ReadingWhy traditional customer support won't work if you're a digital company
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Why traditional customer support won't work if you're a digital company

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We are witnessing a profound transformation in consumer behavior. Both B2B and B2C markets have seen a major shift in how products are discovered, evaluated, and purchased, largely driven by digital channels that were unimaginable a generation ago.

Today's consumers, armed with a wealth of information and options, have developed a sophisticated set of expectations. The bar for what constitutes exceptional customer support has been raised substantially, challenging businesses to adapt at an unprecedented pace. Digital-first companies, in particular, find themselves at a crossroads, with a need for support solutions that can navigate complex workflows and deliver on these elevated expectations.

This blog explores the reasons traditional customer support frameworks are falling short in this digital era. We will explore the disconnect between broken support practices and the modern consumer's demands, highlighting the critical changes necessary for businesses to thrive.

The shift to the cloud

Cloud computing has democratized software development and distribution, enabling anyone from a student in a dorm room to a seasoned developer in Silicon Valley to distribute software globally. This shift has resulted in a saturated market where differentiation on product alone is challenging. The onus has moved toward customer experience—how companies engage with and support their customers.

Consequently, businesses are investing in customer support software that leverages the latest technological advancements to meet and exceed customer expectations. This investment aims to provide timely (even proactive), effective, and hyper-personalized support, which is paramount in an era where customer loyalty can’t be taken for granted. Companies must also be able to scale their customer support operations efficiently, ensuring that as their customer base grows, their support capabilities can grow with it—without compromising on quality.

The pace of SaaS and continuous deployment

Practices like Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CICD) have drastically accelerated the software release cycle. Unlike the past, where software updates were infrequent and adoption was optional, updates are now pushed to users constantly and automatically. Software development has been automated to the point where if you write and deploy code, it has the ability to reach production and get in front of your customers in almost no time. This pace leaves little room for traditional, slow-moving customer support practices.

The old versus the new customer support model

Previously, slower release cycles allowed for the luxury of ample time for support teams to be trained on new functionality. Today’s quick pace means customer support and success teams must adapt fast, often learning about new features at the same pace as customers. This shift requires a move toward more automated, intelligent customer support solutions, like AI-driven chatbots and knowledge bases, which if implemented well, can provide instant and accurate responses to customer inquiries in conversational language.

The rise of the digital economy and consumer expectations

In the digital economy, customer expectations have shifted. The model of lengthy contracts and tolerance for slow support responses is obsolete. When a customer raises a question, they expect immediate, effective solutions. This expectation transcends the number of customers a business has; every individual expects to feel as though they’re a business’s only customer—with their needs addressed promptly.

This reflects the broader shift towards a consumption-based economy where users pay only for what they use and can easily switch to competing services. For more complex customer requests, the challenge for businesses becomes reducing the latency between the subject matter expert and the customer support team member interfacing with the customer. The traditional delays, where support staff may not have immediate access to the latest information or the right experts is no longer acceptable. This requires a change in how companies structure internal collaboration and knowledge sharing, ensuring that customer support is not just a reactive service but an integrated aspect of the customer’s experience.

Addressing the challenge: collaboration and AI

To overcome the limitations of traditional customer support, companies will need to adopt AI for immediate request resolution, also known as deflection. To equip the customer support team with the right information, effective search is also becoming increasingly important. Beyond simple syntactic or keyword-based search, search capabilities must become more and more semantic. This means the machine can intuitively understand and respond to the nuances of customer questions and AI interaction feels organic and contextual to the business user.

While a vast repository of knowledge base articles, FAQs, and similar resources is readily accessible for customer use, there's also a wealth of internal data—ranging from development updates to logs and ticket histories—that requires careful handling. This information, while invaluable for customer support staff, requires a platform that is designed to be both user-friendly and is capable of safeguarding sensitive information.

The importance of closing the feedback loop

An essential aspect of modern customer support is closing the feedback loop with customers. This involves not only addressing their issues promptly, but also informing them about how their feedback is being used to improve the product during the various stages of development. To truly differentiate, companies need to collaborate on their product alongside their customers like they did in the early stages of their business.

Overcoming information silos

One of the most significant hurdles in providing effective customer support is breaking down information silos within organizations. Traditional systems and licensing models often restrict information access, making it challenging for support teams to get the information they need. Modern customer support requires systems that facilitate easy access to information across departments.

An additional obstacle is the lack of a common language between those who develop the product and those who support it. By enhancing communication between these two groups, support teams can provide feedback that’s directly actionable for developers and conversely, developers can communicate updates that are customer-friendly.

The future of customer support

We hope we’ve underscored a critical point: the future of customer support in digital companies lies in embracing AI, effective search, collaboration, and a modern platform.

At DevRev, we are reimagining how customer support and success integrate with product development to create an extraordinary experience for customers. As the digital economy continues to evolve, so too must the strategies companies use to support their customers, ensuring they feel valued, heard, and supported at every single interaction point. In future blog posts, we’ll discuss the strategic investments we’ve made in building a modern architecture that enable us to deliver on the customer experience discussed in this post.