What is Customer Support?

Is it helping a customer that has a problem?  Yeah, but it’s more than that.

Customer support is helping your customers before they ask.  It’s putting a smile on their face.  It’s experiential, and it creates revenue-driving Word of Mouth traffic.

That all might sound like a stretch, but that’s just because it’s estranged from a more simplistic, traditional understanding of customer support.  It doesn’t make sense to characterize customer support as just the thing you do when things go wrong.

Customer support is the stuff you do before and after something goes wrong too.

Here’s where it gets interesting…

How far before, how far after?

When a customer asks for help getting started with your product, you assist them.  What should you do after helping that customer?  You should consider improving the signup process or adding to the knowledgebase for future customers (wait so is that before or after?).

Customer support can be thought of as a subset of user experience design.  That’s what it really is.  It’s subset of UX design centered around customer grievances.

It starts with a customer problem, you repair that customer’s mood, and then potentially make a change anticipating similar problems for future customers.  It happens throughout the entire course of the customer’s lifecycle with each support request making the experience of the product and the support experience itself a bit smoother for all future customers.

UX design leads you to ask questions like “what is the primary action the user needs to perform?”  Considering the customer support experience as well includes asking questions like “what happens when they can’t perform that action?  How can we make them happy again after this happens?  How can we make sure no one else has this problem?”

At the end of the day, a positive customer support experience is not about speed and efficiency.  As Seth Godin says, “The only purpose of customer service is to change feelings.”

Your customer support experience should result in your customer feeling happy, or at least feeling how they did before they needed help.

Why Invest in Customer Support?

“Happy customers, that sounds just peachy, but what does it do for the business?” asked the cold-hearted MBA.

Believe it or not, investing more in customer support is a more profitable decision.

Happy customers become brand advocates/customer evangelists.  Their recommendations and positive discourse about your business are more effective than any marketing strategies in your toolkit.

So what else is customer support?

It’s good marketing.

It’ll take the pressure off the blog, ads, and product reviews for generating leads.  It will make people come back and buy again.

If you sell WordPress products, you may in fact be in the most incentivized market for offering exceptional customer support, but more on that in the next article!

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