Why the best technical support treats you like a person and not a number
At one time, it wasn’t unusual for companies to place more value on meeting customer service metrics—such as time on call, first call resolution, adherence to schedule, abandon rates and average speed of answer—than the type of experience customers had when speaking with support specialists. However, those days are quickly vanishing if they haven’t already.
More than ever before, customers today feel they have more control over who they do business with. They understand that working with companies that not only provide great products and services but offer quality technical support can enhance their operations. Because of this, they’re not afraid to drop one brand for another.
As evidence of this shift in philosophy, we need to look no further than how customers are currently behaving after they receive poor support. An annual survey conducted by Esteban Kolsky, founder and principal of thinkJar, a customer strategy think tank and consulting firm, found that nearly 70 percent of customers said that bad experiences with a company caused them to look elsewhere for service. In fact, most don’t even voice their concerns; they just leave and work with a competing company.
Because of this, many companies are changing how they conduct business. Research by Walker, a customer experience consulting firm, showed that companies believe that focusing on their customers’ experience will continue to be an important part of their long term business strategy.
One way to do so is by offering a number of support channels such as email, live chat and online resources. A survey conducted by Gladly—a U.S.-based customer service platform manufacturer—actually indicated that 82 percent of people want the option to communicate with companies in many ways.
At Axis Communications, we appreciate the value of the customer experience and offer customers just that—a variety of tools to help them solve complex technical challenges. Furthermore, we constantly strive to improve these channels Aaron Andino, one of our technical support specialists, put it well when he told me that when customers visit our technical support page, they can quickly find the tool they need.
“Customers can expect to find on our tech support page all kinds of information. We have data sheets for all of our products,” said Andino. “We have all the manuals with all of the information about our products, how they work, how the different features work, and we have plenty of frequently asked question articles…a lot of our demos and [information regarding] applications they can install on the camera.”
He also made a great point when he said that placing this kind of in-depth information at the customer’s finger tips could save them a phone call, which is especially important in today’s fast-paced business environment.
What I should also note, for those wondering, is that professionals of all ages desire high level service and the option to use many support tools. Gladly’s survey found that it wasn’t just younger generations that yearned for this type of service—Seventy-nine percent of baby boomers felt similarly.
Companies that solely focus on hitting customer support metrics are missing key opportunities to build stronger relationships with customers like yourself. The end result, as Kolsky’s survey noted, is high customer attrition. Sixty-six percent, according to his survey, switched brands because they experienced poor service.
Why companies focus on the customer experience
Through the years, average handle time (AHT)—the average duration of one call—has been one of the most popular metrics used by customer service teams to measure success. While many companies now evaluate their performance by using a variety of quantitative and qualitative measuring tools, some still cling solely to assessing dated metrics.
Simply put, working with companies that live in the past can hurt your own business. Improper camera installation, for example, can result in lost or damaged footage. It can also increase expenses because the solution may need to be maintained and repaired more frequently.
Customers know when they’re feeling rushed on the phone, and simply put, they don’t like it. They want to be treated like a person because they’re investing their time and money into products and services they expect will help their business.
Furthermore, agents who are overly concerned with AHT—because they fear, in part, of being reprimanded by managers for taking too long on calls—are more likely to take shortcuts, make incorrect assumptions and even make critical mistakes. As you can imagine, a simple call like this can irreversibly damage the relationship you have with the company, causing you to scramble for an alternative partner.
Customer-centric companies understand (and more importantly respect) the type of power customers wield to influence their brands so much so they model their entire business philosophy around this reality.
Take Apple, for example.
In 1997, Steve Jobs was speaking at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference when he was presented with a tough—some interpreted to be insulting—question from an audience member. The questioner wanted to know more about the usage of and death of OpenDoc, a component-software technology originally built by Apple in the early 1990s, as well as what Jobs had been up to for the several years he was away from the company.
While Jobs didn’t talk about his past endeavors, he spoke openly about OpenDoc and how it fit in with Apple’s vision for its future.
“One of the things I’ve always found is that you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology,” said Jobs. “You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you’re going to sell it.”
In other words, innovative products are just that. They’re cool, but they may not speak directly to what customers want and need. It’s important, instead, to always keep the customer top of mind.
Jobs’ answer was a profound response, and his customer-first vision was one that certainly helped turn Apple into the multi-billion corporation that it is today. Furthermore, his viewpoint is also resonating with more and more people.
Professionals want to work with companies like Apple. They want to work with enterprises like Axis Communications. They desire to work with businesses that treat them like a human who has a problem that needs to be addressed. An increasing number of companies now realize and accept this.
When you’re mulling over whether or not to work with a company, remember to analyze the level of support it offers even after the sale is finalized.
How you’ll know if you’re working with a customer-centric company
Until you begin working with a company, there’s no sure fire way of knowing whether it takes a more company-centric or customer-oriented approach to doing business. However, by conducting a bit of research you can get a good idea if you’re working with a company that truly values its customers.
Here are a few aspects of great tech support to consider:
1. Personality and tone: Do employees address you by name when you speak to them? Do they sound enthusiastic to help you? Outstanding tech support not only remembers your name, it also records the interaction it has with you in case it needs to assist with future technical challenges.
2. Patience: Do you feel tech support is rushing you off the phone or taking time to answer your question? Quality tech support stays with you all of the way to ensure your problem is completely resolved.
3. Multiple support channels: Does the company offer a number of support channels so you can contact a live specialist or easily find the answer using self-serviced support options, such as an FAQ page, videos or technical documents? Professionals working in the field may not have time to call technical support. They may need to solve a problem using other methods.
4. Knowledgeable staff: The best technical support teams invest in their employees to ensure they’re up to date on the latest tech happenings. This allows them to not only provide more detailed responses but answer questions quicker.
We’re shifting – although it looks more and more like it’s already happened – into a customer-centric business environment that places tremendous value on the customer experience. If you’ve worked (or are working) with companies that don’t offer great support, don’t hesitate to find a company that does. You’ll likely find it enhances your business and helps you better service your customers.