The Best Customer Support Reads Of 2016 (So Far)
We’re half way through 2016. It’s hard to believe. We wanted to mark the occasion by celebrating the best reads we’ve seen this year so far. Today we’re looking at the best writing on customer support. Enjoy.
Elizabeth Tobey of Medium makes an excellent case for bringing customer-facing teams into the conversation on product planning.
Whether we’re talking about Support folks who answer questions and solving problems or Community people who are monitoring and talking with people who use the company’s product, these employees are your customer-facing teams and their expertise and knowledge is worth its (proverbial) weight in gold. Every day, you pay them to talk to real people who use the actual products your company makes in order to stay in business, and yet these teams are rarely part of the product roadmap process or communications planning.
Jamie Edwards of Kayako put together this incredible resource on support metrics. It’s a great place to get inspiration for data you may be ignoring. Be sure to check out the free cheat sheet.
In order to see what impact any changes you make to your support processes have, you need to be able to observe trends, set goals, and measure the results. We have put together a list of key customer service metrics, so you can be sure that your support team is doing the best it can to help your customers.
Chris Avore of Nasdaq Design put together a strong argument for letting UX designers help shape the customer experience journey. It’s a solid case and a great compliment piece to Elizabeth Tobey piece.
Many successful designers are applying their methods, tools, and approaches to business challenges that stretch beyond making yet another app or website. We’re seeing this first hand when user experience designers are influencing, and in some cases leading the execution of an organization’s customer experience strategy.
Support is more powerful than it seems. It’s a theme in most of these articles, and presented very well here by Chase Clemons of Basecamp.
Placing profits over customers leads companies to do stupid things like outsource their support or offer a very narrow set of ways to interact with the support team. Sure, sending your support calls and emails overseas gives you a chance to cut costs. But outsourcing often leads to more frustration for your customers because the company no longer owns that support. They’ve pushed that problem off on to an outside company rather than doing their own hiring and training. They’ve given support reps scripts and robotic replies in place of actual thought.
Like the human mind, our questions are best understood by way of behavior – so consider each of your beliefs, no matter how strong, and ask yourself, what measurable behavior would our customers engage in if this belief were true?
With customer relations, perception is often reality. Gregory Ciotti of Help Scout breaks down the importance of perception in customer support.
Quickly explaining the paths you already explored shows your thought process, but more importantly, it shows your effort. The customer knows what you’ve tried and can see what lead you to suggest the non-ideal solution. In our experience, most people can live with that.
We couldn’t totally leave ourselves off this list. Our own Jake Bartlett writes on the importance of internal tools and docs in a world where support is more complex than ever.
We are in the era of no more easy questions. This means support teams are facing bigger, more challenging problems. Bigger, tougher questions would logically mean more time hassling teammates for help. But we think that doesn’t have to be the case. As long you have strong internal tools and docs.
Metrics and data have been a big theme in the support community this year. And for good reason. Teams are seeing the power of optimizing based on data. But it can be hard to know where to start. This piece from First Contact Resolve helps with that.
How can support teams set clear expectations around what a high quality interaction is? How can the qualitative be quantitatively measured? How can you integrate your expectations around quality into the very fiber of your team culture? Support QA is a big topic and could easily fill a book. This will not be a book. In this post, I’m going to try to cover (briefly, but hopefully effectively) how to distil values into scorable metrics, figure out tracking, cadence, and feedback loops. I’ll also go into calibration and program roll-out with integration into hiring and training.
Here’s a dream scenario for plenty of support pros: turn your biggest critics into your biggest fans. Sound nuts? It actually makes total sense when explained in this excellent and actionable post from Alex Birkett of ConversionXL.
In my opinion, it might be easier to change a detractor into a promoter than a passive into one. Why? Because they’re passionate (albeit in a negative direction). Passives probably just don’t care enough to have a strong opinion – in either direction.