What is Product Support?
Product support is not merely an isolated component of a product; it’s intertwined with the entire business experience that accompanies the use of any product. From onboarding to servicing and support, product support plays a crucial role in shaping customer journeys.
Product Support: An Indispensable Business Function
Product support involves responding with the right tools and knowledge to maximize the value end users extract from a purchased product. A quick, helpful response when a customer is struggling with your product can be the difference between a positive, lasting customer relationship and a one-time purchase.
The statistics are clear:
- If a brand’s customer service is excellent, 78% of consumers will do business with them again after a mistake. (Salesforce Research)
- 93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies that offer excellent customer service. (HubSpot Research)
- Nearly three out of five consumers report that good customer service is vital for them to feel loyalty toward a brand. (Zendesk)
- Businesses can grow revenues between 4% and 8% above their market when prioritizing better customer service experiences. (Bain & Company)
Pitfalls of Poor Product Support
Common customer complaints revolve around the inability to find specific information when dealing with a product issue. If customers can't find help or don't receive timely responses, they're likely to become frustrated and leave, especially during the onboarding process.
The quality of customer service and product support plays a significant role in influencing customer loyalty. To illustrate, 68% of consumers say they are willing to pay more for products and services from a brand known to offer good customer service experiences (HubSpot).
Good customer service is about resolving a problem in a single interaction – a feature that a third of customers look for.
Evolution of Product Support
Product support has evolved significantly in recent years, especially post-pandemic. Today, customers have higher expectations for speed, thoroughness, and personalization of help.
1. Self-service by Virtual Assistants
Self-service options, such as AI virtual assistants, have proven beneficial for businesses. Virtual assistants and automated help are preferred by businesses for routine queries, sentiment analysis in chats, and even for troubleshooting simple issues.
However, there’s a gap between the perceived effectiveness of self-service tools by organizations (53% believe they're doing a good job) and end users (only 15% find these tools satisfactory). This hasn't deterred the demand for self-service product support, with 81% of customers wanting more access to self-service information.
For customers who contact customer service, 13% try using online chat, 65% of whom were actively looking for the chat function. Customers who use chat give higher scores for agents, have higher levels of satisfaction, show greater loyalty, and are more likely to recommend the company. (CFIGroup)
Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) have significantly expanded the potential and capabilities of virtual assistants in product support. These AI-powered entities can now provide more than just answers to frequently asked questions. They can offer personalized, tailored assistance that considers the specific needs and history of each individual customer based on the brand's knowledge base.
AI can utilize real-time data to understand the customer's problem and offer relevant solutions.
Furthermore, with advancements in natural language processing, these AI assistants are able to understand customer queries better and deliver more accurate responses. This level of personalized service was unimaginable in the era of pre-programmed automated responses. It's as if each customer has their own personal support representative, available 24/7, ready to assist them whenever they need help.
2. Self-service by Product Manuals and Documentation
User manuals and technical documentation provide valuable self-service options. These can help users understand how to use a product safely, effectively, and efficiently. They can contain both procedural information (step-by-step instructions) and conceptual information (information the user needs in order to understand procedural information).
A good user manual, free from jargon and packed with useful information, can substantially enhance your product support efforts and overall customer experience.
The importance of having comprehensive and easy-to-understand product manuals cannot be overstated. However, equally important is the ease of accessibility and searchability of these documents online. In today's digital age, customers naturally turn to search engines when they encounter issues with a product. If your user manuals are easily searchable and accessible online, it significantly increases the chances of your customers finding the answers they need quickly and efficiently.
Making your manuals available on your own website or knowledge base isn't just about customer convenience—it's also an opportunity to direct users back to your brand and your resources, providing further opportunities for engagement. However, for this to be effective, a well-organized, intuitive, and searchable knowledge base is critical. Customers should be able to find specific sections of the manual quickly, without having to sift through pages of unrelated content.
3. Product Support through Communities and Forums
Customer support communities and forums offer a space for customers to interact, engage in discussions related to your product or service, share tips, and seek guidance. These platforms allow users to access help from support agents and other customers, reducing support tickets and boosting engagement with your brand.
Product Support communities and forums aren't just a way to offer support, they are a wealth of insight into your customers' thoughts and needs. By fostering a space where customers can share their experiences, ideas, and solutions, you're not just helping them help each other, but also gathering invaluable data about your products and your customer base.
Communities and forums are fantastic tools for customer retention. By building a platform for customers to engage and help each other, you're also fostering a sense of community and belonging, which keeps customers engaged with your brand. A customer who feels heard and valued is more likely to remain loyal to your brand, and communities are a great way to facilitate this.
In addition, these platforms serve as a rich source of customer feedback. Through discussions and interactions in these forums, you can identify common issues faced by users, spot potential areas for product improvement, and gather suggestions for new features or services. This enables you to make data-driven decisions and proactively address problems before they escalate, thus improving your product and customer experience.
Lastly, forums and communities can help to reduce the load on your support team. With users helping each other, many issues can be resolved without the need for direct intervention from your support staff. This frees up your team to focus on more complex issues, enhancing the efficiency of your support operations.
4. Walk-in Service Departments
Even in our fast-paced, digital age, the value of direct, face-to-face interactions remains unchallenged. Walk-in service departments hearken back to a time when customers physically approached the customer service desk of a store to air their grievances, seek refunds, or simply get more information about a product. This tradition, far from being outdated, remains an integral part of many businesses today.
No matter the leaps and bounds in technology, there's an undeniable charm to sticking to the classics. Interacting with a representative in person has the advantage of facilitating genuine, deep conversations. Such interactions make customers feel more valued, understood, and confident about their purchase decisions. For the company, it’s an opportunity to understand customers on a nuanced level by picking up on verbal and non-verbal cues, allowing representatives to better tailor their responses and solutions.
Walk-in service departments are best suited for businesses that predominantly operate through brick-and-mortar outlets. If your enterprise has multiple physical locations but isn't as robust online, having a dedicated walk-in service department becomes imperative. It not only caters to a specific demographic of customers who prefer in-person interactions but also establishes the company's commitment to accessible, comprehensive customer service.
Product support has a far-reaching impact on a company's relationship with its customers and directly influences customer loyalty and revenue. By leveraging virtual assistants, comprehensive product documentation, and customer forums, businesses can provide effective product support, leading to happier customers and increased profitability.
At ProductSupport.com, we understand the critical role product support plays in delivering a superior customer experience. Our customizable support hub empowers brands with the right tools, from AI-powered chatbots to easy-to-navigate product manuals, to exceed customer expectations in their support journey.
We harness the power of AI to transform product support. Our intelligent virtual assistants are designed to learn and adapt from each customer interaction, ensuring that your customers receive the personalized assistance they need and deserve. By leveraging AI technology, we aim to revolutionize product support and provide an unmatched customer experience.
In addition, we understand the importance of efficient knowledge delivery. That's why we ensure that all your product manuals and documentation are not just available, but also organized and searchable within your branded self-help portal. We also enable the incorporation of these documents into our AI chatbot's knowledge base, ensuring that customers receive relevant information in response to their queries, whether they are browsing your knowledge base or interacting with the AI assistant. In this way, we facilitate smooth, efficient self-service, reducing customer frustrations and increasing satisfaction.
By incorporating state-of-the-art technology and putting customer experience at the forefront, ProductSupport.com is setting a new standard in delivering effective and efficient product support. Experience the transformation that effective product support can bring to your customer relationships with ProductSupport.com.