Become an Expert in Customer Success and Support
In today's fast-paced and highly competitive business landscape, small businesses face numerous challenges as they strive to carve a niche for themselves.
Amidst the constant juggling of operations, marketing, and finances, it can be easy for you to overlook one of the most powerful drivers of growth and success: customer success and support (CSS). However, exceptional customer experiences and unwavering support are not just a luxury; they are a necessity for small businesses looking to thrive.
At Service Direct, we have one of the best CSS teams in the game. They help ensure our existing customers have a smooth experience with our service, which allows us to generate positive reviews as well as word-of-mouth referrals.
We spoke with our Customer Support Manager Ariel Owens to hear her expert advice on providing top-tier customer support. Not only does she delve into the reasons why prioritizing customer success and support is paramount for the growth and sustainability of small businesses, but she also elaborates on what you can do right now to improve your CSS strategy.
From building customer loyalty to gaining a competitive advantage and driving revenue growth, there is a transformative power that comes from putting customers at the forefront of business strategies. So, let's dive in and discover how exceptional customer success and support can propel your small business to new heights.
What is a piece of advice you would give to someone who is just getting started with customer support?
ARIEL: Something I was told when I first started on the Service Direct CSS team was to remember the 3 A’s: Acknowledge, Align, and Assure.
In other words, acknowledge the issue or concern the customer has; align yourself with the problem and turn the situation into you and the customer versus the problem; assure the customer that you will fix the issue or get them in the hands of a person who can.
Remembering these 3 tips when helping a customer can be an easy way to ensure you are supporting them and reminding them that you are there to help and will do everything in your power to solve their problem.
If you had to narrow down the keys to premier CSS in 1 word each, what would they be?
ARIEL: I'd say empathy, respect, patience, and responsiveness.
Customer retention and return rates are crucial to keeping a small business thriving. What would you recommend businesses do to focus on that?
ARIEL: There are a few things that I would recommend small business support teams do to encourage return and repeat customers:
- Reduce call answer rate and response time. It’s important that they are answering calls from existing customers just as much as they would from potential new customers. If you miss a call, try to get back to them as soon as possible.
- Personalize service/support interactions. You might not think so, but it’s pretty easy for customers to tell when they are being read a generic script. Combat that by equipping support reps with tools needed to pull specific customer information, view past history, express empathy about previous issues, and more.
- Incentivize loyalty. If you want customers to come back and maybe even bring a friend, you want to incentivize that through discount offers, special deals, programs, and other benefits of using your business again.
- Gather customer feedback when possible. Not only does it help to hear straight from the customer’s mouth how they feel your business performed, but it also makes the customer feel important. It’s also a great way to clear up any lingering issues that your support team may not have been aware of.
Promotional offers aren’t just for gaining new customers—they’re also a great way to increase loyalty and improve customer retention!
What else can small businesses do to help their customers see more success?
ARIEL: One place where a lot of businesses fall short is taking advantage of any external reporting provided by services or partners that they work with. At Service Direct, our system provides internal reports on why businesses are not booking deals on the first call. This information is invaluable to small businesses looking to improve customer support.
That’s why I’d recommend small businesses train customer support representatives (CSRs) to understand what that data means so that they are equipped with the knowledge of common blockers potential customers experience.
One of the main blockers tends to be price considerations. If you can afford to, offering discounts or incentives to customers that are concerned with pricing is a great way to keep existing customers happy and encourage them to pass along how great your business is to others.
If you could go back in time and give yourself a piece of advice when you were just starting out with CSS what would it be?
ARIEL: I have grown so much since I first started working at Service Direct on the CSS Team. My journey has been amazing so far!
Looking back if I had to give myself one piece of advice, it would be to keep learning, showing initiative, and remember that it is a marathon not a sprint when it comes to Support and Success.
As much as you need to show patience toward customers when providing support, you also need to be patient with yourself and your team members as you all continue to learn and grow into the best CSS team you can be!
Many small businesses may be unable to hire a dedicated support person initially. What advice would you give to a business owner managing customer support?
ARIEL: Customer Support and Success teams are super important when running any type of business. When Service Direct first started out, some of our founders were the CSS team. Our company knew early on that giving our customers a voice was necessary in order for the business to succeed.
Ensuring that you have the time to provide customers with the support and tools for success needed will help you retain customers, increase their lifetime value, and deliver important feedback that can improve your product or service.
Also, documentation and process outlining are key when growing a CSS team and I recommend building those out at the start and revising as processes change. While support may not seem like a priority when just starting a business, by ensuring you have the foundation to provide help when your clients need it, your business will thrive.
And finally, if any of our clients are reading this article, what is some advice you would give to them to see even more success with Service Direct?
ARIEL: We have some of the best customers around, and they are all really great at using our service, but if I had to come up with a few pieces of advice this is what I would recommend:
- Utilize the tools and tips provided throughout support and our mySD Platform. We want you to be able to see data and make changes on your own to increase your ROI.
- Qualify the call during the initial recording so time and resources are not wasted. This will help you every step of the way.
- Follow up with customers to earn appreciation before, during, and after a scheduled service.
- Track and manage lead progress metrics to unlock many potential opportunities for optimization. When we know how the customers we send our clients are panning out, we can make key adjustments to our product to serve you better!
So there you have it! The top tips to becoming an expert in customer support are directly from our fearless CSS leader. Whether you are just starting out with your small business or are realizing you need to revamp your existing customer support system, these tips will help you keep existing customers happy and bring more return customers in.
A big thank you to Ariel Owens for taking the time to give us her expert advice. Service Direct wouldn’t be the same without our Customer Success and Support team.
Ariel Owens is the Customer Support Manager at Service Direct, where she has been helping our clients succeed for 4 years. She has shown unwavering dedication and empathy to our valued customers and always has a smile on her face.
Reach out to Ariel or one of our other customer support representatives at firstname.lastname@example.org!