Customer Support is one of those departments everyone has, but many companies think just having some staff is good enough. Having a phenomenal customer support team is one of the unsung heroics of business. That is what will make the difference between an average company and one people enjoy doing business with.
Feedback - Most call centers have a quick survey at the end of the call to rate customer satisfaction. Many are just a “Are you satisfied? Yes or no.” That doesn’t tell anyone anything. One of the better ones I’ve encountered was a voicemail option where the caller could leave a note about their service. Define the metrics you want to use to measure the success of your customer support team and ask those questions or let the customer tell you what they thought was important. Most importantly, use the feedback to iterate the process.
Empowered Team - Does your customer support team have the power to make independent decisions as long as they are well reasoned out? There is a well-circulated story about a woman who called Zappos customer support and during the conversation also mentioned death in the family. The Zappos representative sent the lady a bouquet of flowers along with her new shoes. Sure, it cost Zappos money to do that, but where do you think that lady started doing her shoe shopping from that point on?
The Right People - The right people can be challenging to find. Whether you choose to hire in-house, outsource, or embed your customer support team, you will need the correct people for the job. Look for people who have a positive life outlook, are adaptable, and are problem solvers. Scripted conversations with support staff are awful when calling in for help. A team where you speak with a real person who understands your frustration and can make decisions to help you rather than putting you on hold to speak with a manager makes the process nearly painless. Positive people are a must. Nobody wants to speak with someone who sounds like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. Finally, the most important quality in someone is empathy. When everything boils down, one of the only things people want is to feel understood. You need to understand your customer’s problems to sell them solutions. Your customer support team needs to understand your customer’s problems to arrive at a solution and build loyalty.
Quick Turnaround - If you do email support rather than over-the-phone, what is your turnaround time? People don’t want to wait forever for their problems to be solved. They want it done yesterday. I recently had a call with Cox because there was a problem with my internet connection. They kept having to escalate the technical issues. It took some time, but the same representative I spoke with called me back every two hours updating me on the progress. She didn’t have to do that, and when she said she would, I honestly didn’t expect her to. She took the irritation out of waiting because I knew she’d call and I did not have to sit next to the router for hours trying to see if it worked yet.
Outreach - Does your customer support team reach out to people to see if they have any questions? If you are a software company, check-in with every new client a week or so after they adopt your product. There is always a learning curve, and it will ease the adoption process if you answer questions before they turn into frustrations. Do you deliver products? Check in to see if the delivery went well and if they are happy with the shipment. Checking in with people shows that you really do care and they can reach out to you if they run into something later on.