Killing Our Help Center Improved Customer Satisfaction And Revenue By Over 11%

By Neal - 12/16/2020

Being card game geeks, we run our solitaire site as a fun hobby. As we gained some users though over the last year and launched a subscription service to generate some side income, we had to make sure we had reasonable customer support.

It was a no brainer to create a help center because we didn’t want to spend time managing customer support tickets, and having a workflow where users could be self-directed and answer questions on their own was ideal.

When I realized I hated help centers

I had an issue with one of our service providers, and went to their site to figure out how to solve the problem. For 30 minutes, I hopped around their own help center with no luck finding the answer to my question.

I then started looking for a support line. After digging through various questions and hitting “No, this did not answer my question,” I found that it was discontinued and the page redirected me back.

Needless to say, I wasn’t happy.

It made me realize that instinctually, I always want to talk to someone. Whether it be over email, the phone, or chat, knowing that I was getting personalized attention would give me comfort and confidence that my issues will be resolved.

I decided then and there: We will get rid of our help center!

Removing our help center and improving our customer satisfaction score by 12%

We analyzed where users visited most in our help center. We found that three issues dominated 95% of requests:

  1. We had launched a subscription service and users wanted to understand how to cancel. Having run subscription businesses in the past, this wasn’t too surprising.
  2. How to report bugs in the game. Invariably, users came across some fringe bugs, especially for our newer Freecell, Klondike, Spider, Mahjong, and Hearts games, and wanted to report it.
  3. Requests for more games.

Addressing these questions were relatively simple, and we figured we can spend a few minutes a day responding to anything that came in.

We responded on average within two days and found that our customer satisfaction score (CSAT) improved from 65% to 73%.

Improving customer satisfaction another 22%.

We hypothesized that response time played a major role in improving customer satisfaction.

For the next week we decided to respond within 24 hours and we found that CSAT improved from 73% to 78%.

Realizing that response time makes a difference, we promised and communicated on our site that we’d respond within 2 hours during business hours. CAST went up 82%.

We didn’t want to stop, and we decided to add live chat and respond immediately during business hours. CSAT shot up to 89%!

Improving revenue by 11%

As we started responding and talking to our customers, we learned that many users would cancel their subscription because they didn’t know how to access certain games, customization features, and due to some unknown bugs.

Operating a help center only gave users instructions on how to cancel, and did not give us an opportunity to understand why and course correct.

When we started understanding all the reasons our users were canceling, we were able to address this, improving our retention. In the first month, this improved our very modest subscription revenue by 11%. If you compound the impact of retention, it will likely be more over time.

Our customer support set up today, and ideal solutions

Because we run the site for fun, it’s difficult for us to commit to a SLA when someone responds. We've experimented by having a Q&A sessions over Facebook which were successful, but today, we just have a simple contact us page. We try to get back within a day generally, but sometimes we miss that and sometimes we’re able to respond earlier depending on competing priorities.

This has taught us though that many consumers want to talk to someone and want a response right away. With that said, some people are totally fine skipping the human interaction. We think an ideal set up is to:

  1. Have a help center that covers very simple questions, like how to use certain features. On those pages, there should be an option to quickly talk to a customer service agent.
  2. Have a page on cancellation, but have a CTA talk to someone with a quick response. This will help you understand issues for paying customers and address it
  3. Have a chatbot in lieu of a help center with similar works flow described above. However, set it up in a way where users understand they are talking to a bot, and at any point they can talk to someone

Naturally, everyone has resource limitations. If you were to protoize KPIs like revenue, as I imagine you would, find a way to quickly talk to your paying customers or those most likely to pay to support your business goals.