Internet project user support: 3 working tools

    Hello! While everyone is thinking whether to exchange rubles for dollars or too late, I decided to share with you our experience of supporting users online. Over the past 4 years, we have managed to work with companies such as Evernote, HeadHunter, IVI, AviaSales and many others. We know how the support of Internet projects works from the inside, and for ourselves we have identified 3 working tools, which will be discussed below.

    Knowledge base

    Let's start with the Knowledge Base and FAQ. The public knowledge base on the company’s website is the first thing that usually starts with the organization of support and self-service of subscribers on the website. Below are examples of knowledge bases of MySklad and Wix services:

    Most Internet companies in one form or another usually have a knowledge base or simple FAQ. What's the Difference? Traditionally, FAQ means a page where the most common questions and answers to them are collected. The knowledge base is more complicated, usually a set of categorized articles with screenshots, videos, etc. Below is an example of a good Svyaznoy FAQ:

    For a complex project, they usually create a detailed knowledge base with detailed articles and a squeeze in the form of a FAQ on key issues. For a small project, for example, a small online store, one convenient FAQ will be enough.

    How to do well?

    Our analysis shows that the effectiveness of the knowledge base depends on 3 important factors:
    • accessibility (if the knowledge base is available in 1 click, then this is convenient for users),
    • ease of navigation (availability of search and clear structure of categories),
    • informativeness (quantity and quality of available articles).

    Often, knowledge bases are made using the standard functionality of their CMS systems, on which the project website works. Moreover, the effectiveness of such a self-service tool is extremely small. We’ll briefly go through the criteria and evaluate the Anywayanyday question and answer section from the screenshot below:

    Accessibility is average - it takes at least 2 clicks from the main page to find and go to the Questions and Answers. Ease of navigation - this is somewhat worse. The fact is that the good practices that users are used to are: categories + noticeable search. Using the tag cloud as a navigator for the categories of the knowledge base and the lack of search greatly complicate the search for information. Our studies show that search in the knowledge base, depending on the industry and its complexity, is used by 50% to 80% of users. Lack of search catastrophically affects self-service rates.

    And now let's move on to our third factor, the most seemingly key one, but as practice shows, the least developed by companies is the content of the knowledge base. To understand which materials are useful and which do not answer customer questions, you need to give them the opportunity to evaluate knowledge base articles. Standard CMS systems do not allow this, therefore, units of projects have estimates of the usefulness of articles or answers. In the case of Anywayanyday, unfortunately, they are not there either. In general, the section looks decent and contains a lot of useful information, but the project has great potential for improvement.

    Here is an example of the implementation of a similar function with the Internet provider Sevensky:

    Evaluating articles helps a lot with improving the content of the knowledge base, but what about their number? How to understand what information your customers really lack? This is very easy to do if you have search and search query statistics. For example, in our Copiny platform , we record and analyze search queries, see which of them were effective and based on this we can conclude which articles need to be added to the knowledge base to ensure its completeness. Please note that next to the article materials similar in content are displayed, thereby we also increase the effectiveness of the knowledge base.

    Where to start building a knowledge base?
    1. The easiest way is to choose support statistics or a feedback form. Group appeals by topics and prepare good materials. In some approximation, this allows the initial filling of the knowledge base.
    2. If you want to do "good", then you can not do without specialized solutions. It can be a specialized software, Help Desk system or Community platform. Otherwise, you can try to implement the knowledge base using your CMS and its plugins.

    Feedback form and email

    Now let's talk about commonplace: email and feedback form. For many companies, you can put an equal sign between these two tools, since calls from the form anyway in the form of letters fall on the email support services.

    The main disadvantage of all such feedback forms is that they in no way reduce the number of calls, they do not have self-service mechanisms. Even if 100 users ask the same question: “How to configure ...?”, All these 100 clients will have to give the same answer. Our statistics show that if you connect a search in the knowledge base to the usual feedback form, the number of similar calls will decrease by 70%.

