There’s always tension lying just beneath the surface of a Customer Success Manager’s strategy.
On the one side, customers need answers —fast. Research shows that the average customer thinks it’s acceptable to wait up to a measly six hours for a response from support.
On the other side, customer support teams are caught in a struggle between delivering the knowledgeable responses necessary to drive ROI and working through the huge volumes of emails they receive.
In this environment, a support team that goes through individual emails one by one, providing detailed responses to each, will be quickly overwhelmed. It’s a dynamic which forces managers to look for more efficient ways to handle customer complaints.
But how do you accomplish that? The answer is to stop focusing solely on the receipt of the email (although that’s important), and to instead start considering the customer experience from the beginning.
Understand How You Got Here
Unfortunately, many Customer Support Managers view the receipt of a support email as the start of a relationship. While this may be true from support’s perspective, it’s most certainly NOT the case on the customer’s end. If a customer has taken the time to reach out to Support, it means they’ve already had a confusing or frustrating experience.
Customer support personas are often crafted by taking specific problems into consideration. This approach, however, dehumanizes the customer by placing them into a category which is an artificial construct of the support team. In reality, every customer finds their way to Support’s inbox with an individual story or experience.
Take the time to understand not just the problems but the common narrative underlying them. It can be helpful to think about the series of events that lead to a certain type of support email. What does the customer’s journey look like prior to this point?
For example, customers who write asking if a certain product is in stock have probably already spent too much time searching for it. Having empathy and an understanding of this reality is key.
Take the Customer Journey Into Account
Once these customer journeys are mapped out, craft your responses by taking them into account. This has a double benefit. It not only shows the customer that the company cares enough about them to consider their journey, but it feels intensely personal.
Templating responses is nothing new, but incorporating a proper understanding of a customer’s journey into the response gives the impression that special attention is being offered. Consider the two following responses:
1) “Hi Jane. We’re sorry you were unable to find Product X on our site. Here is a direct link to it. Let us know if you need anything further.”
2) “Hi Jane. We’re sorry you were unable to find Product X on our site. The search feature can sometimes fail to return the proper results. In the future, please consider entering not just the type of product but also a manufacturer’s name, if available. For now, here’s a direct link to it. Let us know if you need anything further.”
Both a Personalized and Generalized Approach
Both of these can be saved as simple stock response emails. However, they read completely different. The first is adequate, but reads like a form response. In contrast, the second mentions a common customer journey before contacting support, then it offers a solution, making it seem like Support has really taken the time to personalize and empathize.
Notice that the response is non-committal on the action, simply stating that there is a search feature. Some customers may not have taken this journey; to them, it will just seem like a general statement. But to a customer who reached out after being unable to find what they were looking for using that same search tool, it will seem like a nice, personal touch.
Of course, the above example is an oversimplification for demonstration purposes. But the point stands —it’s important to understand the interaction between customer journeys and the emails received by Support.
Take the time to properly map them out and then act on them by creating more in-depth responses. This will allow the CSM to guide their team towards quick responses without sacrificing the quality of a personal approach.