If you’re not seeing your customer support setup as an essential part of your growth strategy, you’re doing something wrong.
Good customer support is the bare minimum you should be offering as a business. And great customer support can often mean the difference between a customer that churns and one that sticks around for a long, long time.
Words of praise may travel far, but words of derision have a sneaky way of traveling further, so it’s essential you nail your customer support strategy and treat every interaction as a way to increase brand loyalty, customer retention and brand awareness.
But just what constitutes great customer support? We’ll take a closer look at that in this article. We’ll also include some ways to improve if you aren’t quite nailing it every time.
What is customer support?
We’ve already covered this topic before, including an article about the differences between customer service and customer support, but here is a quick refresher.
Customer support is a very specific subset of customer service that typically involves support agents with in-depth knowledge of a particular product.
It is particularly relevant in SaaS, where functionality is often delivered through a web or desktop application with a steep or shallow learning curve.
While the goals of customer service are more transactional, customer support is much more in-depth, involving product or feature-specific support.
It often encompasses:
- Reacting to and resolving technical support tickets
- Real-time troubleshooting through chat, emails or (even better) cobrowsing
- Creating product documentation and onboarding resources
- Conducting usability studies
- Working closely with product teams on product development and improvement
Now that we know what customer support is, it’s time to learn what great customer support is.
Most important things in customer support: the 4Ps
Like most things in life, there are some general principles that apply to great customer support. Luckily for us, there is a handy mnemonic way to remember them: the ‘4Ps’ featuring Promptness, Politeness, Professionalism and Personalization!
Have you ever reached out with an issue only to be kept waiting, or, worse still, never hearing back at all? No doubt it was an incredibly frustrating experience and we all seem to have unfortunately been there at one point or another.
Let me ask you something: how do you feel about that company now? Chances are, the lack of a prompt response was something that gave you pause and may even have left a slightly bad taste in your mouth.
That is why it’s so essential that you never do this to your customers. It pays to be prompt, so make sure you are responding to and solving support tickets ASAP. Never leave a customer hanging and don’t procrastinate: if it’s a difficult problem to solve, communicate that to them soon. If it’s an easy problem to solve, solve it immediately.
If you’ve ever had a customer-facing role, we have no doubt that you have, at one point or another, encountered a rude person who made you want to quit altogether! As tempting as it is to give back as good as you get, you must always remain in control of your emotions and be polite at all times.
It helps to genuinely work at developing empathy towards your customers — it’s not always easy, but it is always worth it.
Those nasty interactions can be used as ways to give yourself tools and teach yourself skills that are more broadly applicable to every interaction you have as a support agent.
Your customers deserve to be treated with courtesy and respect, so be professional at all times.
Don’t get too familiar, keep your language relatively formal, be polite and give them every reason to trust that you are someone who knows their stuff and can help solve issues easily and competently.
Remember to actively listen to them when they are explaining their problems and be prompt with your responses and polite when delivering them.
In these days of chatbots running rampant and all manner of ways to automate much of your workflow, personalization still counts and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Being human, we’re actually quite good at detecting when there’s another one of us at the other end of the line or the other side of the screen. And, would you believe it, most of us actually do prefer to speak to another person rather than AI.
Now, don’t get us wrong. Automation and chat definitely has its place in the support hierarchy. There’s nothing quite like the convenience of being able to cater to thousands of people using one chatbot. For level one support, it may even be enough. However, it does not suffice for level two and level three support, so make sure you are putting some thought into personalizing all interactions with your customers.
Track the right customer support metrics to improve customer satisfaction
In order to improve your customer satisfaction, you need to know where you stand in the first place. In order to do that, tracking key metrics is essential. But there are so many to track, so which ones should you focus on?
In this article, we’ve covered 15 crucial customer support metrics for SaaS companies to track in 2022. It includes stuff like:
- Ticket Volume
- Ticket Backlog
- First Contact Resolution Rate (FCR)
- Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
- Net Promoter Score
23 of the best ways to improve customer support
Your customer support process is something that should grow and change over time to improve. It isn’t something that you can afford to set and forget. We’ve already mentioned just how important good customer support is for SaaS businesses, but it bears repeating: if you mess up here, you can almost guarantee that you’ll see low adoption rates and high user churn.
So let’s say you’ve calculated all the important metrics we covered in the article above and find your performance lacking. What can you do to improve?
Here are 23 foolproof ways to do just that.
- Hire the right people
- Invest in training
- Build a customer-focused team
- Understand your customers’ needs
- Practice active listening
- Learn to empathize with your customers
- Be a better communicator
- Use positive language
- Set clear expectations
- Don’t get defensive
- Don’t overpromise and underdeliver
- Be reachable and responsive
- Improve your technical skills
- Know your product inside and out
- Optimize your workflow
- Use the right software
- Automate parts of the process
- Nail down your customer support voice across platforms
- Know when to escalate tickets
- Use the right metrics
- Constantly measure and improve
- Go the extra mile
- Focus on creating the best experience
Hire the right people
What’s that saying about how a great house can’t be built on a shaky foundation? Given that the foundation of any great customer support team is the people who make up its ranks, it’s crucial you hire the right ones. Make sure you’re looking for ambitious self-starters who are good communicators, good problem-solvers and good workers to improve your customer support.
