If there is one area that eCommerce businesses sometimes neglect or overlook, it is customer support.
But the customer support funnel is a crucial component of your overall customer experience. Imagine, for example, that you want to improve your conversion rate of customers in your overall purchasing funnel. Without good customer support for people that need it, you will lose customers to your competitors. Are you thinking of increasing customer long term value (LTV)? Without a proper customer support funnel, increasing customer LTV is almost impossible.
But where do you start to improve your customer support funnel? Creating good conversational content is a solid start.
So this post is going to look at the value of conversational content and why you need it to improve your customer support funnel.
But first of all, what is conversational content?
What Is Conversational Content?
The basic aim of conversational content is to sound like a human.
For example, when you talk to a friend you are likely to use short sentences. You also would not generally use complicated expressions. But most importantly of all you would sound like your authentic self.
In conversational content the goal is to write like a person and address the needs of the customer in the words that the customer might use. It ties in quite strongly with personalization, in that you would try to create your copy in the same tone as your target customer.
Conversational content should make customers actually want to read and engage with what you have to say. The content does not have to be an actual conversation (although that does come up…) between you and the customer. But the content should absolutely feel human and empathetic.
With this type of content you are not really pushing for a sale right away. With conversational content you are trying to both help and influence the customer. Further down the line this will have a conversion impact through positive engagements your brand has with its customers.
The Customer Support Funnel
The prime function of a customer support funnel is to solve your customer’s problems. That seems pretty self-evident.
But it is also so much more than that.
A well implemented customer support funnel brings added value to your support function, and your bottom line, by increasing positive brand sentiment among your customers. It is vital for user growth and also customer retention.
A good customer support funnel will help you to forge long-term relationships with your customers. It helps foster loyalty and that loyalty brings positive word of mouth which brings more new customers.
There are four key stages in the customer support funnel, though the specifics will vary depending on your product, service and the channel you are using (app, website, retail).
Some of your most important content and customer experience strategy will be focused on onboarding, especially if you have an app. It’s also where conversational content really works as you are having a direct, one-to-one interaction to educate and encourage each new customer through the onboarding process.
This is where your support team will focus the majority of their efforts. Here customer support teams give customers the help they need to fulfill the needs that brought them to your business in the first place. It is a vital stage and support teams need help. Touch points in the post sale process are often the same for most businesses. Self-service via app or website, online chat, email, telephone and instore if you have retail locations.
Depending on your product or service the retention phase can be very time intensive. This phase can be even more intense if you sell a complex B2B product.
If you sell a less complex product or service you will be able to give customers more self-service options in this phase, combined with the same touchpoints as in the post-sales support phase. For simpler B2C products or services this phase will often consist of solving issues around shipping, mistaken orders or damaged goods.
If you have given your customers great support through the funnel, it is at this stage your business will reap the rewards.
In the advocacy phase customers will like your product or service so much that they will share it with others. This can be via word of mouth, social media, forums, meetups, reviews on Google or even conferences appropriate to your industry (this is much more common in the B2B space).
Where Conversational Content Can Fit In The Customer Support Funnel
Now you know the stages of the customer support funnel, you can begin to plan the types of conversational content you can use. Timing is also important. You have to serve the customer the right content at the right time.
With that in mind you can begin to separate the types of content you serve to customers in the support funnel. You can then match the best content to use to the best time.
To do this it’s best to split the support funnel up and think of what a customer is doing at each step and the type of support they may need.
One of the main benefits of using conversational content in your customer support funnel is decreasing the load on your customer support teams. This means you should give customers good options so they can help themselves, rather than calling or emailing your support staff.
Here are the different types of content you can use to help your customer support team to focus on more difficult problems.
This kind of conversational content solves issues before they occur. For example, if you know your website is going down for maintenance, make sure you tell your customers by highlighting this on your website, app and via email days before it happens and on the day it happens.
This can also be applied if there are pain points in your process that you need to tell your customer about. You can use pre-emptive targeted content for almost any situation that you know could be an issue in the future.
Any business will know that there are a large amount of queries that will enter the support funnel on a consistent basis.
Self-service content can help to take care of this. This content consists of knowledge base type articles such as “how to reset your password”, or “here are the payment methods we accept”. You can use common queries to create content that resolves these queries.
You can also add functionality to your site or app to help people to help themselves. Since the pandemic, people have preferred more “self service” functions when making online purchases. Even in the B2B sector. You could also use chatbots in this phase to field repetitive queries.
Sometimes great conversational content and good chatbots will not solve an issue.
Complex queries (or if you are in the B2B space, queries from priority customers/leads) can only be solved by a member of your support team.
If you have implemented good conversational content in your customer support funnel, you should have decreased the amount of repetitive queries your support team has to deal with. This gives them more time to provide a high quality service for complex queries. It could also help your brand build better relationships with VIP/priority customers if you are in the B2B space.
How You Can Improve Your Customer Support Funnel
Rethinking your customer support funnel involves a lot of work. It is not just talking to your support team, it can involve re-aligning parts of your organization and doing things differently. Here are a few tips that can help you to get started.
No More Silos, Ever
The customer support funnel is part of your customer experience. So support staff should sit in your customer experience team.
This puts the customer at the heart of everything. Your customer support team can sit next to the marketing team that crafts your content, your sales team that brings customers on board and your product designers who can get instant feedback from customer facing staff.
This makes conversational content creation easier, as your content creation team is now aligned with the customer facing team that are very close to customer pain points.
Which brings us to our next tip…
Turn Customer Pain Points Into Conversational Content
Your customer support team knows exactly where your customers struggle. Make sure your support team meets with your marketing content and design teams on a regular basis to evolve your overall customer experience.
Are customers asking the same questions all the time? Ask the content team to create knowledge base articles to answer that question in a manner that actually speaks to the customer.
You can also ensure that you deliver the right content to the right customer at the right time by creating tailored content. This can be distributed to different types of customers in the funnel based on their needs.
Set Metrics That Matter To Customers
Some customer satisfaction metrics can be difficult to quantify. This is one of the many reasons why the customer support funnel is a neglected part of customer experience.
A unified customer experience team, with sales, marketing, experience design and support should be able to come up with metrics that gain buy-in from leadership and that matter to the customer.
Maybe the customer experience team should have a customer “satisfaction” KPI. A collective goal for a unified customer experience team could be customer retention, average customer LTV, even upsell numbers. A customer brand advocacy metric coils also encourage improvement in your customer experience.
Make Friends With Robots
A good chatbot can help your support team to focus on more complicated problems. People are far more used to talking to bots now than they ever have been. Bots also keep improving! So investing in a good bot, and having a unified team in place to help improve it, can save a business a lot of time and resources.
Talk to MAQE
Do you need to improve your online and offline customer experience? Do you need help aligning processes to put customers at the heart of your business? Talk to MAQE! Just get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll provide the coffee and (hopefully) some help for your CX problems!