A Rockin’ Online Support Experience
Posted by Becky Carroll on April 30, 2007
Next week, I have the opportunity to speak here in San Diego for the Service and Support Professionals Association (SSPA) at their annual Best Practices Conference. Nice not to have to get on a plane to speak (for once!). My topic is how to create an online support experience that ROCKS. Customer service is challenging, but when you have to provide technical support, the challenges increase. Providing it over the web needs to be more than just providing good support. It needs to provide a great customer experience as well. Today’s post is a short excerpt from the paper which accompanies my talk and can be equally applied to customer service.
Customers are more empowered than ever before. They have more choice, are more informed, have a higher degree of collaboration with each other, and they have higher expectations from companies where they take their business. Customers want to be loyal; it is up to us to give them a support experience that will help cement that loyalty.
Customer experience is the mantra which many companies consider key to differentiating themselves from their competitors. Managing the customer experience is really the result of a customer-centric approach to business, with the customer experiencing consistency across channels and throughout the customer lifecycle. Its purpose is to ignite passion, inspire brand loyalty, and build relationships. An effective online experience facilitates consistent interactions, cultivates customer trust, creates relevant experiences, coordinates all touchpoints, but most importantly, an effective online experience is viewed from the customer perspective. It is key to consider which capabilities we offer our customers for online support in the light of the customer perspective.
Optimized Support Capabilities
Customer experiences that rock optimize which support capabilities they offer to their customers. They don’t try to offer everything to everyone! There are many, many different ways to get information, from the traditional methods (FAQs, search, troubleshooting, chat, email, forums) to Web 2.0-inspired methods (blogs, wikis, podcasts, tagging taxonomies). Customers don’t want to have to pick and choose, only to find themselves weeding through results trying to figure out what might be of assistance. They just want to have their problem solved! Understanding which capabilities are important to your customers is key to optimizing the support experience. Better to offer a limited number of fantastic support tools to your customers than to try and offer all possible capabilities with none executed well.
Social media offers mechanisms that help enable interaction with customers. Tools such as blogs and wikis create conversations between customers and other customers, but most importantly between customers and company. These conversations contribute towards improving customer trust and respect. The key is to make support information flow two ways rather than just supplying a one-way push of technical knowledge.
Creating a rockin’ support experience benefits customers by ensuring they have their needs met in the way they prefer. That same experience helps to build customer trust and loyalty. It also moves technical support from a focus on “managing individual support transactions” to “managing the customer’s experience across all online support interactions.” Organizations that can make this transformation are on their way to building strong customer relationships.