A critical part of customer experience is the support available around a transaction or service. Technology enables many interaction points between the brand and customer, but the burden of providing a positive, helpful, and quick response is still dependent on human level of effort. Companies face challenges in scaling their customer support to keep up with high volumes of inquiries and provide relevant responses in a timely manner.
The immediate gratification a customer feels in finding, purchasing, using, and sharing a product or service is often lost when they need customer support. If support is needed prior to completing a transaction, 45% of consumers in the U.S. will abandon their online transaction if their questions or concerns are not quickly addressed per Forrester Research.
The findings from Forrester Research also show that email interactions can take too long for most customers. 41% of consumers expect a response within 6 hours, but only 36% of retailers respond within a 6 hour time period and 14% never respond at all. Many customers turn to social media for quicker response time, however, according to a benchmark study by Zendesk, satisfaction ratings for interaction via Twitter is only 77%, whereas the highest satisfaction ratings (92%) are from chats.
With customer support, response time is critical to revenue and quality is critical to brand reputation. Here are our three top strategies to improve customer support offerings, reduce costs, increase satisfaction, and provide a positive and streamlined customer experience.
Optimize content, minimize dependence on customer support
A smartly designed website with strong information architecture and optimized user experience can direct the customer to exactly the information they are looking for and reduce the need for customer support, particularly if content is developed for the website based on customer support trends.
Allowing the customer to self-service by guiding them through help topics and options for resolution may reduce the volume of inquiries received by your customer support team, and allow them to resolve their issue in less time than it would take them to contact your support team.
Much of this content can also be queried and provided to customers through a chatbot that the customer can interact with. This widely used form of artificial intelligence will have limitations but can use keywords from the customer’s conversation to provide helpful suggestions or links. This conversation could be recorded and used to document the customer support ticket if further assistance is needed.
Providing customers with a community forum for user-generated support can be a beneficial way to give your customer support team some reprieve. Forums can also build brand equity by giving community influencers and brand loyalists a platform to speak highly of your products or services.
Maximize reuse and efficiency
Responding to each customer support inquiry is time consuming and can quickly become burdensome with higher volume. To create efficiencies in responding to tickets, it’s necessary to perform tracking and analysis of the tickets so that your team can then maximize the content used to respond to tickets.
Analyze incoming support tickets, label them by category of request, and store the responses to each category in an easily filterable database.
Pull from past responses to minimize efforts to rewrite, but do so in a way that doesn’t feel like a bad cut-and-paste job.
Another tactic to maximize efficiency is to identify trends. Create content on your site and in your customer support response database based on these trends. Share trending topics across the team with feedback on how to address common issues.
Be proactive when issues arise. If there’s a known issue that is raised through customer support tickets, develop messaging for the website to alert customers and let them know the issue is being worked on.
Improve the support experience
Provide transparency to your customer about the expected turnaround time. A systematic message to confirm receipt of their inquiry with typical estimated response times can reduce impatience and prevent your customer from feeling ignored.
Provide updates on where an issue is in the queue - when the customer can expect to hear from you, and what you’re doing to solve their issues. Even if the issue is still being investigated, provide communication updates to reassure the customer that they are a priority and their concerns are being addressed.
If there is any relevant content that might be helpful for the customer to review while they wait for the full resolution of their issue, include that in your email but be sure not to use this communication as a sales opportunity. Instead, use the approach of building a good relationship and establishing trust with your customer to generate sales.
It’s also beneficial to look at the documentation provided in customer support holistically, and identify pieces that can be turned into content for your website so other customers are able to find help without contacting your support team. Provide a list of possible issues and suggested resolutions so customers can complete self-service when they need help.
To be successful, companies have to think about how to create a positive customer experience beyond the transaction of the product or service. If you employ these tips you will see improved customer satisfaction, streamline the support experience, and empower your support team to deliver speedy and meaningful responses.
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