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6 Ways to Communicate the Value of Support Team

Find a balance of the two to paint a holistic picture of your team across the board—they are more than just numbers—and then make the solid case for keeping them.

Support is important—we all know this. But customer service and support are usually the first places that, when the going gets tough, team members are forced to get going. In our current economic landscape, many companies are doing lay-offs, furloughs, or trying to find ways to run a leaner ship, and it’s possible that there’s been some talk at your company about how you would handle this if you had to.

It can feel scary to be on the cusp of losing your team or needing to restructure. We’ve put together a list of ways to communicate the value of support team to the company at large and deepen the conversation to lend insight into why support is so important.


Stop with the vanity metrics

Before we get into the meat and potatoes, it’s important to note that right now is not the time to be introducing new or varied metrics to your team. In fact, it’s actually a better time to narrow down your focus and move away from things like average handle time (AHT) and customer satisfaction.

People need humans: they need to be heard and validated. Some customers may even be reaching out to your support team just because they need a friendly face and a few kind words. They don’t need to be rushed through an interaction in the hope of getting a lower AHT for your team. Right now, these are not the ways to communicate the value of support team.

There are so many things out of the control of your support team—global supply chains crumbling, people’s emotions on high rev—is this really the time to be focusing on metrics that don’t necessarily indicate customer stickiness? People need humans, not support robots.

Understand your metrics

Every company’s goals are going to be different. What are yours? Most everyone is stating “retention” as their modus operandi, but what kind of retention? The metrics to focus on will be different for customer retention, Monthly or Annual Recurring Revenue (MRR/ARR) retention, or new user retention.

So, your first step in proving your support team’s value is figuring out what your company’s strategy is. Then, when you get that under wraps, determining what areas your support team is able to contribute.

What this looks like

For example: if your company’s goal is new user retention, your first step would be figuring out your customer journey path. Specifically: what are the events that make new users successful with your product. See how support plays into those journey points and how much of an impact each contact with your team makes.

This will be different for each different kind of goal, but support will almost always have some impact on each one. For MRR/ARR for example, you can calculate how higher value customers benefit from the white-glove treatment from your enterprise support team members.

Correlate with churn and retention

One of the best things that you can do to communicate value is talk about money. Correlate your existing support metrics with other business financial metrics like churn, revenue, and retention. You already have both of the pieces to this equation, it’s just a matter of connecting them (if you haven’t already).

You do need to be intentional about this, though. If you don’t have specific metrics that you think would be meaningful, don’t settle until you have them. That may mean that the value shown is later in coming, but it will be more powerful when you have the metrics that make the strongest point instead of just picking the ones that you already have.

What this looks like

One of the easiest things that you could correlate is customer contact. Understanding how a touch with your customer support team affects something like customer upgrades or churn can be a super powerful bargaining chip for the value of support team.

For example, compare the number of people that have contacted your support team, and their average lifetime with the number of people that haven’t contacted your support team and their lifetime. It’s likely that you’ll find that the customers that have talked with your support team stick around longer than those who don’t.

value of support teamTalk about outside skills

Many resourceful companies are taking members of their support team and putting them to work elsewhere—even part-time work is better than no work.

Support team members are like swiss army knives: they’ve got excellent communication skills, are usually pretty tech-savvy, are empathetic, and have a good handle on how your customers are feeling and what they care about. Given that, they can add value to other areas of your company if you use them resourcefully.

What this looks like

Your customer support team members can do most things that require kindness and a talent for communication. For example, writing about customer stories for the marketing team, managing social media, or even running internal employee experience teams.

While this doesn’t have a quantifiable measure that you can use to show monetary value, you can use it to talk about the value that your team has on the company overall. This is especially true if your team is already working on some of these things.

value of support team

Highlight outside projects

Given how multitalented your support team is, they likely are working on projects outside of the queue. For example, someone might be in charge of managing documentation, another person may run your onboarding webinars, and you maybe even have a technical member of the team working on fixing bugs, or building tools for your internal teams.

Those things have value. So, just like you’ve talked about the impact that customer contact has on your overall company goals, speak to the benefits that these outside projects have.

What this looks like

In the same way that you correlated metrics above, find metrics for these outside projects—how often do people that have gone to webinars upgrade to the product that the webinars are based on. Does your team see better first contact resolution rates because of a tool that one of your technical members built? These are things that prove the value of support team outside of the inbox, which is an even more compelling argument to keep them around. It also gives you a framework to understand the success of the projects that they are working on.

value of support team

Know your contact rates by area

Do you know where most of your customers are reaching out to you? Do you know your cost per contact across each of your channels? Having information about where you are spending money can help you figure out where you are getting money for your company back.

Obviously, it’s not as straightforward as that, but being able to speak to how little (or how much) money a channel costs, can help communicate the value that your team is offering–especially if you are able to shift conversations across channels. It also enables you to speak to retention based on your contact index. Do people that talk to your team on Twitter value you more than those that get email support? Now you’ll know!

What this looks like

Take stock of all of your different channels and what percentage of your contact rate they make up. Then, calculate your cost per ticket. You can compare your cost per ticket across channels, as well as how many of your customers reach out on that channel.

If you’re feeling extra spicy, you can even calculate the value of each ticket using the correlative metrics from above: take the average lifetime value of customers that reach out to support, and divide it by the number of tickets you received on that channel.

Conclusion

Obviously not all of the ways that your support team provides value will be monetary. They are hugely impactful across your business both for their soft and hard skills. Focusing solely on the money that you get from them takes the humanity out of their role. That being said, when making the argument of whether to keep people or lose them, your financial metrics (or metrics that correlate directly with them) will speak louder than others.

Find a balance of the two to paint a holistic picture of your team across the board—they are more than just numbers—and then make the solid case for keeping them.


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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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