5 Things People Overlook When Building Support Strategy

Listen to what your customers have to say, and make sure you have a clean-cut process to track customer insights that everyone in your company is able to access.

Customer support, at first glance, seems pretty straightforward: a customer emails in (or tweets, or Facebooks, or sends a carrier pigeon) and you respond. But, as companies become more plentiful and it gets even more difficult for customers to differentiate your product from the others, support or, more accurately, customer experience has taken center stage.

Women entrepreneurs alone are founding 1,821 new U.S. businesses per day.

There are only so many new products to be invented, so what’s to keep a customer from just jumping ship to the next hot thing that comes out? The experience that you offer them and the relationship that you have built is your strongest competitive advantage.

As tools like omnichannel arrive on the scene and new methods of support are invented, it is of utmost importance to stay on the cutting edge of customer experience. However, there are some core pieces of the puzzle that get left to the wayside when all of your energy is focussed on moving faster, harder and smarter.

In this blog, we’ll look through five of the most common things that people overlook when building their support strategy.

support strategyWhat their customers actually want

Yeah, omnichannel is pretty attractive, but have any of your customers actually asked for it?

Better yet, does your team even have a way of knowing what customers have and haven’t asked for? Having a process in place to better understand what requests you have coming through the door is the first step in offering a good experience. Even if you can gain all the intel in the world from your competitors about what they are doing that customers love, it’s never going to tell you as much as the customers themselves.

Before you put a lot of your team’s time and energy into building a specific feature or adding something new into your support strategy, make sure you find out if it’s something that your customers actually care about.

Sure, a flashy new contact form may be exciting for your support team, but if it’s not making things better for your customers, it’s not worth the energy.

53% of customers are likely to abandon their order if they can’t find a quick answer—that’s a ton of people that you could have impacted by spending your energy working on documentation rather than building something else.

support strategySmall fixes over big flashy ones

It’s very attractive to build shiny, big things that you can promote to your customers—even in support. But, the same rules that apply for product apply for customer experience. According to Brendan Schwartz of Wistia, you need to have a balance of shiny, base and scaling features in order to move forward in success.

Shiny features are new, exciting features that move the whole state of the market forward. So, for example, implementing a new and innovative method of proactively supporting your customers. Your base functionality is features that core customers will get excited about, so, for example, an easy-to-use contact form or restructuring of documentation.

Lastly, scale is creating functionality that allows you to move forward with reliability and speed. Some examples of this could be switching helpdesk platforms for more functionality, or implementing outage tracking to keep your customers better in the know.

Work to build each of these three in balance in order to give the best experiences to your customers, even if one may be more attractive than the others.

support strategyHow happy their employees are

An international survey of 10,000 workers by Ipsos found that 85% of employees are unhappy with their office environment and struggle to concentrate. Unfortunately, you can’t have happy customers without happy employees. Your support agents are oftentimes the first humans that your customers get a chance to interact with, and they’re usually already starting off on the wrong foot because your customer is only reaching out because they are having trouble.

When you neglect to focus on your employee’s well-being, you are doing the equivalent of shaving away layers of a shield before sending a warrior off to battle: the first hard ax swing that hits it is going to crumble it to bits. Give your employees the tools that they need to feel happy and healthy and, to continue the shield metaphor, you give them a steel plating to reinforce their fronts. They’re more readily able to deflect the anger of customers, and provide them with an empathetic, helpful response.

As much as you focus on your customers and their satisfaction, pay attention to the satisfaction of your internal customers, too.

support strategyIs it scaling?

When you first build a tool and it starts to make an impact on how you do support, it can feel so exciting.

You free up your support team agents to focus on new things; you see key metrics like CSAT, NPS, and time-to-first response trending more towards the positive; you start to feel like you can breathe. In your relaxed state, you shift your gaze to other functionalities that need your eyes and stop paying attention to the new support strategy that you’ve just put in place. It’s working now, so it’ll probably work for a while, right?

Wrong.

Continuously monitor the functionality that you’ve put in place to catch scalability issues before they become endemic. Just because something works one month doesn’t mean that it will work six months down the line.

It’s important for support teams to continue to iterate on the tools that they are using in order to avoid being caught in the trap of all-of-a-sudden having too many customers and not having the tools in place to support them. Always be changing and adjusting your support strategy based on your user base.

support strategyAre you building relationships?

Support, for a long time, was mostly transactional. However, 87% of adults surveyed are happy to be contacted proactively by companies regarding customer service issues. That could be anything from an automated email to a targeted onboarding message in-app. The point is, that people want you to know them well enough to help them with problems before they become painful.

Similarly, on average, 71% of consumers feel frustrated when their shopping or support experience is impersonal.

There’s a huge opportunity to automate and create personalized experiences with customers reaching out to support. By collecting data and providing experiences or guidance prior to the customer realizing that they need it, it almost feels like magic. It makes customers trust you and feel like you understand where they are coming from and what they want. That’s a far cry from what you could provide with even the most excellent social media support response.

Each conversation is an opportunity to learn more about an individual customer and how customers as a whole react and engage with your brand—don’t overlook it.

Conclusion

There are tons of opportunities that companies overlook when thinking about their customers’ experience and building a support strategy.

Most importantly: listen to what your customers have to say, and make sure you have a clean-cut process to track customer insights that everyone in your company is able to access. After that, focus on creating an experience that is uniform in its offering.

It’s important to offer new and exciting features, but not at the cost of your scaling, or your basic support offerings. Your support team, if you put a focus on keeping them happy and engaged, are well-equipped to help you, and will be some of your best resources if you take care of them. Not everything needs to be rocket science—some things can be just as simple as looking right in front of your nose.


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Mercer Smith-Looper Mercer Smith-Looper

Mercer is the Head of Support at Appcues, a yoga fanatic, and strives to make the world a little bit happier one customer at a time. You can find her at mercenator.com and on Twitter at @mercenator.

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