Business Practices | | Published March 08, 2012

The Changing Face(s) of Customer Support

When most people think of “customer support,” they think of calling a number or popping up a chat window online and getting a helpful someone on the other end. This customer support person deals with all their support needs whether it is billing, repairs, or general questions. After the call or session ends the customer heads along their merry way.

Increasingly, however, this model just isn’t how it’s done. Customer support is becoming more of a focused experience, with separate CSRs handling different issues and different products.

Take for instance Apple’s Support page. There are entirely separate phone numbers and “Express Lanes” for the iPad, iPod, Apple TV, and even iTunes. Since Apple is such a widespread product, each country has its own phone number too – the US alone has six!

While this may seem like it’s confusing for customers, companies are finding this type of customer service has many advantages over the typical “one size fits all” model. On the contrary, there should be less confusion on the end of the consumer if the customer support is laid out correctly.

More Knowledgeable

With the traditional help desk model, you have CSRs who are expected to have knowledge of every part and product of the company. If a customer calls up and asks for “Tech Support”, that could mean nearly anything to the representative answering the phone. The customer could need help on any number of devices – and for a company like Apple, that’s quite a few devices!

By splitting CSRs into specialized groups, each representative can focus on the device or subject they’re best at. If Rep #1 really digs iPhones but only has a working knowledge of the other stuff, you want that person to work in the iPhone department. Rep #2, who really loves iPads, can focus on those.

Of course some may say this is just a lack of training and CSRs should be trained in all areas. As well they should; you don’t want to constantly bounce your customers around when they have a different problem. They may get frustrated or lost. However, having specialized reps can lead to less phone time, faster resolutions, and a happier customer base.

Happier CSRs

It is a fact; dealing with customers can be tough – especially if they happen to be irate! So sometimes you’re going to end up with unhappy or at least frustrated representatives. Part of this frustration can stem from not knowing exactly what the customer wants, often because the rep is dealing with a part of the company they’re unfamiliar with. However, if that CSR is categorized into his or her specialty, the chance of them experiencing this frustration goes down. If an unusual or confusing issue comes up, they are going to have better odds of knowing what to do.

When your CSRs are happy, your customers will take notice. Even the most irate customer in the world will be impressed by how upbeat and knowledgeable your reps are. When that happens, everyone wins.

So consider compartmentalizing your customer support team by specialty, to at least some degree. Although it might take some effort initially, you may find it’s worth it in the long run. And with TeamSupport managing the help desk process, all those teams and your customers can communicate effectively and easily in one simply navigated application!