Getting started: Step 3 - Availability
There is a saying “The best service is no service.” When everything works smoothly in the background and customers have enough self-service opportunities, they do not feel the need to contact your support team. But when they do contact you, you need to make sure that your support shines and provides a pleasant and smooth experience for your customer. If your software is amazing, but your support lacks quality, you might lose your customers to the competitor with better customer support.
Choosing a right channel could indeed turn out to be a make or break moment. Deciding which channel, or channels to start with depends on your capacity and the type of business you are in. As suggested in STEP 1 - Plan, I assume you would have already gone through a set of questions to define your business and needs.
If your product is quite technical, and you are expecting to receive complex questions, chat might not be the best place to troubleshoot connection between two different applications, or to guide user with the errors they get when trying to use your software via API.
However, chat can be a fast and rewarding tool to solve simple issues regarding invoicing, payments or user accounts. But again, these issues might be so simple to solve, that either you might want to find a way to minimize the amount of such questions (via self-service) or by setting up a chat-bot. Without a chat-bot, you need to make sure you always have the required number of resources available to cater to your customers’ queries. If none of your agents are online, understandably, none of your customers will receive any customer support assistance. After-all, customers do expect to receive immediate response to their queries. In addition to that, to provide good support via chat, you need to have enough internal knowledge in place to provide proper answers to multiple impromptu questions.
Stepping up from chat, telephone is another time sensitive channel with regards to your customer support service. If there is nobody picking up the telephone or the agents are not well trained to talk to customers, this channel might just cause you more trouble and bad customer satisfaction ratings. Talking to agents adds a personal touch and in B2B businesses, it helps in building good customer relationship. However, it might not be feasible to discuss extra technical issues over the phone, as some screenshots or configurations might be needed. Telephone is also not a very scalable solution. The more clients you have, the more support agents you need, so calls are not missed. Additionally, waiting in queue for longer periods of time could turn out to be really frustrating.
Support via social media channel is very sensitive. Every response will be out there, available for all your customers and non-customers to see and analyze. Your responses to customer complaints are seen and one small mistake could create havoc on social media. (This could also happen when using other channels).
Email is the most flexible channel what it comes to response times. This allows your team to investigate the issue, contact other departments, and try to reproduce the issue themselves etc. The customer is not there expecting an instant answer. However, with email you can’t keep the customer waiting forever; your answer must be sent out in a timely manner. With email, the issue is that the customer does not know what is happening; whether someone is working on their support request or not? Therefore, providing clear expectations to the clients is important: when they can expect to hear from you?
My personal suggestion is to start by using email as a contact method. If you are operating in a B2B sector, you could be expecting the same people contacting you on a regular basis. I would suggest using your ticketing system’s self-service tool, which allows your clients to see their support requests and status of those requests. Especially in B2B, setting expectations is very important. By providing a simple, easy to read, support service description with expected response SLA might do it. When meeting the SLA and providing quick responses, such an over delivering impresses your customer.
When choosing a channel, think about the following questions:
● Am I working in B2B or B2C?
● Am I expecting to receive simple questions or technical questions?
● Do complex questions require involvement of other departments?
● How many dedicated support agents I can have?
● What kind of a support we want to provide / what is our goal (personal touch, scalable solution, self-service as much as possible, use support to boost the sales)
● What kind of SLAs I am aiming to; first response time, resolution time?
Do not be afraid of trying out different approaches. You might be able to launch a trial for chat channel, or just for selected customers. After launching your support, you need to follow proactively if the selected channels were correct and whether your assumptions about the type and volume of support request were right.
And remember: one solution does not fit to all!