It is tempting to design a support process around what we, as a business, need rather than what our customers want and expect. The truth is, the customer support experience tends to color a customer’s perception. It can have a lasting impact on customer loyalty, buying behavior, and future customer interactions.
By making sure these customer touchpoints are well designed, we can improve our customer’s overall experiences with our brands. Here are five things most customers want from a customer support experience.
1. They don’t actually want to contact you
Your customers don’t start doing business with you hoping to have an issue that your support team will need to resolve. They would prefer that everything went smoothly and would prefer not to have to ask questions or resolve issues. The first thing to remember is that your customers don’t want support; they need support. In that distinction lies a world of difference, one that should be kept in mind when designing support processes.
2. They want it to be quick
The importance of a speedy resolution cannot be stressed enough. Ultimately, your bottom line depends on whether you resolved your customers’ issue in an appropriate amount of time. Customers value having issues resolved quickly, and many of them will not hesitate to take their business elsewhere if you do not deliver.
3. They want it to be easy
Your customers do not want to expend effort to solve a problem, especially if they perceive the issue to be your fault. When your customers reach out for service, they are taking valuable time out of their busy schedules to communicate with you and to solve their issues. Make sure that your support system and web self-service portal is truly customer-centric and as user-friendly as possible. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How many forms do your customers need to fill out?
- Do you offer different communication channels to accommodate everyone?
- How many times do they need to email, call, or live chat with you to find the right department?
To make a customer’s experience with your support team easier, you must reduce the hassle-factor in your support processes. 66% of customers say they are likely to leave a company after a high effort experience, and you do not want your support processes to increase the customer’s perception of a high effort experience. When your systems and processes make your customers’ lives easier, your customers will be happier and more loyal.
4. They want it to improve their experience
A successful service recovery can actually increase a customer’s loyalty. In a recent Harvard Business Review study, for example, Net Promoter Score® (NPS) increased by 37 (airline industry) and 59 points (wireless carriers) after customer received a response to their support-related Tweets. This is a good example of some of the key techniques I recommend during the process of resolving an issue:
- Clearly define the resolution process
- Personalize the service
- Minimize customer effort
By walking a customer through the support process, you can help them understand what needs to happen and why. This will help connect you to your customers and will help you form a stronger relationship.
5. They want to prevent future issues
There are a few keys to preventing future issues with the same customer. To begin, always employ good documentation practices to track any and all interactions with a customer. Documentation is at the heart of great service, because it creates the context for customer-facing professionals to have a deep understanding of the customer’s issue and to solve not only the issue at hand, but likely future issues.
Next, understand the typical follow up issues that often occur. Make sure you are always evaluating your issue resolution data and the trends behind repeat contact.
When you send customers the new part, do they often have to call back for help installing it? Give them a web link with video instructions up front. Strive to minimize reasons for the customer to be forced into more service contacts.
Finally, ask open-ended questions at the end of the service conversation designed to reveal typical related issues and to give you the chance to solve them on the spot.
Toward a better customer support experience
Support experiences are important parts of the overall customer experience. Even though support tickets can be costly hindrances to both company and customer, they will always be a part of customer service. By focusing on the five ideas above, you can make sure that your support experiences are as effective and pleasant as possible.
And for that, they will likely reward you handsomely.