What is a Customer Support Specialist and How Can They Supercharge Response Times



11 min read

If you’ve ever thought about cutting expenses for your business by reducing customer support levels, you might want to rethink that. Investing in customer acquisition is between 5 and 25 times more costly than customer retention. This is because repeat customers are 67% more likely to buy more from your brand, enabling your company to reduce its operating costs.

Moreover, customer support represents your brand image, values, and mission. This is because customers prefer brands that focus on their needs and continuously offer value even after the initial purchase.

And, think about this. Roughly 89% of customers are more likely to buy again and refer customers after a positive customer service experience. What’s more, with excellent customer service, 78% of customers will make a purchase again, even after a minor mistake on your end.

Not all customer support representatives are equal

So does all that information make you want to pump up your customer support efforts? Enter the customer support specialist. This person is the perfect addition to your team and will help create processes, supercharge response times, build brand loyalty, and retain customers that much more.

A customer support specialist is a direct connection between your business and your customers. They are unique to a normal customer support person because they not only address inquiries and resolve complaints but also provide a greater level of customer support on a particular good or service.

A customer support specialist is not a generalist. Instead, they are hyper-focused on providing amazing support and also designing, implementing, and training others on support best practices.

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10 tips for specialists to deliver excellent support

A customer support specialist goes beyond the duties of a general customer support representative. They take a proactive approach to customer support, as opposed to reactive.

Below are 10 tips for you to provide excellent service as a customer support specialist.

  1. Re-engage existing customers

    As mentioned before, customer retention costs less than customer acquisition. Even then, customer support providers sometimes fail to keep them engaged.

    Maintain a strong, personal relationship with your customer. It would enable you to track user activity within your product and make an offer to unlock a new feature. For example, if a customer has bought a hairdryer, send them an automated email recommending a complementary product, like a hairbrush.

    This helps to show customers that you care and build brand loyalty. They’ll be reassured that they can obtain more from your product without any strings attached.

    However, this doesn’t mean you can upsell without any context - for example, when the user isn’t an active one, when you expect them to reply after reaching out many times, or when you push them to purchase something they don’t need.

  2. Personalize your services

    Put yourself in your customer’s shoes to add a personal touch to your service and prove to them that they’re your priority. Empathize with your customers to understand their problem better and address it accordingly.

    Be an active listener and mention anything relevant they said previously. Remember your customers’ names and use those every time you talk to them. Both your regulars and prospects will appreciate the personalization. Prospects may be more likely to convert, and regulars may leave a positive review.

    Always value your customer’s time. For example, invite your customer to either opt for an update on an issue via email or suggest a specific time.

  3. Make it easy for customers to find solutions

    If your product is conceptual, walk customers through a demo and give them the chance to ask questions. If it’s tactile, make it easy for customers to find more about your product.

    Try to send any relevant additional onboarding material, such as videos or FAQs. You can use a live chat tool or a help desk to support customers across all channels. Never ignore in-product onboarding because product stickiness should be ensured.

    Maintain a powerful knowledge base. For example, Asana shows useful screenshots and annotations to its customers and has a thorough knowledge base to guide prospects and regulars. This allows customers to get more in-depth solutions.

    Source: Asana

  4. Provide automated customer support only when necessary

    Don’t fully rely on chatbots since they may not always work. Rather than automating all customer interactions, try to automate your team collaboration.

    Help desks now let customer support specialists send automatic updates of open and close cases, work on the same ticket simultaneously, and find updates within in-product chats.

    You can also send automated event-triggered emails. Map out the customer journey to know when to reach out and how. For example:

    • Countdown messages, such as for a delivery
    • A series of follow-up emails with instructions to use a product after a new sale.
  5. Prioritize the metrics

    Measure the metrics that matter to your team the most. It would be wrong to give more importance to the operational customer support metrics over the organizational ones. This is because this will make you shift your primary focus on resolution time, ticket count, or touchpoints per ticket.

    Instead, prioritize organizational metrics to primarily focus on:

    • Customer satisfaction

    • Customer churn

    • Net Promoter Score (NPS)

    • New cross-sells and upsells

      Source: Retently

  6. Gamify customer support

    A customer support specialist can adopt gamification to enhance feedback, transparency, peer recognition, end-to-end employee engagement, and training in the best practices.

    Without making it overwhelmingly competitive, you can use gamification as an incentive to improve your customer support team’s performance. You can provide the team with additional incentives to compete, such as being featured in company newsletters.

    Determine the gamification metrics and track them, e.g., upsells, CSAT, close time, or first response time.

  7. Incentivize customers using loyalty programs

    Customer loyalty programs provide incentives to repeat customers to stay with your brand. They:

    • Improve referrals
    • Encourage product/service adoption
    • Increase customer retention rate
    • Enhance customer lifetime value
    • Reduce payback period.

    Now, a point-based loyalty program could decrease engagement. This is because it adds new conditions and rules that may be too complex and take time to reward points.

    Instead, build a page dedicated to describing the loyalty program elaborately. You can also add relevant CTAs on the page.

  8. Create your own social media customer support process

    You can leverage social media to not only provide after-sales support but also stimulate new sales. To this end, create a separate social media customer support process to avoid cramming both brand and support on the official company page. Otherwise, you’ll be bombarded with all sorts of posts, from billing and shipping to brand mentions and refunds.

