consumers say that easy access to support and information can make them fall in love with a brand. (Source: RightNow)

19. Even for a small support team of three people, implementing simple automation can save up to 600 hours — that’s an extra 25 days every year. (Source: Groove HQ)

20. 60% of consumers view a brand with a mobile-responsive self-service offering more favorably. (Source: 2015 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report)

21. 90% of customer service decision-makers believe that delivering good customer service is critical to their company’s success. (Source: Forrester)

22. 50% of customers think it’s important to solve product or service issues themselves. (Source: Zendesk)

23. 70% of customers expect a company’s website to include a self-service application. (Source: Super Office)

24. 91% of customers surveyed said that they would use an online knowledge base if it were available and tailored to their needs/questions. (Source: Coleman Parkes)

25. In a survey of more than 75,000 consumers, the number one most important factor in a customer’s loyalty was found to be reducing their effort; in other words, the work they have to do in order to solve their problem. (Source: Harvard Business Review)


As new trends in customer service and customer experience emerge, companies in every industry are taking stock of what they can do to improve. With such high importance placed on providing consistent, fast, and self-service support to customers, Zingtree decision trees are a powerful tool that can streamline and strengthen customer service.

With an interactive online format that can be hosted anywhere, interactive decision trees allow customers to quickly self-solve issues, find answers to questions, and schedule follow-ups, so they’re more likely to be happier and more loyal to your business.

Did we miss any important statistics or trends? Let us know in the comments below!

4 Steps to Creating a Scalable Customer Support Strategy

While you can choose to pool all of your energy into development or marketing to get your product/service alive and out into the world, you’ll only ever see some of that potential return. After all, what is a reliable product without a reliable company behind it?

Investing the time and resources into building a solid, scalable customer service strategy is necessary to creating a brand that’s both profitable and sustainable. According to a recent Customers 2020 report, experts predict that customer experience will soon surpass price and product as the key differentiator from one brand to another. In other words, how you handle customer service matters.

When Applian Technologies was working on improving their processes and becoming more streamlined, they performed a support audit of their channels and found a lot of inefficiencies. Their goal was to scale up as a startup, and their human labor intensive customer support strategy was holding them back. From our experience with Applian building customer experience, we came up with a few pointed steps to lead to a scalable support roadmap.

1. Find the Perfect Help Desk Platform

After performing a full-fledged audit of your customer service efforts, it’s time to adopt a help desk solution if you haven’t already. And, if you have, it might be a good time to refresh things or even look into new platforms if things aren’t scaling up as quickly as you’d hoped.

The right help desk solution will centralize your communications across email, chat and social media, and be easy to manage day-to-day. With a platform like Zendesk, Freshdesk, or Desk.com, support teams can quickly identify repetitive issues, respond to customers and solve problems, and access key analytics to help optimize further along the way.

2. Offer Multi-Channel Customer Service

Offering multiple channels of access to support is the best way to keep customers happy 24/7; with the tools available today, it’s possible to provide consistent customer service without outsourcing live support or keeping agents up at all hours. The basic minimum multi-channel support platforms include:

  • Live chat support
  • Phone number
  • Helpdesk or CRM
  • Knowledgebase and FAQ
  • Interactive troubleshooters

While agents are offline, interactive knowledge bases, FAQs, and troubleshooters can offer customers access to many answers and solutions. Zingtree integrates with any CRM (like Zendesk and Desk), as well as live chat tools (like Zopim and Intercom) and publishing platforms (like WordPress), so you can strategically connect the dots with your customer service strategy, and help to streamline the entire process as you scale up.

In fact, when Applian technologies set up an interactive support system, they saw a 20% overall reduction in support cost and a huge reduction in the volume of back-and-forth support tickets overall.

3. Train Your Support Agents Early and Often

Onboarding new agents early and training (and re-training) them often is a hallmark of any company that truly understands how the knowledge of their employees can impact performance, satisfaction, and motivation. As customers are more empowered in their control of purchasing when, where and how they choose, so too should customer service agents be; training should always include a tutorial on how and when to go above and beyond for consumers.

Interactive training programs, much like interactive knowledge bases, are an ideal way to share information. With an online, standards-and-scenarios based training program, support staff can continue their company education in an easy-to-digest format, with complete information available on every facet of the business that they might need to know.

