A customer support center, or a contact center, is an official system set up to handle customer communication for an organization. A customer support center is made up of a team of individuals, localized in one facility, who respond promptly to large amounts of customer queries or complaints. If a customer experiences problems with a particular product or has pressing questions about a service, they need look no further than the courteous staff of a company’s support center. Unlike a call center, customer support centers not only field calls from customers but provide them with support through other channels of communication, including e-mails, letters, faxes, website messages, live chats, social media, and even in-person interaction. As part of a company’s overall customer relationship management (CRM) strategy, the workers of a customer support center use their expertise to route customers to the employees who can best serve their needs. Customer support centers provide service that is complimentary and convenient, suited to fit a customer’s busy schedule. Some support centers are available all hours of the day to help confused customers. Plus, thanks to advancements in technology, customers can connect to a customer support center from around the world.
The Functions Carried Out by Customer Support Representatives
Customer care and support representatives often fulfill a variety of important duties. They may answer questions about payment plans, guide first-time users through the process of setting up a device, help fix an IT issue, offer instructions on how to properly use a product, or teach customers how to take advantage of key features before they buy.
Customer support centers, such as online IT support, are especially useful for tech companies to help customers resolve complex technical issues. However, any company can benefit from a customer support center. For example, customers may look to the support desk of a clothing outlet to learn about the company’s return policy or to find out how the clothes were manufactured. The support center for a business selling cleaning supplies might provide consultation about toxicity if a product is accidentally swallowed. The team members of a cable service or IT customer support help “walk a customer through” the computer installation process or assist users in setting up Wi-Fi in their house. A credit card company’s support center will quickly cancel a stolen credit card for a customer before his or her identity is stolen. Members of a website might turn to support help after forgetting a password and being locked out of an account; customer care support would easily assist a member in changing his/her passcode and granting access to the frozen account again. Most customer support centers also offer specific information that customers are unable to find elsewhere.
Customers Support Centers Help Humanize a Company
A customer support representative brings the vital human touch to company-client interaction. Businesses are dedicated to building a brand, but building relationships with customers is equally crucial. At the end of a quality customer support session, the customer should feel like he or she has made a personal connection to the company. A compassionate support team proves that the company cares about each customer as a person and not as a number. As the “face” of an organization, the members of the support team might constitute the sole human interaction customers have with your company. If a support center works hard to help customers even after sales are finalized, it shows customers mean more to the company than mere money.
Customer Support Promotes Customer Retention
It is far easier to keep old customers than to acquire new ones; some estimates claim customer acquisition costs seven times more. Memories of a personable customer service experience motivate patrons to remain loyal customers, but leaving a negative impression can mean the difference between gaining or losing the priceless worth of a customer’s continued business. The Small Business Administration states that 68% of customers stopped frequenting businesses with the sole explanation of disliking how they were treated. This is testament to the power of customer support. A simple way to prevent clients from roaming is to provide an excellent customer support structure. Keeping in mind that some customers spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on a brand and may buy from the same company for years to come, customer retention is key.
Customer Support May Make or Break a Company’s Reputation
Recovering from an unpleasant customer support encounter is difficult. A happy customer will likely share their appreciation after being treated appropriately by customer support staff, but a frustrated customer will surely complain about a bad customer care support debacle. Word of mouth, especially in this digital age of social media, is immensely powerful, and it can destroy a company’s reputation. Friends’ opinions and online reviews matter to consumers, so a customer support center that addresses all customer concerns and rarely disappoints is an invaluable asset, serving as a kind of company calling card. One Gartner survey reports that most companies anticipate competing primarily over the customer experience, which is highly driven by the work of customer support and its reputation in the community.
Customer Support Contributes to the Overall Experience
The majority of CEO’s polled believe customer expectations are much higher than in previous years, causing companies to emphasize customer service as part of the overall package. According to a CEI Survey, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a superior customers service experience, revealing how views of a business’ commodities are inextricably tied up with a business’ customer support. A high standard of quality from a customer support center reflects on the integrity of the product or service associated with it. If customers are left in the dark by IT customer support, unaware of how to operate a new technological device or fix its malfunctions, the product is rendered useless, and the entire experience becomes compromised. Focusing on customer support is a worthwhile investment of company resources because it vastly improves the buyer’s journey.
Signs of a Quality Customer Support Center
First, a good center is well-staffed with customer support personnel who are trained to deal tactfully with all kinds of customers. Staffers who listen patiently to complaints and truly seek to understand the perspectives of their customers are bound to be successful. As in any profession, a good representative is dedicated to the job even when faced with difficult problems and difficult customers.
Second, in an era where information is available at everyone’s fingertips and answers to many questions can be found on the Internet, customer support centers should be filled with intelligent and trustworthy individuals who know far more about their line of work than the average user.
Finally, friendliness and making small talk are cornerstones of customer service etiquette, but quality representatives never endeavor to waste a customer’s hard-earned time. Forcing a caller to wait on hold for hours is no way to treat a valued client. Clients come to customer support for the human touch, so it is best not to drive them away with an artificial, robotic system that cannot understand their needs. Ideally, customers should leave a center grateful for the excellent customer service they received and excited to use a business’ services in the future.
Customer support may have the word “support” in its title, but it plays a leading role in the functioning of a company. A quality customer support team allows customers to feel valued, heard, and guided, which in turn makes them more eager to purchase the product/use the service in the future and to encourage others to do the same. Without it, a company’s reputation, its repeat-customer rate, and the quality of its products or services will suffer substantially. A good customer support structure is not just an unnecessary accessory or a luxury, but a place for precious patrons to turn to when they need it most.
Originally published on TenFold, authored by Matt Goldman