What is customer support?

If you want to understand what exactly is customer support, or how businesses can effectively use support, you have come to the right page.

One of the simplest definitions of customer support is - a range of services provided by an organization to its customers to effectively assist them in making the best use of their product in the most efficient way. The assistance can include troubleshooting, training, installation, upgrades, and more. In short, it is every bit of assistance that an organization can offer in a timely manner, keeping the customer’s needs at the forefront of every interaction.

Why is support important for your business?

Customer Loyalty

Customer support has evolved from being traditionally seen as a cost center, to becoming the face of an organization. The experience a customer has with your organization determines the likelihood of them making repeat purchases or using your products and services for longer periods.

Differentiating your brand

In the highly competitive market we operate in, the quality of customer support and the resulting customer experience will be a major differentiation. Therefore, customer support needs to be at the core of your business.

Customer retention vs acquisition

The effectiveness of your customer support has a direct impact on your customer churn. It is 5X more costly to acquire a new customer than retaining an existing one. Investing in an online chat support can get you the compound interest on your existing range of support channels that can dramatically improve your customer happiness and retention score.

Key factors driving support trends

Customer expectations

Companies don’t lose out to competition just because of product or features, but to a better support experience. At its core, it’s majorly because the customer’s expectations aren’t proactively met. More and more companies are beginning to incorporate support proactively as part of their products, keeping messaging at its core.

Self-service

Self-service is no longer just a nice-to-have support option or a cost-cutting solution. Customers expect self-service options as a basic necessity.  When implemented right, self-service allows customers to find information quickly, or even solutions to their problem instantly thus making it a seamless experience.

Automation

Automation is not about replacing support agents, but using automation to enable agents support customers in a better way. In fact, it is important for organizations to set expectations on the level of automation. Forward thinking organizations are beginning to adopt chatbots or even plugging their in-house developed bots to support tools.

Difference between customer service and support

It can be a challenge to understand the difference between customer service and support. At the outset, they appear to be similar and the terms tend to be used interchangeably. And to say the least, both support and customer service directly contribute to the overall customer experience delivered by an organization.

 

Customer Support Customer Service
It usually starts with providing solution to a specific problem of a customer. It usually starts with a new customer signing up, and extends to assistance on product usage, relationship management, and more.
Customer support is business-centric in nature. Customer service is customer-centric in nature.
It involves a set of services such as offering assistance in installation, technical troubleshooting, problem solving, documentation, taking feedback and more, that intersect customer experience and the product. It involves a set of services that makes a customer transaction seamless.
Apart from being transactional in nature, it also takes business metrics such as net promoter score and churn into account. It is more transactional in nature and measures metrics such as  first contact resolution, CSAT, and more.

 

To sum up, support and customer service overlap each other but take different approaches to help solve the customer’s problem.

Different types of support and skills

Self-service

Some customers prefer resolving their queries on the go from a self-service knowledge base than having to wait for a support agent to help them with the resolution. It’s important for organizations to make it easy for such customers to be able to access the information they need in easily consumable formats such as images, videos, rich descriptions, and more, making self-service support a seamless experience. Lastly, it’s important to continuously update the information along with the updates in your product, policies, and procedures.

Live chat

A lot of customers prefer talking to a customer support agent to get their issues resolved but may not necessarily want to get on a call or wait for a response to their email. In fact, asynchronous chat tools make it easy for customers and agents to have a look at past conversations for context. Support agents on these chats need to be excellent in their communication skills, product knowledge, and have the ability to handle several conversations simultaneously during high-volume periods.

Email

Email is one of the easier ways for customers to get their questions answered. Also, for the support agents it’s easier to share the link to the website or a specific file or an answer. The key here is that customer support agents need to respond to email queries at the earliest possible and no later than 24 hours.

Social media

Being responsive on social media is an absolute must because almost everyone is on social media platforms. Though there’s a downside that customers can publicly complain about your product or service, it’s also the biggest opportunity to turn every conversation into a win by addressing their issues as authentically and promptly as possible.

Phone

Though phone as a support system is the oldest, it is important to have dedicated support agents responding to customer calls. To improve the experience of phone support, it is important you set up an interactive voice response (IVR) so that you can route the customers to the right department based on their query.

Best practices to create world-class support with live chat

Building a great support practice can do wonders for your business and there are multiple best practices (and tips) that can be incorporated to help you up your support game instantly.

Make your live chat widget visible

Having a live chat widget in your website is like setting up a reception counter at a physical store. You should make it easily available for customers to find live support and initiate a chat, even outside of your normal business hours.

Set the right expectations

Offer proactive support by communicating the offline business hours of your customer support team, upcoming server downtimes, or other important announcements that customers need to know of so that they have the right expectations.

Use automation, when necessary

Deploy chatbots during non-business hours to collect customer information, route chat conversations based on rules, and trigger contextual messages based on user behavior. But don’t overdo automation at the cost of human touch.

Respond quickly but be personable

Treat your live chat support channel like an emergency call center. Train your agents to think like first responders and treat customer queries with urgency. Meanwhile, chat with customers like you are talking to them in person.

Offer an omnichannel live chat experience

Optimize your live chat tool across all devices and platforms to create a smooth customer experience. Deliver consistent customer experience by standardizing your automated messages, canned responses, chatbot workflows, and assignment rules.