Today’s marketplace doesn’t tolerate poor customer support. Bad news travels fast in the digital age, and your customers likely have more alternatives and fewer switching costs to consider than ever before. For this reason, strong customer support has emerged as a greater differentiator than price for businesses looking to stand out in the eyes of prospects.
In the long run, investing in customer support strengthens every level of your organization and benefits customers as well. Let’s look at how a dedication to strong customer service will trickle down to serve departments which, too often, aren’t encouraged to take an interest in support at all.
Marketing, Sales, & Customer Success
Sales and customer support have a complicated relationship. While the former has the imperative of closing deals, the latter is sometimes left to pick up the pieces if customer expectations aren’t met. This frequent opposition is a shame; sales and customer support greatly benefit from collaboration rather than fragmentation.
Likewise, Marketing needs to align with customer expectations in order to be effective. If marketers target the wrong audience or angle, support will bear the brunt of the discrepancy between customer expectations and value delivery.
When Sales, Marketing, and Support complement one another, the customer is first to benefit — but your business won’t be left out. By aligning these teams, several wondrous things will happen:
- Information will flow in several directions. Sales will pursue more relevant opportunities, instead of chasing prospects whose goals aren’t truly aligned with your product, which only means trouble for support down the line. Marketing will benefit from valuable customer feedback for future campaigns. Support will be able to anticipate customer questions and concerns and demands as they arise during the sales cycle.
- More direct contact with customer support professionals can help sales staff improve their bedside manner. Empathy, positivity, and patience can go a long way toward advancing conversations and increasing win rates. After all, no prospect likes to feel like a number in a calling list.
- Marketers will keep their finger on the customers’ pulse. They’ll be informed of customers’ challenges, goals, and pain points and adjust their strategy accordingly. Since CMOs are increasingly expected to conduct support over social media, the support team’s know-how will quickly become invaluable to them.
- Happy customers will provide glowing reviews and referrals. Such endorsements carry much more weight in the eyes of prospects when they come from an unbiased source. This creates a virtuous cycle of perfectly-suited customers pulling in similar prospects.
Tech & Product development
The main value of closer collaboration between Support, Tech, and Product teams is the access to customer intelligence. Support agents are on the front lines, capturing the problems, challenges, and misunderstandings faced by users of your product.
Customer feedback should be a part of every tech-orientated decision. Acknowledging feedback is a step towards improving UX, prioritizing tasks, and deciding which feature to add to your roadmap. Conversely, support reps also benefit from working closely with tech: better informed reps can better convey to customers solutions or the fine points of a “no” in the case of unfixable problems or unreasonable demands.
This communication ties in with Marketing and Sales as well. Support and Tech can join forces to truly understand your product’s appeal in the eyes of users, which allows marketing and sales to better highlight your product’s strengths.
Finance & Operations
Inter-departmental cooperation is its own reward, but the positive repercussions on your bottom line aren’t negligible either.
Happy customers are loyal, and loyal customers are your biggest spenders. These customers are engaged because, thanks to an investment in customer service, your product has become an integral part of their success.
This recurring revenue is a crucial (and welcome) asset when making financial projections and operational plans. Moreover, if the communication between customers and various departments is seamless and effective, fewer material resources will be wasted on fruitless conversations.
The intertwined appeal of a healthy company culture and positive brand sentiment can do wonders for your hiring strategy. Millennials especially gravitate toward businesses whose values align with their own.
Building a service-oriented culture attracts potential hires whose personalities and priorities will resonate with your business’ identity. These employees will be more easily engaged, and less likely to quit. This is especially important given the toll which employee turnover can take on your business.
How to get customer service benefits to trickle down to other departments
Most businesses would swear that they care deeply about customer service and that they put customers first. However, as consumers, we know that this is far from a given. Proclaiming a dedication to customer-centricity is a good start, but let’s look at how to practice what you preach.
Put service first
Customer support shouldn’t be relegated to the kids’ table. Instead, invite support to weigh in as the representative of your client base. Every time a decision is made which will affect end users — changes to messaging, pricing, features, etc. — the customer should have a voice.
Who better than your support agents to serve as deputies, since they collect more customer feedback than anyone? Collecting customer feedback will give your support team the means to improve their processes, but this benefit extends to other teams as well.
Destroy silos and repurpose knowledge
The value of customer feedback is undeniable. Ignoring your customers isn’t an option, and neither is ignoring your customer support team. Instead, recycle the knowledge accrued by support into learning materials for other teams. You can use call recordings, tickets, and other support records to:
- Tweak sales scripts to better match customer priorities.
- Highlight customer pain points and refine your customer onboarding processes and self-service help resources.
- Direct the product roadmap toward emerging customer expectations
- Better target marketing and content efforts.
Not every piece of customer data will be relevant, but you never know when your support team might hold the key to solving a problem unless you give them a pulpit. Go beyond a monolithic model, and encourage different departments to consult each other and cooperate. By challenging this insular model and setting up your teams to complement one another, it will be much harder to overlook valuable customer insights.
Make this willingness to always improve yourself for the customer’s sake part of your company culture. Confront your processes and knowledge to their own limits, and don’t get too comfortable. The moment customers stop serving your needs can usually be traced back to the day you stopped focusing on theirs.