Is Ditching Phone Customer Support a Smart Decision?

There’s an old saying – “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” – that sometimes rings all too true for customer support teams. When prioritizing support inquiries, there’s a hierarchy of channels. Email sits at the bottom, with response times ranging into hours or even days. Chat is somewhere in the middle, with customers expecting a response in a few minutes. Phone support sits at the very top. It’s common for customers to call in and expect to speak with a real person right away. If they’re left on hold, it’s a frustrating experience that contributes to driving customers away from a business.

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5 Ways to Stop Stressing Out Your Customers

Have you ever had that feeling of dread when you realize you have to contact a company's support department?  You're not alone, many customers would rather have a root canal than contact a company for support, especially in the tech industry. This is because the experience is often frustrating, time-consuming, and doesn't solve the problem.  It's an added but unnecessary stressor for the customer.

stressed_booksFrom circling through the abyss of the automated phone system, to waiting on hold for what seems like an eternity, to having that painful conversation with a rep who either doesn't care, or doesn't understand what you're talking about (often because they aren't really listening), customer support is often dreaded by customers.

Customer experience is a huge buzzword these days - but the reality is it's not a new concept.  Happy customers mean more customers.  So how do you put an end to the dreaded customer support call and stop stressing out your customers? 

  1. Use a system that allows sharing of information. Nothing is more irritating than being bounced from agent to agent, and having to repeat your name and information over and over.  Using a system that eliminates this unnecessary stressor will improve the customer experience drastically - if you do have to transfer them to another agent (which we highly recommend against), at least make sure each agent has all the information that was previously provided.
  1. Be where your customers are. By now you've probably heard of multichannel support - it's not a passing fad, customers access information in a variety of ways.  To ensure a positive experience, make sure you have multiple options for customer service.  They should be able to reach out via phone, self-service portal, live chat, or email at the very least.  Community forums and social media are other great channels if you can swing it.
  1. Work as a team to solve customer issues. Gone are the days where departments or even support agents worked in a vaccuum.  Customers contact support for many reasons, and reach out to other contacts like sales or marketing to have their issues addressed.  Not only should your support team work together to solve issues faster (leveraging collaboration) but everyone in your company should be connected, again making sure customers don't have to repeat themselves or get bounced around.  Anyone, at any time, should be able to see a full customer history.  
  1. Honesty is the best policy.  Great customer support reps have a true desire to make customers happy.  In a perfect world, that would always be possible, but in our imperfect world that's not always the case.  The important thing is being honest with your customers - if you can't resolve their issue right away (or at all in some cases) be upfront about it.  Making a promise that you're going to break will only frustrate the customer and shake their faith in you.  
  1. Always be working to improve. Every customer issue, suggestion, even complaint, is an opportunity for you to improve.  Your customer service department is the goldmine for catching recurring patterns, product feature suggestions, and even development ideas.  Trying to manage this manually is a fool's errand, use a customer support system with strong reporting features that can identify trends and assist your continuous improvement efforts.

Remember that when a customer reaches out to support, they're likely already stressed out about the issue at hand.  The last thing you want to do is stress them further through poor customer service processes.

Take a new approach. Make sure you know who your customers are when they reach out, and allow them to contact you on their own terms. Access your company’s collective expertise to quickly resolve the customer’s problems. Be honest about what you can and cannot do, and take a look at the big picture so you can improve service not only for the customer on the line but for everyone else.

By following these steps, you can reduce your customers’ stress level – and your own. 


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