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What is Customer Support?

This guide will explain what customer support is, why it matters, and how it can help you take your business communication efforts to the next level.

8 min read

Customer Support is the provision of services to customers post purchase. The goal of customer support is to ensure that the customer has a positive experience and is satisfied with the product or service they have received. Most times, customer support is offered through multiple channels, the most common via telephone, email, or live chat.

Customer Support Overview

The tone of a voice and the subtleties of body language work to form trusting relationships. These interpersonal cues were once the heart and soul of customer support.

But this has since changed.

The dawn of the digital ages has, and will continue, to change the way customer support is delivered.

This poses the question...

...can modern customer support teams strike the right balance between technological convenience while maintaining customer support that doesn't feel completely void of "humanness".

Let's find out.

Why Is Customer Support Important?

Customer support is the backbone of any successful business. Unsatisfied customers that feel they can't reach out for your help will soon take their business elsewhere. Conversely, a standard of customer support that prioritizes customer satisfaction will create unlimited growth opportunities. 

Exceptional customer support is one of the most efficient and cost effective tools for marketing of a company, quickly creating goodwill and trust in a brand. Get this right and customers will reward you with repeat purchases, recommend the brand to friends and family, and speak favorably about the interactions they've had with your business.

What’s the Difference Between Customer Support and Customer Service?

customer support vs. customer service

Customer support and customer service are two pieces of the same pie. 

The first slice, customer support, is the provision of assistance to customers who have already purchased a product or service. This assistance can take many forms, like providing over the phone customer service, offering online chat support, or even mailing out manuals and other product documentation.

The remaining slice, customer service, is the provision of service to customers before, during, and after a purchase. It includes activities such as helping customers find what they are looking for, answering questions, providing suggestions, resolving complaints, and handling returns.

Today's Customer's Expectations

Customer support has changed over time with the development of new technology. In the early days of customer support, people would communicate with customer service representatives in person, through the mail, or over the phone. Today, customers can communicate with customer service representatives through many channels, including live chat, social media, document sharing, and screen sharing.

These advancements have made it easier for customers to get help and resolve problems. Although, this shift towards automation has made customer service feel less personal.

Here at RemoteHQ, we endeavor to maintain the level of efficiency that technology has gifted us, while re-establishing the interpersonal interactions many customers miss from more traditional means of customer support. With that in mind, alongside the modern methods of customer support we've all come to expect from businesses operating in these modern times, RemoteHQ also offers co-browsing features.

Co-browsing is the latest evolution in customer support, facilitating a collaborative medium where both customers and support agents can work together on the same web page at the same time. This allows customers to see exactly what customer support agents are seeing and provides a far superior and more efficient support experience than businesses could ever deliver via phone calls or through live chat.

Each Interaction Matters

Customer support representatives are the first and, sometimes, only point of contact for a customer experiencing technical problems. Consequently, the power is in your support staff's hands. They ultimately create a positive or negative first impression, setting the tone for the rest of a customer's interactions with your company.

When you think about it, that's a rather scary proposition. Your customer support team could quite literally make or break the image of your business. This highlights just how important hiring the right support staff is and why establishing a strong sense of customer relation-based values and ethics is so vital to the success of your business.

The Main Features of the Customer Support Team

The key features of your customer support team are its ability to provide excellent customer service, resolve customer issues, and maintain high customer satisfaction levels.

This can be achieved in several ways:

  • Quality of service. Overall, poor quality service can lead to frustration and a negative perception of your company. Contrastingly, good quality service can lead to customer satisfaction and a positive perception of your company.
  • Speed of response. If a customer has to wait too long for a response, there's a high likelihood they will feel frustrated and unimportant. Instead, a fast response time shows that the company values its customers and will do whatever it takes to ensure technical issues or other such problems are handled in a timely manner.
  • Accuracy of reply. It is important for customer support to be accurate in their replies and advice. This ensures that a customer's question is answered correctly and comprehensively. Additionally, providing accurate information helps to create a positive image of the company and its customer service department.
  • International accessibility. If your business operates internationally, your support team's ability to speak to customers in their native language will give your business an enormous advantage over many small businesses. In the context of the overall customer experience, native speaking customer support teams can help improve customer loyalty and satisfaction by making it easier for customers to communicate with customer service representatives.

How Customer Support Teams Work

Far from the traditional methods used by customer support teams of old, customer support technology has undergone some dramatic changes. Gone are the days of waiting in line to see a sales rep or endlessly sitting on a phone call. Instead, modern customer support is now largely administered through services like chatbots and self-service portals. 

For greater context, here's a comprehensive look at what's changed overtime in the customer support world.

Team Structure

To limit the negative experiences of old and meet customers' expectations, modern customer service teams are typically organized into different tiers, each tier having a specific set of responsibilities based on their training, knowledge base, and specialties.

