Customer support is a vital connecter between business and customers. The success and the longevity of your business depends on how well you serve your customers. Delighting your customers takes work. But, if done right, you are more likely to attract customers, retain them, build brand loyalty, and increase your revenue.
Customer support is an art, and to deliver exceptional customer experiences, you need the right skills, the right people, and technology. We will explore the definition of customer support, and the skills required to provide excellent support, the importance of customer support in business, and tips for providing exceptional customer support.
What is Customer Support?#
Customer support refers to assisting customers across various communication channels like phone, email, chat, social media, and self-serve to guide them with their queries, concerns, and problems. Customer support can vary from resolving technical issues providing expert advice, and building solid relationships with customers.
However, it is important to distinguish between customer support and customer service to understand the concept of customer support clearly. Customer service primarily focuses on assisting customers before and during the sale, while customer support helps customers after the sale.
The Skills Required for Customer Support#
Providing excellent customer support requires a variety of skills, including:
Clear and effective communication is essential in providing excellent customer support. Support agents should be equipped with good communication skills to communicate complex information in a simple and concise manner.
Support agents must have the patience to listen to customers and understand their concerns. They should be able to handle difficult situations and respond in a professional manner.
Support agents should understand and empathize with the customers’ perspectives. They should understand the customers’ pain, urgency, and requirements and act accordingly.
Active listening involves paying attention to what the customer is saying. It is essential to keenly listen to their requirements, get things clarified, and then proceed with the solutions.
Support agents must be able to identify the root cause of customer problems and provide solutions that meet their needs.
Support agents often need to handle multiple customer inquiries at once while keeping track of their progress and following up on open issues.
Attention to detail#
Small details can make a big difference in providing excellent customer support. Support agents must pay close attention to details such as customer preferences, past interactions, and feedback.
The importance of customer support#
Customer support is essential in building and maintaining strong relationships with customers. Here are some reasons why customer support is crucial for business success:
Retaining existing customers#
Providing excellent customer support is crucial in retaining existing customers. When customers have a positive experience with a company's support team, they stick around longer, stay loyal to the brand, and continue doing business with that company.
Attracting new customers#
Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool. Customers who have a positive experience with a company's support team are more likely to refer and recommend it to others. Whereas a negative experience can severely impact recurring purchases and acquiring potential customers.
Building brand loyalty#
When customers feel heard, valued, and supported, they feel heard and they stay loyal to the company. They stick around longer, write positive reviews, and recommend it to their peers. Loyal customers continue doing business with a company and recommend it to others.
Customer support can help increase revenue by providing cross-selling and upselling opportunities. When customers have a positive experience with a company's support team, they are more likely to purchase additional products or services.
Tips for providing excellent customer support#
Providing excellent customer support requires a combination of skills, tools, and strategies. Here are some tips for providing exceptional customer support:
Personalize the customer experience#
Customers feel valued and understood when you offer personalized customer experience. Support agents can personalize the experience by using the customer's name, understanding their preferences, and remembering their previous interactions.
Respond in a timely manner#
Customers expect timely responses to their inquiries. Support agents should strive to respond to customer inquiries within an acceptable time frame, such as 24 hours.
Use positive language#
Using positive language can help diffuse tense situations and make customers feel more comfortable. Support agents should avoid negative or accusatory language and focus on positive solutions.
Make customers feel heard and valued#
Customers want to feel heard and understood. Support agents should actively listen to customers and validate their concerns. They should also thank customers for their business and make them feel valued.
Take responsibility for mistakes#
Mistakes happen. But, it can always be made right by accepting it and finding a way to fix it. Support agents should apologize for mistakes and ensure that they fix it.
Empower your customer support team#
Empowering your customer support team means equipping them with the tools and resources they need to succeed. Support agents should have access to training, support resources, and a supportive work environment.
Continuously gather feedback and improve#
Gathering feedback is essential in improving customer support. Support teams should continuously gather feedback from customers and use it to make improvements to their support strategy.
