Good customer service is universal and never changes, correct? Probably not. While the basic ideas of great customer service – valuing your customer and giving him or her a great experience – remains at the core, the means by which a company arrives at this destination change on a regular basis. Many companies are aware their customer support isn’t quite up to standard, and these companies are planning to do something about it. A recent Gartner (News - Alert) report found that by 2017, more than half of research and development investments will be redirected toward innovations in the customer experience.
Companies at the pinnacle of customer support don’t view it as “a necessary evil.” Contact centers were once considered cost sink holes, and many organizations likely still wish they could do away with the function permanently. In recent decades, many companies have tried by desperately purchasing self-service solutions in an effort to literally fend off customers. It’s not a great idea: while customers value well designed self-service, they want to be able to easily reach live help when they need it.
Traditionally, smaller companies have felt the bigger burden of customer support, and there is evidence that many start-up or small organizations are hesitant to invest because they think they don’t really need it. This couldn’t be further from the truth, according to a recent article by Robert C. Johnson writing for Business2Community.
“Customer service is not just something for large enterprises, and it is no longer a nice-to-have,” wrote Johnson. “If you want to succeed and grow, you MUST invest in customer service now. Investing in a good customer support software helps ensure maximum growth and optimum efficiency. Not to mention that a proper customer service solution that is tailored to your business needs (for example B2B or B2C) will actually save you money through increased productivity and customer retention.”
The key to succeeding with investments in customer support solutions is to invest wisely, and to do this, you need to craft your customer support from the customer’s perspective (and wishes) backwards to the organization, rather than building a random strategy in house and hoping your customers will respond positively to it.
Today’s technology goes a long way toward making customer support solutions both effective and affordable. Cloud-based solutions that can be tried before purchase and that can be paid for on a by-use basis have made customer support much easier and cheaper.
“While words like ‘advanced’ and ‘custom’ may sound expensive, with the advance of software-as-a service (SaaS (News - Alert)) it needn’t be – subscription based software is extremely affordable and scales easily as you grow. You only pay for the licenses you need, and it’s easy to adjust as your company evolves,” wrote Johnson.
Johnson also notes that customer service is the new marketing. Once a reactionary process, customer support – particularly in social channels – is merging with marketing to the point where it’s hard to see the line between them.
“Word of mouth has always been the best way to market, and channels like social media and the internet in general have multiplied its effect exponentially,” he wrote. “So the moral of the story is simple, the better customer service experience you provide the more word of mouth referrals you are going to get.”
Edited by Maurice Nagle