In Part One of our three part blog series about Reinventing Tech Support for a Connected World, we explored the tech support spectrum and the impact of live support on brand visibility. Even more critical is ensuring the customer experience is a positive one; in a world where social media is ever present, the consumers’ voice is amplified and tech support experiences can go viral with a post, tweet or tap.
Today, we dive into the critical stages of the customer journey and how that journey is positively or negatively impacted by a company’s ability to define a demarcation point between free support, paid support, and what is not supported.
Tech Support and the Customer Journey
There are two key stages in the customer journey where tech support plays a critical role: the buying experience and ownership experience. Increasingly the experiences of your customers during the initial 30 days (buying experience) and over the life of the product or service (ownership experience) are not only limited to tens of people via word of mouth but are also amplified via social media (the social amplifier). Most damaging are negative experiences, while “23% of customers who had a positive service interaction told 10 or more people about it” more than double (48%) shared their negative experience with 10 or more others.1
Here are some real-world examples of how tech support applies across the customer journey:
- Buying Experience: A customer walks into a home improvement retailer and purchases an expensive home automation and security system designed to connect to the customer’s wireless network. The system comes with a 30-day no-fault return policy. During this period, the customer may need help installing the system, connecting it to a home network, completing initial setup and configuring mobile devices to access the system. There will probably be times when the customer has questions and moments of anxiety. This critical on-boarding period is an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to the customer and your product. Ideally, the customer shares a glowing review of her new system with Twitter®followers and Facebook® friends, made glowing in part by the buying experience.
- Ownership Experience: After the initial 30 days, there will inevitably be instances when your customer has difficultly using a new feature, or stumbles on a product defect or bug. For example, there could be patches and upgrades that need to be applied to solve a known problem, or the customer could change smartphones requiring a repeat of the initial setup. These are all situations where your company can reinforce its value proposition not just as a maker of a great product or service, but also as a trusted partner. These moments of truth during the ownership experienced can pay dividends later when the customer considers whether to upgrade to your latest version or look at competitive products. Tech support during the life of the product isn’t just about solving the problem, but reinforcing the relationship.
From the initial purchase through the life of a product, and amplified by the power of social media, “Products are no longer just products. They are products with a customer support experience.” – CMSWire.com (2/22/2013)
Tech Support and Defining the DeMarc
As products are increasingly associated with a customer support experience, tech support that goes beyond a company’s core products or services has become essential.
Consider a home improvement retailer that sells home automation and security systems:
- What happens if the customer struggles when trying to connect a newly purchased system to an existing home network, or has issues accessing the system via their smartphone or tablet?
- Do they call the retailer, broadband service provider, router or device manufacturer?
- If they do call the home improvement retailer (or head back to the store), will the problem be solved or the system shipped back as a no fault found return?
According to the 2013 TSIA Benchmark survey of customer service executives, 65% of the products they supported are “highly complex” (up from 42% of products in 2003). Despite increasing complexity of product support, solving most technology problems remains a largely manual process, involving scripts, static knowledge bases and time-consuming “talk therapy”. Customers can quickly become frustrated when they’re passed around to different support agents and forced to explain their issue from the beginning for the second, third or even fourth time. The result is an inconsistent customer service experience, and successfully solving the issue while providing a positive customer experience is highly dependent on the expertise of individual agents.
In order to avoid “hot-potato” service and enhance the customer journey, companies must anticipate the types of problems that will arise and offer a consistent and positive tech support experience for their customers. This involves making strategic decisions about where to draw the line (de-marc) between free support, premium support and what is not supported.
Tomorrow in our final installment, we’ll use case studies to explore how Support.com partners differentiate themselves from the competition by creating consistent tech support experiences that reduce customer service costs, increase revenue and enhance the customer experience.
Support.com offers a range of services and products that help leading brands create new revenue streams, reduce costs and deepen customer loyalty. The Nexus® Service Delivery Platform is a patented, cloud-based platform designed to create more consistent tech support experiences and leverage data and analytics to reduce customer service costs and enhance the customer experience. Learn More.
1 “Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers”, Harvard Business Review, July-August 2010.