Tips and Tricks · 5 min read

Save time and delight customers by offering resources for self-support

Jaclyn Spangler
Posted October 28, 2015
Save time and delight customers by offering resources for self-support

As a FullStory Hugger,* part of my job involves helping customers, but in more forms than the traditional ticket-jockeying of a support agent role. Many of our customers are self-supporters who like to use the new knowledge base to solve problems on their own. And it’s my job to support these customers, too, in their quest to support themselves.

Self-service help is, of course, very bionic. It reduces the time we need to spend on support, allows us to provide human, personable service through the way we write our help articles, and leaves our customers with a dopamine-induced feeling of pride in their self-reliance.

But giving every single customer a dopamine high, rather than an adrenaline-laced fit of rage, takes some work. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be guesswork: with FullStory, customers show me exactly how to tweak the system to suit their needs. Without further ado, here are the top 4 pieces of advice I’ve discovered in my endeavors so far.

1. Customers will show you new articles to write.

Customers express their intent through the search field, so keep an eye on what they’re typing into it. Some knowledge base applications keep a running list of these queries, but for less comprehensive setups you can easily use FullStory’s Changed > CSS selector search instead. (For the CSS-disinclined, try our new Inspect mode to grab the right search field.)

For some failed searches, the solution is to create a new article that answers their question. For example, a popular term on our help site is “wordpress.” There are no special installation instructions for Wordpress-based sites, so until recently we didn’t have a setup guide specifically for our Wordpress customers. However, it was clear that they had some concerns about compatibility and installation, so we created a guide to assuage their skepticism.

What I learned.

I save a lot of time, and make more customers happier, by writing articles customers “ask for” via searching instead of guessing at relevant topics. (Sorry, wiseguy, we won’t be addressing your question about what lurks beneath Donald Trump’s combover.)

2. Consider what the customer has already read.

They’re not just randomly knocking at your door. Because we’re talking about self-supporters in this article, chances are high that writing an email was their method of last resort, only after they had looked around in-app, scrutinized the knowledge base, and come up empty.

Once, a customer wrote in with a question about performance. The reflexive response in this case is to point the customer in the direction of our help article on how FullStory affects your site’s performance. However, if the team member on support that day had watched the FullStory session, they’d have known that the customer had not only seen that article already, but he was on that page when he emailed support. Sending him back to the page he was already on could have been nothing if not frustrating.

What I learned.

When a customer writes in, check the FullStory session to see which help topics they’ve read. If they found the correct topic and are still writing in to support, the article could probably use some improvement.

3. Search queries illuminate important keywords.

For some failed searches, the solution is not so cut-and-dried as writing a new article to match the query. Many people, for example, search for “user.” This could mean a thousand things when it comes to FullStory. User-scoped session searches? User cards? Custom user variables? User accounts? Solving the mystery required a little trip down FullStory lane to see which articles our customers wound up reading before they found their answers (or didn’t).

When I noticed that customers who searched for “user” ultimately ended up at one of approximately three or four topics, I added “user” as a keyword to these articles so they would appear top-of-list in future searches for “user.”

What I learned.

After gleaning the customer’s search intent by watching FullStory sessions, adding keywords to relevant articles helps them appear higher in search results so future searchers don’t have to hunt around.

Hopefully my advice will help you tweak your knowledge base to better support your self-supporting customers. Not only will you save time fielding emails, but much more importantly your self-reliant customers will be happier with your product and your company. Wins for everyone!

For more ideas around knowledge base optimization, check out Hubspot's Knowledge Base Guide.

* Update, April 2020 — Since this post was published, roles have specialized as we've grown and we no longer use the term “Hugger” in titles and departments. Although we knew the day would come, we also knew that an imagined future state wasn’t a good reason not to try something new in early days. We still believe every word we’ve written about Hugging.

In fact, our Hugging philosophy has paid dividends over the years and continues to evoke a certain culture at FullStory. We grew our product and our brand around the beliefs that empathy wins the day, product led companies need a very close connection with their customers, and customer facing success and support roles should be highly empowered and garner great respect and influence internally. Check, check, check. And so, we lovingly lay our Hugging title to rest and thank it for it’s impact on our approach to work and business.

Jaclyn SpanglerPeople Operations

About the author

Jaclyn Spangler is a lifelong nomad currently calling Atlanta, GA home while helping to scale culture at FullStory. Since joining as employee #16 in 2015 she has worn many hats, most recently focusing on talent development and employee experience in her role as People Operations Director. You can find her eating, drinking, or running her way through Atlanta in her spare time.

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