Customer Service Onboarding

How to coordinate live chat and self-serve help in user onboarding

In a Microsoft study, 54% of customers reported that they have higher expectations this year from customer support than last year.

The success of customer activation and retention depends on how well your user onboarding creates successful users, and how well your support team can deal with tickets from those with setup issues.
Now it’s more important than ever to focus on coordinating a mixture of user onboarding and customer support since it can reduce your ticket requests, decrease churn rates and boost user retention just with simple process improvements

Offering in-app customer support will improve customer experience because it’s what users themselves prefer. According to American Express, 6 out of 10 customers said that their go-to channel for self-serve customer support are websites, applications, voice response systems or live chats.

Based on the facts, let’s see how customer support and user onboarding can correlate with each other, and how to use it to your advantage when fighting high churn and low conversions.

How to correlate customer support and user onboarding

The definition of user onboarding is to actively guide users to new value. In this case, it’s to provide actionable and valuable steps during the first weeks or months of the user journey, so they can learn more about your product and unique value proposition, and connect your marketing material to the reality of their user experience.
In every step of your user journey (especially onboarding!) your users face a different set of problems. First it’s account setup, then finding their API key, then configuring an integration -- users exploring and learning will generate support tickets as they adopt the product. Your mission is just to make it easy to find valuable answers. The formula here for providing value is pretty simple:

Relevance + actionable information = value

Every in-app prompt you send to your users should satisfy these two things. It should be relevant to your particular user’s lifecycle stage, and it should provide actionable advice on how to solve their problem.

The problem is, for different users at different user journey stages, perceptions of value might be very different.

To cater to this and deliver the right help at the right time, live chat isn’t enough alone. You need two types of in-app help available:

  • “Push” help: prompts to nudge your users to learn more about a particular feature or frustration, in context
  • “Pull” help: enabling users to easily find out the information they need from knowledge bases, reps, and chatbots.

As you can see, live help and user onboarding are different avenues of support which, by nature, belong to each other.

Before we go on, keep one thing in mind - user onboarding is actually product marketing - because the purpose should be reinforcing the value of your product (marketing), and not just teaching them how to use your product (training).

As you go through the article, we will see different ways of how you can use self-serve customer support in your user onboarding, as well as live support.

Implementing live support inside your user onboarding flow

Live support plays a significant role in every business. It’s the same with user onboarding too.
When AI fails or the user can’t find a solution to its problem, it’s necessary for human support to step in. According to Microsoft, 94% of customers reported that customer support is from vital importance when they choose loyalty to a brand.

Let’s see how can live (human-based) support finds its place in user onboarding.

Live chat as the go-to for customer support

According to Invescpro, 73% of customers report that they find live chat to be the most satisfying way to communicate with a business.

Live chat plays a significant part in customer support. A lot of users demand answers quickly, and what’s a better method for customers to get answers to difficult problems than talking live to an expert?

In fact, 79% of people said that they love live chat precisely because it provides quick answers and solutions.

Let’s look at the specific use cases where live chat shines.

For example, you can show a chat widget on your pricing page to answer your customer’s billing questions or to upsell bigger packages.

In user onboarding, live chat can be correlated with every stage of the early journey - users should have quick help whenever they need, whether it’s for setup questions or post-trial billing concerns.

On the other hand, providing your trial users with dedicated live chat support will not just help you to easily solve their problems, improve customer success, engage with them and adopt them, but it will also help you to improve your retention and reduce churn rates.

Make it easy for customers to find answers through your knowledge base

An evolution of the FAQ or user manual, knowledge bases have become popular in the last couple of years. It’s hard to find a successful SaaS product without one. Why? Because support is going self-serve-first.

According to Salesforce, 89% of millennials use a search engine to find answers on their questions before making a call with customer support, while 67% of them increased support expectations versus last year.
This is because the behaviour of users that need support is changing. Econsultancy research shows us that 51% of customers prefer to technical support through the knowledge base - the self-serve approach.

The need for a knowledge base grows organically as the number of support queries increases; a question that is asked enough times usually gets a knowledge base article to deflect that common query. However, knowledge bases also should be designed with comprehensive information and organized categories to make it easy for a user to find what they need.

FullStory’s knowledge base is a great example of clarity and ease-of-access. Its categories divide use cases and personas into simple phrases that tell the user exactly what they’re going to learn about.

The “Using FullStory” category is specifically designed for user onboarding, with getting started articles that cover the fundamentals, while other categories answer more advanced questions.

Adding checklists to your user onboarding to reduce support requests

Checklists are a great way to easily onboard your new users and reduce support requests. They can grab a new user’s attention, teach them a valuable flow, and ensure that nothing is getting in the way of first value. There are a few reasons why it’s so important to use checklists for user onboarding:

  • Checklists break down longer flows into easily achievable tasks that are more likely to be completed
  • Checklists are an implementation of the Zeigarnik effect - a psychological bias where users tend to remember to complete half-finished tasks.
  • Checklists help to improve your time-to-value by getting a user to “aha!” faster

Honey’s first-time use is a great example of how to properly use checklists in your user onboarding flow. They didn’t just reduce tickets and improve customer adoption with this -- they also managed to leverage virality by making inviting friends a part of the process, and gamification by awarding gold for tasks.

Offer in-app support through product tours

You shouldn’t have to use live support to deal with simple setup questions and tickets about where a feature is in the interface. You can automate a large part of that with in-app product tours. Tours can motivate users to finish setup, discover features, and do tasks that are associated with quick value and long-term retention.

By using different in-app widgets, step-by-step guides or onboarding checklists, you will be able to show to your users your core features and activate them easily.Moz used Chameleon to build an amazing product tour that helps its users to learn more about the product and get to know newly-released features:

Highspot gives another great example of how to guide your customers and teach them to use your core features.

What we really love about Highspot is that they encourage users to go through the entire core feature flow - by the end of it, the user will have done something that actually brings them value rather than just entered data or completed their profile.

The bottom line

As we’ve seen customer support and user onboarding should be tightly linked to improve retention and product adoption for both new and existing users.

With the careful coordination of self-serve and live customer support, you will be able to reduce unnecessary and basic tickets, so your support reps can focus on their most important tasks for the highest value customers.

What will be the first type of self-serve or in-app customer support you will implement in your product?

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