21,535 Support Emails Later. Here's What We Found.
We’ve spent hours with pen to paper dissecting what a Customer Experience team should look like. How is it set up? What does it mean to deliver superior customer experience? Isn't everything customer experience?
Some days it is so clear and obvious and some days the lines blur and twirl up into knots creating a maze.
A lot of these items have become buzzwords: customer success, engagement, journey mapping, customer experience. It’s exciting to see a growing awareness of the experience the customer is having. After all, you wouldn’t be in business without your customer.
It can be quite easy to acknowledge ‘yes, I need to deliver a good customer experience’. Where it starts to fall through the cracks is when the buzzwords come without actionable steps.
To deliver a superior customer experience there are three fundamental things we believe you need to be doing from day one:
- Select the right support channels for your customers
- Measure every teams success in relation to the customer
- Align communication between customer-facing teams and product
Select the right support channels for your customers
Where are your customers and how can you best serve them? If you don’t immediately know the answer to this, ask them. Do they expect an answer within an hour, or a day? Depending on your business, customers will have different needs and requirements.
It can be tempting to select the support channel that is most efficient for your team but if your customers aren’t comfortable using them, you’re missing a big learning opportunity and putting the weight on your customer.
For example, self-service is awesome. You’re going to have customers that prefer to learn in different ways and empowering customers with the tools to grow is key. However, self-service needs to be a supplement. It can’t be the flow you force your customers into.
We’ve spent a lot of time poking and prodding at a number of support tools out there. Here are Tuff’s suggested support tools for each channel:
Knowledge base (self-service)
- You should always set this up. Just make sure to give customers a clear path for communication!
Measure every teams success in relation to the customer
At Tuff, we’ve paired Customer Experience consulting with more traditional marketing services (paid media advertising, content marketing, marketing strategy, etc.) because in the end it’s all about the same thing: solving problems for people.
Marketing: Help the customer find the thing that solves their problem.
Support: Answer questions about how to use the thing that solves their problem.
Success: Educate on how to better use the thing that solves their problem.
Product: Learn from the customer to improve the thing that solves their problem.
It’s important to set goals and it’s even more important to keep them aligned with serving your customers.
For example, your marketing team might be running a few Pay-Per-Click campaigns. It can be easy to fall into the trap of measuring success based on the number of clicks. And while clicks are really important, converted clicks are even more important. It means you’re helping the customer find the thing that solves their problem.
Set all goals to rely on the customer’s success.
Align communication between customer-facing teams and product
With the right processes and tools, you can learn to quantify the qualitative feedback you’re hearing from your customers. It’s not enough to rely on a gut feeling of ‘I think our customer’s find our pricing page confusing’, you’ve got to support it with data.
Collecting actionable feedback, wherever users are giving it, is important to retain customers and will earn you support-driven growth.
At Tuff, we help teams implement a three part process:
Introduce a tagging system to all support channels. This means, you can go to your Product team (or whoever makes the call on adjusting your website), and say ’55% of emails this month were about how to use our search feature’. Then, when you’ve collaborated to make an adjustment based on customer feedback you can offer validation by tracking that emails about the search feature went down by 45%.
Track customer feedback that isn’t necessarily taggable. We recommend using Trello for this. Think of this as a customer wish list. When a customer writes in and says ‘I love your service but it would be more helpful to me if I could export my data into a .csv’ you can add this customer’s feedback to the wish list. Then, for every other customer that writes in wanting the same thing, you add another vote. Keep track of what items are getting the most votes and discuss with your team. The bonus here is now you also have a list of people to follow up with if and when your team acts on their request.
You can even go one step further, like Buffer, and make this transparent to your customers:
Meet weekly to discuss this data. Whoever is leading your customer team needs to meet with whoever is designing your website or product. Whether you are building a SaaS, shipping products directly to customers, serving as an agency, etc. the person talking directly to your customers and audience is in the best place to advocate for them. Armed with the tools in the first two bullets, this meeting will absolutely be worth everybody's time.
There's so much more...
I remember hitting send on my first customer support email, sending it flying through the internet back to a real life human. The weight my words could have on that person's day dripped heavily from my fingertips.
Over 21,535 support emails and an unaccountable number of social media support replies, that weight is still the thing that makes customer support such a magical responsibility and role.
Alongside great support, there are a lot of things that go into a great customer experience. It can sometimes be daunting to figure out where to start! We paired down our recommendation to three, actionable steps for a team just getting started on fine tuning the experience their offering.