Expand Your Help Desk: Build Customer Loyalty with a Customer Service & Community Portal

As organizations look to drive more revenue, many are mining the opportunity to build greater brand loyalty through stellar customer service, combining traditional help desk tools with new technologies and methods such as social, events, blogs and other expert or peer-to-peer community sources.

Customers looking for help from you will begin at your website, expecting an easy to use, integrated and seamless mix of self-service and high-touch options. Are you ready to deliver?

When John McDonald needed to understand why the high quality hiking apparel he had invested in for a weekend excursion was leaking, he decided to turn to the manufacturer for help. An online search led him to the company’s portal where along with traditional help desk tools such as a knowledge base, 1-800 support and a ticketing system, he was also greeted with:

  • active community forums;
  • informative blogs;
  • online events;
  • instructional videos.

John watched a short video on how to properly prevent his gear from seeping while browsing the forum where questions and answers were posted. Through peer-to-peer activity, John discovered tips for the specific hike he was about to undertake, advice for add-ons he should purchase and recommended hiking clubs in his area.

In today’s economy where sophisticated users demand high-quality, high-availability and personalized service in exchange for their loyalty, many organizations are enabling a wide variety of online integrated tools, methods and expert-sources to answer the call.

Expanding the Help Desk – Improved Service, Reduced Costs

When competing for business, customer service is one of the key differentiators that can distinguish your brand from your competitor. Industry-leading firm Gartner has published research identifying that 75% of all customer interactions are service related, supporting their recommendation that it is critical for organizations to harmonize multiple customer service processes to best capitalize on the potential for greater loyalty and profits:

"A greater focus on individualized service, powered by analytical systems that understand the customer's likely intent, is helping the service process. Thrown into the mix are two trends still in their early stages — peer-to-peer customer support and customer service via mobile devices, such as the iPad. Managing the pace of CRM customer service process change and technology change will require discipline and data across interaction channels."

Michael Maoz, Vice President & Distinguished Analyst, Gartner

Gartner further expands on this idea of integrating traditional help desk functions such as call center agents, online ticketing and a knowledge-base platform with non-traditional customer service channels like events, blogs and peer-to-peer communities, noting that this approach impacts profits. By expanding the help desk with more online and self-service elements companies can reduce the actual cost of delivering best-in-class customer support by as much as 10 to 50%. Integrating community and other self-service options into the customer service process shifts a burden of cost while increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Increase in Multi-Channel Usage Drives the Need for a Consistent & Seamless Omni-Channel Strategy

Forrester’s published research also supports the shift to multiple customer service channels housed in your online portal. But this strategy demands more than simply channel enablement.

Today’s modern client expects a consistent experience across the customer service continuum, enabling them to begin an interaction in one channel and complete it in another, engaging in a fully integrated omni-channel experience across the organization.

Anticipate Your Customer’s Requirements and Respond with Integrated Methods, Workflows and Channels that Deliver an Optimum Portal Experience

Understanding who your customers are and providing multiple options to meet their needs is a critical element of a successful strategy. Forrester further advises that best-in-class organizations will anticipate customer channel preferences and be able to guide them expertly to the right avenue based on complexity and time-sensitivity. While this approach may sound daunting, it can be achieved by aligning people, process and technology across an interactive platform that supports back-office and front-office enablement tools including web-based sales, service, support and social engagement platforms. Adopting technologies that are designed to be flexible and support changing line-of-business demands for integrated processes can be a key differentiator for enterprises who want to respond quickly to market shifts and trends.

“Customers who adopt a portal strategy that enables point-and-click methods for increased functionality (rather than engaging a developer for every change) can get new products and services to market faster than their competitors. Leveraging this type of portal platform supports a more flexible omni-channel strategy by enabling quick extension of back-office capabilities, integrated social communities and overall improved customer service experiences.”

Shan McArthur, CEO & CTO, Adxstudio Inc.

Customer Satisfaction Keeps Customers, Grows Profits

There have been a number of surveys published over the years that highlight the cost of customer acquisition - demonstrating that it is more cost effective and more profitable to retain a customer than to find a new one. There have also been a number of studies that demonstrate the single largest factor in retaining a customer is customer service.

Aberdeen’s publication The Rising Financial Impact of Customer Service illustrates that customer retention and customer loyalty has a significant bottom line impact and that organizations able to maintain a customer satisfaction level above 90% realized significant advantages with overall revenue growth.

The ability to measure the impact of customer satisfaction with specific revenue and growth numbers is helping enterprises understand the financial ramifications of their customer service strategies.

In Summary

The rise of social, mobile and an always connected world has provided an opportunity for organizations to leverage an expanded Help Desk for better customer service. Because a quality customer service experience has been proven to be one of the single most important factors in customer retention and loyalty, driving higher revenues and profits, enterprises are keen to adopt customer service strategies that deliver an optimum experience. Enabling new self-services channels and peer-to-peer communities that can be integrated into an overall traditional Help Desk environment will drive down the cost of customer service while increasing customer satisfaction. Adopting flexible technology platforms architected for point-and-click management can enable lines of business to respond rapidly to changing market conditions and deliver competitive differentiation while building brand loyalty across a high value customer base.