Editor's note: This post is part 8 of 11 in a series on the HubSpot Customer Code.

Most of us take a deep breath before we dial a customer support hotline.

Maybe it's because you're an introvert (like me) and need to emotionally prepare yourself a bit before talking to another human. Or maybe it's just because you worry you're about to enter a maze of phone trees and handoffs and "just let me confirm your identity for the 1,000th time" type questions.

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Sure, we'll wait for a human to help us if needed, but it's usually faster, easier, and even preferred if we can help ourselves. Just ask a new parent what they've Googled recently and you'll discover hundreds of searches a day attempting to quickly troubleshoot a million variations of "Is this normal?!"

When possible, we like to help ourselves.

As a person, I know this is true. As an entrepreneur, I know that it also happens to be great for the business when we can make it easy for our customers to help themselves.

For us, it's about $7M great.

Our customer support team recently did an analysis looking at the past year of data and found that 41% of support cases were tagged with "solved with a documented solution." We counted up our customer support reps' time on each of these cases, and found that HubSpot spent about $7M helping customers find answers when the answers were already out there.

So it's bad for us, but it's also very bad for our customers.

That 41% represents individuals humans who spent time searching for an answer, giving up, then calling us. We know what this inefficiency cost us, but what did it cost our customers? How much time could we have saved them if the answers were simply easier to find?

Tenet #7 of The Customer Code is: Help me help you, by helping myself. Today, I give us a seven out of 10 on this. We have a long tradition of creating helpful tools and content that help our customers help themselves. We have a knowledge base packed with frequently asked questions, an active community of users who help each other, and HubSpot Academy trainings. But even with all this content, we still have work to do to make it easier for our customers to help themselves.

One of our big projects recently was cleaning up our knowledge base to improve discoverability, remove inaccurate or misleading content, and reduce unnecessary clutter.

Not a particularly glamorous project, but our knowledge base has over 6.3 million sessions per year. That's an average of 17,000 sessions per day! Making it easier to navigate the 2,500 some articles that live there is a huge benefit to our customers.

So we've already improved on this tenet by better organizing information.

With HubSpot's Service Hub product, we're setting out to create the most search-friendly knowledge base in the market. We want to apply the same discoverability techniques that we've learned on the marketing side of our business to the support side of our business. This is good for us, good for our customers looking for answers, and great for our Service Hub customers who also want to make it easy for their customers to help themselves.

But even the most well-organized knowledge base still requires search. Our next focus area is figuring out how we can remove that step entirely for customers.

Enter chatbots.

I first dove into the chatbot space when I built GrowthBot, a resource for quick conversational answers to common marketing and sales questions like, "How much organic search traffic did I get last month?"

The future I want HubSpot to move into (and I want to bring our customers with us) is one where customers looking for support, not just marketers looking for quick answers, have access to these same quick answers.

Our vision of the future is that customers never decide between searching a knowledge base or calling a support hotline, they just open a chat window...

"How do I do X?"

The chatbot sends them the right content.

If it solves the problem, great!

If it doesn't, perhaps the chatbot asks for a phone number and says, "We'll give you a call in five minutes"

No phone trees or hold times. No repeating your issue or account number.

The representative calls, "Hey, I see you were trying to do X, how can I help?"

That's a future that companies and customers alike can get excited about.

Companies that help customers, grow. Companies that help customers help themselves, grow better.

This post is part 8 of 11 in a series on HubSpot's Customer Code. You can find more info on The Customer Code and how we score ourselves here, and watch my INBOUND talk on this topic here.

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Originally published Jan 2, 2019 8:00:00 AM, updated January 02 2019