customer support | 4 min read

Transform your Customer Support from a Cost Center to a Profit Center

Published by Khyati Badiyani on 25-Aug-2021

Customer service reflects the brand image in more ways than one, which is why 73% of customers say they stay loyal to brands because of friendly customer service representatives. Yet, when it comes to cutting down expenses, customer support is always the first choice. Why is that the case? 

Organizations are skeptical about investing heavily in a customer service department because, on first look, it merely seems like an inevitable expense. In the short run, not investing may help businesses save costs, but the same companies will lose some of their most loyal and valuable customers in the long run. So the perspective I would like to draw here would be that we need to stop thinking of customer support as a stand-alone cost center but think of it as a potential profit center. In this blog, we will prove how.

First, How do you Reduce your Spendings on Support?

Automate First Level Support

69% of consumers first prefer to resort to self-help methods of solving their problems. This means that customers are willing to do the work by themselves, depending on the complexity of the query. Every customer support problem will need different levels of support. So why not segregate queries and automate those that don’t require human involvement?  Automation isn’t the enemy. It can significantly reduce the pressure on your agents, thereby allowing them to focus on solving customer problems that need human involvement. 

This can also significantly impact your operational cost, agents’ productivity, and customer satisfaction levels. I’ll give you an example. A leading hardware & security solution company in India automated its first-level support through a chatbot. With a product directory of more than 3000 and even bigger logs of customer queries, Ozone Hardware aimed at streamlining their support which had gone haywire considering the volume. The firm first segregated its product categories for visitors and further automated their basic support queries. The automation freed more than 760+ hours of manual answerings! According to IBM, bots can save customer support costs by up to 30%.

Train staff for Handling Complex Queries

86% of the customers say they’d do business again with a company if they get friendly customer service. Around 80% of consumers said they would rather do business with a competitor after one bad experience. 

Customer support teams are your frontline warriors, representing your brand, providing real-time support to your customers, and assisting your customers in every stage of the buying journey. Investing in an agent’s success is crucial to reap actual profit from returning customers and a higher customer satisfaction rate. Agents will probably be the only people in the company speaking directly to the customers, and hence, you need to plan what they say and how they say it. This is where their training plays a critical role. Customer Support staff are trained on a lot of parameters. But two of the most must-haves the agents need to train on are:

Clarity of the knowledge base

The best way to instill trust from customers is by showing them that your staff is, in fact, well-equipped to help them. Train your staff on everything there is to know about the product and services you’re offering. If that is too hard, then have a mechanism that directs a specific type of query to a team that can best help them. For example, an eCommerce customer service team can further be divided into sub-teams such as shipping and delivery queries, product-related queries, payment-related queries, etc. Develop their expertise in one area and train them to provide quick support for that. Your job is to ensure that your customer is speaking to someone who is the right person that can help them. The result? Quick problem resolution and higher customer satisfaction. 

Emphasizing Empathy

You know what to communicate, but you also need to know the ‘how.’ Despite the automation, you should never think of forgoing the human touch in customer support. Studies reveal that 75% of customers still prefer speaking to a live agent to resolve their issues. Encountering rude or angry customers is a common occurrence in customer support but teaching your team to keep calm and empathize with their problem despite that is equally important. Even though your agent is very skilled with problem-solving and knows how to guide the customer, it’s all pointless if the tone is not empathetic. According to a Harvard Business Review, the top empathetic companies generated 50% more earnings! It shows that the more humane the conversation is, the more chances of retaining your customer.

Streamline your Multi-channel Support

Businesses that employ an omnichannel engagement strategy can expect a customer retention rate of more than 89%! Now that it’s established that an omnichannel presence will help you provide better customer service, you need to consider how this can’t become another cost issue. Your team may have one tool for providing chat support, call support, social media support, etc. It leads to bearing expenses for multiple tools and adds to the training expenses for the same. The solution to this is to streamline your omnichannel support. One way to do this is to automate your multi-channel support and have all inquiries come under one roof. 

Now, Let’s See How you can Turn your Support into Revenue

Mine your Customer Service Data

Extracting data from your customer support can be one of the most accurate mechanisms to get customer data. It is, after all, a piece of first-hand information that you received from your customers. So how well are you using data from customers to help them? From support tickets, support surveys, customer feedback, and live chat, data is literally everywhere. Combining qualitative and quantitative data can provide you an overall view of your primary customer problems and allows you to act upon them. 

Mining customer data isn’t as hard as you may think. Many tools used for customer support, such as Live Chat and Chatbots, have analytics that helps businesses identify and improve their customer service. For example, a leading Indian hospital deployed WotNot for its lead generation and customer support activities. WotNot provides an analytics dashboard that shows the number of conversations happening on a bot in a particular time frame, where the visitors are coming from, the number of returning users, etc.

After deploying the bot and monitoring its analytics, the hospital concluded that its primary visitors were from Gujarat and neighboring states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The bot was previously only deployed in English. But after looking at the analytics, the hospital also deployed multi-lingual bots in Hindi and Gujarati to cater to a larger audience. The result? It resulted in an increase in the number of conversations and more than $200k business revenue was generated in a few months.

Turn Support Problem into a Sales Opportunity

In most companies, the most profitable deals come from existing customers. Your customer service representatives already have one-on-one conversations with your existing customers, and they can use this opportunity to increase sales without compromising support. Studies show a strong link between good customer support and the amount of money the customers spend. Thus, there are various methods you can use to turn a service call into a sales one. 

Capitalize on Positive Feedback

Collecting feedback can be more than just understanding the customer’s experiences with the service. Service representatives can leverage feedback conversations into identifying how likely customers will make a purchase again. Agents can especially rely on positive feedback to further urge the customer to refer to the product in their social circle, thereby generating referral leads. Referral leads have a higher conversion rate and are more likely to stay with a company longer. A study concluded that referred customers were about 18% more likely to stay with a firm than others. 

Cross-selling/Upselling at the Right Time 

Training your customer support team to address customer problems as well as pitch sales may seem like a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be. The possibility of an existing customer buying a product is 60-70%, whereas a new customer is just 5-20%. Your support team is already educated about pricing plans, products, and services, so why not just kill two birds with one stone? They don’t need to pitch as the sales team does. They can practice soft-selling techniques that are more subtle. Just with their conversations, they can come across various opportunities where they can upsell or, at the very least, come across crucial information that can be passed on to the sales team that can help them close more deals. 

Finishing Thoughts

A good ROI is probably on top of your mind, and the reason you think customer support is a burden is that you don’t see it generating good ROI. But there are many ways you can change that. Your support team doesn’t have to feel like the last resort when they are the ones that are the flag bearers of your brand and can turn an unhappy customer into a happy one. Invest in their training, automate specific tasks, improve their productivity, and they can ensure a delightful experience for your customers that ultimately leads to a profitable endeavor for your business.

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