Invest in training
Another important piece of the puzzle in improving your customer support is making sure that you’re giving your customer support agents material to work with and adequate training in the beginning. Make sure to really think through your onboarding process and how you communicate your company’s culture, brand and tone of voice, because that will all need to be reflected in your customer-facing communication. Spend some time writing scripts and manuals that your agents can consult when in a pinch.
Build a customer-focused team
In SaaS, nearly everything comes down to deeply understanding your customers’ pain points and making their lives easier, so it’s essential that you and your team are fully focused on those points. Everything you do and everything you say needs to happen while keeping your customer front-of-mind. What does that involve practically? A lot of facetime with them and active listening.
Understand your customers’ needs
Building a product or providing support without understanding what is actually at stake for your customers is a recipe for disaster. Make sure your agents are always working on understanding your customers’ needs so they’re actually catering to them and providing great customer support. Encourage them to gather feedback, read reviews of your business online, monitor social media for any mentions and really spend some time understanding your customers. Customer personas aren’t just for marketing teams. CX teams should also be using them to deeply understand who they are catering to.
Practice active listening
Don’t assume you know what your customers want. Active listening, which is the habit of listening not only to the words a person is saying, but what they’re trying to communicate in full, without using your own experiences and biases to fill in the blanks, is essential in customer support. Modules on this should be included when training your agents.
Learn to empathize with your customers
Look, we get it. Working a customer-facing job can be frustrating sometimes. There are, unfortunately, times when your customers will be less than friendly. Nevertheless, it’s important to cultivate an attitude of empathy towards them. The thing to remember is that these people are already frustrated even before they reach out, and that can sometimes be reflected in their demeanor during the support session. One way to minimize this frustration is to start thinking of support more proactively and offer it as soon as you notice a customer has hit a stumbling block, rather than waiting for them to reach out to you. You can use a session replays solution like Fullview Replays to do this.
Be a better communicator
It’s essential that everyone on your support team is trained in the principles of good communication. All communication needs to be clear, it needs to be brief, and it needs to be relevant in order to raise your CSAT scores.
Use positive language
This is yet another aspect of good customer support that doesn’t get its due. There is real power in communicating with positive language, which is the act of being mindful about the words you choose to use in situations and the way in which you communicate them. Some examples of positive as opposed to negative language in the specific context of customer support are:
- ‘Thank you so much for your patience’ instead of ‘I’m so sorry to keep you waiting.’
- ‘Thank you for bringing this to our attention’ rather than ‘I apologize that you encountered this issue.’
- ‘Thank you for your understanding as we continue to work on this for you’ as opposed to ‘I’m so sorry about the delay.’
Language like this can create a better frame of mind for both the support agent and the customer.
Set clear expectations
Oftentimes, the frustration that your customers may experience as a result of some issue may not even be down to the issue itself, but unclear expectations that arose as a result. What does that mean exactly? It can be anything from setting unrealistic timelines, to long delays between responses to never responding at all. Avoiding this should be one of the highest priorities for any support team.
Don’t get defensive
This relates to the point about cultivating empathy for your customers. There are certain situations in which you’re going to want to go on the defensive, but it’s essential you remain professional at all times. Developing conflict resolution strategies and learning how to stay calm under pressure can really help with this.
Don’t overpromise and under-deliver
In the same vein as setting clear expectations, support agents should never overpromise and then under-deliver on results. It’s important to be extremely deliberate in what you are promising your customers: whether it’s about how soon a new feature will launch, or how quickly a support ticket will be resolved, or how easy an issue is to fix, it’s important to convey accurate information without getting carried away.
Be reachable and responsive
Good customer support means that you never leave your customers hanging and make sure to design your customer support processes to be extremely visible. You need to make it easy for your customers to get in touch with you, so one contact form buried deep within your website architecture simply will not do. You need to make sure your chat widget is visible on all pages, that your help center is linked in your navigation, and any other resources are easily discoverable. Then, once a customer does get in touch, make sure you respond within the hour, if possible. They won’t hang around forever. On chat, you really should aim to respond within a few minutes.
Improve your technical skills
If you’re a subject matter expert providing technical support, it goes without saying that you need to know what you’re talking about — and you probably do! However, it doesn’t hurt (and in fact, can help quite a bit) for even non-technical support staff to brush up on their technical knowledge a little bit — insomuch as it relates to your product. Definitely one of the keys to proving not only good customer support, but good technical support too.
