Welcome back to the Support Breakfast podcast! Thanks for not deleting us from your podcatchers!
This season we hope to explore a wide range of Support-centric topics, share the experiences, ask difficult questions and hopefully answer them! We want to help equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to take your Support career to the next level.
This month, we’re tackling worth and value – how to know your own worth, share what you’re doing, continually strive for excellence and champion the value of your team to rest of the company.
In our first episode we talked about the status quo and how to tell if you are behaving like a cost-centre.
We’re lucky enough to work for companies that value our Customer Support teams and the contributions they are making towards customers and the business itself. But what happens if you work for a company that doesn’t see Customer Support as a contributor to revenue, and sees it just as a cost centre?
- Customer Support is seen as an “entry-level” job.
- There’s no formal qualification process.
- Seen as “firefighters”.
So what are some signs of a cost-centre?
- Metrics: Having a low First Contact Resolution (FCR), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) or Net Promoter Score (NPS) ratings, can be good indicators that things aren’t looking great. Other metrics like having a high Customer Effort Score (CES), ticket volume or handle time are also indicators that things are out of whack. We’ll take a closer look at these below!
- Having poor, or a complete lack of, internal documented systems and process, or tools for support teams. Flying by the seat of your pants isn’t a great way to deliver good support.
- Incomplete, inaccurate or inaccessible knowledge base articles or product documentation that’s impossible for customers to find. Or a general lack of self-service options.
- Being generally under resourced department e.g. understaffed, on demand phone support, live chat, unrealistic SLA’s – internal or external. Running a “lean” team and pushed staff to burnout isn’t a sustainable model.
- When product feedback or complaints from customers aren’t be passed on to the product or development team. Or, if they are, they aren’t being actioned or taken seriously.
- If you have lots of bugs, inefficiencies and UI/UX monstrosities in the product itself. This isn’t an indicator of poor Support, but it can leave a support team inundated with complaints and concerns from customers who needs aren’t being met.
- Generally resting on your laurels or being unwilling to review or improve systems or processes. This “set and forget” mindset could be company-wide, not just in support!
- Having no product education strategy (as a company), or no interest in helping customers be successful in using your product. A Success mindset shifts you from problem-solving to an environment focused on outcomes.
We chatted about the concept of a Customer Trust Account. Every interaction a customer has with your product (be it the product itself, the website, our customer service/support) either deposits or withdraws from the account.
Where do you start when it comes to shaking things up?
Know your numbers
Analytics and metrics are tricky for Support teams, as there isn’t one metric that predicts a customer’s loyalty or their likelihood of staying with your business.
In the last few years alone, we’ve moved from NPS to CSAT to CES as the best measure of customer loyalty, but it doesn’t give us the full picture. You may need to look at a couple of different metrics to gain more insight into how you’re performing.
“..the product working well is going to make customers happy, and interacting with friendly, thoughtful, knowledgeable, product-expert staff will also make them happy…. but you can’t measure it, because it doesn’t fit in a cell on a spreadsheet. Instead, we have to find other things that point to that outcome.” Article.
Start to think about what things make you more loyal to businesses, what things encourage you to stay with a provider and what things make you want to leave. They might be less tangible than you’d like, but it’s a great starting point!
Understand what makes your customers successful
Eventually, you will want to look beyond the “woolliness” of customer loyalty, or customer churn and retention (which often end up as Support metrics). Instead, start looking into behaviours that indicate customer success or customer stickiness.
While data can allow us to gain insights into trends, there are other ways to gauge customer engagement.
In the Customer Support team you know how customers are using your product, where things are going wrong and what questions your customers are asking. Are there specific features that are common between longer standing customers? Specific questions they are asking? Behaviours that indicate stickiness, or identify churn risks?
Start to approach your conversations with customers by asking more questions about what outcomes they are trying to achieve. It can be quite a shift from feature-based feedback to problem and outcome based feedback.
The Jobs to Be Done (JTBD) framework tends to be looked at by Product or Marketing teams but can also be useful for your support team. A lot of people have written about this, including Intercom, but we like this blog post from Intercom (Link).
User stories is another approach, which helps to frame the outcome the customer is after. The format of this is generally as follows:
“As a marketing manager (role), I want to measure ROI in my Google Adwords campaign (goal) so that I can decide which campaigns I should throw my money at (reason).”
Our friends at Intercom have also written a great guide about User Stories, where they diss the whole things and come up with something new, “Job Stories” – which loops right back to, you guessed it, Jobs To Be Done(Link).
USER STORY : As a [persona], I want to [action], so that [expected outcome].
JOB STORY : When [name situation], I want to [list motivations and forces], so I can [expected outcome].
Review your product
- Track bugs! Don’t just triage them, but understand how many customers are impacted by the bug, how many bugs you’re finding a month and how many of them are you addressing. Atlassian tracks the User Impact Score. Number of active users affected x Severity x 90 day recent interest (e.g. how many requests were in the last 90 days) (Link).
- Gain insight into why your customers are leaving. When it comes to convincing team members of universal support truths, hunches or tacit insight just don’t stack up. Instead, cold hard data is your best friend.
Collecting feedback on cancellation reasons and constantly iterate on the reasons and feedback you collect via this process. While it may be uncomfortable to ask for that information, or indeed find out some of the reasons why, it’s important that the business recognises when things aren’t working.
The old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” its particularly prevalent in lean “startup” companies, so shining a light on those issues can be a great conversation starter, or motivator for decision makers.
Article recommendation: https://blog.intercom.com/does-your-support-team-know-more-about-your-product-than-you-do/
Next episode: We’ll be sharing some steps can you take to prove the value of Customer Support to the rest of your company, or to your board.