The role of customer support in providing value to an organization is often overlooked. They’re seen as a cost center, and usually one of the first teams on the chopping block when headcount needs to be reduced. In reality, support agents carry massive information from their numerous interactions with customers. They understand customer challenges, know which features are user favorites (and which ones customers are having issues with), and have valuable insights that organizations need to improve customer experience.
We’ve talked about different ways customer support teams can get out of the “cost-center” bucket and emerge as a true growth driver. But this time, we’ll be exploring another way for customer support teams to demonstrate their value all while improving customer experience; by teaming up with product management.
Improving customer experience begins with customer insights. And luckily, support is one of the most useful channels for other teams to obtain information about customers, their experience, and trending product issues. That’s why support leaders need to make sure they establish a line of communication with product management, among other teams.
As a foundation, product managers should be aware of all the problems customer support is solving, how they are collaborating with other teams (like engineering), and the tools that they are using to respond to support requests. Support leaders can give product managers visibility into these systems so that they have direct access to view customer feedback and trending product issues. That way, they’ll learn a lot about how customers view the product - good or bad - and can come up with ways to improve customer experience. Customer feedback also offers product managers insights on market trends and demands, and can empower a positive change in the business.
According to Lee Resources, for every customer that complains, there are another 26 customers that remain silent. This is compounded by the fact that support teams can receive hundreds to thousands of support tickets every day. These can consist of anything from password reset requests to product questions, but often include reports of feature requests and product issues. Especially after engineering releases new product updates. So how do product and engineering teams know what to prioritize? Here’s an example scenario:
The engineering team just released a minor product update that, unfortunately, caused a feature to malfunction, and their application monitoring tool didn’t detect the issue. Meanwhile, the customer support team just received a large cluster of tickets reporting the issue. Being able to quickly group tickets based on topic, calculate ticket volume, and estimate the potential revenue impact of the issues, allowed the support team to notify product and engineering of the issue, and helped them understand the scale of how this is impacting customers, and understand where to focus their resources.
Just like support should be sharing customer insights with product management, product management should also be sharing insights with support. And while product teams tend to be wary about sharing product roadmaps publicly, customer support leaders should be kept in the loop of new features and products that are on the horizon. Is there an update on the horizon that fixes a bug that customers have been reporting for months? Support needs to know that, because they can report back with the news to the customers that have open tickets. Support agents need to be able to quickly reference these new features and products, as a lack of awareness and understanding will result in poor customer experience.
So there you have it - a few ways for customer support and product management to collaborate and improve customer experience. The good news is that these motions are relatively easy to establish and can be replicated across other teams, as long as they are willing. And if they aren’t, you have to ask: is your organization really prioritizing customer experience?
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