Across all age groups, self-service support is becoming increasingly popular. Web and mobile self-service interactions are rapidly overtaking all other channels. Online community use among US adults jumped from 31% in 2012 to 56% in 2015. Why? Because customers expect companies to value their time and provide accurate, relevant, and complete answers to questions upon first contact.

Customers don’t want to search through an endless array of disorganized content hoping to find the answer to their question. This defeats the purpose of self-service support. To effectively meet customer self-service expectations, organizations need an established and organized online community that offers knowledge-driven support.

Knowledge-driven support (KDS) takes the self-service experience a step further; it transforms traditional support into a painless experience by using collective, shared knowledge to meet customer needs. With KDS, customers help themselves through knowledge ecosystems – living, breathing online communities where customers come together to seek and exchange knowledge. Customers can find the best answers because content is properly indexed, easily accessible, and contextualized to the customer’s situation.

Also critical to a powerful self-service experience is peer-generated content. According to Forrester, this content enhances and complements the power of self-service. A KDS community gives customers the opportunity to build connections with their fellow customers, engage in Q&A, and share experiences, and offer ideas for new product uses. This level of engagement provides customers with fast, reliable resolutions to support issues, while nurturing a massive collection of self-service resources that enable your support community to flourish.

A KDS community is not only beneficial to customers – it also aids internal business units, including product management, marketing, and engineering teams. The content, conversations, and feedback generated through KDS offer real-time insights into the wants and needs of your customers and prospects. Organizations can use this insight to deepen customer relationships and build a stronger product roadmap.

In Forrester’s Top 10 Customer Service Trends for 2016, analyst Kate Leggett states, “In the age of the customer, delivering differentiated customer service has become a strategic imperative.” Knowledge-driven support delivers a unique self-service experience where customers have an entire knowledge ecosystem at their disposal – a space where they can access constantly-evolving content, share their own knowledge and experiences, connect with subject matter experts, and have a voice in the evolution of your product or service.