When you give your customers exceptional support, they are 4 times more likely to reward you with their loyalty. But what does exceptional support look like in 2016?
You could use a helpdesk. But the truth is, helpdesks aren’t that helpful. Why? Because helpdesks encourage your staff to see customers as faceless support tickets.
But customers are people, just like you and me. And in 2016, people expect to get support when and where they need it.
As a service leader, it’s your job to meet customers on the platforms they’re most comfortable with—wherever they happen to be in the moment. And these moments occur across two types of channels:
- Self-service channels
- Personal service channels
Let’s review how these two channels impact your customer support strategy, as well as how they can reduce churn and boost retention.
1. Self-service channels: Helpful content that’s convenient and easy to access
You have a FAQ page. You have a database full of support content. You might even have an online community loaded with user-generated tips and tricks. These resources make up your self-service channels.
From your customer’s perspective, self-service channels provide support that is both convenient and easy to access. But these channels also help you reduce operating costs, while gaining the trust of your customer. Win-win, right?
Maybe. But here’s the thing: Customers who access your self-service channels without seeking personal service are significantly more likely to end their relationship with you during their first three months of service.
It’s true: Over 90 percent of your customers expect access to self-service channels. But they also expect personalized attention when they need it.
In other words, you can’t afford to rely on self-service alone. If you want to keep your customers, you must get them to access both forms of support.
Looking for ideas? Here are some tips:
- Let customers reply directly to your emails—especially onboarding emails.
- Place a call-to-action at the end of each article in your knowledge base. Ask, “Did this article solve your problem?” If they answer no, provide them with a way to contact your support team.
- Make live chat easily accessible from every page of your website.
2. Personal service channels: Personalized problem solving for more complex issues
Your customers email you. They call you on the phone. They message you via live chat. And they ask questions on social media. Every time your customers interact with you or your staff, they’re accessing a personal service channel.
When receiving personalized support, customers benefit from the in-depth knowledge of your staff. That’s why personal service channels are best suited to helping your customers solve unclear and complex issues.
One-on-one support may be expensive, but it’s worth every penny. Why? Because personal service channels give you an opportunity to build relationships with your customers. Profitable, long-term relationships.
Looking for ideas? Here are some tips:
- Always refer to your customer by name. This small touch helps your customer feel like they’re talking to a friend, instead of a vendor. Customers want to talk to a human—someone they can relate to.
- Start every conversation by building rapport. At minimum, ask your customer how their week is going. If you have more context, ask them something more personal—like how they’re enjoying their new house.
- Only promise what you know you can deliver. Ask yourself: Would you rather exceed a customer’s expectations, or let them down?
But a note of caution: Most customers refuse to wait more than five minutes for a response. So be sure to hire enough support staff to provide quick service. Otherwise, you risk making a bad impression.
For more information about how to hire the perfect customer support team, check out our latest eBook: The Essential Guide to Hiring Customer Support Excellence.
Adopt a unified customer support strategy
Remember earlier, when I told you that customers who rely on self-service channels alone are likely to defect? It turns out that the opposite is also true: Customers who rely solely on personal service are just as likely to walk away.
That’s one compelling reason to adopt a unified customer support strategy. Don’t you think?
By providing both self-service and personal service, you prevent your customers from needing to speak with you every time they have a problem. But you also demonstrate a commitment to their happiness.
You can also save a lot of operating costs when you design your support strategy around customer loyalty and reducing churn, because a mere 2% increase in customer retention is equal to a 10% decrease in the cost of customer acquisition.
The results are clear: unified support boosts customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty.
So, what are you waiting for? The time is right: 60 percent of consumers say they have higher expectations for customer support than they did last year. Ditch the helpdesk, and meet your customers where they are.
Customer retention starts with unifying your support
Choosing a vendor that unifies your support channels will immediately boost your customer retention and prevent future churn. Plus, your customers will thank you for providing a consistent support experience. And your support staff will thank you for centralizing your customers’ account information. Now that’s a win-win-win!
Top performing service leaders are well aware of these benefits. That’s why they are 71 percent more likely to manage their multichannel customer support using a single technology.
Use a unified customer support strategy and keep these tips in mind:
- Design your self-service channels to solve simple problems that your customers experience repetitively
- Design your personal service channels to solve unclear or complex issues that require human interaction
- Remind customers who rely on a single service channel of the existence and benefits of other service channels
And remember, when choosing to remain loyal to your brand, customer service is a deciding factor for 97 percent of your customers. So do it justice.