Not so long ago, customer support was seen as a luxury rather than a necessity.
Many companies mistakenly saw customer support as an expense to be managed rather than as an asset to be leveraged. As flawed as this position may be, it’s understandable. After all, it’s a lot easier to quantify the value of a lead or a sale than it is to somehow measure the impact of a successful support experience.
Unfortunately, one result of this mindset is that, historically, customer support teams have been overlooked or neglected in favor of more tangible investments.
For instance, customer support has very little influence on product development, yet it’s still expected to handle any and all problems created by the product. Conversely, product teams—which can shape the growth trajectory of entire companies—often leave it to customer support teams to clean up their mess on the back end.
Of course, that was then. Things are different now—much different.
In today’s completely oversaturated technology market, it’s getting harder and harder for companies to differentiate themselves from the competition solely in terms of their underlying tech. As a result, only companies that invest in their frontline staff and give them the tools and resources they need to deliver better, faster support will succeed.
One of the best ways to deliver superior customer support is to elevate your customer support teams from within. Let’s talk about how we can do this by working together—across Sales, Marketing, and Support—toward a common goal.
Help Your Teams Work Together
Picture the scene: A customer buys two brand-new smart-home speakers because of their advertised surround-sound capability. But there’s a problem: That feature isn’t due to be rolled out until much later in the year. Now somebody has to break it to the understandably upset customer that they bought a product on the basis of a feature that hasn’t yet been implemented.
These sorts of situations happen every single day, and often its Support that has to deal with the aftermath. It’s on Support to deliver the bad news, and they’re the ones who somehow have to smooth over an impossible situation as best they can.
These kinds of interactions are hugely damaging to your company’s brand, not to mention that time, energy, and resources are wasted in an effort to salvage the situation. So how can you avoid situations like this in your own company? By making sure that Sales, Marketing, and Support work in harmony to create a seamless, consistent customer experience that scales. If you get this right, you’ll join the ranks of Amazon, Zappos, and other customer-centric companies that are renowned for treating their customers well.
Ready to bring everything together and deliver a superior experience to your customers? Read on.
Nail Down Your Customer Profiles
You can’t effectively support your customers if you have no idea who they really are. That’s why developing detailed, three-dimensional personas or customer profiles is essential; it’s vital that, regardless of department or job role, everybody knows and understands your customers in the same way. If you don’t, you can’t expect to communicate effectively about your customers’ needs, desires, or motivations.
Creating rich, detailed customer profiles helps every department better understand their role in the acquisition process.
Never created a customer profile or buyer persona? Here’s how:
- Describe your company’s ideal customer: Who are they? What matters to them? Why would they choose your business over a competitor? Once you’ve started to ask these questions, give your customer persona a name and a face to make them easier to visualize and relate to.
- Delve deeper and fill in the blanks: Once you’ve established the skeleton of your customer profile, it’s time to drill down so you can start fleshing out the persona further. Why wouldn’t your ideal customer do business with you? What factors are important to their decision-making process? The more detail you can capture, the better; understanding the psychological nuances of your customer will help you craft deeply relevant messaging that directly appeals to and engages your ideal customer.
- Think about how your ideal customer will discover your business: For this step, it’s time to think about content. What newspapers, magazines, and blogs does your ideal customer read—and why? Which social media platforms do they use most? What does your ideal customer search for online? Where do they get their industry news? The more you know about where and how your customers are spending their time, the more effectively you can intercept their attention and position your company as a solution to their problems.
The process of crafting detailed buyer personas takes some effort, but it pays off in the long run.
Onboard New Hires the Right Way
Many companies see onboarding as little more than a glorified orientation session. Typically, this involves a myopic focus on the company, its staff, and its internal processes. Although these are all elements of better onboarding programs, it’s vital that you also teach new hires about your ideal customers and how you interact with them as a business.
Here’s what this looks like in action:
- Onboarding starts before a new hire’s first day: The best teams know that onboarding truly begins far in advance of a new employee’s first day on the job. In the weeks leading up to a new hire’s first day, send a series of “pre-start” onboarding emails to the new hire to prepare them for life at your company. Each email should have a different focus, but don’t feel limited to the specifics of their role—this is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the corporate culture you’ve worked hard to cultivate, too.
