Especially within B2B, the CS organization is now viewed as a strategic partner to the business and the face of the company to customers.
In the past, many companies viewed customer support organizations as cost centers. Over the past decade, there has been a massive transformation where companies realized the value of making every customer interaction exceptional.
With 2020 around the corner—and budgets on the rise—our customers keep telling us that support will be a major focus for their business in the coming year. Customer success and customer support teams connect the dots between marketing and sales, and often have more touchpoints with customers than any other function. High-quality service impacts every important business metric: retention, growth, cost-savings, brand equity—you name it.
These are the top three trends that we think will be the most prevalent in 2020.
The continued rise of the customer-centric organization
In a world of exponential data and constant automation, people want to feel like human beings rather than transactions.
Many companies today optimize their customer-facing touchpoints in silos. However, humans perceive their relationship with a brand or company as the entire end-to-end experience. How something is purchased is just as important as what is purchased. According to Gartner, “64% of customers believe customer experience is more important than price when deciding to make a purchase with a brand.” Today, customers value an entire purchasing experience – not just the end result.
What this means is that support leaders need to invest in, optimize for and give their team visibility into the full customer journey – not just individual touchpoints. They need to build out a unified end-to-end experience from the moment a customer first sees an ad all the way through to the renewal – and the most important pieces could be those seemingly small moments in the middle when they need help or support.
A true customer-centric strategy is an investment and will involve retraining or augmenting training for your sales and support teams. When both sales and support teams are focused and trained properly on customer centricity, the result is tangible – so tying it back to revenue and key business objectives is crucial. Research from American Express showed that consumers are willing to spend 17% more on companies that deliver outstanding service. Customer-centric organizations have been proven to see a lift in revenue, customer retention, and brand loyalty.
As customers’ expectations rise, so does the need for efficiency
Research from PwC confirms what we’ve heard from our customers at WorkRamp, “Speed, convenience, helpful employees and friendly service matter most, each hitting over 70% in importance to consumers.” While it may seem daunting to optimize for each of those factors – in today’s competitive landscape it’s considered table stakes.
Customer’s that we’ve seen master speed, convenience, and high quality of service within their support organization have invested heavily in onboarding, training, and have centralized information in one system. For most businesses, customer data exists across a variety of channels, systems, and teams. Surfacing the right information, at the right time as quickly as possible allows support reps to be both knowledgeable and fast across all channels.
While the need for personalization could directly compete with efficiency, investing in a unified training system that can surface content wherever your team is working, achieves both.
Elevating the support role through continual learning
Great customer service means empowering human creativity by helping support reps react and respond to needs on-the-fly. But reps are already slammed on the job—that’s one of the reasons why call center turnover rates are as high as 30-45%.
The job can be stressful. Tasks can get repetitive. Top performers in the field often shift career paths into new roles. To top it off, because every customer journey is unique, support reps aren’t always in the best position to answer questions quickly.
One simple step to empower support reps is through the creation of readily available and accessible continual learning materials. Allocating time for learning, investing in your support team, and helping them in their professional transformation will increase retention rates and decrease churn. You will also end up with empowered employees that truly care about your customers and the brand because they are fulfilled in their day-to-day.
Building efficient, structured and scalable processes for learning gives reps the freedom and knowledge to focus on their career growth appealing to their very human, instinctual needs for personal development and growth.
Looking ahead to 2020
In 2020 and beyond, exceptional customer service will depend on the integration of human creativity, data, technology, and processes. As budgets grow, companies need to align operations with revenue outcomes.
Scalability means empowering employee decision-making, bringing structure to data, and helping customers quickly and efficiently in a non-robotic way.
A thoughtful, systematized support function—in an otherwise messy industry—can be a business’s best strategic advantage as the world approaches a new technical era.