If you work at a company, think about how many customers you have worldwide. It’s probably a lot.
Then realize that the average company interacts with less than 10% of its customer base each year. Said another way, the average company does not communicate with more than 90% of its customer base each year. And, the 10% who are calling or inquiring are often dissatisfied, which prompts the call.
Why is this happening? Well, it’s simple. We like to hang on to old models until they don’t work effectively……and then hold on even longer in hopes that we might be wrong…….and then wait to see what our peers are doing before we dare make a move to transform a model.
The current technical support model relies on people calling us by phone or inquiring via email. In other words, if you can find us online or you have enough patience to wait online on the phone, it is possible you might get helped. It’s also possible you might just waste your time.
I have tremendous respect for people who work in technical support. They are on the front lines everyday with the customer and, in many respects, no one has more impact or more knowledge of the customer. Many are heroes and I’ve found they deeply care about the customer.
However, the model they are forced to work under is often what I call a dinosaur model. It’s time for its extinction.
When customers are looking for answers, they generally do one of four things. They utilize search to find an answer online. They go to a specific Q&A area online like Yahoo! Answers. They check out their favorite forum for answers. Or they ask their peers for advice in their own community.
They increasingly do not call a company unless they have exhausted their options.
We live in an age of self-sufficiency due to the increasing capabilities of the web. Customers will find their own answers without us. They would prefer to ask their peers, who they believe to be completely unbiased.
The answer is simple. Unleash the passion and expertise of today’s technical support team at your company. Reverse the technical support model and spend the majority of the day providing answers online for your customers. Participate in forums, answer questions on Yahoo! Answers, understand where your customers go for information via search and ensure you are on that first screen. Tell your own friends how to get info on your Facebook page. And then, when the phone rings, answer it, but be prepared to let your caller know where they can go for information in the future. Become part of the longer term solution to encourage self-sufficiency.
The result will be the best customer experience ever experienced by your customers. They will be amazed and appreciative at how they can get help without calling or inquiring. You save both time and money. And, if you do a great job online, the word of mouth will quickly travel offline.
All it takes is courage to change your model. Courage and a dash of innovation.
All the best, Bob Pearson