Business Practices | | Published July 21, 2016

Why a Good Business Strategy Includes Customer Support

Your business says it's committed to providing a great customer experience, but does it truly put its money where its mouth is? Your marketing and sales teams pull out all the stops, doing everything they can to impress prospective customers. Yet, what happens to those prospects after they purchase your product? Do they receive the same level of attention and quality of service, or are they put in a separate pile and forgotten about?

Customer support shouldn't take a back seat to sales or marketing. It should work with these two teams as part of a three-legged approach to help maintain a positive relationship, no matter where a customer is in the sales funnel.

"The care and attention support reps provide restores customer confidence in the situation."

Support provides good experiences
Support is a vital part of the customer experience. Assisting customers in a timely, appropriate manner improves customer attitudes when things are going wrong. Let's face it - no one likes having to contact support. When things don't work as expected, your customer's business is delayed and they're inclined to blame you for the lost time. However, the care and attention your support reps provide can restore customer confidence in the situation, the product, and your business as a whole.

In addition, support agents generally have longer relationships with customers than members of your sales or marketing teams. They work with customers more intimately and arguably have a better understanding of what your customers need to accomplish.

To provide this care and attention, agents need software that supports collaboration, integrates with other applications, and organizes tickets, to name a few elements. This lets them do their job more efficiently by saving time that would normally be spent on redundant data entry, transferring customers between agents, and manually creating tickets based on support requests from multiple channels. For example, sharing information between sales and support gives reps the background they need to effectively communicate with customers. The customer doesn't have to repeat this information, and agents don't need to retype it into their systems.

Support, sales and marketing are all important parts of the customer experience.

In addition, software that supports collaboration with team members allows agents to consult with each other on tickets rather than transfer customers from one to the next. This reduces your business' average ticket resolution time and keeps customer frustration to a minimum.

How support reduces the cost of sales and marketing
Great customer support helps reduce the burden of customer acquisition. Since business-to-business (B2B) organizations have fewer customers than those in the business-to-consumer (B2C) field, the value of an individual customer is exponentially larger. Therefore, B2B organizations put more effort into replacing a customer that leaves. However, since acquisition costs more than retention, it makes more sense for B2B organizations to do all they can to prevent customers from leaving in the first place.

"Picture what would happen if some of the energy from marketing and sales was diverted to customer support."

Writing for LinkedIn Pulse, Ian Kingwill found that experts say finding a new customer costs four to 10 times more than keeping an existing one. Consider all the time and energy your business puts into marketing and sales during the acquisition process. Next, picture what would happen if some of that effort was diverted to customer support. If you managed to keep every customer that leaves as opposed to replacing them, you could theoretically retain a lot of your marketing budget.

To help retain current customers, agents need the ability to identify customer satisfaction. Some of this ability stems from intuition, but a strong customer support software can help. A good B2B customer support tool can predict customer dissatisfaction based on various metrics such as number of open tickets and average resolution time. Features like agent ratings allow customers to tell you exactly how happy they are with the resolution of each issue, in real time. This allows your support team to provide more proactive support and provide special attention to customers in distress.

Customer support should be part of a complete business strategy, assisting marketing and sales to deliver a truly exceptional experience.