Four Factors that Will Make or Break Support
Customers are growing increasingly savvy and as they do, their needs are changing. What you provide your customer with will obviously have to account for this change, and evolve accordingly. In fact, if you don’t make changes, your customers may end up leaving, especially considering your competitors do make changes to their support strategy to address the changing tides. Some of these factors are fairly small and make use of existing tools. Some, on the other hand, are fairly large shifts to make to your overall strategy, and may take time to implement. Read through this blog and we’ll explain a few of the ways by which you can adapt your support in both large and small ways.
Omnichannel is similar to a multichannel approach, in that it uses multiple channels such as chat, social media, email, and phone, to enhance customer experience. However, it distinguishes itself from the multichannel approach by heavily emphasizing on the ability of customers to move between channels effortlessly. A user can use multiple platforms and devices for support with a multichannel strategy. With omnichannel, the company will be able to achieve the same, while shifting from one to the other in the single interaction, without breaking the line of communication. Most importantly, according to Waterfield Technologies, there’s a 91 percent higher rate of customer retention when compared to those that didn’t employ this type of strategy.
One of the ways omnichannel helps make your product stickier, is by making the customer feel like their experience is effortless. According to BRP, most consumers expect the ability to shop seamlessly across channels, but only 7% of retailers currently provide a completely unified commerce experience by allowing a customer to ‘start the sale anywhere, and finish the sale anywhere.’ By being a part of the 7%, you do your due diligence of fulfilling the customer’s basic expectations, and by doing that you earn their trust and loyalty.
When you implement an omnichannel support strategy, it also allows you to give your team more context into who the customer is, and details of any conversations they might have had. How many times do you think a customer has reached out via social media, been told to reach out to the support email address, and once they got there been asked the same question again? It’s incredibly frustrating and time-consuming; the customer thinks you should just be able to see what they had stated and asked for to begin with.
With omnichannel support, the context of each conversation is kept intact, without the need to double-check for information, or ask for information that has already been provided.
Similar to the situation above, it’s almost impossible to get a good first contact resolution rating for your support team when they’re constantly bouncing tickets from social to chat to email, and every other way you can spin it. But with omnichannel, things are just shifted between channels and can be picked up or dropped off on any device, thereby increasing the first contact resolution rate.
This is accelerated if your support team works diligently to pay attention to where your customers are coming in from, and act quickly to desilo them or place them in a channel more suited to their needs.
According to Enkata, proactive support boosts customer retention rates by 3-5%, resulting in increased customer loyalty. With increased loyalty, your product becomes stickier, and customers won’t find many reasons to quit your product. This is why proactive support is the second factor that can make or break your support.
One way that proactive support increases loyalty, is that it decreases the load on your inbox – meaning you receive a few questions from customers that require an answer. This impacts the customer because very few people actually enjoy or want to reach out to support. They would rather solve their problems by themselves. On the other hand, your support team will have the headspace and bandwidth to work on tougher tickets or other projects that will make your support offering better. When customers have shorter wait times or are able to help themselves, they’re going to be much more satisfied with their experience.
Lastly, it trains your customers to avoid escalations. According to Altimeter, one of the biggest online customer complaints they’ve had is that the support experience during escalations is quite poor. Whether they were ignored on social media, or someone was rude to them during an email conversation, it could have been avoided by implementing proactive support. For example, if they were expressing frustration on social media, but not directly tweeting at you, your support team can reach out and address their issues before it comes to a head with your company. Even better, they could find an answer through pre-existing material like a webinar, or other forms of documentation. Getting to your customer before they feel the brunt of undesirable emotions like anger or frustration, is the best way to maintain loyalty.
Read more: How to Offer Proactive Support
Artificial intelligence (AI) seems like the hip new thing that everyone is talking about—and that makes sense! Not only is AI incredibly useful for scaling and keeping costs down, it also provides analytic insights into what your team could be doing better or differently.
One of the main places that people implement AI, is within their chat solution. Bots and artificial intelligence are capable of handling pathing and routing as well as smaller tasks that can deflect conversations from needing an actual human interaction. Many customers are happy with the ability to get help fast, and if they need to go to a human agent, they expect the representative to have complete context into their situation, helping them quickly. An added bonus is that bots never sleep, so there will always be at least some method of finding assistance if your customers reach out, and for some reason, the support agent isn’t available.
Beyond bots, AI also serves to help deepen your analytics with intelligent toolings such as sentiment analysis or automated responses generated on your past emails. For example, Google’s email AI suggests appropriate responses for you to send when you hit reply to any mail. These level up your support team immensely by providing deeper insights into where you could be doing better, and also reducing the time spent on “easy win” tickets. With less time spent in the queue, you will be able to futureproof your team through projects that provide them with confidence-boosting wins.
AI is a great way of digging deeper into an analysis of what’s going on in your inbox, but the analytics should be considered highly important in your overall support strategy moving forward. Although they give you good insights, they also allow you to focus on growing the value of your product. By analyzing your customer’s path and what they’re interested in, you’ll be able to make business decisions around data rather than speculation. It also means that you are equipped with the tools to understand the direct monetary impact when you make a business decision or shift your support strategy, thus proving the value of an occasionally undervalued department.
Analytics can also serve to measure the performance of the past, and adapt it for the future. For example, detailed historical analytics can make it possible to state the exact number of team members you will need at any point in the future, based on performance and growth metrics from the past. That kind of definitiveness is so valuable, especially for a team where a lot of metrics can be qualitative rather than quantitative.
Some of these strategies, like omnichannel support, might take some time for full implementation into your customer support workflow. Depending on what your team is already doing or using, you might be drawn more to one strategy over another. Start with what resonates with you, and what you think would positively impact your team and your company the most. Ultimately, all four of these will eventually be necessary and important, and will be integral to your team’s success in the future.