Alright–– So you’ve created a product or application that is so good that it can cure leprosy and bring your “Meemaw” back from the dead. Sweet! You’re rolling around in cash and sleeping on mattresses made up of dollar stacks –– good for you. But wait until you have to provide technical support or any kind of customer support for that matter. You’ll soon want to jump off the observation deck of Burj Khalifa.
Why, you might ask, is customer support such a big deal? Well, before we go down that rabbit hole, let’s give you some examples of companies that failed, crashed and conflagrated into a pile of slag heap because of bad customer service.
1) US Airways – Before it was purchased by America West, this airline was notorious for its terrible customer service. They made the mistake of slashing their customer service budget and outsourcing this department of critical importance to someone who clearly didn’t know what they were doing. Result? The company nosedived into the ground and filed for bankruptcy.
2) Blockbuster – Remember the once famous video rental chain? Yeah, no one does. And that’s exactly what happens to those who subject their customers to exorbitant late fees and otherwise takes them for fools; until the customers decided to make Blockbuster their bitch by not buying from them. Getting auctioned off to Dish Network in bankruptcy court was an end well deserved.
Kids, we can go on and on about companies that either went bust or came perilously close to this fate because of bad customer service, but that’s not what you’re here for – and we think we’ve made our point. You’re here for the goodies!
So let’s talk about different methods of providing support. We’ll also offer you some tips to stay on top of your game as far as customer service is concerned. Let’s go!
1) Phone Support – Yep!
We’re starting with phone support because it is the only method of providing instant gratification to customers in distress. Why phone? Because our brains are wired to make a phone call when we most need help. Think 911. What’s your instinctive reaction when you’re in trouble? You “call for help,” whether it’s by shouting or dialing an emergency number. Now don’t make the mistake of thinking a tech problem is any less important than someone breaking into your house. They’re both equally scary.
Phone support gives your customers the opportunity to solve their problem there and then. They don’t have to wait, write emails, send supporting documents attested by a public notary… you catch the drift. What’s unique to customer support is the feeling of human contact. Simply hearing another person’s empathetic voice soothes an irate customer’s nerves. They know immediately that it’s a real person helping them out, not an automated script sending messages confirming someone’s on their case.
And then there are so many other factors, especially when your phone support is all-inclusive. It may not be someone seeking support after a purchase, but someone looking for more information about your product with the intent to purchase. Simply having a real person answer their queries and concerns might convince them to buy and recommend your product to others.
2) Email – You all saw this coming, didn’t you?
How could we forget email? It’s the most widely used medium for communication and a great number of companies use it as a customer support tool. While we’re not in favor of providing only email support, it may make economical sense for smaller companies.
You can get the best out of email if you can plug it into some sort of CRM to help you make sense of it all. Otherwise, you’ll be left with an uncontrollably growing inbox filled with support requests, trouble tickets and whatnot. The point is: It’s all about how you handle emails.
But we have a killer tip that is sure to make your customers fall in love with you all over again. Supplement your email support system with phone support by following up on your customers’ trouble tickets via phone. They’ll be positively surprised at how proactive your company is, and appreciate the personal touch. This can be done either during the resolution process or after their issue has been taken care of.
It also provides you with a great opportunity to survey your client base and keep a tab on their pulse. If their attitude towards your company changes, so will their tone of voice.
This is usually part of a much larger customer relationship management system that manages the whole customer service gamut for you. The incoming support requests might come from phone, email, chat or even manual entries, which the CRM then throws into the right buckets.
A good CRM will also provide you with all sorts of metrics you need to evaluate performance of your support representatives. How effective it is at keeping your customers happy really depends on people manning the customer support desks.
The goal should be to have a ticket resolved ASAP. Forget 24 to 48 hours. Nobody can wait that long to hear from you, and you really can achieve great response time by making sure your support staff is proportional to the size of your company (and customer base). Speaking of response times…
Along with in-browser phone support, live chat support is fast becoming the norm. Often times you’ll see small widgets in the corner of a website that, when clicked, turn into a small window connecting you to the support rep. If complimented with phone support, this potent combo can singlehandedly skyrocket your customer satisfaction rate.
That, folks, is all for today! We tend to underestimate the importance of customer support, but it is the cornerstone of success for businesses in a world where a new competitor springs up every day. Good support makes your customers like you, and if they like you, they’ll forgive you for small mistakes and errors on your part. They’ll stay loyal and market your business for you.
NOTE: This blog post was originally written for and published on Voz.io