5 essential components of a 2021 customer support solution
Updated: Jan 13
You can have the greatest support team in the world, but without a modern customer support platform, you’ll be hard pressed to achieve the results you expect. According to Gartner research, “89% of companies now expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience.” The challenge for support organizations is adjusting to new customer experience standards.
In 2020, agents across the world are facing a constantly evolving landscape, one that didn’t exist just 11 years ago. For instance, organizations must now account for the fact that 2 billion people around the world communicate through WhatsApp, solidifying messenger apps as a new channel for customers to interact with brands. This year, Covid-19 has forced brick and mortar businesses to move online and corporate offices to work remotely, causing support organizations to fit a new normal.
Whether it’s because consumers use new communication channels or a global pandemic disrupts the status quo, brands and support organizations must innovate and adjust to customers’ needs.
The right support solution can empower your support organization to continue delivering quality customer service as the business scales and adapts to an evolving landscape. In this post, we’ll explore 5 characteristics of a customer support solution built for 2021 and why they’re crucial for forward-thinking businesses.
Download now: The Buyer’s Guide to Customer Support Platforms in 2021
1. A 360° view gives agents a complete picture of all customer interactions
“I already reached out the other day, can't you see?”
Answering this question is often uncomfortable for agents and inconvenient for customers. Customers don’t care how agents go about understanding them; they just want help solving their issue. A 360° view (or single-timeline view) means agents can access one chronological timeline for all agent-customer communications. Here, agents can use account history, technical data, customer information, and more to understand the full history, solve tickets, and address customers’ pain points.
Without all the necessary details in one place, agents see a disjointed picture of the customer experience. They’ll need to spend valuable time navigating between multiple tabs or tickets to understand the journey. This may cause agents to miss crucial information about the customer’s experience, and therefore, not know how to best solve their pain points. When exploring new support solutions or evaluating your current one, ensure your agents have a single-view of the customer to successfully resolve tickets fast with as little friction as possible.
2. A system that’s built to scale
As your company grows, your support solution should grow with it. A forward-thinking solution will efficiently manage your growing operations. The problem is, many solutions can’t keep up with a growing company’s needs and customers still expect brands to maintain support quality. Solutions in 2021 will help businesses address and overcome the following challenges:
An increase in channels
Providing customers different ways to contact your support organization can help reduce friction within a customer journey; allowing customers to get the help they need when they need it. That said, the more support channels a business offers, the more complexity ensues. Support solutions that offer a single view or ticket timeline of all interactions can reduce the complexity to add and manage multiple channels.
An increase in tickets
Ticket volume can increase 10X for any business at any moment in time. Unfortunately, when this occurs, agents can feel overloaded, the quality of support may decrease, and customers are left underserved and unhappy. Additionally, as ticket numbers rise, it’s harder to see where tickets are coming from, which team member is on the ticket, and how they’re resolving it.
A modern customer support platform can help support organizations deflect, track, and manage tickets without the need to expand their team.
Expansion into different languages and the ability to make your knowledge management system work
As businesses scale into different regions, it’s important to ensure they can support their current and growing customer base. This may mean updating content to suit a specific language or integrating translation features. Either way, these adjustments can take time and slow down any scaling efforts, especially if they require dev team involvement. A customer support platform with new languages and translation features built out of the box saves time and resources, so support teams can scale smoothly.
Workflows that can accommodate advanced SLA management
Segmenting customers (based on whether they’re new, VIPs, by geographic location, etc.) can help businesses determine how to treat each customer and provide the right support. While new customers may need access to onboarding materials, VIPs may require help with more specific, complex pain points. A modern solution allows businesses to create workflows for specific issues, customers, or SLAs, accommodating every customer’s needs.
3. Customers and agents can access and share knowledge from a central location
Today, customers expect the technology or services they use to work right away. When issues arise, they expect a quick resolution. A recent study by Forrester states that customers prefer to use a knowledge base or self-service center to get the information they need to resolve issues without involving agents.
To address this growing trend, customer support platforms will need to enable organizations to create both an external and internal knowledge base. An up to date knowledge base with accessible SEO-friendly content allows customers to help themselves and agents to quickly access information, suggest solutions, and resolve cases.
Through this self-service approach, companies can analyze knowledge base searches using the keywords visitors use and optimize their content to meet the growing needs of customers.
In addition to the above external uses, a knowledge base can also be used as an internal resource to prevent knowledge gaps within the company. From one centralized location, global support teams can find policy or feature updates, legal protocols, company culture standards, and any other important information they need to excel or assist customers.
Customer support solutions that look towards the future make it easier for agents to access the right resources, while also enabling customers to identify their issues, quickly find the knowledge they need, and solve the problem themselves.
4. Widgets offer customers direct access to support and knowledge
Customers shouldn’t need to search through an entire website to find a number or email for support. Creating friction in this journey can lead to frustrated customers and less than ideal conversations with agents. Widgets embedded in apps or within websites provide an easy and uninterrupted way for customers to search knowledge bases and contact a business.
Help widgets can recommend the right articles for any product flow, provide a guide to using the product, enable visitors to search the knowledge base, and more. In addition to providing knowledge to users, widgets offer customers the ability to contact a business through live chat, email, and call back. No matter how customers prefer to reach out, when they can access ever-present support, their customer journey and support experience is smoother.
Support solutions built for 2021 allow customers to receive help however they need it. Help widgets are a great way to provide support from anywhere on your site or within your app.
5. Actionable insights lead to more informed decision- making
Merely gathering data won’t provide the full picture. Businesses must be able to measure key performance indicators (KPIs) to discover top support issues, identify knowledge base gaps, fine-tune their call center, and more. A few KPIs to measure include:
Customer satisfaction (CSAT)
Service level agreements (SLA)
Team performance (FTR, AHT)
Most common known issues
Even when measuring the above KPIs, taking action is difficult when the data is scattered or buried between different views or platforms. Modern customer support solutions aggregate your KPIs into one view. This way, stakeholders can easily understand their businesses’ and customers’ needs, optimize team and agent performance, and constantly improve their support strategy without needing multiple reporting systems.
We all know times have changed and companies have had to pivot their strategies to meet their customers' needs. Support solutions for 2021 enable companies to understand the entire customer journey, solve customers’ issues, and use the channels customers prefer to communicate on with as little friction as possible. The quality of support you offer is only as good as your customer support solution, so make sure it’s setting you up for the future.