The 10 most common customer support challenges agents face and how to solve them

The 10 most common customer support challenges agents face and how to solve them

TL: DR

The top ten most common customer support challenges include:

  • Long back-and-forth conversations over chat to solve complex technical problems
  • A lack of speed in responses
  • Lacking the necessary context in the user journey
  • Having to continually escalate issues to different agents
  • Too many incoming support requests
  • No proper ticket escalation policy
  • No proper data strategy
  • Untrained customer support staff
  • Too much automation 
  • No post-purchase support

Customer service has become a necessity in today's business landscape. To keep up with the competition, businesses must provide excellent customer support in order to retain their customers. In fact, 81% of companies view customer experience as a competitive differentiator, so it's essential to invest in a good customer service system.

However, even with the best of intentions, there are common challenges that customer support agents face. As the field is ever-evolving, it's normal to hit a few common obstacles. However, understanding what they are and how to solve them is essential to providing a great customer experience.

In this article, we'll cover the ten most common challenges customer support agents face and give you some solutions to work with.

Back-and-forth conversations to solve complex technical problems

When it comes to customer support, there are two common challenges agents face when it comes to technical problems. Firstly, customers may not have the necessary technical knowledge to understand the problem and solutions that agents provide. Secondly, back-and-forth conversations — often conducted via chat — can become lengthy and convoluted as agents strive to get answers for their customers.

The longer customers have to wait for answers, the more frustration they feel — which is why it's important to provide quick solutions. To solve this common customer service challenge, using tech such as cobrowsing (which allows agents to see and control a user's screen) can be a great help.

Cobrowsing makes it easy for agents to solve issues collaboratively with their users, rather than having to try and explain complicated solutions over email and chat, resulting in less user frustration and less agent burnout.

A lack of speed in responses

Studies show that businesses that respond to leads in five minutes or less are 100x more likely to connect and convert opportunities. In a customer support environment, speed is key. Customers expect timely responses to their queries, and when they don't get them, it can have an adverse effect on their overall experience.

The best way to solve this common challenge is by investing in a customer support system that will help agents respond quickly and efficiently. CRM tools and AI-powered chatbots can be useful in providing quick responses to common customer queries.

However, it's essential not to overuse automation as customers still value speaking to a real person when it comes to customer support. Instead, use these tools to help route the customer to the right support agent quickly and efficiently.

Lacking the necessary context

Agents often lack all the necessary context when trying to understand and solve customer issues. When a user reaches out with a problem, they may not have full insight into what that user experienced in-app. They may have to ask the user to send screenshots or explain a bug. This is inefficient and confusing for the customers, plus it increases the time taken to solve an issue, resulting in customer churn and frustration.

Instead, agents should use session replay tools to quickly review user sessions to understand what issues users faced before they reached out. This provides agents with full context and insights into a support ticket, making it much easier to solve. 

Having to continually escalate issues to different agents

One of the most common customer service problems that agents face is having to continually escalate issues to different agents. This can be incredibly frustrating for customers. Not only do they have to explain the same problem multiple times, but it also takes a lot more time before they receive the help they need.

To solve this common challenge, customer support teams should invest in customer support software that allows agents to share tickets across teams quickly and easily. This makes it possible for agents to solve issues efficiently and accurately, significantly reducing the amount of time customers have to wait before they receive help. Additionally, this also keeps all customer conversations in one place so agents can track progress and get the full context that they need when responding to a query.

Too many incoming support requests

Agents are often drowning under the weight of incoming support requests. One of the most common reasons customer support faces this issue is because they don't have a proactive support strategy in place and are relying exclusively on reactive support that only starts once a user has reached out with a problem. Instead, proactive support should be an integral part of any customer service strategy.

So, what exactly does proactive support mean? Essentially, it's about agents reaching out to users as soon as they discover an issue instead of waiting for the user to reach out once they discover a problem.

Remember, only 1 in 26 users reach out — the rest will just churn without saying anything. So proactive support is even more important to keep users around. Whether that looks like agents sending out messages to all users if a bug or issue has been discovered or proactively reviewing user sessions with tools like Fullview Replays to identify users who have had a problem during a session and reach out to them immediately, proactive support is essential for customer service teams to prevent common customer service problems. 

No proper ticket escalation policy

Often, companies don't have the right ticket escalation policy in place, and agents are confused about what tickets to escalate. This could lead to support tickets being escalated too quickly, resulting in overwhelmed and overworked tier 2 and 3 support agents. Alternatively, it could result in tickets not being escalated at all, which can delay time to resolution.

Session replays and cobrowsing can be enormously helpful here to figure out which tickets are complicated enough to require cobrowsing and which can be solved via chat or the help center. If agents watch session replay recordings as soon as a support ticket comes in, they can immediately get a sense of how complicated it is and if it requires escalation. 

No proper data strategy

Data should be key to all the decisions support teams make to ensure the right processes and workflows are being implemented. Often data is not considered early on when creating a support strategy, and more attention is placed on tone and style guides, team structure, tagging systems, etc. 

However, if data is not a part of that picture very early on and the foundation is not built, it can be challenging to retrofit it. Therefore, it's important to make sure data is an integral part of your customer support strategy from the outset. This means having a robust analytics platform in place that allows you to measure customer feedback and performance across different channels. 

It also involves creating reports with powerful insights so teams can create meaningful strategies around common customer service problems. Doing this will help customer service teams understand common issues and trends so they can work towards creating more efficient processes that provide a better experience for customers. 

Untrained customer support staff

Customer support agents who are not properly trained can often be the cause of common customer service problems. When agents don't have an understanding of the product, it may lead to long wait times as they try to figure out how to respond or a lack of empathy and personalization in their responses.

Effective training is essential for any customer service team to ensure agents are equipped to handle common customer service problems quickly and efficiently. Companies should invest in comprehensive training programs that include product knowledge, communication skills, and problem-solving techniques.

Additionally, they should make sure the training is continual — this means regular refreshers on common customer service problems as well as frequent check-ins with team leads to ensure agents are keeping up to date with the latest product updates and customer trends.

Too much automation

Automation is an incredibly powerful tool for customer support teams, but it's important to remember that not every situation can be automated. Too much automation can lead to common customer service problems, such as higher rates of miscommunication between customers and agents or a lack of personalized attention.

70% of consumers surveyed about their customer service preferences said they would rather speak to a human customer service representative instead of an automation system. It's essential to find the right balance between automation and human interaction. Automation should be used where it makes sense and to streamline common customer support problems, but there needs to be a level of personalization when dealing with complex issues.

No support post-purchase

Last but not least, common customer service problems can arise when companies don't provide enough support after a user has made a purchase. Customers often have questions about warranties, returns, and upgrades, and if they don't get the answers they need in a timely manner, it could lead to dissatisfaction with the product or brand.

It's important to ensure customers have access to post-purchase support. This could involve having a dedicated customer service team that is available to answer questions or provide access to online resources such as FAQs and how-to guides. Doing this will ensure customers receive the help they need quickly, preventing common customer service problems from occurring in the first place.

Conclusion

Customer support teams face common problems every day. From too many incoming support requests and not having the right ticket escalation policy in place to a lack of proper data strategy and untrained customer service staff, these common customer support issues can be difficult to tackle. However, with the right proactive support strategy and tools, customer service teams can quickly identify common customer service problems and create solutions that better serve their customers.

Author

Shifa Rahaman

Content Marketing Manager

Contributor