    This approach significantly increases the availability and usefulness of the existing knowledge base and at the same time allows customers to contact the company if there is no answer. Additionally, it is useful to transfer information about the browser and the operating system of the client, his account, if he is authorized on the site, or any other useful information to the feedback form.

    If the volume of calls is significant, for example, more than 20-30 calls per day, then it is reasonable to use some HelpDesk to process online calls. Also, you can’t do without it if several employees work in the support service and they need to work with calls in parallel.

    How to make a feedback form?
    1. The easiest option is to use a component or module of your CMS. Simple, free, but not always effective.
    2. You can also use specialized services for support and feedback like ours.
    3. The third option is online consultants in the offline mode, which will be discussed below.

    Support Forum

    Often the forum is not considered as a key channel of support and feedback; it has undeservedly received the status of an "obsolete" tool. However, there is a huge unrealized potential in reducing the load on support and getting quality feedback through the community. In our opinion, outdated tools in the form of traditional forum engines and a lack of understanding of how to do this correctly prevent us from realizing all this potential. As an example, consider the Beeline forum in more detail:

    We see more than 16,700 topics and more than 412,000 answers. This is a tremendous source of useful information and a storehouse of resolved subscriber problems. The forum contains dozens and hundreds of useful materials from customers, detailed illustrated instructions for setting up equipment. Any knowledge base is incompatible with the amount of useful information contained in the forum. But all this knowledge is practically inaccessible to 97% of customers!

    A short story from life. I somehow connected the home Internet from Beeline and decided to use the D-Link DIR320, which had been lying around for a long time, as a router. The installer who connected the Internet, even for a fee, could not configure the Internet, since my router was not the "recommended" one for the beeline. Well, I thought, we will act the old fashioned way. I open the phone search, enter "setting dir-320 for beeline ”, and lo and behold ! The first link in the search results is a beautifully illustrated instruction on the company forum from the most ordinary user. You see, an ordinary client made excellent instructions for different firmware with pictures just like that, for free!

    And take any auto forum, a forum on interests where people just help each other. So why don't companies use this great opportunity? Again, the main problem is in the tools.

    For the community to earn 146%, you need:
    1. Remove any barriers in terms of registering and viewing the community. For example, why, as a forum visitor coming from a search, I cannot immediately see screenshots? Why should I register?
    2. Make your community search accessible, convenient, and visible. Conventional forum engines provide category navigation, but the search is of secondary importance. Is everyone familiar with the “use search” and “already discussed”?
    3. Encourage and stimulate customers to actively help each other. This phenomenon is called peer-to-peer support, but it does not apply to all projects. If the company encourages responses from customers, then 90% or more of all calls may be closed by other customers of the company. This already works in regular forums, but not as efficiently.
    4. Provide customers with easy and convenient access to the forum. Usually a forum is hidden deep in the bowels of a company’s site, which greatly reduces its availability. If you make a prominent link or place a special widget, this will increase customer coverage from 3% to 20% or more (it depends heavily on the project).
    5. Moderate and manage its content. Fix and place important topics on the main page, merge duplicate topics, highlight answers as solutions.

    How effective can all this be? For example, moving the support community from a traditional forum to a specialized platform can reduce the number of tickets by 30-50% within 2-3 months. Here is an example of such a community (powered by Copiny ):


    In this article, I did not consider such tools as an online consultant or callback, as they are primarily aimed at sales. Mass customer support with these tools will be very expensive.

    How to choose the best support scheme for your project? You definitely need to make a knowledge base / FAQ and a feedback form. If there are not many users, then you can do without special tools or use free versions. If you have a large project and need professional tools, then it is better to use specialized solutions.

    Do I need a community? If you have a consumer online service, SaaS or desktop software - it’s definitely worth a try. If you have a content portal or online store, then the support community will not be as effective. I do not immediately recommend using traditional forums to create a community, use specialized platforms. A lot of both paid and free options.

    Friends, if you have any questions about the article, I will be happy to answer in the comments. Happy New Year, everyone!

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