5 Ways to Improve Your Client Support and Increase Efficiency
At WooRank our client support team processes over 500 emails weekly. Each member is also involved in other areas of communications, such as email marketing, social media, copywriting, blog editing and translating. It's a constant balancing act to make the client care process more efficient so that we can get all of the other tasks done which are necessary for this busy startup, while improving the support we offer to our clients as they continue to daily grow in number.
Since we've been working so hard on doing client support right, we thought we'd share some of what we've learned! Below our team has shared five ways of improving the support process. They've written these based on reflections of their own experiences working with the WooRank team.
Create an Internal Bank of Information
The thing about working in client support, especially for a tech company like WooRank, is that you need to know a lot of stuff! From the technical operation of the tool to pricing to trouble shooting, providing excellent client support requires an intimate knowledge of the operation of the company. We've found that the best way to provide consistently good, swift answers is by sharing our knowledge among the support team and keeping track of information that will be helpful for addressing common (or complicated) concerns.
At WooRank we've created a diary where we enter questions we've received and record relevant information. Then any of us can enter additional comments or alternate solutions. This way we all have access to the information for future reference, which is especially time-saving when a client's question has required some sleuthing to hunt down an answer.
The other thing we've implemented is a voting system for the questions. Each time we use the information under one of the questions we add a vote. This way we can see how often we're needing to explain something and can more easily determine if the question needs to be addressed on a broader scale. For example, we were receiving numerous questions about the Social Impact criterion in our website reviews. To address this, Natalie wrote a blog post explaining the information in detail, and since then we've had fewer questions on the topic and also a resource to refer people to when the issue does come up.
The takeaway: Save yourself and your colleagues time by creating a simple, shareable data-base of commonly used information, and by addressing common concerns on a broader scale to reduce the number of questions you receive.
Own the Problem with a Smile
Working in client support means being the face of the company to our users. Of course, when you're working through hundreds of emails in addition to other responsibilities, it's easy to forget that each email represents a person, and instead see it as a pile of faceless problems that has to be worked through. In the beginning, I was definitely guilty of not prioritizing these emails; I wanted to finish my client support duties as fast as I could so I could get to the tasks that I enjoyed more, even if it meant sacrificing the quality of my answers. A much better perspective is that by doing the support work, we have the chance to turn negative experiences into positive ones! Instead of blasting through my emails, taking extra time to make sure that I understand the problem helps me to care for our customers' needs better, and in the process reduce the need for further emails, which saves me time in the long run. This also means that I can build positive, trusting relationships with our users, which then sets the tone for future interactions about any other issues that might come up.
This can be hard to remember for certain messages, especially when they're written in all capital letters using language you would avoid in a conversation with your mother. In these cases it's important to remember that a user's anger is not your problem, but their experience with your product/service is. Learning to treat these emails with as much respect as any other helps to set a company apart as one who really cares for its users. Added bonus: in our experience, if a customer knows you care, they're more likely to stay customers longer. Everybody wins!
The takeaway: At the end of the day, your users are real people, and you have the power to make sure their experience with your company is a positive one. The Golden Rule applies to client support too: always treat users as you'd want to be treated. Own their problems, make sure that you respond rationally and not emotionally, and always respect their time. The relationships you build are invaluable to your company, and can make the job of supporting a lot more fun!
Improve User-Experience, Get Fewer Questions
One of the most repeated questions in my inbox is, "What currency are your subscriptions listed in?" Most of the time this question comes from Spanish-speaking potential users based in Latin America. To put this in context, I'm originally from Spain, I have never set foot in Latin America or the USA (though I would like to in the near future) and at first I was baffled as to why I kept receiving this question when the website clearly states that we charge in dollars.
Short summary: The USA is not the only country using the dollar as a currency (there are 35), and other currencies (pesos) use the $ symbol to represent their currencies. On top of that, obviously the value of the dollar in each of these countries is not the same as it is in the States.
The other pertinent issue here is that every time a potential user has to contact support there is a reduction in the likelihood of that user converting, meaning you might be losing a sale (subscription, plan, whatever). Having to contact the support team for something as simple as signing up for a service totally breaks the flow and damages user-experience.
Once I’d discovered this conundrum with the dollar I could see three basic options:
Waste support time answering the same question over and over again.
Explain it clearly in the FAQs. (But this requires that users look for the answer there which doesn’t always happen, returning us to option one.)
Find a solution that avoids wasting support time & improves user-experience.
We started charging for our tool in March 2012 and it's true that many things have changed within the tool since then. Plus, the company has grown enough to reach out to more markets than the ones we initially targeted, which is what created this confusion with the currency. The growth is great! And it also means we need to assess what’s not working and apply fixes. In the coming months we will be working on an update of our FAQs to address more common issues, and I have also proposed that our development team specify 'USD' in our pricing: