I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Customer Support and its place within an organization, and have come to a conclusion, Customer Support, as it is traditionally seen, is obsolete. I am sure many of you immediately push back at this thought and will tell me that there is always going to be a need for such a reactive group, a group of individuals who wait for the customer to reach out to answer their questions, but I disagree with this thought process. Let me offer you this.
If the customer has to contact you, you’ve already failed the relationship
Okay, so that may be a bit of an overstatement, but there is truth to this. Think about yourself as a consumer. What does the perfect relationship look like to you? Is it spending time emailing, calling, or chatting with Customer Support to get the outcomes you signed up for? Probably not. Anticipate the needs of your customers and figure out multiple ways to solve for those needs on a proactive basis. Great examples of anticipating needs are:
- Regular webinars educating your customer base on how to use your product and introducing them to cool new features that you have released.
- Nurture campaigns that offer helpful tools and tips that will save the customer time and energy.
- In-app messaging that points out features that the customer is not actively using.
Make it a regular habit to review why customers contact you and use those data points as a guiding beacon on how to communicate with your customer base. If you receive many questions on a certain feature or policy, odds are, the ones asking are not the only ones struggling. Learn from a few and solve for many.
Your customer is not a number, you are not a robot, it’s okay to build rapport.
I recently had to call support at a very large company for a very simple problem. After scouring their website, Google, Quora, and various other sources, I admitted defeat and made that call. It was so painfully obvious when I interrupted the friendly representative during her long spiel, and she had to start over reading the script that was put in front of her, that she was not empowered to critically think her way through this very simple issue.
This was the exact opposite of an excellent customer experience which would set me up for success. The representative had average talk time goals, and by asking a simple question I had single-handedly caused her to miss that goal. I had caused stress and possible resentment by asking a simple question. This spiraled to the rep trying to hurry me off the phone without anticipating any future needs. No time for rapport. I was just a number.
If customer success is truly owned company-wide, then these types of experiences are some of the biggest customer success fails. Reactive one and done customer interactions need to be a thing of the past. Set everyone up in the organization including those in the Support/Service organization with the right goals and enable them to be outcome thinkers. Build rapport and let the customer get to know you and the company a little bit. It goes a long way.
That brings me to the next subject, anticipating needs and becoming outcome driven.
Traditional Customer Support is one and done. You answer the customer’s single question, then move on to the next customers question. At the end of the day, the number of tickets you’ve solved and calls you’ve answered determines your overall value to the organization. Yes, efficiency is very important. Actually, in some organizations that are leanly staffed, it is critical. But, unless you are anticipating needs and thinking in terms of outcomes, what you have created is a constant pipeline of questions and a major inconvenience to all that do business with you.
When you have a reactive moment like a customer contacting you for assistance, teach them how to be proactive, and anticipate their future needs. Do you have a Help Center or FAQ System? Share it! Do you have a Community? Great! Invite them to join it and contribute. Set them up for long-term success by providing the resources they need to be self-sufficient.
Leverage tools to enable your team to be high-value
My final thought on this topic concerns tools. There are so many tools available to help your Support Team move from a reactive one and done group, to a more proactive team that is dealing with issues that require critical thinking. Customers do not want to contact your company for help with resetting their passwords and you shouldn’t pay a team to do this. Leverage the many tools available to help take care of the easy low hanging fruit requests that come through. Your Customer Support team are at times the only individuals that speak with your customers post-sale. Set them up to be outcome thinkers. Free up their time from the mundane and this will allow them to not only to drive success for the customer, but the entire organization.
Everyone owns customer success, but it is up to you and the leaders of your organization to enable everyone to take part in that journey.
This article originally appeared on The Amity Blog.