The support directors role has morphed into a more crucial cog in the customer experience mechanics this 2022. Today, support leaders find themselves facing higher demands and expectations; however, they don’t feel empowered to properly assist customers because they spend too much time searching resolutions and prioritizing tickets.
In 2021, 90% of support leaders interviewed by HubSpot reported that customer demands had greatly increased over the last three years. They confirm that customers today are smarter and more informed. They see the online reviews from competitor companies and expect the brand they have chosen to be at the highest level in care and service.
Support leaders also reported that in many cases they struggled with a lack of streamlined processes and too many tools which were difficult to navigate. Or tools that had way too many bells and whistles to be efficient.
With growing demands, changing trends, and tickets pouring into the queue by the truckloads, support leaders today are facing challenges never before seen. More and more companies are relying on the frontliners on the support floor to ensure the customer experience leaves a lasting impression.
But are today’s support leaders prepared for what’s yet to come?
The Support Directors Role
Now in the past customer support roles have been used for many other functions besides just serving the customers. Companies have creatively looked to other ways to have support drive profit. For instance customer support agents were expected to cross sell and upsell. By using the “while I’ve got you on the phone” technique, they are able to suggest additional services or upgrades. This is a very effective way to generate more revenue. It’s kind of like an upscale “You want fries with that? How about a coke? Would you like to supersize?”
But over the past few years now that brands are competing with the customer experience (How Do Brands Compete In 2022? – TeleworkPH: We build your team), a higher demand for faster resolutions has been put on the support agents and then essentially on the support director. Ergo, the support director’s role has essentially changed from an auxiliary of the sales department to a more essential spoke in the wheel of customer experience.
Support Directors Weren’t Ready For The Trends
Unfortunately, many small businesses that have built their own support departments from scratch are in peril. These departments were heavily relying on the support agents having simple conversations and resolutions and being able to upsell. Then the trends changed and the conversations became more difficult. Agents found themselves at a loss and feeling ill-equipped to provide first contact or faster resolutions. With angry customers, upselling was out of the question.
Support leaders were also practically demolished. By using templates, macros and canned responses, they couldn’t manage to focus on other aspects, like upgrades. When customers began to demand more personalized service and more empathy, the canned responses were no longer relevant. This ushered in a new era of retention through customer experience.
The Support Director Focuses More On Feedback Now
It’s important to understand your customers in order to assist them more effectively. That being said, CSATS and NPS scores have always been important feedback. You can’t improve what isn’t measured. But 2021 saw a huge jump in the emphasis placed on CSAT scores from just 2019. The pre-pandemic world showed that less than 60% of support directors tracked customer satisfaction surveys. Already here in 2022, more than 70% now say they are not only tracking but being held accountable for these scores.
The reason for the extra attention? It’s what we like to call the huge megaphone that customers now have. Another area that has gained more attention. Social media and online reviews.
Companies are aware of the higher rate at which now customers are sharing their experiences, negative or positive, online. This means that customers are not only more informed and smarter as mentioned, but they are more empowered.
This empowerment is a great thing. However, it also then leads to a situation where the support director has a higher accountability than ever before to make sure those difficult conversations are handled properly.
Where in the past, support leaders only needed to monitor customer surveys, they now have to keep watch over social platforms and respond to any negative feedback.
Customer experience is the new upsell.
Tools That Can Help The Support Director With Customer Experience
Here are a few essentials to help support leaders and directors face the challenges of high demanding customers.
Service Level Agreements
Service level agreements —or SLA’s — help keep the support director and the agents on the same page when it comes to prioritizing support tickets. A customer service SLA defines how your customer will get support from the company, how they will receive support from the company, and what to expect from the support team.
SLA’s empower support leaders to spend more time assisting customers rather than prioritizing and searching. SLA’s have been proven effective in eliminating bad support practices, like cherry picking. Also, they help set the expectations of the customer in areas like response and resolution times.
A customer relation management system is essential and crucial. The CRM will hold every bit of a customer’s information needed and their history. This centralized tool gives the support team access to the entire customer journey from sales to accounting and beyond.
The self-service tool or portal where customers can login and search through a series of articles to find a resolution to their issue can greatly take the pressure off of the support queue. Support directors can transform frequently asked questions and common tickets into resource articles that enable self-service support through keyword searches.
For support directors and building a support team from scratch, consider partnering with an offshore BPO, like Telework PH, to take care of all the heavy lifting for you. We can build that dream team for you, by sourcing amazing agents with knowledge, skills, and experience. We help with the management of your team, yet you still maintain all control. We’ll work alongside your support leaders and adapt to your culture and values. This will also give the support director more time to focus on streamlining processes and tools.
If you have an existing team, outsourcing can still be beneficial in enhancing the customer experience at the support level. Adding layers of floorwalkers and QAs to assist the team leaders and agents in both real-time and hindsight can greatly reduce the risk of bad support interactions. Knowledgeable in-house staff can be elevated to higher levels within these layers (or even tier 2) and high-performing front line support agents can be affordably added through outsourcing.
Also, outsourced agents who have a passion for the customer experience come with other benefits. These agents possess the skill set and EQ required to assist customers. This will effectively reduce the amount of pressure on the support director. Leaders will have to spend less time “fixing” issues or doing damage control when things go awry with a difficult conversation.