5 Reasons to Reimagine How You Offer Customer Support In the new "era of the customer, innovative companies need to put users -- and their experience -- first.
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It used to be that you built a product, shipped it, and worried about offering customer service later. But that's no longer true in this new "era of the customer." Innovative companies everywhere are changing the way that they do business to put customers and customer experience first -- whether it's marketing, sales, or product design. This re-invention of traditional customer support isn't just a gimmick for these companies -- it's the foundation of their success. Here are five reasons why you need to rethink your customer service offering.
1. Customer expectations are higher.
It's no surprise that as today's social, mobile consumers have grown accustomed to getting what they want, when they want it, their expectations have risen accordingly. In fact, in a recent poll, 82 percent of CEOs reported that customers' expectations of their company were "somewhat" or "much" higher than they were three years ago. Customers now expect fast, personalized service at every touchpoint, every time.
2. Companies are competing on experiences, not products.
In the past, people chose which companies they did business with based on price or brand, but today the driver is overall experience. Gartner reports that 89 percent of companies now expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, versus 36 percent four years ago. Customer support is a key driver of customer experience, but only if you expand the role of your support team beyond the purely reactive role that many of them play today. When support agents are empowered to go above-and-beyond with customers, and to upsell or cross-sell relevant services, they can create winning experiences.
3. Support is becoming an integral part of the product experience.
The line between products and services is blurring, and service is becoming part of the product itself. (Think Amazon Mayday button -- it's a totally seamless way for customers to get help.) It may seem like only a big-technology company thing, but even small companies can build support into their experience. Start by integrating your support center into the header and footer of your website. It's also easy to add links to relevant articles in your support center on specific pages on your site. Another tip is to add a way for customers to log tickets from within your product experience.
4. Customers are willing to pay more for a better experience.
Focusing on the customer experience isn't just the latest trend -- it's also smart business. It turns out that making every touchpoint great doesn't just make customers love you, it can also increase your profits. Surveys have shown that 86 percent of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience. You may decide to tier your customer base if some are willing to pay more for premium experiences, including support, early access to features, or other benefits. Either way, your bottom line will benefit.
5. Experiences are changing from reactive to proactive.
Proactive customer service is going to be the next wave of the customer experience. After all, it's only natural that companies who are totally focused on customers want to reach out and fix a problem before it even happens. What if an automobile maker could tell when you lock your keys in the car and automatically open the door for you? Those days aren't so far off. Even small companies are becoming proactive. Bitium, a startup that provides single sign-on technology, can tell when users are having trouble logging in and proactively reach out to help. Customers appreciate the experience of getting help before they even need it!
In the future, customer experience is going to be the thing that makes or breaks your company. To succeed, you need to think about customer support first, before you think about anything else. It needs to be the foundation that your entire company is built on.