CEO at Yooz Inc.leading product innovation roadmaps and strategic partnerships.
Imagine you just bought a new automated time attendance product and need help with the initial setup. You go to the company’s website, but the search function is terrible. Instead of a single page with a handful of results, you have to wade through 10 to 20 pages. When you find a promising page, it reads as if the company expects everyone to be as knowledgeable about their product as their employees. You look for other ways of support, but discover that there is no user community. The automated chatbot accepts your question but says it doesn’t expect an answer within 48 hours. Finally, you will be put on hold for hours if you call the helpline.
When faced with this kind of frustration, it doesn’t take long for the buyer to repent. If you had known the poor support you would receive, you might have spent your money elsewhere. You might even be tempted to leave a bad review, scare others off of the same purchase. This kind of experience is never good for the supplier’s brand.
Being customer-centric starts with support.
A truly customer-centric organization places as much emphasis on supporting existing customers as it does on acquiring new ones. Many companies claim that they focus on providing a great customer experience, but when you look closer, that’s not the case. High-growth companies often focus on sales and neglect support. This is understandable: without sales there is no one to support! However, that model can come at a cost: customer churn. In reality, 96% of customers will change company due to poor customer service.
Though they may be few in number, noisy disgruntled customers have a greater impact than happy customers, and they are more likely to voice their displeasure than happy customers will sing a company’s praises. Without a good support system, unhappy customers blame the company rather than the product for not meeting their needs. This can lead to fewer sales, a bad reputation and even fewer applicants.
Spending more money to gain new customers only to lose them due to poor support is a recipe for disaster. In today’s inflationary economic environment, companies that want to survive must do everything they can to retain customers. It is more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one. In addition, loyal customers spend more with a company and are more willing to forgive mistakes. Loyalty translates into one of the most important metrics for business success: customer lifetime value.
A support-oriented model extends across the organization.
When discussing support, your first inclination might be to think about contact centers and customer service representatives. Yes, the contact center is an essential part, but you need a customer-centric mindset that spans every facet of the organization, from marketing your website to sales and order fulfillment, finance, product development, and more. Each of these impacts the customer’s journey.
When everyone in the company is on the same page – doing what’s best for the customer – there is less friction in the sales and implementation process. Agents won’t cut corners to “cut costs” or end a support call early to “meet hourly quotas.” A customer-centric organization has knowledgeable and well-trained staff, so everyone can ultimately help support existing and potential customers. Someone from your finance department may not be able to answer a technical question, but they need to know where to send a customer to get answers quickly.
5 ways to include or expand support offerings
Providing superior support to your customers doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some ideas that can help you deliver a great experience.
• Install a live chat feature with a real person instead of relying entirely on a chatbot. It’s fine to automate the initial greeting, but the whole discussion shouldn’t be between a human and a machine. Your customers are people, and the support they get should be too.
• Provide a growing support library or knowledge base. This includes not only frequently asked questions, but also answers to rare questions. Customer positive perceptions grow when companies solve their unique problems.
• Organize regular webinars about best practices and new features of your product. A team of regular facilitators should host these webinars so that customers can get used to them. Engage the most knowledgeable of your staff to answer any type of customer query.
• Provide on-demand training for your products and services. Even small businesses can have customers in other parts of the world. Self-service support can be essential for customers who cannot reach your team during normal business hours.
• Create a team to handle new feature requests. Provide customers with a way to submit and vote for new features. Make your implementation roadmap transparent. It can be frustrating for someone to apply for a new feature and not know if you will implement it. Likewise, customers will be excited to see their requested feature in your roadmap. That anticipation keeps them with you until you implement what you promised. Follow through.
These tips are part of creating a “Voice of the customer” process at every key touchpoint in the customer journey – from sales and onboarding to implementation and support. This allows you to listen to your customers, monitor their satisfaction, get verbatim feedback, receive improvement requests and identify new trends.
Support can be your unique differentiator and competitive advantage.
With support, companies can show – not tell – their customers they love them, which can lead to a healthy outcome, especially in difficult times. The better you treat customers, the longer they stay with you. Competitors trying to lure them away will have to work much harder to succeed. After all, your customers don’t want to risk working with a company that doesn’t meet your support standards. They have experienced buyer remorse before, and they don’t want to be a part of it anymore.
Support is the foundation of your business. Start there, and success should follow.