Great Customer Support: A Way of Life

Great customer support is vital Customer support is our sole concern The customer is always right

Sound familiar? We’ve all heard these lines from companies before. They sound like the corporate jargon we all deal with at some point. I’m sure you’ve heard them before, and after dealing with the company, you realize they are just that – a line!

The reason these lines lack true meaning for most organizations is that they don’t create an environment for great customer support. Great “customer support” is not words or protocols that are implemented, it is a way of approaching your business life.

Get Everyone On Board

Often companies approach customer support as something that’s relegated to a certain department. This is especially true in the technology-driven world of Internet businesses. Online companies come up with plans and impose training on their technical support staffs, so this group will understand the importance of customer support. Managers will take the time and energy to implement customer support protocols that are developed to satisfy this ever important business need. While this development is admirable and is usually excellent in its results, it fails to address two important factors.

Firstly, customer support can only be partly taught. The key ingredient to superior customer support is the people who are doing it. Great customer support comes from having caring persons who believe in the company, product, and service they are providing. The type of person you want in your company should have a passion for what you are doing. If they don’t have that “fire in the belly,” they will never be able to provide the level of superior customer support you need.

Secondly, protocols and training fail to address the fact that customer support is a top-to-bottom issue. Usually, customer support training is provided to the technical support staff, but only lip service is given in other areas of the company. This is the gravest of errors. Every facet, every employee must take an active role in providing the level of support that is necessary. Even if an employee or department never has direct contact with the customer, the actions that each employee takes has some bearing on the level of customer support that is provided by the company as a whole.

A great example of this top-to-bottom approach to customer support can be seen in this quick story. Imagine for a second an e-commerce company that sells its widgets via the web. The company understands the importance of great customer support so they religiously train and educate their phone support people on the techniques they want to employ for customer support. They also establish proper email support levels for this department, and everyone feels great about the company’s support plans.

One problem with this picture is that only the people with direct customer contact are trained for customer support. The people in the fulfillment department, don’t put customer needs first. Instead, they concentrate their efforts on developing the logistics that will most cost-effectively (read cheaply) handle the shipping of the purchased goods. What this department doesn’t take into account is that its shipping decision selections do not take the customers’ interest into account first. They are only worried about delivering the goods in the cheapest manner possible. In their minds, customer happiness and experience are not number one, the short-term bottom line is number one. Now this is a simplified example, but it shows the importance of why customer support must permeate throughout the entire organization.

Customer Support – The Company Religion

Customer support is not something that’s implemented or put into a manual for people to review when they are hired. It must be something that is taken seriously, especially by online companies that have yet to become an established, trusted brand.

A company’s approach to its customers should be the number one issue that any company thinks about. The approach to satisfying customers should be taken with zeal and vigor and should be found at every level of the organization.

If this is not your approach to customers, you will soon find that your customers become someone else’s concern – your competitors.

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