The first tier answers questions, tends to general customer inquiries, and works to resolve basic issues. If they are unable to meet a customer’s needs, the support agent will escalate it to the next tier. The second tier resolves more complex issues, escalating any unresolved issues to technically specialized customer service agents.

Resolution Management

Customer support teams use resolution management to help customers by tracking the progress of each customer inquiry and providing status updates. If a customer's inquiry is not resolved after a certain number of attempts, the customer is offered a resolution.

Technology

The advent of new technologies, including the internet and mobile devices, has forever changed the way customer support teams assist their customers. With the rise of new technologies, customer support teams can now provide help through a variety of technologically based channels. This allows customers to pick and choose which avenue of assistance that is most convenient to them.

Troubleshooting Process

Troubleshooting processes for modern day customer support teams have changed in a few ways. Most notably, many customer support teams now use help desk software to manage trouble tickets and track customer interactions. This software can also help team members identify trends and track recurring issues, allowing customer support agents to provide valuable feedback that can improve a company's products or services.

KPIs

KPIs (key performance indicators) are a set of quantifiable metrics that are used to track and assess the performance of a company. KPIs are used by customer and tech support teams to track the number of tickets they are receiving, monitor average handle times, and keep on top of time to resolution. This information can help customer support teams identify areas where they need to make improvements and ensure that they are delivering great support.

Examples of Good Customer Service

To really drive home the role of customer support in different contexts, here are a couple of B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) examples:

B2B. Due to the nature of their professions, B2B customers often prefer self-service customer support options over human contact, as it's seen to be faster and more convenient. If the issue is larger than a self-service option or one-and-done solution, keeping your help to a minimum with succinct, yet detailed answers is the best way to keep B2B customers satisfied.

B2C. Unlike B2B, where self-service support and automated solutions reign supreme, B2C customers often prefer a more understanding approach - usually through some form of interaction with a real person. To meet the expectations of a B2C customer, a balance between the convenience of technical assistance, like that provided by autoresponders, and help from a real person will often meet this type of customer expectation.

8 Tips For Providing The Best Customer Support

1. Employ Knowledgeable Support Personnel

One of the most important aspects of building an effective customer support team is to ensure you are hiring the right people for the job. To achieve this, hiring team members that have the required skills and knowledge to provide excellent customer service is a must. By doing so, you can ensure that your customers will receive the best possible service, boosting both customer retention and, ultimately, broadening your customer base.

2. Offer as Many Customer Support Channels as Possible

The importance of offering as many customer support channels as possible can be summed up in one word: convenience. By providing customers with a variety of different ways to get in touch, businesses can make it easy for customers to get the help they need.

3. Besides Technical Skills, It’s Also Vital to Focus on Soft Skills

Technical proficiency is a key skill that many businesses screen for when assessing prospective customer support agents. While technical abilities remain one of the most sought after skills, soft skills are arguably just as important.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are the ability to communicate with customers in a polite and helpful manner. When a customer is in a moment of crisis, a patient and compassionate voice is just what the doctor ordered. Therefore, a proactive approach in both technical support and soft skills is most desirable.

4. Ensure Your Support Team Understands Your Products and Services Inside and Out

Customer service representatives are the front line of your company's customer relations. It is for that reason that they are knowledgeable about the products and services your company offers. The best way to do this is through routine training sessions. With this knowledge base, your support team can provide accurate information to customers and handle any customer complaints or concerns in an effective and timely manner.

5. Maintain a Positive Outlook

The single most important factor in customer satisfaction is your staff's attitude. A friendly attitude can make an average product seem good and an average company seem great. A poor attitude can do the exact opposite. So, no matter what the situation is and no matter how much pressure your staff are under, be sure they cultivate a customer experience that’s positive in nature.

In return, your customers are sure to reward you with their loyalty.

6. Be Your Support Team's Biggest Supporter

Let's be honest, catering to a customer base's every whim and worry is a tiring venture. Even for the most adept, it can quickly become monotonous and emotionally taxing. For this reason, it's important to provide your customer support team with the support they need to combat boredom and burnout.

Every business will approach this differently. But one effective way to avoid burnout is to routinely assign different team members to different projects. That way, they can have a break from the monotony and get on with upholding the goals and objectives that make up the core values of your business.

7. Treat Customer Feedback as a Growth Opportunity

By treating customer feedback as a growth opportunity rather than criticism, businesses can ensure that they are constantly improving their products and services to meet the needs of their customers. By taking up this approach, you're remaining proactive in cultivating a successful business.

8. The Right Tools for the Job

Customer support teams rely on specific software tools in order to provide quality customer service. The right tools facilitate team communication, problem solving, and tracking of customer interactions. By having access to the right software tools, like RemoteHQ, customer support teams can provide better service and resolve customer issues more efficiently and effectively.

With its co-browsing capabilities, RemoteHQ strives to add virtual face-to-face and collaborative browsing to your arsenal. 

Limiting the robotic feel of modern customer support and cultivating a customer experience that’s, once again, rich with humility.