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Customer Support vs. Customer Service

With so many quality products and services available to customers these days, the ability to engage a customer can make all the difference in the world when it comes to prospect acquisition and retention.

What is it that sets engaged customers apart from those that aren’t emotionally involved or committed? Successful companies will tell you that engagement comes from shifting focus from “Customer Service” to “Customer Support”.

What is Customer Support?

A buzz-acronym that has gained a lot of traction lately is “CSS”. That stands for “Customer Service and Support”. So clearly the terms service and support are two different things.

TaskUs, a global outsourcing organization, defines Customer Support as “a tool set that is utilized to ensure a customer’s satisfaction with a brand. This tool set helps to resolve a customer’s ad hoc challenges, questions, and concerns relating to a product or service.”

With that in mind, Customer Service is a goal and Customer Support represents a suite of tools that allow a company to deliver that service.

Who is Responsible for Meeting Customer Support Expectations?

The easy answer here would be Customer Service Representatives (CSRs). However, when it comes down to it, CSRs need to be equipped with the best tools and the best training available. That responsibility lands in the lap of leadership and onboarding personnel.

What Happens When Customer Expectations Are Not Met?

Customer expectations (when it comes to support and service) are at an all time high right now. That’s because current CSS technology has allowed companies to deliver an effortless experience.

Rackspace claims to be the number one managed cloud provider. Take a look at their stats and you will probably agree with them.

Here’s how they feel about Customer Expectations:

“We believe that our success depends on our ability to provide customers with quality service that not only meets our stated commitments, but meets and then exceeds customer service expectations. We refer to this high quality of customer service as Fanatical Support. If we are unable to provide customers with quality customer support in a variety of areas, we could face customer dissatisfaction, dilution of our brand, weakening of our main market differentiator, decreased overall demand for our services, and loss of revenue.”

What Does it Take to Exceed Customer Expectations?

In a word? Seamlessness.

Customers don’t want to be wowed with over the top white gloving. They want quick and effective resolutions.

How do contact centers and Customer Support managers deliver this experience?

By having a bevy of tools in the form of communication channels, a CSR can provide an interaction with a customer that can result in social media recommendations and word-of-mouth brand evangelism.

Sounds difficult, right? The good news is that it’s not. There are omnichannel solutions available that require a simple line of code that can facilitate the needs of a wide span of customer expectations.

There are other approaches and techniques that can be applied that can close the gap between Customer Expectations and Customer Support policies and procedures. These include:

Active Listening

In theory, this is pretty simple. It’s not too difficult to train new CSRs how to actively listen.

The general idea with active listening is that a customer is allowed to air their grievances or to vent their frustrations to the CSR.

The CSR then says “so my understanding based on what you have just said is that you…”

The CSR then goes on to basically repeat the customer’s complaint but in the CSR’s own words.

Any CSR that has experience in the field  will tell you that many of the escalated issues they deal with can be resolved by just letting a customer speak their mind regarding their needs to someone with the knowledge and experience to listen and guide them in the right direction. .

Yes Factoring

Most companies, in order to survive in their space, rely on a sales team to drive profits. Salespeople love to hear the word “yes”. Do you know who else loves that word? Disgruntled customers. It can be the smallest give, but when a customer gets a “yes” on even the smallest request, it can turn the CSR/Customer experience right around.

When layered over active listening, a “yes” driven conversation can guide a customer through an interaction that exceeds their expectations If the “yes” driven diatribe is not accessible, then it becomes the  responsibility of the CSR to drive the interaction into a resolved status. There are several ways for CSRs to reach this level:

Feedback Leverage

A company’s greatest asset, in terms of development, is the data they have with existing customers. Today’s customer is busy and not likely to spend too much time discussing or rating a company’s Customer Support design.  A simple two question survey at the point of sale or at any other touch point can deliver valuable data that can be used to tailor Customer Experience and Customer Support.

Companies that are afraid to ask for customer feedback are missing out on a huge resource. As long as it is not too much of an inconvenience, customers delight in giving feedback via short and concise surveys. The key thing here is to be able to actuate on survey results and to use the data to better construct the Customer Experience.

In Conclusion

Customer Experience is driven by Customer Service. Customer Service succeeds due to a toolset that supports both the CSR and the customer. With proper training and hiring, the CSR can meet and exceed customer expectations as long as they have the tool set needed to drive sales and complete resolutions. At the end of the day, customer resolution gets driven by engagement. It’s up to a company’s infrastructure to provide a seamless framework by using an option set that delivers on all fronts when it comes to customer experience.