4. Keep up With (and Analyze) Reports

At the end of the day, the numbers and data surrounding your support strategy won’t lie. Set up your CRM tool to dole out automated reports based on the key statistics and indicators you need to keep track of, as well as for Twitter, Facebook, and any other platform you’re communicating with customers through. Aggregating and analyzing this data can help you to consistently improve as you scale up, identify any bottlenecks or trouble spots, and prove to the board that your strategy is really working.

Zingtree offers powerful analytics and reports to help make pulling data every month as simple as possible. Depending on how your interactive decision trees are set up, you can quickly see high-level usage stats, breakdowns by agent, overall traffic, and much more. Additionally, Zingtree works with Google Analytics to allow you to get even more robust and powerful tracking data.


How scalable is your current support strategy?

Start a new interactive decision tree to start streamlining, scaling up, and saving time and money. 

Any questions? We’re always here to help you get started. 

5 Outdated Customer Support Tools You Need to Ditch

Customer service agents have always been at the heart of what makes companies, and their customer communications, so incredibly important to business success. However, certain resources aren’t always up to the job. Armed with only outdated customer support tools, it’s difficult for an agent or customer service representative to perform their tasks, and help people, to the best of their ability.

Thankfully, technology has done a great job of keeping up; there are dozens of amazing tools to help businesses small and large improve how they handle support and troubleshooting, customer interactions, and other key communications. If you’re still using an outdated tool or method like the ones mentioned here, now’s the time to make a change for the better.

Setting Up Spreadsheets to Track Issues

We’ll always love spreadsheets (heck, Zingtrees even connect with them for quick creation!), but using them as a means of manually tracking the details of tickets and inquiries is a definite resource-waster. The details of every customer call are important, so adopting a more automated way to enter key information during a call or via an online support ticket is vital to improving customer service goals. Don’t tackle it cell-by-cell. You waste precious time and this method is prone to errors.

Using Standard Email for Tickets

Using Outlook for support? Gmail? Yahoo? We certainly hope not, but if you are, there’s still time to make things right and upgrade to a real support system. A solid CRM tool like Zendesk or  Freshdesk isn’t as daunting or expensive as you might think, and can easily track and organize every incoming ticket. After getting started and connecting all of your communication channels, you can even integrate with decision trees for a completely holistic setup.

Sending Customers Through a Phone Tree

The most impersonal of all contact channels, a phone tree is as hard to set up as it is for customers to wait through. While still critical for some industries to offer in order to contact a live agent, others benefit from building a better system online and on mobile. Roughly 72% of people think self-service support is a preferred way to handle customer support, so using decision trees can help customers navigate for themselves, find answers, and contact the right department for more information.

Printing Out Call Scripts on Paper

Not only is printing bad for the environment, it’s cumbersome and unnecessary. While customer support and call center agents should be prepared with a script on hand, there’s always a technical way to make things more efficient. Taking the digital plunge and creating an online call center script for agent use will improve support KPIs, make it simple to streamline communication, and leave customers happier with every standardized, personalized interaction.


Any questions? We’re always here to help!

Zendesk Decision Tree Support App: Version 4

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Travis A., who is implementing Zingtree for a video technology company, was keen on using Zingtree to try to reduce his team’s support ticket load. He also needed to import a synopsis of the Zingtree session data into his Zendesk tickets so his tech support people could get some time-saving background information.

Travis wanted to emphasize the condensed Q&A part of the session. Done!

Here’s the new look of the Zendesk Decision Tree Support app:

Here’s what’s new in the Zendesk Support App, version 4:

  • The Q&A view is now the default.
  • Any “back” or “restart” button clicks no longer show in Q&A view.
  • The answers clicked are highlighted, so it’s easy for a support person to see where the customer went at a glance.

You can download the latest Zingtree Decision Tree Support app for Zendesk here.

Need help installing the app? Instructions are here.

Travis' photo
This is Travis.

Thank you, Travis, for the awesome suggestions!

Is Your Customer Service Working? How to Audit & Improve Your Strategy

Customer service is at the very heart of how businesses achieve true, sustained growth. For Zingtree, it’s a top priority; we do our absolute best to keep our customers satisfied and successful with our decision tree software, and much of our customer feedback is full of amazing suggestions for how to make our toolkit even better. In other words, when our customers are happy and engaged, we’re happy.

