Protecting consumers has always been an on-again, off-again endeavor. However, it seems that business owners are starting to see the vision behind protecting their customers. If you find your company on the “instead” side of things as listed below, I can almost guarantee that at least one of your competitors isn’t. Unless you’re Walmart or Best Buy and don’t care about losing a customer here and there, we suggest you get with the system.
2. Instead of disempowering agents by requiring managerial approval for tasks that customers should be able to accomplish themselves, they are training and developing agents to help with more complex questions and requests. My daughter Stephanie worked for Home Depot as a customer service chat agent. They gave her six weeks of paid training before starting their highly supervised one-on-one live chats.
3. Instead of requiring customers to call during specified business hours and often wait on hold for help, now many companies offer round-the-clock help via email, phone, chat (instant messaging) and social media. Even companies that can’t afford 24/7 support let the customer or potential customer know when they can expect a response.
4. Instead of call centers being relegated to cubicles or outsourced to other countries, many of the centers now work side-by-side with product teams – and even have a seat at the corporate table in company decision-making activities – with a myriad of opportunities for growth and development.
Support, as we currently understand it, is still a relatively new discipline.
The first conference exclusively for customer support professionals (as opposed to more general customer service conferences) according to Help Scout was held as recently as 2012. The new customer support professional applies the principles of customer service in helping customers solve problems and make decisions. In addition, it functions as part sales, part tech support, and part customer success partner.
In the self-service internet age, customers don’t need go-betweens to assist them with what should be simple functions, like canceling their account. Many businesses continue to direct their energies toward protecting revenue by putting these speed bumps in place, but they waste time that could have been spent solving a problem that only a human can solve.
And what’s more, people have grown to expect self-service — if you let them get to a point where they have to reach out, you may have offended and annoyed someone who otherwise would have, in time, returned. Customer-driven companies remove a lot of that friction by automating that which can be automated and freeing up their most valuable resource — their team — to work on problems that can’t be automated. There has been a shift away from hiring your average “people person,” toward hiring highly skilled, empathetic problem-solvers.
The definition of customer support is still evolving. Many signs point toward support morphing into a branch of marketing and growth, because companies who fail to offer quality support will lose their customers to those that do. Simple options, previously unheard of, like offering online consumers shipping insurance, identity theft protection, and price match guarantees are quickly becoming the norm – not the exception. If your online business isn’t concerned about protecting consumers, odds are that your competitor is.