No two days are the same for Bharghavi KKA, Manager of Customer Support at Freshworks.
Each day brings in a new problem to find answers for. Her ‘not-so-mundane’ day starts at 9 AM and goes on till 7PM. Her first task is to check the customer support metrics like ticket assignment, ticket split between agents, missed calls of the previous day. It is of utmost importance to track these logs as it gives her a sense of how her team is doing the job. She then looks into ongoing escalations that need her immediate attention and jumps into the first of the many calls to go about solving issues.
This happens day in and day out, with a new challenge cropping up every day.
At the end of the week, she also does a weekly deep dive to gauge ticket assignment and also get a record of open tickets that need resolution.
Bharghavi and her team support Freshworks customers across the world.
To put it simply it is up to Bharghavi and her ilk to make sure that customers do not leave the company and switch to another product or to put it in ‘geeky’ language — she is responsible for keeping the ‘churn’ as low as possible in the company. And it isn’t an easy ask.
Why isn’t it easy, you may ask. But before we get to that, it is really important to shed some light on what exactly is customer service and how it could possibly reduce customer churn.
Customer service is any product related help provided by a company to its customers who have subscribed to its services. The idea is to ensure that a company retains hard earned customers acquired by spending significant moolah on advertising, than land another customer to replace the one it lost.
The truth is — it costs a lot less to retain a customer than onboarding a new one.
How Exactly Can a Customer Support Executive Reduce Churn?
While there really isn’t a set methodology to ensure churn reduction, there certainly are a few areas one can concentrate on and then tailor it according to specific use cases.
We keep responding to the customers, giving them trust that we won’t let them in the dark. We resolve cases. Keeping them heard and developing trust is important
Bharghavi KKA, Manager of Customer Support, Freshworks
This is why the role of someone like Bharghavi is of prime importance in any company. It is up to the service team to do their best in answering queries so that the customer is able to resolve problems smoothly and continues to use the software for days to come.
So what areas should you focus on?
Ensure a Great Start
As most solution clichés go the prudent thing to do is ensure top notch customer support from the word go. Though a cliché, in this case, it really is true.
The moment you onboard a customer, you must start working on laying the foundation for effectively ‘not losing the customer forever’. A smooth welcome ensures a mental tick mark from the customer and goes a long way in reducing churn.
The customer support executive needs to be proactive and be around with the customer during the initial few days to help them achieve success. This leaves a long term imprint saying that the company will always be around for any help that the customer might need and more importantly makes the customer feel that they have made the right choice in subscribing to your product.
360 Degree Approach to Support
The true value of support lies not just in answering calls and helping the customer, it is also important to build a network of resources centred around support.
Before that, it is important to really understand your customer and also the customer’s point of contact — Who is she/he? Technical or non-technical person? What approach of customer support do they prefer?
From a support point of view. It is imperative to know who the customer is. There could be a technical guy who is the point of contact from the company or a non-technical who is our point of contact. Depending on who it is you need to tune you content.
Thriyambhakesh Ravi, Senior Technical Account Manager, Freshworks
If it is important to know your customer well, it is imperative that you know your own firm well. Say there is a technical query, you need to instinctively know who is the right person to escalate your problem to. These little details are important in maintaining the hard earned trust of your customers.
The 360 degree approach involves mapping and understanding how to cater to the customer at every touch point.
Once you have a fair idea, you can then think of allocating specific resources from blogs to maybe even chatbots to help your customer. It really is a matter of ‘connecting the dots’ when it comes to executing great customer support.
Let us take blogs, for example.
Blogs can be an effective medium to put various content for the customer to find, analyze, and imbibe. But, for blogs to work, you need a strategy that encompasses the questions
– How to build a relevant technical and non-technical content repository for your client?
– How to ensure easy discovery of relevant content?
Similarly, you need to put plans in place for email, voice calls, social media and website. You need to be present everywhere to ensure seamless support.
If you have the technical prowess, it makes sense to even have AI bots which can act as the first point of contact. We recently launched our very own omnibot Freddy for the same. In an era where self service rules the roost, AI is a bet many are taking.
Expectation and Enhancement
While plugging churn is an important focus area for any company, you need to accept the fact that being churn free is a myth. As a customer support provider you can only do so much to solve a problem. A customer who is intent on leaving will leave anyway.
In a happy family you just need to make sure they are happy always. Whereas if things are not going well, the support agent’s role becomes important. You need to be updated and proactive.
If that is one end of the spectrum, there will also be customers who will give you suggestions to make your product better. It is your role to listen to them and understand how the idea can make your product better.
You need to proactively inform customers on down times and scheduled maintenance, also have a weekly or bi-weekly calls. Some customers churn silently, so these calls are important. You must also follow up on product updates. Small things like informing bug fixes after the customer reported them — small surprises make them happy. Customers are also happy if you introduce a feature they requested for.
Also, being a support agent, it is important to be a good judge of a conversation — Was the customer happy? Angry? Sad? These cues help you in taking the right conversation course. You need to tailor your content and maybe even your voice to suit the situation.
Furthermore, you need to really understand and accept the fact that you cannot build every feature a customer asks for, at least not immediately. It is therefore useful to know products and apps that a customer can use alongside yours for their specific needs so that overall, you can give a better customer experience.
It is important to identify the features they are looking for and look for alternative solutions. We can’t build everything.
Even in the worst case scenario of a customer dropping out, it is upto the customer support executive to use the input to achieve better product market fit. Based on your dropouts and the reasons attributed to it, you can figure out how better to position your product, what to add, delete or change.
All said and done, the truth is you need to resolve problems as quickly as possible. Even if you are present across all the support channels, but do not get back to the customer quickly, you can be almost certain of losing them.
While customer service is about doing small things right, the bigger picture always helps.
The wall behind Bharghavi KKA’s desk has eight clocks, each showing the time in different time zones. Other than the practical use of the clock telling the exact time, these are a constant reminder that the customer service team needs to be on the job mode 24X7.