The moment when a customer reaches out for support after acquiring a new product or service, is a golden opportunity to drive customer satisfaction AND gather insight at the same time. Four key steps and a little planning can turn this initial customer support call into continuous improvement and a gift for future innovation.
1. Know Your Customer
Segmentation is powerful. When your customers ask for assistance, it’s important to collect the right information so that the customer is assigned to the right segment. Demographic information goes without saying, but focus should also be given to the type of customer a person is.
- How long have they been a customer?
- How many of your products do they own?
- How often are they reaching out for support?
- What past issues have they needed assistance with?
Having this insight helps in the way you communicate with the customer later, while also helping you understand how to position self-service and working to find the right solution.
2. Identify the Problem
It may seem simple, but more often than not, companies are not collecting information around why the customer is reaching out for help. Knowing the issue type is critical. Understanding the top customer issues will help you create better self-service content, while also providing meaningful information on where product development should focus on driving improvements. In the Forrester article “The Insights-Driven Business,” Forrester references that insights-driven businesses operate differently in a closed loop learning process.1 In an era where information changes so rapidly, the more we leverage what we are learning to make the process better for the customer, the greater opportunity we have to drive a better satisfaction level.
3. Balance Customer Resolution with Customer Effort
Resolution is the most critical component as to whether or not a customer is happy with their support experience. However, it is also necessary to understand the effort the customer had to take to resolve the issue. The more effort required, the more the experience deteriorates. In the recent Alorica eBook, Deflecting Call Volume; resolution is identified as the largest influencer of positive customer experience scores. Repeat attempts to resolve issues are not only detrimental to experience scores, but also they are expensive to support. Therefore, understanding what drives and prevents resolution is a critical component of your contact reduction strategy.2
When we think of resolution, we think of it two ways.
- First Contact Resolution: It’s crucial you understand from the customer whether or not their issue was resolved the first time. Gathering this information will provide you a tracking mechanism for how well your self-service or knowledgebase articles are solving your customer’s issue. This data allows you to pinpoint your opportunities to drive improvement in your self-service content, potentially reducing support calls and driving improvement in customer support.
- Issue Resolution: Issue resolution is a measurement of whether or not the customer’s issue was resolved. It’s important to understand from the customer what prevented resolution from happening more quickly. This is where you typically gain insight from the customer about being transferred, escalation to a higher level of support, etc. While the customer may now appreciate the fact that their issue is resolved, you will likely see an impact to their overall experience given the delay in resolution. Remember, resolution and speed of resolution is where you begin to gain customer loyalty.
4. Build Brand Loyalty
One of the best indicators of a customer’s satisfaction level with their support experience is whether or not they will recommend your brand to others. Collecting this information from the customer after you solve their problem will allow you to better understand how your support model is impacting or driving the overall customer experience.
Information is key, but listening to your customers and then building a process that allows you to continuously learn will set you apart from others in your industry. In a recent blog by COPC, “The Value of Listening: How feedback can be an opportunity to bring brand image to life,” the author mentions that customers are paying more attention to how a brand responds than ever before.3 As you better understand your customer segment, how often they call, the types of issues that occur for them, what upsets them and the speed with which you can help them, you are armed with information that allows you to drive improvement in the way you service similar customers. When you listen to your customers and begin to reduce the effort by the customer and resolve their issues in a timely manner, you reduce the frustration level of the customer and begin to drive brand loyalty and a greater experience for your customers.
Competition is everywhere. Issues are going to occur. Building a support model that simplifies the path to your customers’ resolution is important. As you leverage learnings from your customers’ experiences and incorporate those into your ever-changing support model, you begin to reduce the number of support calls required, the length of the call and the effort your customers must spend in getting their issues resolved gets reduced. The cost of your support model will go down and you will gain appreciation and loyalty from your customers as you continue to improve the model to solve their problems. Customers know issues will arise, but the ease and speed in which you solve those issues is what will set you apart from your competition.
- 1. Brian Hopkins, Ted Schadler, and James McCormick, “The Insights-Driven Business,” Forrester, July 27, 2016, https://www.forrester.com/report/The+InsightsDriven+Business/-/E-RES130848.
- 2. “Deflecting Call Volume,” Alorica, 2017, https://www.alorica.com/insight/deflecting-call-volume/.
- 3. Jezierski, Kathleen, “The Value of Listening: How feedback can be an opportunity to bring brand image to life,” COPC, May 1, 2017, http://www.copc.com/blog/value-listening-brand-image/.