How to choose the best customer support tool#
The market is flooded with a lot of options for customer support tools. So, choosing the best customer support tool can be overwhelming. With such a vast number of options available, it's essential to understand the features of each tool and evaluate them. Here are some tips for choosing the best customer support tool:
Determine your needs#
Before selecting a customer support tool, you need to determine the specific needs of your business. Consider factors such as the size of your support team, the volume of support requests you receive on a daily basis, and the channels through which customers contact you.
Once you have a clear understanding of your needs, you can start evaluating different tools.
When evaluating customer support tools, look for features such as:
Ticket management is a crucial feature in customer support tools. It allows support agents to manage and track customer inquiries, prioritize requests, and assign tickets to specific agents.
Make sure the tool you choose supports the communication channels that your customers prefer and communicate on, such as phone, email, chat, or social media.
Reporting and analytics#
Reporting and analytics features can provide valuable insights into your support team's performance, such as response time, resolution time, and customer satisfaction. This will help in strategizing your customer support services to make sure that you serve your customers in the best way possible.
Integrations with other tools, such as CRM software or marketing automation platforms, can help streamline your workflow and provide a seamless customer experience.
Self-service support features such as knowledge bases or FAQs can help customers find solutions to common issues on their own.
If you have customers in different countries, look for a tool that offers multilingual support to ensure that you cater to customers across the globe speaking different languages.
A customer support tool should be simple to use for both support agents and customers. Look for a tool with a clean and user-friendly interface, that is simple and straightforward, and something that doesn't require extensive training to use.
When evaluating customer support tools, consider the pricing model. Look for a tool that offers a transparent pricing structure and fits within your budget. If you want to try and test out a tool before investing in one, then you may want to look for a free trial or a freemium model, that allows you to test the tool before committing to a paid subscription.
Customer support and training#
Look for a tool that offers excellent customer support and training resources. A good customer support team can help you get up and running quickly and provide assistance if you run into any issues.
Types of Customer Support#
Customer support can be extended across different channels. Here are some of the most common types of customer support:
Phone support involves providing customer support over the phone. This type of support is best suited for customers who need immediate assistance or have complex issues that require a more in-depth 1-1 conversation.
Email support involves providing customer support via email. This type of support is best suited for customers who have less urgent issues or prefer written communication.
Chat support involves providing customer support via a chat interface. This type of support is best suited for customers who prefer real-time communication and instant answers to their questions.
Social media support#
Social media support involves providing customer support via social media platforms. Customers post their queries and concerns through social channels such as Twitter and Facebook. This type of support is best suited for customers who prefer to communicate via social media or have social media-specific issues.
Self-service support involves providing customers with resources such as knowledge base, FAQs, and online tutorials. This type of support is best suited for customers who prefer to find solutions on their own without wasting time communicating back and forth for any external assistance.
Implementing customer support#
Implementing customer support involves creating a customer support team, training your team, providing tools, setting metrics and goals, and measuring success.
Creating a customer support team#
Creating a customer support team involves hiring the right people with the right skillset to provide excellent customer support.
Training your team#
Training your team involves providing them with the necessary skills and tools to succeed. This includes product training, customer service training, and communication skills training.
Providing your team with the right tools and resources can help them provide exceptional customer support. This includes customer support software, knowledge bases, and customer feedback tools.
Setting metrics and goals#
Setting metrics and goals can help you measure the success of your customer support strategy. This includes metrics such as response time, customer satisfaction, and ticket volume.
Measuring success involves analyzing your customer support metrics and making improvements to your support strategy.
Common challenges in customer support#
Customer support can be challenging at times. Here are some common challenges and how to address them:
Handling difficult customers#
Handling difficult customers requires patience, empathy, and excellent communication skills. Support agents should remain calm and professional and focus on finding a solution that meets the customer's needs.
Balancing response time with quality#
Balancing response time with quality can be a challenge. Support agents should strive to respond to customer inquiries as quickly as possible and ensure that they don’t keep them waiting too long. But, at the same time, a quick response does not mean there is a compromise on the quality of customer support.
