You CAN Turn Customer Support Into A Profit Center.

Five principles you can apply in YOUR organization.

You CAN Turn Customer Support Into A Profit Center.
Photo by Mackenzie Marco / Unsplash

Principle One: Support is long-term sales.

This doesn’t mean you should be upselling irate customers while resolving their billing issues. That’s psychopathic.

This means that support is the bridge that gets a client to their next sale. It’s the mechanism through which business is not only retained but cultivated. Customer support ought to behave as an Account Manager would.

What problems are customers trying to solve? How can they get more from your product or service? Do we have the 5th or 6th sale in mind, or are we focused on solving short-term problems?

Support and sales are two sides of the same noble function: service.

Principle Two: Aim for 100% self-serve and frictionless support whenever and wherever possible.

We can access millions of songs and videos via Netflix and Spotify. Customer experiences must mimic these consumers' experiences.

If people require more help or prefer dedicated human support, they can pay you for it. But it ought not to be mandatory.

Principle Three: Charge a premium for 1-on-1 support.

Most companies have it backward–especially SaaS. Folks try to throw in all sorts of freebies (ex. 1-on-1 onboarding, account management, support, etc.) to justify flat, commoditized pricing.

This is backward. (Although I appreciate why it doesn’t seem that way.)

Tailored, hands-on service that adds to the experience of the user is to be coveted and should be priced accordingly.

To be clear: I’m not advocating that companies ought to nickel and dime every step of a client’s journey, I’m merely advising that service creates value, and that value ought to be properly considered in the price.

Principle Four: Support Is Not A Band-Aid.

A corollary of the third principle: hands-on support is not meant to be used as a crutch for poorly designed products or sequences.

Product, helpdesk, or onboarding flows ought to do 99.99% of the heavy lifting. A human is only necessary when all of these other firewalls fail.

Note: Some companies pursue the opposite strategy and hide their 1-on-1 support to deter people from finding them. This is anti-consumer and has no place in a client-centric organization.

Principle Five: Don’t Solve The Same Problem Twice–Codify Everything.

Support teams want to feel valuable. They do this by experiencing wins, just like other teams in the organization. The problem is their metric for winning is often solving a customer’s issue, which encourages (you guessed it) more issues.

I’ve seen support teams high-five after spending all day trying to solve a problem for a customer.

Aim to fix the problem once. Document solutions to common problems and pre-empt issues by putting that documentation in front of the user. Automate as much as you can–including simple, repetitive tickets.

But always make sure people are readily available if those processes fail and a customer need helps.

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