6 Tips to Improve Your Customer Support in the New Year

New year, new you—right? Every new year brings the opportunity for change and resolutions for improvement.  Whether it’s learning a new language or trying something new professionally, the new year is a great time to set new goals for improvement.

Over this past year, customer experience has become an increasingly important way for brands to set themselves apart from their competitors. But it’s not just about providing a better experience for your customers. Besides making your customers happy, offering better customer support also makes customers cheaper to acquire, easier to retain, and more willing to buy additional products.

Improving your customers’ support experience will be at the top of everyone’s holiday wish lists and their new year’s aspirations. Here are a few top tips to get you started:

Empower your customer-facing teams

Of all of the ways that managers can engage their team, 7 out of 10 employees rank empowerment at the top. Unfortunately, though, only about 35% of employees feel engaged and empowered at work. Engaging your customers is the first step in making your customer support genuinely excellent.

Your employees are the ones that are tasked every day with creating the best experiences for your customers. If they’re not having a great experience themselves, how are they supposed to provide one for the people they’re working with? When your employees are engaged and excited, they can be some of your brand’s best spokespeople: committed to helping customers get the most out of your product. When they are unengaged, they lack compassion or empathy for your customers’ situations, or maybe even for any of your product’s struggles.

Empower your customer-facing teams to do things that excite them in their day-to-day. Give them opportunities to step out of their email inbox and effect real change in your customer support culture. Listen to what they say if they have ideas for how you could make things better and, if you can, let them be the ones to take action to do it. Your excited and empowered CX employees will create more empowered and enthusiastic customers.

Make it cross-functional

Customer-facing teams are the most impactful in creating a good customer experience, but they are not the only ones responsible. Every team should have a great experience in mind when working on their projects. Beyond that, your company should have a culture of mutual communication about what is or isn’t working at a customer level.

According to HBR, 75% of cross-functional teams are dysfunctional. Their issues stem from being unable to accomplish most of these five things:

  • Staying on the proposed budget
  • Sticking to a schedule for the project
  • Remembering and adhering to the specifications they set at the start
  • Meeting basic customer expectations
  • Staying aligned to company goals

Work with any of your teams that work cross-functionally to understand what your current opportunities and strengths are from this list and what you can do to resolve any issues. 

Your customer support team isn’t the only one making up your company. Several other organizations also can make a difference with what your customers feel and experience with your brand. When you’re about to embark on a big project, make sure everyone is involved from the get-go in planning, setting timelines, and getting to the task’s execution. For example, if you’re starting to plan a proactive email marketing campaign, your customer support organization will likely be working with your marketing team, but perhaps also the product team. Bring the appropriate team members into every meeting from the beginning of the project to ensure that everyone is there from conception onwards. An involved individual is an engaged individual!

Make it easy for customers to tell you how they feel

Want to hear something scary? When customers share their insights with a company, 79% of those users are ignored. That means that 79% of people took time out of their day to offer companies constructive insights on what they could be doing better, and the company ignored them. Imagine how that feels?

Customers complain. Instead of ignoring it, put processes in place to use the insights they are giving you. They are setting you up with immediate steps to improve your customer experience. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should automatically build any customer requests right into your product. Categorize and understand each of the different points of feedback, how much revenue they may be affecting, and the project’s scope if you were to move on it. But the key is to show customers that they are heard by responding to them and letting them know that their feedback is valued. 

The new year is a great time to get a handle on your baselines and create metrics for goals that you want to hit moving forward. This new knowledge allows you to get a running start on new initiatives as soon as the clock strikes twelve on December 31st. If you don’t already have a process around how you handle feedback or feature requests, now’s the best time to figure it out.

Meet your customers where they are

Do you already have an omnichannel support strategy, or is your team being left in the dust as new technologies come and go? Your customers are not all going to be visiting you from the same place, and it’s time that your support strategy reflected that. 

61% of customers prefer support over phone

The above graph illustrates data from Statista about the preferred channels for customers in the United States. It might surprise you that phone outweighs email by close to 50%. While this data can be informative, it’s essential to understand what your specific users need. Take stock of the types of users you have, and then research what channels they prefer most—you can even poll your customers and ask.

Communication goes both ways. Pay attention to the answers you receive even more so than the questions you’re asking. For instance, consider asking your customers if it was easy for them to find their answer. If they say “no,” it’s up to you to probe more into what they’re looking for. What did they run into trouble with? What method would they have preferred? Then, use those answers to make your service even better.

Focus on Quality over Quantity

Acquiring a new customer costs five times more than retaining the customers that you currently have. Instead of focussing on getting tons of customers in the new year, focus on getting your existing quality customers excited about what you have to offer.

Not only is this beneficial for your numbers, but metrics like your ability to acquire or convert a ton of customers doesn’t necessarily indicate that your customers are healthy. Pay attention to how your customers are using your product, the average lifetime of a customer, and any trends around repeat purchases or upgrades. Focus on your customers’ quality and their experiences rather than the number that you are bringing in. This level of focus will give you a healthier understanding of your customer health moving forward.

Try something new

The old standby new year resolution for most people is to learn something new. When it comes to your customer support experience, we can change that to: try something new. There are so many new and exciting technologies that are coming out. Pick one and give it a chance. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Try video in your signatures, documentation, or cold-call emails from sales.
  2. Send handwritten notes to welcome new customers or celebrate significant milestones.
  3. Implement screen sharing or co-browsing when it comes to your support and customer success teams.
  4. Call the customer instead of making them call you for appointments.
  5. Host a contest for everyone at your company to submit a creative, or maybe even out-of-the-box customer service or experience idea.
  6. Give back to your community or customers. Identify ways that your company can give back, either by contributing profit to a meaningful program or by your team working with a nonprofit directly.

These are all great ways to reinvigorate your customer experience and get your whole company excited about building a better experience.

New things for the new year

Everyone’s excited to put 2020 behind us and look ahead towards the possibilities of 2021. Instead of focussing on leaving something, let’s shift the focus to all of the awesome stuff we are moving on to. It’s a great time to give a little boost to your customer support strategy. 

Empower your customer-facing teams to do the best for your customers, and involve everyone at your company in the decision-making process. With everyone’s brains working together, you’ll make it easy for customers to get what they need. Make it easy for customers to reach out to you where they want to. The easier it is to get in touch, the more feedback you will get about where you’re currently rocking it out or struggling. Listen to your customers to hear what’s important to them, and take steps in the direction to make it happen. Never be afraid to try something new—if it doesn’t work, you just have additional learning about moving forward. Happy End of 2020!

Need to do some clean-up first? Consider conducting a new year’s customer experience audit.