When you think about customers contacting support, ‘trapped’ is not the first word you might use to describe them. Angry, frustrated, irrational, impossible, crazy – those are the ones that come to mind. But let’s face it, most of us have been aggravated by a support rep at least once in our lives. We might not have gotten into screaming matches, but we’ve definitely felt our temper rise. Traditional support has evolved in such a way that it leads to frustrating experiences one way or the other.
This experience is important because, when you think about a brand or a company, you’re going to remember how they made you feel – and that’s what shapes your perception. You’d rather buy from a company that makes you feel good, because the more you’re valued as a customer, the more value you get for your money. When you’re shown how grateful a brand is because you chose them, you’re going to go back to them. The experience is clearly what builds loyalty and customer support is the most defining part of the experience you get.
This sounds straightforward, right? So why don’t most companies work towards better customer experiences? Why do you still feel like you don’t matter to businesses? Traditionally, customer support is carried out very sequentially. The agents have steps to follow and lines to toe. Complex escalation workflows, reassignments, loss of information in all the shuffling around, there is no end to the reasons why traditional support models fail. But one of the fundamental handicap of the conventional models is that they value the processes above the very people they’re trying to help: the customers.
A streamlined support experience
However, if businesses started putting people first – placing the emphasis on worrying not about sticking to procedure, but about taking care of customers – your support journey might look something like this:
- When you contact support, you don’t have to do extensive research just to find out who to talk to.
- They already have context and history about you from previous interactions, you don’t have to start from scratch. You can just dive right into the problem.
- You talk to a live, breathing human being, who knows what your problem is, understands how it’s affecting you, and is genuinely invested in solving it for you.
- Whoever you’re talking to just takes care of your problem for you; no reassigning you to someone else who has no idea who you are.
When the agent treats your problem as their own, you can see that they’re going the extra mile for you. They take ownership and assume the responsibility of bringing on-board, everyone whose expertise might be required. You aren’t tossed around like just another ticket to be resolved and you have a consistent point of contact you can get all updates from. Things are fluid and dynamic, and you feel like they’d move mountains just to help you. At the end of it, your experience is one of being cared for.
People over process
Taking care of someone is not a process, so it stands to reason that customer support shouldn’t be coerced into one either. When companies place an emphasis on people instead, the support experience gets streamlined and interesting things start to happen.
You feel the difference
It no longer feels like you’re a random number stored in some computer somewhere. You feel like you matter to the business. You feel valued. Because you really should be.
Transactions become relationships
You don’t feel like your issue is being taken care of because it’s the agent’s job. The interaction is not about complaining; there is a genuine relationship where you have a conversation. And your problem is solved because they want you to succeed.
You want to go back for more
When you know you can trust a company to take care of you, to solve your problems quickly and efficiently, you will naturally feel more comfortable buying from them again. You get an experience that you can’t get enough of.
It’s time for a change
Which is why businesses need to rethink the entire way customer support is done. It’s not easy and it can’t happen overnight, but it is something that needs to happen. But then, organisations also can’t just up and decide to build a customer-centric culture. If the support model has been process-oriented thus far, there are likely to be good reasons why. Maybe they didn’t have the manpower. Perhaps they couldn’t spend any more on their support. Maybe businesses really believed that this was the best way to optimise and offer the best support with the resources they have.
But even after the thought they put into it, after understanding that they need to do away with the traditional support model that isn’t working, they will still need tools and technology that enable them to put people over processes. To work with what they have and make it work for everyone.
We’ll soon be covering trends in technology that are already changing the way we go about customer support and help everyone come together. And you have to come together, because customer support is everybody’s business. And good customer support is good business.
This is the second post in our Redefining Support series. If you haven’t already, check out our first post, Redefining Support #1: Why The Support Model is Broken to learn more about the five pitfalls of traditional support models.
Also be sure to keep an eye out for Redefining Support #3, where we talk about the 4 trends in technology to transform customer support!