Widely considered the business differentiator, customer experience (CX) includes all of a customer’s interactions with your company — from initial awareness to the point of sale and continuing throughout the customer lifecycle.
Forrester actually goes one step further, defining customer experience as “how customers perceive their interactions with your company” (emphasis added). This definition makes clear that companies must take into account not only the facts surrounding a customer interaction but also how the customer feels about it.
Pre-sale, CX largely lives within marketing and sales departments, whose main objectives are to garner attention, develop leads, and close deals.
After the sale, support and success teams grab hold of the customer experience reins, focusing on providing issue resolution, education and training, and other assistance to customers.
Definition and Importance of Customer Support
Support agents answer customer questions and troubleshoot specific product issues with the goal of helping customers resolve any challenges that might impede their use of your company’s product.
Whereas success professionals typically engage in proactive outreach, support teams tend to be more reactive, with customers initiating the interaction.
Customer support contributes to a business’s overall success by improving customer satisfaction, which in turn lowers churn, increases testimonials and referrals, and enhances trust and loyalty.
Align Support with Other Customer Teams to Optimize for Business Success
Today’s customers expect a flawless experience each time they interact with your business. In fact, a Walker study found that 86% of buyers are even willing to pay more for a better customer experience.
Within such an environment, support teams are essential for overall business success. However, if a company truly wants to maximize its support efforts, it’s critical that all departments that impact customers (e.g. success, marketing, sales, and product) are closely aligned.
Perhaps no two departments are more closely related than support and success. While they both serve customers on the front lines, each of their customer interactions tend to surface different types of insights, which become exponentially more powerful when combined. (Think: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.)
Support is also closely connected to the marketing and sales departments. After all, these are the teams that interact with customers before the point of sale, with support becoming the primary point of contact afterward.
In order to minimize customer frustration and disappointment post sale, it’s important for marketing and sales to set proper expectations. On the other side of the equation, support agents gain invaluable feedback directly from customers, which can then be shared with marketing and sales to improve their future efforts.
The feedback that support agents receive straight from the horse’s, er customer’s, mouth is also incredibly useful for the design and development teams who are constantly working to improve the product.
In turn, support agents count on design and development teams for detailed and ongoing product knowledge, including an assist every now and then when a customer issue proves a bit too technically challenging.
Additional Customer Support Resources
For further reading on this topic, be sure to download your free edition of “The Value of Customer Support Across Your Organization.”
This eBook takes a deep dive into the various ways in which your support team impacts your business as a whole and also offers suggestions for achieving closer alignment between support and other departments across your company.
You might also be interested in viewing a recent webinar that offered advice on “How to Align Customer Experience Across Your Company to Achieve Business Success.”
I co-hosted this 30-minute presentation on August 28 with John Ragsdale, VP of Service Technology Research at Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA). Click the link above to access a recording of the event, including all slide material.