When industries become saturated and new competitors crop up, many businesses choose to invest in product development and marketing. What better way to get noticed than exciting new products and eye-catching advertising, right?
The reality is that 4 out of 5 customers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. While all departments provide crucial support in building your business, your customer support team is probably the only one that is in direct contact with your customer.
Investing in customer support has an immediate impact on loyalty, retention, and acquisition. It shapes your brand and promotes growth. But to provide great customer support, you need to learn the ins and outs of building a great customer support team. Here are 5 things you need to know about customer support.
What is customer support and why does it matter?
Customer support is the experience you provide to consumers at every point of contact. It could be in person at a brick-and-mortar location, virtually through a chat feature on your website, or over the phone. With each interaction, you are given the opportunity to shape the way people see you. Thus, customer support should be a proactive strategy for your organization, rather than a reactive one.
Today, consumers have more choices than ever before. So, what makes your business stand out is its people. When you provide authentic and meaningful experiences, you ensure that customers return time and time again, while facilitating loyalty, retention, and acquisition. In the long run, maintaining and improving experiences for existing customers increases customer lifetime value. According to Qualtrics, “this is a process of monitoring, listening, and making changes that add up to a lasting improvement in how customers feel and their tendency to be loyal over the long-term.” This is therefore more profitable for your organization than actively working to acquire new customers. In fact, you are at least 2x more likely to sell to an existing customer than to a new one.
This being said, catering to existing customers significantly increases your chance of attracting new buyers. Referrals are an important, and often overlooked, source of acquisition. Most consumers are likely to trust people over businesses. Because of this, word-of-mouth, testimonials, reviews, and case studies can help elevate your brand in the eyes of new customers, which directly improves your profitability.
What are the challenges of building a support team virtually?
With many organizations going remote for the first time, there are plenty of new challenges being faced when it comes to hiring and training customer support workers. Developing a digital recruitment strategy from screening to onboarding is essential.
Here are some things to consider when defining your hiring process:
- How will you attract the right candidates?
- What conferencing tools will you use for interviews?
- What key skills do you need to assess?
- How will you manage virtual training sessions?
Building an effective support team starts in the interview process. Although the actual interview structure will likely remain the same, the candidate assessment is becoming critical. It is important to determine what skills you want to test for and find the right integrated assessment tool to measure them. Abilities like language skills, technical skills, and soft skills are common factors you might consider when selecting a candidate, but 70% of organizations don’t have the tools to identify the required competencies.
The same goes for training solutions. Select a product that includes process-specific training and scenario-based activities that are effective, engaging, and dynamic. Outlining your hiring process and selecting the right tools to integrate future workers will help you build a customer support dream team.
Why is it important to invest in your customer service team?
It’s no secret that happy employees are more dedicated, motivated, and willing to go the extra mile for the organization. This is particularly true for customer service workers. Not only do they answer to their business leaders, but they also answer to the customer. This is why customer support employees often experience higher levels of stress and pressure to do their best work. So if you want a high-performing team, invest in training, development, and tools.
Customer support workers are the face of your organization, so don’t skimp on onboarding. Ensuring your team is equipped with the tools and knowledge to provide excellent customer service will be beneficial in the long run. Technical expertise about your products and policies is important, but so is a strong arsenal of soft skills. With basic tasks getting automated, focus on developing communication, active-listening, empathy, and interpersonal skills is essential.
On top of training, customer support workers also benefit from recognition and appreciation. Offering regular constructive criticism is important, but so is acknowledging progress and wins, however big or small. Create opportunities for your team to share questions and concerns. This can be through scheduled one-on-one time with their superior, anonymous check-ins, or employee satisfaction surveys. Gain insight into your employees’ wellbeing and you will build a winning team.
How do you measure customer support success?
Keeping track of success can be a challenge. The right help desk tool for your needs will make all the difference, but first, you need to define what great customer support means to you. Metrics like response rate, ticket volume, and customer satisfaction are common benchmarks to measure. Are they representative of the experience you want to offer your customers? Or the experience your support team expects? Monitoring key metrics is a standard practice in most organizations, but think about what they reveal about the experience you are providing. Do they accurately reflect the quality of support provided? Do they measure customer loyalty or retention?
Consider what metrics and features are essential (must-haves to effectively support customers) and non-essential (nice-to-haves to support customers) when it comes to improving the experience. With diverse channels to monitor and unique consumer inquiries, staying on top of performance is critical. Therefore, it is essential to analyze data to understand how your customers feel and use the insights to guide your support team in the right direction.
So what are customer support best practices?
With the growing importance of customer experience, there are a few key trends to be aware of when developing your customer support strategy.
Focus on consistency:
Online or offline. On your website or on social media. Customers are interacting with your brand across multiple channels globally and it’s important to be aware of the experience you provide in each of them. Consistency is the key.
Your support team should be prepared to deliver excellent service to all customers, no matter how they connect with your business. Being aware of all interactions, regardless of the channel, is the first step. Whether a customer is contacting your business through email, live chat, or phone support, centralizing the interactions in a dedicated dashboard or help desk tool will facilitate future conversations. It also ensures a seamless experience for the customer. The same goes for social media interactions. Although it is becoming an increasingly important part of the customer experience, it’s often an afterthought for many organizations. By providing an equally meaningful experience in every customer encounter, you can ensure a strong Omni-channel presence.
Focus on personalization:
A great support specialist is focused on the unique needs of the customer. The more monotonous tasks automate the more your customer experience needs to humanize. As organizations embrace digitization, it’s an opportunity for your support team to develop essential soft skills, allowing them to provide more meaningful experiences where it matters.
A 2018 research suggests that personalized customer support directly impacts visitor engagement, customer experience, brand perception, conversion rates, and customer acquisition. Support service candidates can easily increase personalization through email, live chat, and phone support by introducing themselves, using a real profile photo where applicable, and addressing the customer by their first name. Also, acknowledging the customer issue and providing consistent assurance are key components of personalization. Through regular training and the development of soft skills, your customer support team can create meaningful experiences driven by empathy.
In addition, a dedicated social media support team goes a long way in amplifying your brand and improving the experience. As more and more users flock to Instagram and Facebook, good customer support doesn’t go unnoticed. This is increasingly true for younger generations. Did you know Millennials are willing to spend over 20% more on brands that provide amazing customer care?
Focus on feedback:
It’s never been easier for consumers to talk about your brand, so make sure to listen and act. Whether you measure customer satisfaction through a formal survey or by reading comments on social media posts, what you do with this feedback is crucial. Feedback provides valuable data and insights to fix recurring issues and improve your customer support strategy. Responding to negative feedback gives your company a chance to redeem itself. On the flip side, investing in development opportunities for your support team leads to more positive reviews, which you can collect and promote to showcase what makes your company great.
Customers are able to voice their opinions more loudly than ever before. They can research different brands and make their own decisions about who they trust. They can actively and publicly share their stories across multiple channels. Regular and ongoing training empowers your customer support team to provide memorable experiences that positively impact your business. Being there for your customers is more than just answering questions. Active listening, understanding, and transparency are essential in building a future-proof customer support strategy.