- Launch a “buddy” program: Pairing a new hire with a dedicated onboarding “buddy” is a great way to personalize the onboarding experience and minimize stress for the new employee. Ideally, onboarding buddies should be chosen cross-departmentally to give new hires a better sense of what people do in other departments and how they work. This context is critical in developing a consistent, organization-wide approach to supporting your customers.
It doesn’t matter whether your new hire is joining your sales team, your marketing department, or your customer success desk. The goal is to help new hires hit the ground running and gain vital insights into how you work as a company, not just as a department.
Implement Interdepartmental Training Programs
It’s hard to get everybody on the same page if people across multiple teams can’t communicate effectively with one another.
Conducting regular, interdepartmental training sessions involving Sales, Marketing, and Support is one of the best ways to develop a singular framework for thinking about your products and your customers. This is also an exercise in cultivating empathy; exposing Sales and Marketing personnel to typical support problems and feedback from net promoter scores helps them understand the challenges support reps face every day.
There are two things you need to do to develop an effective interdepartmental training program:
- Be consistent: Whether it happens once a week, once a month, or once a year, it’s vital that everybody knows exactly when the next training session is so they can prepare appropriately. The more engaging your sessions are, the more value you’ll deliver to your employees.
- Be specific: Don’t focus on vague, nebulous problems—address specific, actionable issues that your departments are trying to solve right now. Once you’ve identified tangible issues to tackle, walk through the solutions with everybody, not just key stakeholders. This is another exercise in empathy; it’s difficult to bring people together if you’re not committed to a culture of transparency, accountability, and inclusivity.
Opening lines of communication between Sales, Marketing, and Support will help your sales reps and marketing personnel gain a better understanding of the problems your support team faces every single day, which in turn can help surface new ideas and innovative solutions.
Investing in Support Drives Revenue
There’s no other way to put it: The more effort and resources you devote to providing top-tier customer support, the happier your customers will be—and your revenues will likely increase alongside your customers’ happiness.
Happy Customers Are Loyal Customers
There are few customer retention strategies more potent than doing everything in your power to make your customers as happy as you can. Why? Because the decision to patronize one company over another isn’t a logical decision—it’s an emotional decision. And, whether positive or negative, your frontline support staff is often the source of that emotion.
Great customer support experiences create positive emotions that result in happier, more loyal customers. This isn’t just important in terms of customer retention; it can be a valuable asset in attracting new business:
- According to American Express, happy, satisfied customers tell an average of nine people about their positive experiences with a company or brand.
- Data from Right Now suggests that 73% of customers say friendly, helpful support staff can make them fall in love with a brand.
This is all well and good, but that door swings both ways:
- According to Right Now, 82% of customers have abandoned a company or brand due to a negative support experience.
- Approximately 67% of consumers cite bad experiences as the primary reason for churn.
Loyal Customers Spend More
It’s no secret that consumers who spend longer in a retail store are significantly more likely to spend more than in-and-out customers. This can be explained, in part, by inertia; it’s harder to stop doing something once we’ve gotten started. Fortunately, this principle also applies to users of SaaS products.
Once a customer has a positive association with a brand—whether physical or virtual—they’re much more likely to spend more:
- According to Temkin Group, 86% of consumers who have a positive interaction with a brand are likely to repurchase from that business.
- Data from Medallia, a provider of customer-experience software, suggests that customers who report the best experiences with brands spend approximately 2.4x more annually than customers who report negative experiences.
Investing in Support Is Investing In Your Business
For far too long, customer support has been seen as an add-on, rather than an essential component of a business’s retention strategies. It’s only in the past few years that companies have begun to rethink their relationship with support teams and recognize superior support as a key differentiator in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
That’s why it’s crucial to empower your support team internally. That means facilitating communication between departments, helping employees work together toward shared objectives, and solving problems creatively by inviting everyone to participate.
Support teams can’t do their job without support. That means not only investing in new technologies but also securing buy-in across the entire company and making superior support a core part of everything you do as a business.
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