There are few things more soul-crushing to a Customer Success Manager (CSM) than an inbox overflowing with complaints. Being buried in an avalanche of confused, anxious or worse —irate— customers can quickly become overwhelming for anyone.
If this was just a matter of convenience, the problem might be easily dispatched with a quick pep talk to just “get through it”. But the reality is much more complex. Left unchecked, the negative impact of a high volume of customer complaints is large. It can result in long response times, inadequate handling of customer concerns and a very frazzled team who struggles to operate efficiently.
But there’s hope. A CSM looking to get a handle on the problem can use a combination of better communication techniques, carefully thought out content and analytical thinking to greatly increase the efficiency of their department.
Communicate Your Way To Better Customer Experience
Creating an amazing customer experience is the key to providing good customer service. But too often, well-meaning CSMs equate this solid foundation with a need to provide a highly-personalized response to every single inquiry or complaint which lands in her (or her team’s) inbox.
This is an example of taking a good idea too far. Approaching customer service in this way is time-consuming, and managers must be cognizant of the tradeoff between response time and a personal touch. Consider: an excellent response which takes a week to produce is more likely to frustrate a customer than an adequate response which comes within twenty-four hours.
Instead of starting every customer service response from a blank page, consider crafting several, well-thought out responses to customers’ most common questions or concerns.
This approach is often mischaracterized as a “canned response” due to the perception that it’s all about shooting off a single response to customers with individualized needs. Nothing can be further from the truth. When properly executed, this method creates templates which can then be molded to fit individual customer needs when necessary.
Tackling customer emails in this way allows you to quickly and thoroughly respond to the majority of inquiries, while also providing the flexibility to spend additional time on the tickets that require it.
Customer Success Manager As Content Creator
While increasing the efficiency of email responses is great, the ideal solution for handling excessive support emails is to stem the flow in the first place. To do this, CSMs should also take time to put on their content creator hats and build a self-service knowledge base.
This option is not taken nearly as seriously as it should be. Research shows that a staggering 91% of today’s consumers would use a well-built self-help database. Of course, the key words here are “well-built”.
It’s not enough to throw together an FAQ section and call it a day. A true self-help section is an ongoing project which requires regular evaluation, creation and analysis.
A few options to consider other than the traditional FAQ are:
- building modules for individual products or processes
- assigning an employee to focus solely on evaluating the effectiveness of the self-help content produced
- encouraging feedback via social media channels
A knowledge base is the first line of defense against an overcrowded inbox. CSMs who take the time to frontload the work required to craft something truly informative and helpful will be rewarded with fewer hours spent answering emails on the back-end.
Learn To Share The Burden
There’s often a perception that customer support emails are only the CSM’s responsibility. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Support inquiries are the result of an organization-wide failure to meet customer needs. There’s no reason to suffer alone in silence.
This is why customer support emails should be mined for information to reveal why they were sent in the first place. In other words, it’s not enough to simply solve a customer’s problem; their concerns should also be relayed back to the appropriate department in the form of constructive feedback.
For example, if a customer complains of poor functionality, let the developers know. Too many customer service departments operate in a silo from which valuable business intelligence flows neither in nor out. These are missed opportunities—both to improve and eliminate the likelihood of future customer complaints.
A Non-Transactional Approach
In the end, reducing the volume of customer service emails in a CSM’s inbox is a matter of having the right mindset. Viewing customer support as a transactional department where inquiries come in and responses go out is a surefire way to have a perpetually full inbox.
Approaching the issue as a multifaceted problem where small inroads can be made before, during and after the inquiry will result in both a reduction of emails and an increase in sanity.