What is Customer Support (and Why is It Important)?

Angela Stringfellow

3min read

Customer support represents the resources within your company that provide technical assistance to consumers after they purchase a product or service. Since a customer will often seek out support when they are in need of help, a customer support team must be easy to contact, available, and responsive. In this article, we’ll explore the topic of customer support, why it’s essential for business success, and some valuable ways that customer support can be improved.

In a recent survey from HubSpot, consumers responded that their biggest frustrations with customer service were waiting on hold (33%) and repeating themselves to multiple representatives (33%). These answers, combined, represent two-thirds of the responses and say a lot about the expectations of customers. They also point to a significant opportunity for companies that realize how much influence they can have on customers by understanding and developing world-class support capabilities.

Customer Support vs. Customer Service

Customer service refers to all potential resources that a company can provide customers to provide value and help them get the most out of your products or services. These resources can include customer support, maintenance, and other activities that care for customer needs. In simple terms, customer support can be considered a specific type of customer service that is focused on technical and product help. These terms are often used interchangeably, but it’s helpful to note the difference between them.

Customer Support vs. Customer Success

Customer success is a proactive approach to understanding the details of a customer’s business, including KPIs, challenges, and goals. If implemented well, a customer success strategy can lead to your company directly contributing to a customer meeting or exceeding their goals. A key difference between customer success and customer support is that the former is proactive, while support is reactive and based on incoming requests. Customer success initiatives can also direct changes to the recruiting practices, KPIs, and metrics that may be used by traditional customer support operations.

Why is Customer Support Important?

Customer support is a necessary function of any successful business that offers products or services. While the specific skills and capabilities of each support team must be aligned with unique customer needs, there are some important benefits that customer support provides any business:

  • Customer Satisfaction. Customer support can have a significant influence on satisfaction. Customers typically engage with support resources when they’re experiencing an issue of some kind. How a support team handles the request can mean the difference between a happy customer and a dissatisfied one.
  • Customer Engagement. As front-line employees, your support team will interact very closely with your customers. This interaction provides an opportunity to provide resources that are engaging and entice customers to return whenever they have problems or questions. Also, customer feedback collected during the support process can be immensely valuable for developing future improvement plans.
  • Customer Retention. All businesses would like to see their customers return for more business. A customer support team that can set clear expectations and then meet or exceed them puts their organization in an excellent position to do just that. Some of the key support features that customers look for include self-service options, knowledgeable staff, and rapid response times.

Customer Support Best Practices

Customer support has evolved, from telephone calls to emails to modern chatbot conversations. Any support team operating today must handle requests from several different communication platforms. By following a few best practices, support professionals can keep their processes simple and effective.

Respond to Requests Quickly

Each communication channel will present a unique set of challenges, but you should always strive to respond to requests as quickly as possible. Even a quick and personalized message that lets your customer know that their request has been received can be helpful. If a request will take a long time to complete, it’s also a good idea to send regular status updates.

Use a Modern Help Desk Platform

An effective software program will give your team more time to focus on high-value work. A modern platform, such as SupportBee’s email ticketing system, can provide access to valuable tools such as a shared inbox, knowledge base, and customer portals. Customers recognize the value of these resources, and your support team will be able to fulfill requests more quickly and provide greater value.

Keep Messages Clear and Concise

Customers desire a complete solution to their problems that will prevent them from happening again. Even after a detailed analysis, it’s essential for your support agents to convey their solutions in easy-to-read and straightforward messages. Offering easy to understand solutions not only helps prevent confusion or additional requests but also shows the customer that you value their time and are able and willing to help them.

Customer support remains a vital resource within any product or service-based company. As consumer needs continue to evolve, customer service will represent an excellent opportunity for companies to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Understanding the fundamentals of customer support and leading best practices can help give you an edge on your path to world-class customer service.

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