Everything you Need to Know About Real-Time Support
How the approach to support changed over the years
As soon as the first deal of humanity was struck, and services were exchanged for goods, the first business-customer relationship started. In fact, the 1750 BCE complaint tablet to Ea-Nasir is widely believed to be the first customer complaint ever. Thankfully, our customers no longer need to spend hours working on clay tablets to let us know how they feel about our products – first with the popularization of phones, and later with the internet, reaching out to the businesses has become easier and easier.
The development of new communication channels benefits both parties equally — clients can now pass their feedback on or get assistance as easily as a business can find and reach their target audience to market and promote their products. Business now happens in real-time, even across the world, and you need to choose the right channels to participate at this rapid pace.
While picking the correct channels for your audience to reach out may be a big task, it will not only bring you higher customer satisfaction rates, it will also increase loyalty enable customer-driven improvements in the product, and enhance the overall customer experience.
Which real-time support channels are the right ones for you?
Just like with everything in your business, the first question should be “What do our customers want?”.
If your business is B2C and you know that your target audience spends more of their time on social media and hates phone calls, it makes no sense for you to jump into setting up your call center. Similarly, for a complex B2B technical product it may make more sense to enable live chats on your website so that potential customers can learn everything they need about the product from your team before they even sign up.
You may also need different real-time channels for different stages of support, enabling you to provide the best possible service when it’s needed: video calls work great for initial onboarding, while screen sharing may only come in handy when troubleshooting technical issues. One thing is for sure — you want your customers to be able to find the help they require when they require it, so market analysis is the perfect place for you to start discovering.
What are the challenges of real-time support?
Whatever real-time channel you decide to go with, there are some challenges ahead.
- Switching from classic support channels like email that allow your agents to have some time to think about the answer, to instant conversational channels like chat can be a tumultuous process for your support team. One of the biggest defining characteristics of chat is the speed of the response and waiting for that initial response can make it or break it for your customers. So what can you do to help your team prepare? The preset welcome message is one solution and enabling a bot that will help gather the initial info while your agents are wrapping up a previous conversation is another one!
- What about phone calls? Not every agent is ready or willing to jump right into a new channel, so if you decide to introduce phone support, you will need to plan ahead: prepare a list of your most experienced agents, and make them your trial team. Later you can come up with a training plan for new agents and they can go into phone support knowing full well what lies ahead. Try to prepare a list of possible scenarios and most-used processes for your team members to have a cheat sheet whenever they are on a call, so they can feel confident and you can be sure your clients get the best support they deserve.
- Another corner you can find yourself in is setting up custom real-life channels — do your clients prefer social media and slide into your DMs all day long? Setting a process for support in an unusual environment can be a huge pain, but you do not have to suffer. Plenty of ticketing tools nowadays allow you to connect your social media to the system using API or in-house integrations so that all of the tweets and pokes can be managed right from within your help desk.
What are the benefits of real-time support?
After all, is said and done, your bots enabled, integrations set up and agents trained, it’s time to reap the rewards and see how real-time support benefited your team, your product, and your business.
Business Benefits: Offering real time support is the best way to truly delight your customers and ensure their loyalty — knowing that they can reach out to you using the channels that work for them, have their opinion heard out and hopefully see their feedback taken into work can only improve customer loyalty and reduce your churn statistics. Once you build trust with your customers by showing them your face (sometimes even literally!), 82% of them are more likely to stay with your business and recommend it to others as well.
Product Benefits: Your product will also see its life changed for the better after introducing real-time support: getting insight into how your customers work is always a plus, but being able to literally follow their every move and talk to them about what they like or don’t like is a perk previously only available by setting up user interviews. As a bonus point, customers are more likely to show their honest to god workflows when trying to catch a bug, so the data received during real-life support interactions are more likely to benefit the product team in making decisions regarding product improvements. And as for your company, having your client’s opinion, feedback and ideas just one phone call away is pretty priceless by itself.
Team Benefits: Real time support can be daunting for your support team to adapt to, simply because the immediacy requires them to think on their feet. However, this is what makes it exciting! Real time support forces agents to upskill themselves, have real time conversations with customers, dig deeper into personalized solutions and close a higher number of customer complaints than a traditional channel.
To add real-time support or not?
Ultimately, the final decision on whether or not you need real-time support is yours to make. If you simply want this type of support because everyone else has it — try it out. If you feel like it would be beneficial to your business — try it out. If your customers are asking for it – definitely try it out.