When you think of customer support, the first image that comes to mind is a phone line with an angry customer at one end, a sorry rep at the other, and a constant ringing that could make you dizzy. Or you could think of firefighters trying to douse some flames spreading on Twitter. It’s not very often that you think of the impact your customer support has on your marketing and brand value.
And yet, some of the coolest businesses in the world have built massive brand stories centered on the support experience (think Zappos, Amazon). So what do these brands do that others overlook? Here are my observations from talking to some of the hottest businesses about how they’ve made their customer support a driver of marketing.
First define metrics, and then stick to them
Without metrics, customer support becomes a siloed department that just does its own thing. For your support to feed into marketing, you need to define goals that clearly articulate why, what and how. For example, you know that a great support experience results in repeat business. And nothing makes customers happier than receiving a speedy response. Create a “fastest fingers” culture, with hard numbers to back them up. Ask customers for their feedback and take customer satisfaction scores seriously. Provide both positive and negative feedback to the marketing team, and make sure they follow through.
Keep your support consistent and monitor progress
Remember the days when you were just starting up, and the founding team was actually taking support calls? As your team scales up, it gets increasingly more difficult to maintain a uniform “voice” of the organization. An intelligently designed support workflow can save you much heartburn here. The best brands I’ve spoken to also have some kind of mentoring program, where new support reps are taught by the veterans for the first couple of months. Processes, education sessions, weekly reviews, and so on are smart processes that teach ownership, instead of stifling creative freedom.
Always “show and tell”
It is highly unlikely that your prospective customers will purchase your product before even trying it out. The best way to keep them engaged is to let them test drive your products and services. Your prospects are invariably going to come to your support team with questions and best-practices, and that is probably the best way to gauge their involvement (and perhaps even qualify them). Customer support guru and author Shep Hyken goes as far as saying your support team is doing your customers a disservice if they are not up-selling or cross-selling.
Optimize, Optimize, Optimize
Great support brands were not built overnight. But to get there fast, it’s really important that your marketing team feed in their genius back to the support process as well. It is easy for your support team to get lost in tickets and resolutions, so make sure your marketers focus some of their efforts on optimizing the process. For example, you could collate questions that your customers usually fire at you, and publish them to your FAQs. You could even make it easy for both new and returning customers by optimizing your knowledge base for search engines.
A specialized support process could be the differentiator between you and your competitors. If you go the extra mile to make sure your users are doing okay, you might just get a chance to tap in to other interested onlookers.
About the Author
Ramesh is a marketer at Freshdesk, where he helps thousands of businesses deliver an exceptional customer support experience using Freshdesk. When he isn’t selling support software, he enjoys offbeat films and music.