4-Step Recipe for an Efficient Product & Support Collaboration
Updated: Dec 14, 2022
// This is part 1 / 5 of a blog series written in collaboration with Rejoy //
Silos between customer support and product teams in SaaS companies make it harder to resolve issues or prioritize features. If you experience that too, do not worry! As per this survey, a whopping 71 percent of agents say they are ineffective at collaborating with other departments. So you are definitely not alone with this challenge.
To increase collaboration, 26 percent of companies say that they’ll need to design new internal workflows and processes, but there’s an upside for those that are serious about change. Over 90 percent of customers are likely to spend more money with companies that can offer streamlined experiences they’re looking for.
In a SaaS company, it's even more critical that departments work together efficiently in order to get the right results. However, this is often easier said than done. Silos between departments is a major obstacle for fast issue resolution and feature prioritization.
It is important for support and product teams to go hand in hand to build great products and a stellar customer experience. The product team is responsible for creating and maintaining the product, while the support team is responsible for helping customers use it effectively. Some companies see this collaboration so important, that these two departments are under the same management.
If these two teams are not working properly together, it leads to problems like:
Operational inefficiency. The feedback loop between support and product is tedious and manual. There is a lot of ping-pong between support and product teams for escalation status and customer request prioritization. In addition, support does not have visibility into escalated tickets, engineering priorities, and feature roadmap. Overall, inefficient workflows result in higher costs of operations. And keeping costs low in the current economic downturn is important for companies of all sizes.
Decreased customer satisfaction. Delivering a great customer experience is a job for the whole company, not just the customer support department. It’s hard for the support department to provide a high-quality customer experience when information and assistance is not received in a timely manner from product teams. Likewise, support has a ton of information on customer’s wants and needs at the grass root level, which is beneficial for product teams. But misalignment across support and product teams results in slower issue resolutions, which in turn reduces customer retention.
Increased internal frustration. The lack of transparency on both sides or constant inquiries about “what is happening with my escalated ticket” results in affecting team morale for both support and product teams. Also, lack of understanding of each department's role, day-to-day tasks, and their KPIs can contribute to the annoyance.
To solve the above-mentioned challenges, companies should pay attention to the following 4-step recipe. You can learn about each topic in depth in the upcoming 4 blog posts.
1. System and tools
Product and support should have an agreement on how to offer the best possible support for the customers. This agreement should answer the following questions:
How can support provide more value to product teams through Voice of Customer (VoC) and Support (VoS) and how product teams can respond to this feedback?
What are the roles and responsibilities of teams in engineering escalation, and how these escalations are carried out?
What is the agenda and frequency of team-wide or lead-level recurring meetings?
What kind of internal Service Level Objectives (SLOs) are set between support and product team to make collaboration easier?
What tools can be used to enforce and automate the agreement?
2. Knowledge sharing
Knowledge should flow efficiently across support and product teams.
Support team should be in the loop when new features are being rolled out so that support team is prepared to handle customer inquiries. Support team should also have sufficient and necessary information about the product so that they can troubleshoot problems. Any gaps in knowledge sharing results in support escalating tickets to engineers, which leads to longer resolution time, and takes time away from engineering. Hence, identifying and reducing knowledge gaps is a continuous improvement process.
Similarly, support needs to share relevant information that helps engineers debug issues faster. Also, support needs to share insights from customer requests to aid product managers with feature prioritization.
Another method to increase collaboration is to align incentives across support and product teams. It goes a long way to recognize and reward teams and people that go the extra mile for customer experience.
Performance could be boosted e.g. with kudos, leaderboards, or other gamified ways to show transparency within a team. As an example, have SLO leaderboards, show business impact of collaboration, and gamify with bug bashes and hackathons.
4. Trust and understanding
Great trust is achieved via collaboration, transparency, and following the above-mentioned steps. A well-defined partnership agreement across teams can build a foundation of trust that will help foster communication and collaboration down the road. Of course, it’s not always easy to be transparent – especially when there are differences in objectives. Therefore, a full understanding of other team's KPIs and ways of working is a crucial part of this last step.
Establishing a clear and concise process at the beginning, allows all departments to know their role and responsibility in relation to the product. This eliminates costly mistakes like losing a customer or poor support team retention due to low team morale.
How do you plan to take your collaboration between support and product teams to the next level? Hit us up, we’d love to hear from you.
Stay tuned for our next blog on a deeper dive into systems and tools, where we provide examples, templates, and more!