Today we’re going to talk about how to turn your customer support center into a profit center.
The most obvious fact is that if you want to increase revenue without much expenditure, selling to new customers is an always a place to start. However, investing in customer support staff may be the key to growing future revenue.
Tying Customer Experience to Revenue
Without sitting in on every customer support call or email ticket, you may underestimate the importance of providing a positive customer experience. Remember that even though you may have dozens, hundreds, or thousands of customers, they each are looking to you to solve a problem. Whenever an issue occurs and that problem becomes a bigger problem than what you solve, you may see customers slow or stop working with you. It could be one experience that starts the end of your relationship with a customer.
This chart doesn’t reveal any industry secrets. Across the board for many companies, the customer support team interacts with customers at a much higher frequency, possibly even more than the sales team or anyone in account management. When customer support calls, emails, and criticizing social media activity starts to rise, you can’t have subpar customer support personnel putting out the fire before it spreads.
More than that, customer support has two opportunities.
- Resolve issue at hand
- Drive future sales
Success in the first opportunity likely won’t impact your bottom line, or at least negatively affect it. In fact, customers who had positive experiences with customer support can turn into loyal customers. Loyal customers are 5x as likely to repurchase, 5x as likely to forgive, 7x as likely to try a new offering, and 4x as likely to refer. (Source)
So, how should you be hiring, firing, and treating customer support staff to enable them to maybe rewrite to… “deliver optimal performance, increase productivity, and, in turn, revenue.
When customers reach out with a problem or question, the support team has a unique opportunity to listen to their needs, uncover the drivers of customer success – beyond the surface-level reason for the contact – and offer relevant solutions.
Consider the following support interaction:
- A feature isn’t working on a SaaS product, so a customer support team member / customer representative is engaged
- The customer representative listens carefully to the urgency and issue at hand, and helps the customer use the feature as intended
- With light rapport, the customer service representative begins to understand the underlying reason why the customer is using the product
- The CSR finds out that the customer is a part of a team, but only has an individual account
- After winning trust with the representative, the customer considers upgrading, and takes the idea back to their team
This is the type of win-win situation you want to create for your customers. If they ever have issues, complaints, or questions comparing you to a competitor, you need to hear them out. They are giving you time and attention, so make good use of it. Give them insight into possibilities of what you can offer, which may be more or better than what they already have. Suddenly, what started as an ‘issue’ is now the potential for a much greater outcome.
How does this affect your hiring for Customer Service Representatives?
Every company is different in how they sell and service customers. If you’re hiring for customer service or customer support roles, look for the curious problem-solvers. Often, the problems they’ll be required to solve won’t be standard and they will have to think on their feet. Over time, support staff that succeeds in understanding and demonstrating product value can be transitioned to the sales team or move into account management. Driving direct revenue through support is possible for many companies though may look different from company to company. This varies based upon product and sales cycle.
Hire slow, train fast
Once you’re presented with several candidates that demonstrate their interest in your company and a willingness to go the extra mile, train them quickly. The best experience will come from live phone calls and support conversations with real customers. Over time, your support center staff will turn into masters of your product. You’ll have given them the ability to answer almost any question about your product or service, with the predicated notion to keep the customer happy. Once they have a fundamental understanding of their duties as a customer support representative, begin sharing your vision that sales is a part of a support position, and the easiest way to grow in a career.
For some CSR’s, the best motivation is to reframe their job description as supporting the customers’ greater success, while will enable your agents to want to gain a more full understanding of your customers. With top-tier personnel and adequate training, you may be surprised at the impact support centers can have on your bottom line.
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