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March 28, 2018

What Constitutes Great Technical Support?

With as much time and effort that goes into developing products, marketing them to your audience, and then pushing people through the conversion funnel from awareness to action, it would be a shame to skimp on technical support. Unfortunately, this is exactly what many businesses do.

Customer Support and Loyalty

While no business is going to openly admit as much, many see technical support as an inconvenience – a time-consuming issue that pushes energy and resources away from the tasks that really matter.

“If only we didn’t spend 500 man-hours per week dealing with lousy issues that customers should be able to figure out on their own.” If you’ve ever had a similar thought cross your mind, then you know what we’re talking about. And while it’s easy to wallow in despair and shift blame, the reality is that you can’t afford to neglect technical support. In fact, technical support directly impacts customer loyalty, which obviously plays a significant role in profitability.

IT consultant, Susan Ward, has spent time gathering data on the relationship between customer support and loyalty. What she’s discovered is that these two ideas are more closely linked than most people think. Just consider some of the following data points:

  • On average, loyal customers are worth 10-times as much as their first purchase.
  • Depending on the industry, it’s 5-25-times more expensive to generate a new customer than it is to retain an existing one.
  • 78 percent of customers say they’ve canceled a transaction after receiving poor or inadequate support.
  • 91 percent of customers will never come back after receiving poor support or service.
  • Dissatisfied customers tell, on average, 9 to 15 people about their poor experiences.

Some of these stats may seem like common sense to you, while others are probably eye-opening. The point is that you can’t afford to skimp on technical support.

Technical support involves more than just fixing a client’s problem or removing the source of their frustration. If you want to provide exceptional support that drives customer loyalty and positively impacts the bottom line, you have to treat each customer as an individual who is worthy of your time and attention.

5 Tips for Better Tech Support

Technical support matters – the data proves as much. But offering exceptional support to your customers is a little more challenging when you actually put it into practice. Without further ado, let’s dive into some practical points of application so that you can take your company’s tech support efforts to the next level.

  • Integrate Support Into the Product

If possible, find a way to integrate support into the product. This won’t always be possible with a piece of hardware, but can generally be done with software.

The RJO Futures trading platform is a good example. Because the product is streaming real-time quotes, accuracy and reliability are critically important. In order to best serve clients as quickly and efficiently as possible, the IT team has integrated full technical support into the platform itself. This leads to greater client experience and fewer problems that must be dealt with outside of the product.

  • Act Upon Support Requests

It’s one thing to get support requests within your platform, but you need to do something about these problems to satisfy users. By acting on support requests and using them as the basis for optimizing the product, you can prevent future problems. This is something Perch, a small content management system, does rather successfully.

“With Perch, we actively try to see support requests as an indication that something needs improvement or clarification in the product or related support material,” co-founder Rachel Andrew explains. “By tracking requests and seeing where patterns emerge that show people running into problems in certain places, we are able to prevent the problem from occurring or provide better support material.”

  • Offer Multiple Support Options

Every one of your customers is unique. This means they have their own needs, preferences, experiences, knowledge, and capabilities. If you’re only offering technical support through one medium, you’re likely ostracizing a large portion of your customer base.

The solution is to offer as many different types of support as you can reasonably support. This may include any combination of email, phone, live chat, social media, SMS, or even a dedicated ticketing system. Try to offer multiple options, but only offer something you can fully support. It’s better to have two highly responsive support options than three or four that stretch you thin.

  •  Pay Your Tech Support Team Well

Why is it that technical support team members tend to come in near the bottom of the pay scale? When you think about it, they should probably be getting paid a lot more. After all, customers are willing to pay more for better service.

When you pay technical support employees higher wages, they’re less likely to jump ship. They’re also more likely to invest the time and effort it takes to know the product inside and out. It may cost you more upfront, but you’ll see a positive return on investment down the line.

  • Follow Up With Customers

Nobody likes getting what seems to be a good solution to their problem only to find that it doesn’t actually solve it—after they’ve already hung up or waited hours for an email response,” entrepreneur Nathan Meunier writes. “This can be particularly frustrating, spurring some customers to give up entirely and remain unsatisfied with your company’s product or service.”

In order to stay abreast of these situations and keep your finger on the pulse of how your support team is doing, make it a point to follow up after certain interactions.

Give Your Business a Boost

Technical support shouldn’t be viewed as a waste of time, or even a necessary evil. If you want to enhance customer loyalty, drive profitably, and set your business up for long-term success, exceptional support is a must. The sooner your business realizes this, the faster you’ll see positive results.

Edited by Mandi Nowitz
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