cost center

Customer Support is Not a Cost Center

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Until customer retention took priority over acquisition, customer support was considered the least favorite department which organizations believed made no profit. But, times have changed now where 33% Americans say they’ll consider switching companies after a single instance of poor customer service. This has turned winds in favor of customer support because it is 5 to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep a current one.

Despite the spotlight turning towards customer retention, most brands still treat customer support as a mere cost center. They don’t see the bigger picture and limit its potential to resolving issues and closing calls. In truth, customer support is the key to sustain the dropping customer retention rate and make your business run. And, here’s why customer support is no longer a cost center.

Up-Selling and Cross-Selling = Increased Revenue

The role of a support agent isn’t just about resolving the customer’s issues. They are partly a salesperson who influence the expansion decision of existing customers especially in B2Bs. For example, when a customer contacts support saying that they are unable to use a feature, the agent suggests an upgrade to the next plan suitable for their requirements. This upselling helps add revenue to the company.

In case your company offers multiple products, involving the support agents to cross-sell would work wonders for increasing your customer base. The support agent can bring up another product based on what would interest the customer. While they can’t force the product into every conversation, they can bring it up if they feel it will be of use to the customer.

Collaboration with Support Team = Valuable Inputs

The inputs from the customer support team are very crucial to improve the product and retain customers. In other words, the support team serves as a database of customer information.

For example, when a product manager comes up with a new feature, it should resound positively with customers and add value to the overall product. In such instances, collaborating with the support team can be extremely beneficial as they know the pulse of the customers. This lets the product manager identify where the problems arise and build innovative features for the product with the customer interest in mind. Because, at the end of the day, an average feature which doesn’t interest the customer affects the revenue potential.

Similarly, when it comes to managing a high revenue customer account, the technical account manager (TAM) acts as the single point of contact for resolving all the issues. The customer contacts the TAM at least once or twice a week to put forward their customization requests. This requires that the customer success manager, product manager, and developers coordinate with the TAM to come up with solutions specific to that account.

Multitasking Support = Cost Saving

If there’s a team that juggles multiple roles at a time, it’s none other than the customer support team.

– Testing

The support agents are the first users of every product since they need to know the product to answer customer queries. For example, in B2B software companies, the support agents get the features at least a month before they are rolled out for the customers. They act as alpha testers and report bugs to the product team. Since they interact with customers on a daily basis, they will know when the feature needs a different coloring or when the icon needs to be bigger. In fact, a new feature goes live only when the support team is comfortable using it.

– Training

There is a wide misconception that support is all about fixing problems. The truth is every support agent receives a lot of how-to questions from both existing and newly onboarded customers. They indirectly train the customers on product usage along with answering break/fix type queries. In addition, the support team has to be constantly updated with the new features. Because if they don’t know about it when the customer asks, it will be regarded as poor service leading to customer churn.

– Marketing

Some customers prefer to contact a particular support agent whenever they face any issues. The support agents can use this opportunity to market company events like webinars and conferences. They can attach the signup link along with the solution mail if the customer knows them well enough. This type of promotion through the support team can save costs to a large extent.

Personalized Customer Support = Revenue Center

While competitive pricing garnered sales back then, millennials are willing to spend up to 21% extra for great customer care. Their expectations have skyrocketed and they demand a personalized customer experience to continue doing business. Though chatbots and virtual assistants have found their way into customer support, it’s the human touch that makes the whole customer journey more personalized. But, this can be quite difficult for the support agents if the companies don’t automate their support process and integrate every support channel under one roof.

According to dimension data benchmark report, fewer than 10% organizations have an optimized strategy for digital business in place, while over half (51%) reported they don’t have any plan at all or are at best in the process of developing one. This can affect the quality of customer service in the long term leading to loss of revenue. On the other hand, if your support team is equipped to offer a personalized support, it makes your brand stand out from the rest.

No organization in the world can do without a support team as they are the ones who shape the overall customer experience. With cut-throat competition everywhere, cracking the code of customer retention is the need of the hour for every company.

And, it’s the support team that has the potential to prevent churn and make your customers happy which is not possible by any other department. After all, only they know what gets the attention of the customer and the secret to building a loyal customer base.

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