Businesses that treat providing tech support as an afterthought – and only as a transaction – risk damaging their brand and opening the door to their competitors.
Organizations need to make tech support a central pillar of their business strategy if they want to create a true competitive advantage – and keep their customers.
“Too often tech support is seen as a cost center,” begins Christian Bosse, VP, Sitel Technical Support as a Service. “The first mandate is how to control costs with call deflection or increasing friction to reduce the number of calls.”
Even when there is an effort to offer genuine support, the service can often end up siloed from the rest of the business. And,when that happens, the organization is losing out on valuable insights about its products and services. Worse still, by not hearing the voice of the customer these companies could be damaging their brand promise or reputation. This is why Bosse is insistent that providing tech support should be part of the go-to-market strategy, something fully integrated into business operations.
“Tech support needs to be at the table with the product to understand the market segment, how to address needs and how to create value,” explains Bosse. “By understanding the end user and the tech support and combining them results in a dialogue that advises you on the current product or service and how the market is receiving it. But as you’re developing the next product lifecycle, this feedback becomes a valuable input.”
To get it right requires a combination of the right data, the right processes and crucially, the right people.
“When you have good data you can tell the story of the customer experience,” says Bosse. “You can work on how to address incidents and you can identify call drivers and quickly create resolutions that can be pushed out to end users.”
This flow of data starts with having a single CRM system and one system of record. This in turn provides the foundation for building robust processes around knowledge management within the contact center and for creating feedback loops for the product and marketing teams.
“But this all has to be done with people,” Bosse warns. “When you structure your data and drive your processes, what we’re doing is creating agents who are even more capable of connecting with end users in a meaningful way – and offering a true service.”
Traditional approaches to providing technical support can be too focused on the technical aspect and the average handle time, rather than making it a priority to create an emotional connection with the customer and really solve the problem. A tech issue can bring out a very particular level of frustration in a consumer; to really deliver in those situations there has to be an emotional as well as a technical resolution.
When agents are as proficient in delivering customer experience as they are in tech support, the result is a measurable competitive business advantage.
“Your agents are the face of your organization so they need to be empowered to deliver in that role,” explains Bosse. “They need to have a voice at the table, visibility over other functional areas of the business and they need latitude to be themselves and to be human. With all of this in place they become active participants in your feedback loop.”
For example, with certain Sitel clients, our agents are also alpha and beta testers for software releases making them the perfect conduit between engineering and the end user. As well as better products, it results in better customer experience as agents are part of the product and part of its audience.
This connection becomes crucial as a product matures and as the planning begins for the next product lifecycle begins.
“Through tech support customers are telling you lots of things about their preferences. If you have a tech support team attached from the beginning it’s going to help you be better than the competition,” states Bosse. “Tech support becomes part of the product – a strategic advantage. You’re delivering and executing on your brand promise. To not do so will only damage your reputation.”