Customer support is a collection of services that assists customers in making certain decisions and clearing their doubts.
The terms “customer support” and “customer service” may remind you of a department in your business but for customers, those exact terms may remind them of the hours they wasted waiting in line to get in touch with a customer service representative and the number of times they had to repeat a problem to 5 different representatives before they could get a proper solution.
Most support teams these days seem to have forgotten their responsibilities. Instead of allowing customers to reach them in a quick and easy way, they force them to fill up long forms and go through complicated and time-consuming phone calls to get the assistance they need.
Recently, I contacted the hotline of a certain company to clear some doubts but the representative answered me in a very rude and annoyed tone. I wasn’t pleased.
The very next day, I scheduled an appointment with the General Manager and explained the situation. The representative was called and fired on the spot. Soon after, I got to know that there were six other complaints on him that month alone.
An ideal support team should provide assistance at any stage of a customer’s purchasing cycle, regardless of whether they are still in the planning stage or product/service disposal stage.
Most businesses don’t seem to understand the importance of customer support. According to HubSpot research, businesses that prioritize customer support have a bigger revenue growth when compared to the ones that don’t.
Good customer support leads to happy customers. When your customers are happy, they are likely to trust and buy from you more. This will not only help you drive more sales but will also help you sustain your customer-base.
According to Parature’s Customer Service Report, things that frustrate customers the most when it comes to support services are;
According to AmericanExpress’s Customer Service Report, customers are more likely to discuss bad customer service experiences their with friends and family than good ones. The report also states that poor customer support can lead to loss of sales and recurring customers.
A report from Oracle states that 89% of displeased customers make their next purchase from a competitor due to bad support experiences. This can be a huge number for some companies.
According to Genesys’s Customer Experience Report, U.S businesses lost $83 billion dollars in 2016 due to poor customer support.
Finally, consider your reputation. The last thing you want is someone to post a negative review on Yelp or to upload a YouTube video talking about their poor experience in front of thousands of viewers. That’s a one-way ticket to hell.
I, myself, once witnessed a customer using abusive language and shouting at a customer service representative in front of everyone. Things like this can really hinder the reputation of a business so be very careful and selective when hiring members for your support team.
Make sure you allow customers to interact with your support team across multiple channels and mediums such as phone, email, social media, live chat and etc.
According to research, the top three preferred channels for engaging with a customer support representative are phone, email and live chat so be sure to implement them if you haven’t already.
Make sure customers are able to easily and painlessly connect with a support representative over the phone without having to wait on hold or be passed from one representative to another.
Instruct the support team to check for new emails everyday and reply to them as fast as they can. Try not to make customers wait for more than 12 hours for a response.
Live chat is the go-to channel when a customer needs an immediate response so be sure to implement it in your website.
You may consider using other channels such as text messages, messaging apps and community forums to deliver customer support but I believe you should focus on in-person support more.
To find out whether or not your business is providing the level of support you want it to provide, gather feedback from multiple sources.
Don’t rely solely on the feedback provided by your customer support team. They may give false statistics to save their job or give feedback from their point-of-view. Their personal life problems may also impact their feedback.
So if you are serious about measuring the quality of customer support, get feedback from existing and potential customers. This can be done in two ways. You can either hire a mystery shopper or ask customers directly in-person.
The job of mystery shoppers is to pose or act as normal customers and report back to you about their experience with your business. This strategy will help you understand what the experiences of your customers are.
You could hire a mystery shopper by contacting a marketing or advertising firm. For obvious reasons, make sure the support team doesn’t know the identity of the mystery shopper.
The other option is to directly engage with your customers either in-person or online.
You could ask them to complete a questionnaire regarding the last customer support experience they had. Give them something in return like a discount coupon or raffle draw ticket to encourage them to complete it.
The best way to get customer feedback is through online surveys. Consider emailing the survey form to everyone in your emails list and integrate a customer experience rating system in your website’s live chat so that once the chat ends, the customer will be prompted with a message asking them to rate the experience from 1 to 10.
There may be other ways to collect customer feedback but these are the main ones.
The Ritz-Carlton Company allows its employees to spend up to $2,000 for a single customer problem without requiring any permission. I brought this up to make you realize just how important customer support is even for the most well-established businesses.
No matter how great your customer services are, you are bound to get some negative feedback once in a while. Don’t just read and forget them. Get in touch with the people who left negative feedback, apologize for the poor experience they went through and tell them it won’t happen again.
Avoid saying things like “I don’t know”. Instead, tell them “I am unable to verify this at the moment, let me get in touch with you tomorrow with a solution”. Make sure your support team is skilled enough to pull something like this off when dealing with customers.
Don’t focus too much on a single customer. Some will be unhappy no matter what solution you come up with. In those cases, just let them be and move on to the next customer.
Happy customers can drive more sales and publicity to your business than any other sales or marketing strategy. But to make that happen you need to implement new and better ways to interact with your customers.
If you aren’t putting enough effort on improving customer support, your customers will without a doubt, move on to a competitor that does. Poor customer support may also impact the brand reputation you worked so hard to build.
Carry out surveys every now and then to check whether or not your support team is doing a good job at helping out customers. And don’t forget to follow-up on negative feedback to see whether there is anything you can do to rectify the mistakes made.
As a side tip, make sure you ask the right questions when interviewing customer support representatives. You need employees with a good positive attitude, not ones who give one-off answers to customers.
What’s your take on customer support? Let me know in the comments section below.