With the sudden changes caused by the pandemic, companies have been forced to rethink how they operate to come out stronger in the long run. Whether they’ve expanded overnight like Zoom or just surviving like AirBnB, businesses of all sizes must reassess their approach to customer support.
Customers don’t care about the impact of the economic downturn on your company. And they don’t care if your customer support agents are working from home. What matters most to customers is that someone is there to help them solve their problems. Good customer service is good for business. And it will keep customers loyal to the brand even when they see what the new normal looks like. According to McKinsey’s research, during the financial collapse in the period between 2007-2009, companies focused on customer experience generated 3x higher returns for shareholders.
So what steps can businesses take to continue to reinvent themselves and come out ahead? Here are three approaches our team at Wix Answers have learned about customer support from working with numerous companies like Getty Images, Yotpo, and Fiverr.
Empower your remote workforce with a knowledge management platform
Between layoffs, furloughs, and hiring sprees in a nearly all-remote environment, companies need to figure out how to use knowledge to help their teams keep the bar high when it comes to supporting customers.
Let’s examine a brand that has had to layoff or furlough employees to decrease their burn rate and preserve cash. Classpass, a company that offers an app that helps users find fitness classes, had to decrease their customer support team from 250 to 60. They work with thousands of fitness studios around the world who’ve had to close during the pandemic. So what happens when the studios open back up? Their team’s downsizing has led to a significant knowledge loss. As things start up again, they will have to retool and train a whole slew of new support team members on their products.
In contrast, companies are also seeing a hockey stick curve of new demand, especially those that power the remote economy. They face the challenge of hiring and scaling their teams across the entire organization, e.g., support, engineering, sales, etc. At the same time, due to social distancing rules, employees are not able to meet face to face for an interview or training. Deloitte studies found that 75% of companies will still have at least 20% of staff continuing to work remotely after this pandemic ends.
Whether companies are dealing with layoffs or hiring sprees, customer expectations do not change. This is why a strong knowledge management platform is more critical today than ever before — one that can provide both a self-service solution for customers and an internal go-to information hub for agents. Customers don’t have to wait in long lines for a downsized support team and agents can deliver accurate answers faster. Companies also need ways to document the knowledge they lose from outgoing team members.
Deloitte’s recent report on the future of work after Covid-19 estimates that 75% of firms feel knowledge management is crucial to their success with this shift, but only 9% feel ready. Be part of that 9%.
Don’t be multi-channel, be where your customers are
Companies that want to come out on top have to support their customers where they are. A lot of brands often talk about multi-channel support as a strategy. But multi-channel is just features of your offering. The strategy is (or should be) to support your customers wherever they are. Today, context is king. Brands have to sell, support, and engage customers at the right time, in the right place and with the right message.
Top brands recognize that the support world is evolving from archaic tools to modern systems that enable them to be where customers already are rather than waiting for customers to come to them. Companies that stay ahead of the curve will use help widgets. Help widgets can serve several functions. They can provide easy access to knowledge in the context of a user’s workflow. And they can also give users a quick way to get in touch with support via talk, live chat, WhatsApp, and social media wherever they happen to be in the product or website.
Redesign your support processes to come out more financially sound
Building a strong business that can weather the next storm will depend on what systems and practices you put in place today. Chamath Palihapitiya, billionaire investor and founder of Social Capital, speaks about his belief that zero-based budgeting is making a comeback in 2020 as companies are forced to take a more clear-headed approach to expenses — a line-by-line analysis of every function within an organization that examines cost vs. needs.
To provide exceptional customer experiences that are financially viable in today’s business environment, companies need to find solutions that move away from old, clunky support models. Many support software providers still use a layered approach in which disparate products and development-heavy integrations are added on that don’t speak to each other and are costly.
To succeed, companies will need to find solutions designed from the ground up solely to address what today’s customers want and expect in a support experience.
The Wix Answers unified customer support solution integrates ticketing, call center, live chat, social media, and knowledge base into one platform. Wix Answers help support teams use knowledge in strategic and proactive ways to enhance the customer experience. With an SEO-powered help center and widgets that support customers wherever they are, Wix Answers makes it easy for more customers to help themselves, freeing up support teams to offer the best customer experience possible regardless of unexpected challenges.