Poor customer support experience can be bad for business. One study estimates that American businesses lose more than $75 billion each year due to poor customer support. Over half of the participants in this study revealed that they are very unlikely to engage with a business after experiencing poor customer service.
Understanding what your customer expects and providing them a smooth support experience is quintessential to not only making them happy, but also spread the good word about your business to their friends and family.
Here are a few strategies to dramatically improve support experience for your business.
Streamlining the process
A customer support experience is made up of a number of independent processes. In order to streamline the experience and make customer support seamless, it is important to identify the points of friction at each stage and remove them.
Here are a few questions your business must seek answers to.
* Is your customer support number prominently displayed on your product?
* Do you offer a multi-channel support experience to customers? Some customers like to pick up a phone to call while others prefer chatting with your rep on Facebook.
* Does your marketing team have access to the calls made to customer for experience benchmarking?
* Will your support team be available to assist your customer when they need help the most?
* Will your contact center employees merely take complaints, or will they be able to resolve issues as well?
* What is the average waiting time for support calls?
* What is the average resolution time for your complaints?
* How do you deal with support requests that do not get resolved on time?
It can be a frustrating experience for a customer who struggles to find the support helpline to reach out to, or is unable to reach a human at the other end. Removing these roadblocks from the process can make the experience smoother for a customer.
Despite evidence that suggests that customer support can make or break your marketing efforts, a lot of marketers continue to view CS as a cost center for their business. In other words, while sales and marketing is viewed as income-generators, customer support is seen as business expense. Consequently, businesses fail to allocate the necessary budget to keep experience smooth for customers.
Those that do, often tend to cover their expenses by either limiting the support availability hours, or by charging for support. This can severely limit a customer’s ability to get issues fixed when they encounter them, and could consequently hinder experience.
To begin with, invest in toll-free numbers. Vanity phone numbers that cost as much as $10,000 can be an overkill and not really help with support experience. You may instead hire a toll-free number from a virtual phone service provider and such services only cost a handful of dollars each month.
The next step is to hire an offshore contact center company to handle customer calls during the graveyard shift. It is a good idea to pay them on a per-call basis since that can help you optimize your costs. Customer support training can be expensive depending on the product or service you offer. If your offshore team requires extensive training, you may restrict on-call resolution to the morning hours while restricting night-time calls to purely raising complaints.
While this does not solve a customer’s complaint when they need you the most, their experience is improved dramatically thanks to instant access to a human support rep.
Lastly, customer support does not have to be necessarily rendered by a human rep. With rise in chatbots that can effectively take on human roles in support, it is a good idea for a business to invest in automated support tools as well. However, it is worth pointing out that automated support is still in its early days and it is important to provide your customers with alternatives if they are not happy with the support received.
One of the most effective strategies here is to maintain a knowledge base. This is essentially a comprehensive list of possible customer issues and a documentation of how to fix them. A knowledge base is relatively inexpensive to launch and could be started as a blog or as an FAQ section on your website. If you already provide email support to customers, your knowledge base could be constantly updated with transcripts from your latest support tickets.
Over time, your knowledge base may be sufficiently comprehensive for customers to be able to fix a lot of their issues without help.
Companies like Zappos have shown that customer support experience can be a competitive advantage to acquire and retain customers. The strategies mentioned here in this article can help businesses deliver a smooth experience that is devoid of friction and frustration. A positive customer support experience improves branding and also goes a long way in not only retaining customers, but also acquiring new ones through word-of-mouth.