Great support is not a buzzword

Expert customer support help by people who love people.

Great support is not a buzzword

July 10, 2014 Blog 0

Well, it finally happened! Customer service and support is finally something interesting to marketers!!


Sigh, ok. I am only sort of excited about this, because customer support is not just a hashtag, or a PR blitz, it’s a really big part of a company’s inner workings. Customer support starts with how easy your app is to find, to signup for, to use – it’s not just the moment a customer has to email you for help.

Let’s look at some trendy statements that we’re seeing all over marketing pages these days that aren’t actually hallmarks of good support:

“98% of customers rated their support experience with a smiley face!” Bragging that you have a 98% “happiness” rate from customers who’ve interacted with your support team does not tell me you have great support. It tells me you get so many customer support emails, either because your product is hard to use, confusing, too expensive, or lacking features, that you have enough to make charts and graphs out of your daily email volume. Saying that 98% of customers who had to email you a question “liked” the answer is like me saying 98% of people who didn’t understand my latest tweet joke got the joke after I explained it.

“We answer all emails within 24 hours.” It’s 2014. If a company isn’t answering customer’s emails in less than 24 hours, what the hell are they doing? An average customer support email takes 4.5 minutes to reply to with detailed information or a link to a knowledge base article. At that rate, a single customer support person can easily answer 100 tickets in an 8-hour workday. Even if a problem isn’t yet resolved, your support team can still interact with a customer so they aren’t left hanging. Advertising that your team takes longer to reply than what is humanly possible is just dumb.

“We send handwritten notes to all our customers!” Cool! But what else are you doing to make them feel important to your company? Are you writing better documentation and updating your knowledge base every week? When you create a new tutorial video, do you send emails to everyone who emailed you in the past about that subject to let them know there’s more info? Are you working with power users to write blog posts, send in testimonials, or otherwise praise them for what they’re doing with your product? Does your support team have a seat at the product table, and are they working with engineers daily to resolve old bugs and add new requested features?

Oh, but you spend all that time writing notes instead, cool.

Every time someone tells me they send handwritten notes to customers but don’t do anything else to improve the customer experience, I think of that old Mitch Hedberg joke:

Marketers, if you want to use  as your newest trend term, lose the buzzwords and get to work with your support team. Start focusing on adding and improving self-service options like quick, fun tutorial videos, or an extensive searchable knowledge base that’s updated daily. Monitor your daily email volume, and when it’s too high, figure out why and work with your engineering team to eliminate low hanging fruit. Talk with customers daily in your customer forums, and blog about requested features your team is working on or bugs that have been fixed. If you want to keep using the word “engage”, then actually do it. This is what great support looks like outside of a hashtag.

Imagine the day when you can honestly say in your marketing materials, “98% of our customers never need to contact our support team.” Now that would be great support.