Even companies that have been around for decades need to re-evaluate their strategies every once in a while to ensure that everything is running smoothly, that key goals are focused, and that customer service strategies are measuring up. It’s important to perform a customer service audit on your support staff, channels, and overall effectiveness. Here’s our best advice for how to approach it:

1. Ask Yourself the Important Questions

The first step of any customer support audit is to ask yourself pointed questions about the state of your support channels, ease of access, profitability, and customer satisfaction and experience:

  • Do you know the real costs behind providing support to customers?
  • Is there a well-defined point of contact for customers within your business?
  • What is the demand, or average volume, of inquiries per channel per day? 
  • Do you have well-rounded support processes internally?
  • How responsive are you to incoming customers questions and issues?
  • Is customer service an integrated part of your sales and marketing strategies? 
  • Does your staff have the tools they need to really succeed?

Performing in-depth research, and reflecting on your current and past customer service strategies and outcomes is the best way to start the process of identifying areas of improvement in your support channels.

2. Figure Out the Cost of Customer Service

One of our very first deployments, Applian Technologies, develops powerful software to record and download online streaming media, with customers all around the world. As a busy technology company with an online presence, Applian was used to using more traditional support methods to keep up with customers. After performing an audit on their customer support channels, they realized that they were spending exorbitant amounts of time, money, and human resources on every incoming support ticket and decided to make some changes.

Here are the steps they took to audit customer support:

  1. Totaled how many tickets were answered in a given month.
  2. Totaled how much was paid to support staff.
  3. Calculated the cost per ticket, by dividing the number of tickets by the amount paid to staff.
  4. Gave each technical support employee a time tracker to narrow down how much time was spent on each support-related activity per product, per support agent.

Applian now uses decision trees to streamline the entire customer support and technical troubleshooting process. After adopting the new decision tree tool, the company was able to save 15+ hours/week on support communications, reduce overall support tickets by 25%, saving more than $30,000 in resources overall, and improve customer satisfaction in the process.

3. Optimize for Your Support Goals & Key Metrics

Take a quick step back and look at the larger picture. What are your goals and key performance indicators for customer service? Do you need to shift priorities to get there? Making improvements to your support strategy as a whole is critical to bettering the experience for your customers, and ultimately becoming more profitable.

For many support teams and call center agents out there today, there are a few main KPIs to focus on enhancing:

  • First Call Resolution (FCR)
  • Average Speed of Answer (ASA)
  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
  • Average Handle Time (AHT)
  • Agent Performance

At the end of the day, these are the tried-and-true metrics to track, measure, and optimize for. With a narrowed focus, answers to some very critical questions about the health and effectiveness of your support strategy, and new tools to help streamline the process of communication, you’ll be well on your way to a more profitable rest of the year.


Any questions? We’re always here to help!

 

3 Amazing Ways to Use Interactive Decision Trees With Your CRM

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Positive, effective customer support and relationships are key to building a solid business foundation in any industry or field. With the potency of today’s CRM systems and integrative technologies, almost anything is possible in the realm of streamlining customer-based operations.

Introducing interactive decision trees as a unified part of your CRM platform — like Salesforce, Desk, and Zendesk — is an effective way to simplify the customer support and relationship process, and their continued optimization. Zingtree provides powerful tools for agents, customers and the measurement of both.

1. Customized Agent Scripts

Agent scripting solutions allow support agents to have a live, customized script to use as a guide when communicating with a customer. They are written in the brand’s own voice and follow personalized standards that make it much simpler for agents to portray the correct information and provide help to the customers.

Scripts help agents deliver more consistently positive experiences with less training, using prompts to follow along with; new questions will be presented depending on the answers given. This type of organized conversation makes the customer feel (and know) that they are actually being heard and understood.

2. Interactive Self-Help Troubleshooters

Zingtree is a powerful tool for building custom interactive decision tree troubleshooters – these allow customers to follow a path of questions and answers that lead to a final most-likely solution, and are especially helpful for more technical issues or questions. Additionally, when a customer’s data is imported into the CRM platform, agents can attach the full Q&A transcript of their decision tree session to keep every piece of relevant information in one useful place — with the Zingtree API, this information retrieval is automatic.

