This article, “Inside The Minds of Those Who Can Make or Break Your Business,” was originally published on CustomerThink on January 25, 2019.
At any company, every job is important and every employee plays a role in making the company successful. But it’s also true that the actions of certain employees, simply because of their functions, have an outsized impact on the business. Customer support and success agents fall squarely into this category.
Help Wanted: Talent and Tools
A number of employment and economic studies show the growing importance companies place in customer support agents. For example, LinkedIn’s 2017 U.S. Emerging Jobs Report listed Customer Success Manager and Head of Customer Experience as among the fastest growing job titles. Customer Success Manager also appeared in the #3 spot in LinkedIn’s Most Promising Jobs of 2018 research, which measured jobs with high median salaries, high numbers of job openings, and year-over-year growth.
Looking for another indication of the importance of customer experience (CX)? Just follow the money. MarketsandMarkets’ Customer Experience Management Market research found that “the customer experience management market is projected to grow from an estimated USD 5.98 Billion in 2017 to USD 16.91 Billion by 2022.”
Businesses are increasingly trying to differentiate themselves and win loyalty by delivering a superior customer experience, which puts customer support and customer success agents on the front lines. It’s important then to understand the attitudes and aptitudes of these professionals and how they can lead to long-lasting, profitable customer relationships. As a recent Walker study reveals, 86 percent of customers will pay a higher price for a product that’s available for less elsewhere if the provider also delivers better CX.
Driven to Help
Given the importance of CX and the vital role that those in customer support play in shaping it, it’s perplexing that we know so little about these professionals. Market research firm Dimensional Research recently surveyed over 300 customer support agents to better understand their motivations and challenges. Their findings, published in a report titled Investigating the Customer Support Persona, are intriguing. “This study gives us remarkable insight into a group about which we have a general awareness but lack real understanding,” said Diane Hagglund of Dimensional Research. “I think most people would be surprised to learn that 67 percent of agents chose a customer support role shortly after beginning to work professionally. And 53 percent intend to make it their career.”
Interestingly, support agents that take on the most challenging customer issues — agents often classified as Tier 2 or Tier 3 — are even more likely to make the job a career. A full 66 percent of these agents say they intend to stay in the field. Despite this strong commitment to customer support, 85 percent of surveyed agents complain that their systems are difficult to use, with just 16 percent saying they are “very satisfied” with the tools utilized to resolve customer issues.
So what keeps support agents returning day after day? It turns out that the driving force behind agents’ desire to stay in a customer support role is refreshingly altruistic. More than half of those responding to the Dimensional Research survey say they’re motivated by helping people. And as stressful as a customer support job can be, a full 97 percent find their work satisfying.
Don’t Forget to Say “Thank You”
Put simply, customer support and success agents are the heroes of today’s workforce. Every day, they spend more time than practically anyone else in a company interacting with customers. And they often do so when customers are at their most confused or frustrated. When customers have questions or something has gone wrong, support and success agents swoop in and save the day (and very likely the customer’s ongoing business).
What does this mean for business leaders? Take the time to get to know your customer support and success teams better. Understand their mindset and motivations, and let them know they’re valued. If you don’t do it for any other reason, do it because your business depends on it.