Zappos. Nordstrom. Southwest. Amazon. The internet abounds with praise for companies that deliver amazing customer support. We hear stories of thousand-dollar mistakes, ruined merchandise, and physical injury that are answered by radically-accommodating customer support representatives. And while these tales of grand service deserve to be celebrated, it’s also important to recognize that daily incremental improvements are what lay the groundwork for successful customer support experiences.
That’s why we’ve compiled the five primary ways that customers support teams have improved in 2017. Looking across an abundance of articles, industry resources, and experiences with hundreds of our own support clients, these trends are helping take customer support to new heights—one small improvement at a time.
Omnichannel is omnipresent—try channel-less
Omnichannel might be the official buzzword of the decade in the customer support world. And while ensuring that customers have a cohesive support experience across a variety of media is helpful, it’s not the end-all, be-all of great support. Instead of focusing so much time and energy on omnichannel, customer support guru Shep Hyken recommends a channel-less support strategy.
He advocates for a technological ‘hub’ that “brings the experience of all the channels together by powering all engagements from one central artificial intelligence ‘brain’… [that] allows channels to function ‘contiguously,’ enabling each customer to move from one channel to the next without missing a beat.” This means that when I called Ikea last weekend—while simultaneously chatting online with their support rep—the Ikea hub would recognize and consolidate this doubled effort, and their support team could address my concerns accordingly.
Teams that use technology and AI to consolidate their support effort will deliver experiences that are leaps and bounds better than their competitors.
Speaking of AI…
Artificial intelligence multiplies the effectiveness of your customer support team. Hyken’s suggested ‘hub’ of customer support relies on bots to “intelligently determine the next-best action the company should take for that individual.” The power of AI doesn’t stop there though; it has the capability to predict customer needs, and respond to those needs before a problem arises.
Recently, Hyken again lauded the rise of AI and chatbots, noting that chatbots function 24/7, have zero wait time, support a personalized customer experience, and aid relationships with customers. Hyken says, “At this point, chatbots will only replace some of the tasks that people are now handling—especially lower-level requests, questions, and complaints. The best chatbot systems can recognize customer frustration and switch the interaction to a human in the company’s support center.”
With increased productivity, higher NPS scores, and happier customers on the line, incorporating AI is a great next move for any customer support team.
Little investments pay huge returns
Not every process change has to be as technical or complex as rolling out AI; sometimes a small purchase or improvement can make a big difference. We’ve already discussed the value of software solutions to a frontline rep, but hardware solutions are also invaluable. Our friends at Smart Rhino Labs recently purchased an extra monitor for all their support reps—who now keep Lessonly up on one screen all day to make training and searching for answers to customer questions easier than ever.
Improvements like these may seem like unnecessary expenses, but consider the potential loss in productivity, service, and excellence from NOT investing in technology or hardware that makes reps better.
Personalize the Experience
A few months ago, I ordered new glasses from forward-thinking, much-acclaimed Warby Parker. When I received the wrong prescription, I expected to go through phone tree after phone tree to talk to the right person. Instead, I was actually startled to hear a real human pick up after the first ring. Not only was this the person who could help me, but when I called back a second time, I was greeted by name! Warby Parker excels at making every single customer feel known, heard, and valued. And I’m not the only one to have this experience—Warby Parker has been personalizing their customer support experience since 2013. The rest of the support industry is moving in this direction, and teams that prioritize personalization with training and technology will cultivate a distinct competitive advantage.
Empower reps to improve the team
Call us biased, but we’ve seen investments in democratized training pay enormous dividends across our hundreds of support clients. Democratized learning is rooted in—and channels—the daily reality that frontline employees are already helping other frontline employees. Rather than putting the full burden of creating training materials on a centralized HR department, democratization spreads that responsibility across the employees who know the information best.
Our friends at Smart Rhino put this to work in their business to great effect. One employee noted, “If I find that a lot of my agents are coming to me for something, I can say ‘Hey, this is something that we should probably create a Lesson on.’ It helps so much. I cannot stress how much that has helped.”
When employees and managers are empowered to solve problems and create content quickly and painlessly—reps are happier and better prepared to meet, and exceed, customer needs.
Do better work than you ever thought possible
There are countless ways for customer support teams to improve, and these are just five of the many we’ve seen in action. As long as your team is committed to a process of continuous rapid improvement, your customers will get better service, and your reps will improve at their jobs. Our friends at Movoto used Lessonly to slash their support team onboarding time by a full 30 days. If you’re interested in taking a step towards a better support team, take a tour of Lessonly today.