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Guest Blog: Don’t Make Me Wait

This week we feature an article by Andy Ko who writes about not making your customers wait to have their questions answered. Self-service support is becoming more and more widely accepted. Not just accepted, in some cases it is preferred. – Shep Hyken

As both a professor and chief scientist at a SaaS software company, I spend time around two groups of people that couldn’t be more different:

  1. Enterprise marketing, sales, and customer experience executives
  2. Nineteen year-old college students

The first group loses sleep over rising costs, whereas the second just loses sleep.

But these two groups have more in common than you think:

This last point is key: the moment your customer gets stuck and frustrated, there’s bound to be a newer more polished competitor they’re itching to switch to. Millennials or executives alike, both are screaming at your business “don’t make me wait!

How Can You Stop A Customer From Bailing?

First, recognize that answers have to be instant. The moment a customer has a question, they need an answer. And if they don’t see a way to get an answer right where they are, they’re going to search the web and either fail to find their answer or, worse yet, end up on a competitor’s site. In fact, 57% of users abandon a site if they can’t find an answer.

When I Say Instant, I Mean Instant

Don’t be fooled by the promise of traditional self-service solutions like knowledge bases and static FAQs. Both are “help islands” and they don’t work. They require your customers to interrupt their task, find the tiny help link on your site, know exactly the right words to search for, and—if they’ve made it this far—read an article completely out of context for their task and somehow find their way back to where they were. If you look closely at your knowledge base traffic, don’t be surprised to find out that fewer than 1% of your customers ever reach your knowledge base, let alone find content it in. All of that hard work at creating content is moot if no one finds it.

There Are Better Ways

Contextual self-service — the idea of placing knowledge base content directly on every screen of your application—is the future. Many customer self-service companies are offering this basic functionality now, basically placing a search box behind a floating tab or help button. These can work better, but only if you use the right words in your content: if you title your help article “How to update your security credentials” and your customer is searching for “password change”, they’re not going to find your answer. The problem is, finding the right words for every article can be extremely costly and training your customers to know the right words is downright impossible.

With predictive Q&A and self-service customer support you can overcome these terminology problems in multiple ways:

  • You can use predictive analytics to determine the most likely relevant questions. As soon as a customer accesses the contextual Q&A space, one of the top popular questions is probably the question they have.
  • It allows customers to browse Q&A in-context. This allows them to just recognize the relevant questions, rather than having to choose words to represent their question.
  • It allows customers to click or tap the content they have a question about using object related search technology. This allows them to just point to express their question.

Because these technologies are so good at instantly finding the content a customer needs, most customers never need to search.

Don’t make your customers wait! Consider adopting a contextual self-service software solution today and watch your support tickets drop and your sales increase.

Andy Ko is the Chief Scientist and Co-Founder at AnswerDash, a B2B software company that facilitates customer service for e-commerce businesses. He is also a Professor at the University of Washington.

For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to

Read Shep’s latest Forbes Article: Are Your Customers Cheating On You?


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