Introduction: What is Customer Support?
Customer support is the help provided by a company to its customers. Usually to address questions about the company's products or services. You can support customers via phone, email, live chat or even self-service. The goal is to ensure customers have a good experience and to take care of any problems they may have.
Why You Should Invest in Customer SupportThe current market is highly competitive. Companies no longer compete purely on the quality of their product or service but on customer experience. In fact, according to Gartner: “89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience”. This is why customer-centric companies have a huge advantage in attracting and retaining customers.
Great customer support leads to trust and loyalty with customers. It can also increase customer satisfaction and retention, which is crucial, given that acquiring new customers can cost five times more than keeping an existing one.
Types of Customer Support
The most important channels of customer support are: phone, live chat, email, and self-service.
Each type of customer support has its advantages and drawbacks. It's essential to understand how to use each best to assist customers. Here we'll delve deeper into each type of customer support and help you understand how to use them.
PhonePhone support is the channel customers prefer for complex or emotional issues. It can be an excellent way for customers to get in-depth help or get information quickly. In fact, 76% of customers prefer using the phone to speak to customer support.
For companies, phone support can provide a deeper understanding of customer needs. It also allows for more tailored customer engagement. Often, customer satisfaction is the highest after a phone call compared to other channels. However, it can be costly to maintain and difficult to manage.
One way to reduce costs is to provide a callback option. Calling customers back in your own time helps distribute demand (and staff) efficiently. Some phone platforms like Cordless allow you to effortlessly build customer journeys around callbacks.
There are many tools to measure the effectiveness of phone support. For example, call transcripts and sentiment analysis. This allows managers to access actionable data insights into customer support.
Live ChatLive chat support is a quick and easy way for customers to get help. It allows customers to communicate with a customer support agent in real-time through a chat interface. However, providing consistently good customer support through live chat can be challenging. This is because customer inquiries must be answered quickly and accurately.
Self-ServiceSelf-service is a type of customer support that allows customers to find answers to their questions on their own. Usually through a company's website, app or social media platforms. It is an excellent way for customers to get help without waiting for a response from an agent. It is very cost-effective but doesn't suit complex queries well and can be difficult to measure.
Challenges of Customer Support
Meeting Customer ExpectationsOne of the biggest challenges of customer support is meeting customer expectations. The three key components of this are:
- Response time
- First-time resolution rate
- Tone of voice
response time, customer support teams need to be quick and efficient. It's also important to set realistic expectations for the customer. In phone support, this can be done by including the average wait time in the greeting message.
First-time resolution rate is the number of inquiries that can be resolved on the first contact with a customer. To improve this, customer support teams need to be trained and have easy access to the correct information and tools. An internal knowledge base is a great way to make sure customer support agents are well-informed. The knowledge base also helps agents stay up to date on both the product and internal processes.
Finally, the tone of voice used by customer support teams should be friendly, professional and helpful. This is important to maintain a positive customer experience and build trust and loyalty.
Keeping Up With Changing TechnologiesTechnology is constantly changing, and customer support teams need to be able to keep up. This includes collaboration, analytics and customer feedback tools. As well as knowledge on internal products and services. Don't be afraid to experiment and find something that works for your team long term.
Cordless keyword tracker, for example, helps companies identify the most frequent customer issues. It also helps select important conversations to review. This allows you to identify training opportunities and collect customer feedback.
Managing Customer ComplaintsThe key to managing customer complaints is to have a clear complaint resolution policy. It should include the escalation process and a system for tracking and documenting complaints.
Customer support teams should be able to provide customers with clear, quick feedback. This means giving customers updates on their complaint status and informing them of any changes.
Strategies for Improving Customer Support
Identifying Customer NeedsTo strike a balance between quality and cost, companies need to understand what's important for customers. This includes both the expectations customers have and the channels they prefer.
The questions a company needs to answer when thinking about customer support are:
- What channels are they going to use?
- When is customer support going to be available? 24/7 or weekdays only? What about evenings and weekends?
- Outsource, in-house or a mix of both?
- Will a team of generalists provide support or will there be specialists within the team?
Investing in Quality ResourcesIt's normal to start with ad-hoc tools and processes as you figure out your customers' expectations and how to meet them. Many companies begin with tracking training, QA, and even workforce management on spreadsheets.
However, it is crucial to invest in quality resources long term. The more mature the company is, the more defined the requirements are. Most customer support teams switch the tools and the processes they use. Don't be afraid to shop around and experiment! But remember that the larger the team, the more effort it takes to adopt anything new.
Automating ResponsesChances are that many of your customer interactions are relatively simple and repetitive questions. This is a good signal to consider automating some responses.
There are several options for automating responses. Such as chatbots, virtual agents and intelligent support.
Chatbots are computer programs designed to simulate conversations with humans. They can be used to provide basic customer service and answer FAQs.
Virtual agents are more advanced than chatbots. They can understand natural language and provide more complex customer service.
Finally, intelligent support can provide personalised support based on customer data and context. It can also be used to route inquiries to the right person or provide relevant recommendations.
But be careful always to include an option to speak with a human for urgent and important queries.
Utilising DataData can be a powerful tool for improving customer support. By analysing data, customer support teams can gain insights into customer behaviour. This in turn helps identify areas of improvement. The data can include customer sentiment, inquiry trends, customer satisfaction scores, and feedback.
By tracking customer sentiment, you can better understand customer needs and expectations. This data can then be used to improve customer experience.
By monitoring trends in customer inquiries, customer support teams can improve customer service and streamline processes by better understanding their customers' needs.
Cordless is the only phone support platform that includes sentiment analysis and keyword tracking out of the box.
Finally, customer satisfaction scores can be a good predictor of customer retention, which is extremely valuable, considering that it costs five times more to obtain a new customer, than to keep an existing one. Customer feedback can provide valuable insights into customer needs and expectations.
- Great customer support is essential for any customer-centric company. Customer support includes:
- Phone - a data-rich channel for important and emotional queries
- Live chat - a quick and easy-to-set-up channel. However, it can be challenging to maintain good customer support consistently
- Email - an asynchronous and scalable way to support customers, but prone to long resolution times
- Self-service - a channel that allows customers to find answers on their own. Very cost-effective, but it doesn’t really work for complex issues.
- To manage customers’ expectations make sure to address response time, first-time resolution rate and tone of voice. It also helps to set expectations upfront, like adding the average wait time in a phone greeting message.
- As customer expectations evolve, so does technology. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different tools and choose what’s right for your team.
- Make sure to define a clear complaints resolution process and train the team to follow it. Communicate with customers often and proactively provide updates on their case.
- To improve your customer support make sure you’re meeting your customers where they want to be. Decide which channels you’re going to support and iron out the processes and tools for them.
- It's ok to start simple and run customer support off spreadsheets. But make sure to invest in quality resources long term.
- Automate responses to simple queries to free agent time for more complex issues that require human touch.
- And finally, what can’t be measured can’t be improved. Make sure that you’re utilising all the data at your disposal to perfect your customer support. Such as customer feedback, trends in customer queries and team performance metrics.
If you’re looking to introduce phone support to your customer support function, looking for a platform that will give you more control or just want to learn more about customer support, give us a call on +44 1749 608 549 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org We’re always happy to help companies on a mission to improve their customer support!
Co-Founder & CTO