Business Practices | | Published March 17, 2016

How to Reduce Customer Support Costs for Your Business

Customer support is often seen as a cost center, rather than the revenue machine it can and should be. Recurring issues and inefficient processes often drain company resources, but fortunately there are methods to improve the process and make agents more productive and cost-efficient. Here are five ways businesses can reduce their customer support costs:

1. Hire the right people
A company's staff is its most valuable asset and hiring for your customer support staff is crucial. These representatives have the ability to make or break client satisfaction. The best ones aren't simply accommodating - they're knowledgeable and able to convey information to customers in a format that is easy to understand. A well-trained support team helps clients avoid future issues, reducing the number of incoming customer service calls and tickets, and increasing customer satisfaction overall. As a result, productivity improves and operational costs decrease.

There are many ways businesses can reduce their customer support costs.

2. Employ self-service support
Today, clients prefer to answer any questions they have on their own and as soon as possible. They're more likely to check a website's frequently asked questions before contacting customer support directly. Making this information readily accessible reduces support requests and lets agents spend their time better, aka resolving more complex issues. This increased productivity leads to lower costs overall.

However, even the best customer self-service options mean nothing to customers if they remain hidden. A link to the FAQ section or online help desk should appear on every Web page in a consistent, easy-to-find location. The customer portal should offer training videos and articles, along with suggested solutions when the customer starts a request. The same information should be available across desktop, mobile, social media and any other channels a company uses. Clients demand easy access to the information they need no matter what methods they use to find it.

3. Assist clients through multiple channels
The idea of providing customer support through various means sounds intimidating, but it's actually quite easy. The process definitely benefits the customer, as he or she is able to contact agents in a manner they find most convenient. In fact, most clients expect multichannel support and become frustrated if their preferred method isn't available.

Business-to-business customer support software integrates these channels into a unified experience. It enables higher productivity among customer service agents - conversations and metrics are compiled in one place, so those in the support department don't have to switch from platform to platform in order to track information. As a result, they're able to work smarter and more efficiently.

4. Reduce multiple barriers and help in real time
Clients are busy, they don't have a lot of time to spend going back and forth with an agent when a problem presents itself. They expect a solution fast - one that is easy to find and implement so business operations can quickly return to normal. Unfortunately, customers often find themselves contacting support more than once to resolve issues fully, which is one of the most common frustrations cited by customers, according to Accenture's Global Consumer Pulse Research.

When it comes to solving an issue, businesses prioritize speed.

The fewer interactions it takes to fully solve a problem, the better. The speed of today's business means some issues can't wait until the next day, as Business2Community points out. Real-time support is imperative to customer satisfaction and frees agents to resolve other issues. 

5. Eliminate tiered support
Part of the reason customers resist contacting support is due to the sense of dread at being dropped into an endless loop of repetition. They'll be passed along from agent to agent, each one directing them to the next in the hopes of finding the correct department. Customer support agents must be adaptable to any customer issues that may arise. Tiered support models need to be discarded in favor of a collaborative customer support model.

Keeping customer support costs down doesn't mean ignoring client needs. Rather, businesses should work to solve all customer issues quickly and efficiently. This means current problems are solved quicker, and future ones are eliminated, reducing customer support costs and increasing customer satisfaction in the process.

Want more? Watch our short video to see how TeamSupport helps reduce customer support costs and increase efficiency: