Innovation is the key word of today’s startup culture. New businesses pop up every day, each providing solutions to make life easier for customers.
Even existing corporations are seeing the value in these startups and partnering with them to address specific issues.
The help desk is changing just as rapidly as the business environment, and startups need a firm grasp on new customer behaviors to provide the best support possible.
One of the biggest changes to the business environment as a whole – and why startups need to pay attention to it – is the rise of the “Google It” culture.
What is the ‘Google It’ culture?
People are quick to turn online for answers to even the simplest questions.
The internet provides information for just about anything – from restaurant reviews on Yelp to historical articles on Wikipedia. Google, however, remains the internet’s most powerful way to find answers to a question or problem.
In fact, the company’s name is pretty much synonymous with the term “internet search.”
The ’Google It’ culture refers to the tendency to search online for answers before trying any other method, as well as expecting immediate results. After all, with increasing internet speeds for smartphones and tablets, Google is available anywhere you go with lightning fast response times.
This makes it easy for customers to look up answers to a problem that occurred after work hours or while they’re out of the office.
Here are six ways startups can address this tendency for self-service and cater to the “Google It” culture:
Offer self-service options
Your customers may not know that self-support exists. In these cases, they’ll pick up the phone for even the tiniest issue.
This is very costly for startups – each call spent on a simple topic spends money and time that agents could have used addressing more complicated issues.
Letting customers know self-support options are available means linking to online support methods on the company website, in emails, on social media, and more.
An FAQ page is a great starting point, standing as an easy-to-access collection of answers to common questions.
Since company websites are online 24/7, customers aren’t limited to certain support hours to answer basic questions. A 2015 Forrester report found that a company switched to focusing on providing self-service options they saw a 30 percent decrease in the amount of time customer support agents spent answering repetitive questions.
Use Google’s SEO and content practices
Since Google is well recognized as one of world’s most popular search engines, it makes sense for startups to do everything they can to make sure their FAQ and other online support options show up in the search engine’s results.
Google itself provides helpful tips and tricks for increasing page rank – that is, how high a certain page appears in related search results.
The company advises startups to create high-quality pages with relevant content – which means answering self-support queries clearly and accurately.
Google also said to use internal links in a natural way, connecting one Web page to another with useful, related information. Startups can also submit their sites to google.com/submityourcontent and submit a sitemap to the Google Search Console.
Keywords used to be the bread and butter of search engine optimization, but Google now says to include them only if necessary.
Employing too many is known as keyword stuffing, and dubious websites often used this practice to increase their page rank falsely.
Google has of course improved and now penalizes this type of behavior, as sites stuffed with keywords are generally hard to read and don’t even answer the questions users are looking for.
Create a well-designed support page
A well-designed Web page with proper HTML serves two functions:
- It’s easier for Google to crawl the site and increase its page rank
- It improves a customer’s ability to quickly find what he or she is looking for
A great support page allows your customers to find answers to commonly asked questions and, if it’s done well, should be packed with useful information. Via videos, screenshots, and step-by-step tutorials, customers can easily find the information they need.
Break content down into related categories and set the most important information as higher priority, establishing a hierarchy that helps customers scan the page and quickly find what they need.
Startups can make hierarchy evident with visual cues like colors and font sizes as well as technical cues such as header tags and other HTML.
Set up correctly, your support page can also be a seamless extension of your brand.
Establish a support community
The ‘Google It’ culture is very self-service oriented and one place they will go to DYI any issues they have, are online forums. These forums are an effective way for customers to see if anyone else has had the same issues they’re facing.
If so, customers can observe what worked for their peers and try the same methods. If not, they can try different methods for themselves and share what they’ve learned.
When customers share answers with each other, the number of support calls is greatly reduced.
When self-support doesn’t have the answer
Even the most skilled internet searcher comes across problems they can’t solve can’t solve without human assistance.
Such puzzles often stem from customized software solutions or upgrades that haven’t been widely implemented just yet. In these instances, customers are essentially stumped.
The problem persists, their go-to source wasn’t helpful, and they’re left with no choice but to contact customer support.
This is why it’s crucial for startups to hire a robust customer support team capable of solving complex problems and equipped with collaborative customer support software.
Effective customer service agents are just as important as the programmers, business leaders, and analysts that help a B2B operation get off the ground – they’re able to adapt and interpret information, using a customer’s tone of voice and choice of words to understand their frustration.
These are vital clues that, when interpreted correctly, help solve a problem and maintain a valuable relationship with the customer.
Helping customers in ways they want
An effective support team should also be comfortable addressing customer concerns across a variety of channels, including chat and social media. Remember that this generation is used to getting fast and efficient answers to their questions, and they’re more likely to resort to options like chat or social media, rather than phoning support directly.
Your clients understand the product they use a lot better thanks to their widespread use of online tools. They’re not starting from scratch and don’t want to be treated as though they are.
A customer support solution that can provide visibility into customer behavior, such as the knowledge base articles they’ve accessed, or conversations they’ve had on community forums, can quickly improve the customer experience for these users.
Imagine contacting a company for support after exhausting all their self-help options and have the agent say “I see you looked through our XYZ article and obviously that didn’t help. Let’s try something else.” You’d probably be shocked, and more than a little impressed.
Customer satisfaction is mandatory for startups hoping to grow into successful organizations. These new businesses don’t have legacy clients to rely on, and their public appearance is in its beginning stages.
Differentiation through exemplary customer experience brings new business and establishes a positive position in the market, and the best method of doing so is to impress your customers.
Customers expect answers quickly, and they’re confident in their ability to find results on their own, so startups who provide self-service methods to handle smaller issues along with a well-trained support team backed by advanced B2B customer service software will be able to retain more customers and grow faster than their lagging counterparts.