Know your product inside and out
One of the most obvious parts of customer support is you need to be a regular user of your own product. It’s so obvious, in fact, that it is shocking how often this falls through the cracks. After all, onboarding materials can’t prepare you for everything. And not even the best script has an answer to every question, so you need to use your product on a regular basis and frequently communicate with your product and development team about updates. Speaking of, learn how Fullview can help bridge the gap between product and development teams.
Optimize your workflow
Good customer support means constantly monitoring and optimizing your workflow. A poor workflow will lead to both customer dissatisfaction and agent burnout, so it’s important you invest the resources and effort necessary to make it the best version it can possibly be.
Use the right software
There are a number of different aspects and moving parts to every customer support workflow, and it’s important you’re using the best software for each one. For technical support, where you often need a much bigger insight into a user’s issues and any problems they are experiencing on your platform, Fullview’s products, including in-app cobrowsing and session replay software, make it very easy to get the necessary context to solve more complex problems. We’ve recently made a comprehensive list of the best customer support software for different functions, so make sure you check that out.
Automate parts of the process
Though you don’t ever want to go too crazy with automation and chatbots (after all, 86% of consumers prefer humans to chatbots), automating some parts of the process — especially behind-the-scenes stuff — can really help increase your productivity, nail your customer support processes, and improve your customer support.
Nail your customer support voice across platforms
You need to see all your customer-facing communication — and not just marketing, PR, and sales — as an opportunity to communicate your brand values to people. Given that most businesses provide customer support on a variety of different platforms these days (and if you don’t yet, you really should), it’s important to maintain consistency in your information and messaging across channels. Make sure you include a section about your brand’s tone of voice in your customer support onboarding materials so all your agents know what is expected of them when it comes to styles of communication.
Know when to escalate tickets
Having concrete processes in place for when to escalate a level 1 support ticket into level 2 or even 3 is key to providing the best customer support possible. Along with how you escalate the tickets, it also helps to identify dedicated agents for level 2 and 3 support. These can be agents with a background in development or very proficient in the technical aspects of your company, for example. Fullview can help you handle level 2 and 3 technical support with its dedicated technical support products.
Use the right metrics
Without knowing where you currently stand, it isn’t helpful to think of ways in which to improve. Measuring customer support metrics can tell you exactly which parts of your customer support flow are broken. But there are so many metrics that identifying the ones that are actually going to have a noticeable impact on your customer support is hard work! Luckily for you, we recently made a list of the 15 most crucial customer support metrics to track for SaaS companies.
Constantly measure and improve
No use knowing those metrics if you don’t don’t measure and improve upon them on an ongoing basis! Make sure you are reaching out to customers, checking review websites and combing through social media mentions to gauge how your customers are actually feeling about your company. It is always smart to take your cues from them!
Go the extra mile
Really focus on getting to know your customers — not just as personal or segments, but as actual living, breathing human beings. Personalization counts for a lot, and it’s more than just using an automation software to insert someone’s name into a form email. Put in the effort, go the extra mile, type out that email or message from scratch — it can count for a lot.
Focus on creating the best experience
CX is something that more and more companies are starting to take just as seriously as marketing or sales. From being seen as a cost center, customer support teams are increasingly being seen as a growth driver — and rightfully so! In the coming recession, companies with good user retention numbers and low churn will come out on top, so make sure you are focused on creating a holistic end-to-end customer experience and the best one you can possibly create.
How Fullview can help you improve your customer support
Fullview offers many great features and products that can help you improve your customer support:
There are no downloads involved, so you won’t have to ask your users to install anything! For you and your team, you only have to copy a few lines of code to install Fullview on your app, and this installation takes no more than 10 minutes.
Your data is encrypted and stored on servers within the EU.
Fully GDPR compliant
As one of the only cobrowsing and session replay vendors in Europe, Fullview is fully GDPR compliant.
Watch video-like recordings of user sessions with Fullview Replays, which is one of the only session replay solutions that is built specifically for customer support and product teams With Replays, agents can quickly see customer bugs and issues in context — even before a user writes to them about an issue. They can therefore offer proactive support that’s fast and efficient, while eliminating the friction typical of these interactions. They can also see console information (like network, divide and user journey info) when viewing a replay.
In-app calling and cobrowsing
Tired of sending out meeting requests that your customers don’t respond to? With Fullview Live, you can cobrowse with your customers in-app and call them directly at the touch of a button. In fact, we helped this company improve response rates 2x. Cobrowsing also enables a customer support agent to remotely control their customer’s app, without giving them access to their whole system, unlike other popular solutions on the market. They can highlight, navigated or submit forms on behalf of the customer. They can also view all console information within the call, as with Fullview Replays.
View console information like network, device and user information while on a call or while watching a replay. This means you’ll immediately understand what issue a user has encountered without having to ask them to inspect elements or explain anything. All this functionality makes Fullview a game changer for technical customer support.