For years, HubSpot lived and breathed the funnel. It was our go-to method for measuring growth. However, we came to the realization that the funnel wasn’t representing the kind of growth we ultimately wanted to achieve: the growth our customers could bring to us.
Considering our growth as a flywheel rather than a funnel has helped us maintain more continuous growth. We help our customers find value and they, in turn, help us grow by becoming evangelists. With the flywheel we now face the challenge of friction; flywheels can spin faster and garner more energy when they have less friction.
So, the number one goal of your customer support team should always be to eliminate friction between your company and the customer. By aligning your business goals with those of customer success, you can increase your impact on customers and significantly decrease the amount of friction in your flywheel.
Here are some ways to reduce customer support friction and maximize your organization’s growth.
7-Step Guide to Reducing Customer Support Friction
1. Provide multiple channels for customers to access support.
There’s nothing more frustrating for a customer than when they’re forced to travel across platforms to access your support. For instance, if a customer is facing an issue with their product on their computer, they’d likely prefer to contact a support rep via email or live chat versus having to pick up the phone and call.
By having multiple channels for customers to access customer support, you can make it easier for customers to get the support they need without having to go out of their way. This helps to align your customer service efforts closer to your customer’s needs. Additionally, some channels — like live chat and social media — are immediate and more casual, which is perfect for support questions that are quick and to-the-point. Customers can then save email and phone calls for longer-winded support.
2. Make it easy to purchase or cancel orders online.
Customers typically like to do as much support as possible on their own. They appreciate independence and would rather spend valuable time understanding and fixing a problem on their own rather than speaking with a support rep. Thus, you should implement a simple online purchasing process. Customers will appreciate the option of being able to browse through products from the comfort of their home.
With the rise of quick-step online ordering, such as Amazon’s 1-Click ordering, customers can put down their credit card and place an order immediately. Additionally, you should make it easy for customers to make returns or exchanges. Include pre-filled return labels and a simple interface for exchanging products on your website to ensure a frictionless process.
3. Build a knowledge base.
A knowledge base is an online database that includes a library of information about a specific company, their products or services, or any related topics. The data can be collected and stored through artificial intelligence or manually uploaded by expert contributors. Several companies have knowledge bases available on their website to be used by customers and employees, alike.
Knowledge bases are helpful because they eliminate the need for customers to contact support reps about simple questions. Think of them as more in-depth FAQ pages. Your customers can save time by quickly searching their question and finding related answers and articles to guide them. And, your customer service team can save time by focusing on support questions that are more complex.
4. Provide value through free content.
Everyone loves free stuff. Your customers are no different. This belief is further proved by the inbound marketing methodology, which includes three main phases: attract, engage, and delight. By providing value at each of these steps, you can turn strangers into visitors into leads into customers into advocates.
Free content is a great way to provide value for your customers during their journey. By starting off wary customers with a freemium product, you can attract them to your brand and help them engage with your product — for free. The more value they gain from the product, the more delighted they’ll be. They’ll likely soon want to upgrade to a better, paid product and stick with it — thus, making them customers for life.
5. Build products with customer happiness in mind.
As a customer support rep, you have probably dealt with one too many customer complaints. While each one may have a different problem — from a product running too slowly to a severe lack of storage — they’re all rooted in the same issue: the product wasn’t built with the customer in mind. It may have been built how your company perceives customers will use it, rather than how it’ll actually be used.
That’s why to eliminate this friction, it’s best to involve customers in product development. Survey customers and ask them what they like and dislike about the products, as well as how they’re using these products. Once you know exactly what problem your product should be solving, it’ll be a lot easier to build a product that makes customers happy while preparing for internal issues before they arise.
6. Consolidate teams to improve the speed of internal communication.
As a customer, myself, two of my least favorite things about being on a support call are when I’m put on hold for an infuriating length of time and when I’m transferred between more than two employees. Typically, this means that I’m forced to repeat my problem two or three times before someone begins to find a solution. At this point, I’m already upset and probably going to snap at the unfortunate final person on the phone (sorry).
What can improve this issue is consolidating teams. It’s unhelpful if sales and support teams are located on separate floors, or even in separate buildings. If someone calls the sales team with a support question, that call must travel quite far before getting to the right person. Instead, if these teams were consolidated into the same area and had an efficient plan for transferring calls, companies could save customers’ time and get them off the phones as soon as possible.
7. Implement one point of contact for every lifelong customer.
When a customer commits to your brand, it’s the best feeling in the world. Out of all the competitors, they chose you, and that’s something to be proud of. However, you can’t take this fact lightly. A customer can walk out the door just as easily as they walked in. Providing value and striving for customer happiness never stops, even for a lifetime customer.
One way to help customers feel special and connected to your company is by implementing a single point of contact, throughout their lifetime with your company. Whenever that customer wants to discuss a new product, they can contact the same support rep or customer success manager. This person will have built a relationship with this customer and won’t have to make the customer re-explain their customer journey. This will cut down on friction and make for a seamless, efficient, and valuable support experience for every customer.