11 tips for improving your company’s customer support

Here’s how to ensure your customers are getting the help they need and coming away with a positive impression of your company.

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Companies spend tens of thousands of dollars (or more) promoting their brand, trying to create a positive image. Yet often they treat customer support, which can be a customer’s first point of contact with the company, as a necessary evil. Many businesses make it difficult for customers to get the help they need – creating a negative impression.

So what can you do to ensure your customers feel like they are getting the help they need, when they need it? Following are 11 expert tips on what you can do to improve your customer and tech support – and create a positive impression of your brand.

[ Related: 6 Ways to Anticipate, Deliver and Measure Customer Satisfaction ]

1. Offer 24/7 customer support. 

“If your company has the bandwidth to do so, provide 24/7 phone-based support,” says Hossein Ghazizadeh, vice president, Technical Support, Barracuda, which provides security and storage solutions. There is “nothing worse than calling a customer support line when you need assistance only to get a recording telling you to call back during normal business hours.”

2. Text-enable your customer service. 

“As millennial customers take over the marketplace, traditional 1-800 customer service lines aren't cutting it,” says Steve French, vice president, Product Management and Marketing, OpenMarket, a mobile engagement solution provider. These “consumers prefer to text. [So] text-enabling customer service and support can help companies best target the millennial generation and improve overall customer satisfaction.”

3. Include a live chat option.  

“Using a live chat facility on your website allows you to be exactly where customers need you at a moment's notice,” says Rob Rebholz, cofounder & managing director, SpaceWays, a self-storage company. Moreover, live chat “removes barriers to contacting support as it's quick and easy to type a message from the current screen rather than finding an email address or taking the time to call,” he explains. So customers get the help they need, when they need it, quickly.

“Most leading companies have begun incorporating live website chat into their customer service efforts to reduce costs and connect with more prospects,” notes Arielle Hurst, customer experience designer, Pure Chat. “But fewer businesses are aware they can also use live chat to expedite email-based support as well,” she adds. “When support teams include the link to a unique live chat page in their email signatures, customers can use that link to reach the team immediately and get their questions answered via chat,” she explains. Moreover, “offering this simple option slashes response times and can cut time-consuming email exchanges by more than 40 percent.”

4. Be social.

“The days of help lines and email support are slowly dwindling,” says Jeanette Gibson, vice president, Community and Customer Experience, Hootsuite. “In order to implement a customer support system that meets the expectations of today's consumers, businesses must invest and incorporate social into their customer support programs,” she argues.

“By responding effectively and consistently across every social channel, your business can drive customer satisfaction to new heights.”

5. Cover all your bases (or channels). 

“Today’s consumer is constantly jumping from text messages to phone calls, from social media to email,” explains Spence Mallder, CTO at Aspect Software, an enterprise call center and customer service solution provider. So businesses need to take an omni-channel approach to customer service.

“That means a) providing customers with the option of moving across channels for quick and easily accessible assistance, and b) supplying agents with the automated technology they need to pull customer information and history for quick and accurate assistance,” he says. “Omni-channel solutions take the multichannel contact center to the next level, seamlessly integrating all channels for one fluid experience.”

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