For organizations taking advantage of live support chat systems, Zingtree integrates directly with chat platforms to allow simple extraction and presentation of data. Our software allows Zingtree to open a Zopim or Intercom.io chat with the customer, gather information before the chat begins, and include a full transcript of the decision tree session as a part of the chat so that agents are provided with a holistic picture of the customer’s issue.

Companies that integrate Zingtree troubleshooters into their customer support processes have seen, on average, a 20% overall reduction in support cost and a measurable improvement in the volume of tickets. Using support decision trees based on customer-facing knowledge base data makes it easy to provide help across a variety of areas, become more efficient and save resources, while in turn cultivating long-term customer relationships.

3. Analytics & Customer Data

At the end of the day, the numbers reveal all. With built-in, real-time analytics and powerful usage reports, organizations can view the direct impact of their implemented Zingtree decision trees.


By introducing decision trees based on company knowledge base and agent information, implementing customized agent scripts and continually measuring the data behind both, organizations will best utilize their CRM and other support processes to benefit the customer and company.

Any questions? Please don’t hesitate to contact our trusty staff!

This article was originally posted on March 17, 2016, and has been updated for accuracy and freshness.

3 Reasons Why Retailers Need to Offer Self-Service Support Online

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As Internet usage rises exponentially around the world, so does the popularity of online shopping. And naturally, as self-service shopping becomes more prevalent, the need for complementary self-service customer support becomes even more important for retail stores to introduce. Whether it’s for convenience, savings, location restrictions or any other reason, consumers are spending a lot of time and money with eCommerce retail.

Let’s take a look at some statistics:

  • Global online retail sales are estimated to top $4 trillion by 2020, making up 14.6% of total retail spending. (eMarketer)
  • Retail eCommerce sales in North America will rise 15.6% this year to reach $423.34 billion. (eMarketer)
  • The number of consumers browsing and buying online will hit 270 million by 2020, driven largely by mobile. (Forrester)
  • 72% of people think that self-service support is a fast and easy way to handle support issues. (Desk)

Is your retail store providing online, self-service support to empower customers? Here are a few big reasons to start making the change…

1. Answer Questions Outside “Regular Hours”

Your storefront hours and customer service representative availability will always have a timeframe. Meanwhile, customers are online shopping at any and all hours of the day – they are bound to run into some questions or issues while you’re away. Knowledge bases of information and thorough FAQs are critical to upkeep for online shoppers, and when you put that information into an interactive, easy-to-follow format, customers are all the more likely to find the answers they need quickly and painlessly.

Online decision trees and troubleshooters are the perfect way to set up customers for success outside of official store hours. Rather than forcing customers to search a trove of documents, by guiding end-users through a simple, click-by-click knowledge base they can easily self-solve questions about sizing charts, returns and exchange policies, gift card redeeming, credit card processing, and anything else they might need.

2. Encourage More Sales

Forrester estimates that online retail sales in the United States will grow 17% between 2016 and 2018. However, this fails to represent the huge percentage of customers who are far more likely to make a purchase (either online or in-person) after a successful online experience. In fact, offline sales that were influenced by a web-based interaction or experience hit close to $1.5 trillion just last year. Customers who purchase in your brick and mortar retail store have already looked at your website before walking in the door to buy. For this reason, creating a super-helpful online experience is just as important as the trained sales staff hired to generate interest in-person.

A self-service decision tree can also help encourage more sales online, too. For instance, our clients, Phoenix Bats, created a perfectly customized decision tree to help more customers find the exact right product to fit their needs. The Bat Selector decision tree now helps direct customers to the ideal bat, leading to an increase in overall sales.

3. Streamline Customer Communication

Your store’s website should be doing most of the work – if a customer has to hunt around in order to get some form of contact, you’re off to a rough start. Decision trees make a helpful interactive front-end for directing customers to the right page on your retail website, so people can easily get where they need to go with the power of automated filtering. Plus, they look and work great on any browser – on desktop or mobile – so customers can access a system to communicate with you anywhere with Internet access.

Once your agents are signed back online, any information submitted through your online troubleshooter decision tree during offline hours can be linked directly to any CRM (or live chat tool) your retail store is using, including Freshdesk, Zopim, Intercom, Salesforce, and others


Check out the Zingtree Gallery for decision tree examples.

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