There are nearly as many types of customer support software as there are types of customers. Choosing the right one will require you to understand the goals of the company, the needs of customer support agents and how readily other departments need to have customer support information at hand. Small companies may have very different requirements from large companies: often, in small organizations, the people who sell also wear a variety of hats.
Many companies today are under-utilizing the skills of agents in the contact center or on the help desk, according to Laura Ballam writing for Business2Community. In order to draft them into action for the purpose of sales, however, they need the right tools, and this often involves customer support software that is delivered in the software-as-a-service (SaaS (News - Alert)) model.
“Customer support reps are the perfect upsellers and cross-sellers,” wrote Ballam. “Companies can empower their reps with customer support software so they have all the customer’s data in front of them. This information can be useful when assisting customers with issues, but it also helps reps identify opportunities for upgrades or additional products and services.”
Often times, customer support agents are provided with only a narrow amount of information: the customer’s previous transactions, for example. In reality, for reps to be effective, they need to be able to easily access many other types of information: think billing, warehousing and inventory, sales, shipping and partner services, just for starters. To enable contact center agents to be as effective as possible, look for a solution that is easily integrated with essential solutions such as customer relationship management (CRM), but also back-office systems that may yield intelligence that helps the agent achieve first-call resolution. It you take a very liberal view of the contact center, back-office workers are essentially a part of it, even if only once in a while.
Another important element of customer support software should be the ability for customers to seek answers on their own. Customers like finding their own answers, but not all solutions are optimized to allow them to do so.
“Customer support software that provides customers with useful self-service options can also help improve satisfaction,” wrote Ballam. “Self-service options, such as a searchable knowledgebase, FAQs and community forums, provide customers easy access to the answers they need.”
Self-service options can be broadened to include message boards and even social media…places where customers might gather to help one another answer questions or share their previous experiences. It’s important, however, that companies remember to always provide customers with an easy path to a live agent (via voice or chat, for example), so that when customers DO get stuck for answers, they don’t feel like they’ve been abandoned by a company that doesn’t want to talk to them.
When customer support software is done right, customers can actually become brand advocates of their own volition. Robust solutions such as those from TeamSupport can empower your customer support workers to make your customers your biggest advocates. An ideal solution allows companies to streamline their customer support process and focus on providing an exceptional customer experience, regardless of channel or the job title of the support worker helping the customer.
Edited by Maurice Nagle