    Here are some customer support tips for your social media handle:

    • Create a dedicated social media page for all customer support inquiries and help.
    • Give specific instructions to customers. For instance, “For tech queries, tell us about your operating system/device”.
    • Only trained specialists should reply.
    • Try to smartly introduce your product. For example, Spotify replies to customers with a playlist.
    • Document this process so that all your trained representatives know what exactly to do and when.
  9. Create a community of customers to stimulate adoption

    A customer support specialist can go beyond the ‘community management using social media’ mindset to merge customer support, product feedback, and product advocacy.

    According to Community Value and Metrics, 26% of organizations use their communities for customer support. For instance, you can encourage customers to join your Facebook customer community and identify the most popular conversations. This can drive many active members to your community.

    Source: CMX

  10. Provide customer support training

    Last but not least, as a customer support specialist, you should design and implement the training of your team members on the support best practices.

    Your customer support team is composed of people with different levels of experience and knowledge. A new member might unintentionally say a wrong thing that will only make a disappointed customer angrier. Or, a veteran member might run into problems with a new software platform that reduces service quality.

    That’s why you need to provide adequate support training to the staff to prevent negative customer interactions. A well-trained support team is far more capable of keeping customers happy.

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10 benefits of using a customer support specialist

The customer support specialist tips above have their benefits. They include:

  1. Higher ticket resolution

    A help desk system with internal collaboration features enables customer support specialists to communicate with one another from their dashboards.

    They can also tag people from other teams and take their help. For example, when a customer asks about upcoming upgrades, you can assign their ticket to the product to get the right information.

  2. Faster problem solving

    When you automate manual tasks, you can streamline the workflows and prevent human errors. Customizable chatbots can better understand sentiments and redirect chats to a relevant customer support specialist.

    Adequate training and an effective social media process also help to speed up the customer support process.

    60% of customers define an ‘immediate’ reply as 10 minutes or less, and 90% of customers rate an ‘immediate’ reply as very important or important.

  3. Increased customer satisfaction

    Personalized customer support, effective onboarding, and a dedicated knowledge base in the help desk go a long way in increasing customer satisfaction. A knowledge base is critical since 69% of customers first attempt to resolve problems by themselves.

    Source: SurveyMonkey

    The content and customer support teams can work together to create product walkthroughs, guides, and case studies to benefit both prospective and existing users.

  4. Quicker onboarding

    Personalization, automation, and product walkthroughs or demos speed up the onboarding process by improving customer experiences. They set up a positive precedent for the rest of the customer journey.

    And, your customer support specialist is likely to be a project management wiz so they’ll help you connect the various other departments in your organization as new clients go through the onboarding process.

  5. Increased referrals

    94% of Americans would recommend a brand if they rate their service as ‘very good’. And 89% of businesses with customer experiences rate ‘significantly above average’ demonstrate better financial performance than their competitors.

  6. More efficiency

    Customer support specialists bring about the specialization of labor. This serves to resolve tasks more efficiently.

    Good customer care stimulates a good working environment in which employees thrive, and their morale is boosted. Effective gamification can also create a healthy, competitive work environment. This improves their work efficiency.

  7. Ticket reduction using the knowledge base

    The knowledge base contains a curated collection of tutorials, FAQs, and case studies for the benefit of customers. Customer support specialists can edit and publish customer support content here, e.g., by turning a ticket response into a help desk article.

    A Microsoft study revealed that effective help desk software enables you to build a powerful knowledge base and decrease ticket volume by up to 80%.

  8. Improved brand loyalty

    A good customer support specialist helps build a team that provides excellent support to customers. It helps improve the onboarding experience and shows customers that the brand cares about them. Loyalty programs make it more likely for the NPS score to increase.

    90% of consumers who rate a company’s service as ‘very good’ tend to trust that company. The brand reputation improves, leading to good product testimonials and word-of-mouth marketing.

  9. Higher retention

    Brand loyalty drives customers to keep coming back to the brand. Personal connections between a customer support specialist and customers make customers reluctant to switch clients.

    Positive customer experiences and mutual respect motivate customers to keep doing business with the company. This leads to higher customer retention rates.

  10. More cross-sell and upsell opportunities

    Tracking organizational metrics and providing event-triggered customer support brings more opportunities for cross-selling and upselling.

    Strong customer relationships at each touchpoint make a company able to retain more customers and sell more products.

Benefits of using specialized telephony systems for customer support

A VoIP telephone system is an internet-based phone service that provides greater flexibility to users compared to a traditional system. When you are investing in customer support specialists, and implementing best practices, it only makes sense to equip your specialists with the right tools. That includes using a telephony system to enable your customer support calls. Take a look at its key benefits:

  1. Streamlines your communication utilizing multiple features, including call recordings, call routing, transcription, and text messaging. It helps direct calls to the right team member, saving valuable time.

  2. Improves customer connections in real-time to create and maintain a competitive advantage. You can take calls from wherever you are and access critical caller data.

  3. Integrates with other processes and software to further improve efficiency. With Yodel, you can easily connect to all of your favorite tools together.

  4. Tailors to your team’s style by letting you use mobile apps, hardware office phones, and other devices to gain access anywhere.

  5. Allows you to access high-tech phone features without the hassle of high overhead costs and expensive servers. This gives you the advantages of a large company, even if you are a small business.

Bringing it all together

These days customer support should not be thought of as a cost center. Really it’s a retention and marketing expense. Those costs directly impact your bottom line. So building the right team, with a range of skills, good processes, and reliable tools is the key to scaling and managing your support efforts. And at the helm is your customer support specialist. They might be a little more expensive than other support reps, but the cost is well worth it.

Guest post by Jeff Solomon, co-founder of Markup Hero, a screenshot and annotation tool that is used daily by customer support specialists to communicate clearly and get customers back on track quickly.

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