Managing team workload#
Managing team workload requires effective time management and workload distribution. Managers should ensure that support agents are not overworked and have the resources they need to succeed.
Integrating with other teams#
Inttegrating with other teams, such as sales and marketing, can be challenging. Support teams should collaborate with other teams to ensure that customers receive a seamless experience across all touchpoints.
The future of customer support#
The future of customer support is rapidly changing due to the emergence of artificial intelligence and other technological advancements. Here are some ways in which the future of customer support would be shaped up:
Technological advancements such as chatbots, voice assistants, and self-service support tools will continue to shape the future of customer support. These tools can help support teams provide faster, more personalized support to customers.
The impact of AI in customer support#
Artificial intelligence is already playing a significant role in customer support. AI-powered tools such as chatbots and voice assistants can help support teams provide 24/7 support, improve response times, and reduce support costs.
Best practices for customer support#
Providing excellent customer support requires a combination of skills, tools, and strategies. Here are some best practices for providing exceptional customer support:
Offer 24/7 Support#
Your customers may live across the globe and at different time zones. Offering 24/7 support can help customers to get the assistance they need whenever they want. This includes providing support via phone, email, chat, and social media.
Create a Knowledge Base#
Creating a knowledge base can help customers find solutions to common issues on their own. This can reduce support volume and improve customer satisfaction.
Provide a Seamless Experience#
Providing a seamless experience across all touchpoints can help customers feel valued and understood. This includes ensuring that all customer interactions are consistent and personalized.
Use Data to Personalize Interactions#
Using data such as past purchases and customer feedback can help support teams personalize interactions and provide more relevant support.
Best customer support tools in 2023#
There are a lot of popular customer support tools in the market. Here are some of the best customer support tools in 2023:
DevRev is OneCRM for next-generation Customer Support and Software Development. Some things just work better together — customer support and software development teams is one of those — they can be copilots for each other. By bringing customer, user, and product data on one platform, DevRev’s neural engine can also be your copilot — your copilot for support, your copilot for software development, and your copilot for growth.
Zendesk is a popular customer support tool that offers features such as ticket management, reporting and analytics, and integrations with other tools. It also provides multilingual support and self-service support features such as a knowledge base and FAQs.
Freshdesk is another popular customer support tool that offers ticket management, communication channels, reporting and analytics, and integrations with other tools. It also provides self-service support features such as a knowledge base and community forums.
Intercom is a customer support tool that focuses on personalized customer communication. It offers support across all communication channels such as chat and email, as well as features such as reporting and analytics, and integrations with other tools.
5. Help Scout#
Help Scout is a customer support tool that offers features such as ticket management, communication channels, reporting and analytics, and integrations with other tools. It also provides self-service support features such as a knowledge base and FAQs.
6. HubSpot Service Hub#
HubSpot Service Hub is a customer support tool that is part of the HubSpot suite of tools. It offers features such as ticket management, communication channels, reporting and analytics, and integrations with other tools. It also provides self-service support features such as a knowledge base and FAQs.
7. Salesforce Service Cloud#
Salesforce Service Cloud is a customer support tool that is part of the Salesforce suite of tools. It offers features such as ticket management, communication channels, reporting and analytics, and integrations with other tools. It also provides self-service support features such as a knowledge base and FAQs.
8. Zoho Desk#
Zoho Desk is a customer support tool that offers features such as ticket management, communication channels, reporting and analytics, and integrations with other tools. It also provides self-service support features such as a knowledge base and FAQs.
Customer support is an essential aspect for a business to thrive. Providing exceptional customer support can help businesses retain existing customers, attract new ones, build brand loyalty, and increase revenue. To provide excellent customer support, businesses need to prioritize customer satisfaction, hire the right people with the necessary skills and experience, provide training and resources to support their team and implement a customer support strategy that meets their customers' needs.
Prioritizing customer support can help businesses not only meet their customer's needs but also build lasting relationships with them.