This year, we’ve seen the customer support community continue to grow, with small tribes setting up all over the internet and producing great support content. Last year, we rounded up the best blog posts of 2014 and saw some trends on hiring, job policies and communication. Our round up list has grown a bit since last year, and the themes have changed a bit too!
2015 saw the support community talk a lot about making things easier for the customer through both customer experience and communication. A lot of posts have centered around studying the very metrics that you should consider in building your self-service tools, and studying the metrics of how you use your helpdesk.
The rise in support communities this year is reflective of the fact that the support industry itself has been developing in its own right. Going into support is now considered a valid career choice. Businesses are beginning to shift their thinking from outsourcing customer service to investing in it as a core team in the business. But there’s still a way to go, and for customer support to really thrive it needs the backing of the board – just like marketing and sales departments.
Come back soon for our prediction on 2016, or sign up for the blog and we’ll send it straight to your inbox.
Now onto the best of 2015!
The best of customer experience
Sarah brilliantly navigates the support process of how to handle a customer query. But what about the actual customer experience? This article emphasizes taking out that mechanical feel to support, and begin thinking of the customer as a person in this interaction and not as a chain of demands.
Maybe this starts out as every customer service manager’s dream (or worst nightmare): the CEO working in the support! Steve details specific tactics used by StatusPage.io to keep ticket levels low, and the tools they use that make them more efficient at supporting customers — the combined effect of these two allows them to help thousands of customers with only one person working full time on support.
A technical post that will guide you through the many small features to consider when dealing with an SaaS system that support vitally needs. The post is reaffirming for support professionals because Emeric is fully aware of how support should be treated like every other department and always involved. In his words – support is not “set it and forget it.”
There’s so many things to measure and tweak to optimize support for your customers. How do you go about tracking and measuring the right things to build on your already great support? Well lucky Micah’s post has detailed nine easy to measure steps you should consider implementing to get data, feedback and results.
Is your phone support the best it can possibly be? If not, then why not cut the line? This post features an excellent case study on Squarespace and how they retired their phone support. Put the scissors away (just for now), and double check you’re ready by reading this post.
What Apple, Lending Club, and AirBnB Know About Collaborating with Customers, by Barry Libert, Yoram (Jerry) Wind and Megan Beck Fenley
This article covers the co-creation phenomenon. It’s an insightful piece revealing where businesses have taken advantage of our online world to collaborate with customers to actually run their businesses for them. This article will walk you through many different levels of customer loyalty. Hopefully, in 2016 you begin to collaborate and co-create your future growth with your customers in the age of Uber and Airbnb.
This is post by Martin Hill-Wilson is so expansive that it went over three blog posts, but it’s well worth sticking with. Martin tackles the issues of offering multi-channel support, but more importantly from the customer’s perspective. Martin addresses how businesses aren’t keeping up with these expectations and why it is ruining the customer’s experience.
The best of customer communication
Get personal with your customer by asking “why” five times. There’s hundreds of ways to categorize feature requests, but by doing this you’ll find out what they really want. Jamie shows first hand how he did this at Kayako to get to the root cause of a customer query.
Not many people would attempt a “how-to” on social media customer service but Kevan Lee has dared with this five step checklist. This particular piece focus on tone and understanding the customer, and reveals the shocking statistic that most customers expect a response in under an hour!
This post dips into excellent ways of increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty, and that is simply by making phone line support available. The emphasis of the post lies around that idea that human interaction can win over any frustrated customer, whether the call is with support or sales.
In a sentence, customer service bites back. Here is a collection of some funny examples of support requests that reps have dealt with, and the actual response they want to give. Easy reading and always relatable, I’m sure some of you have some good contributions to add, right?
This is a simple cheat sheet of how to find out who your most loyal customers or brand advocates might be. A simple three step process to run with all your other collected data could tell you this in minutes! Once you’ve done that, remember to reward your best customers!
This article is an incredible example of how Slack planned for an outage. They gained 3,300 followers from simply handling it so well. Slack’s service went down, which resulted in Slack replying every 7-14 seconds, totalling over 2,300 tweets, and gaining 3,300 followers from excellent communication and organization alone.
The best of self-service
A huge plea to make customer service simple. Consumers are smarter than you give them credit for and they often want to fix issues themselves. So what’s stopping them? Self service content is often not in a language the consumer can understand. Who is your self-service for? Trained technicians, engineers or the everyday user?
Self-service is the only long-term solution to meeting customer expectations. Steven Van Belleghem explains how customers expect their demands to be met in a certain amount of time, and why self-service is the thing you should can invest in to meet these demands.
Colin Shaw carefully navigates how every customer experience could be damaging on their loyalty. It’s not entirely focused on self-service, but it is the beginning of the customer support journey for some. This piece is all about keeping and building upon customer trust to keep that very loyalty.
Relying on Product Reviews? Knowing How a Company Treats Its Customers Is Just as Valuable, by Brian X. Chen
This is more a personal account of a troubled experience with Samsung. Brian X. Chen details how his experience with buying a product started with just product reviews, but little did he know when it came to catastrophic damage to his apartment via his broken oven, that his customer service experience would last five months. Then he realised he couldn’t actually find how their service was rated anywhere online.
James Gill of GoSquared perfectly illustrates how marketing and customer service are intertwined, and asks: why is it the marketing site that gets all the attention? James lays out five examples of how support documentation can actually sell your services and features – perhaps even better than the marketing department can.
The best of team development
People Wranglers or Individual Contributors? What’s the Difference and Who Is Most Important?, by Sukhpreet Anand
Have you ever considered that the hierarchical structure of your team may not be working? Or that you’re not getting the best out of your employees? Sukhpreet introduces two roles that a person can fit into in your workforce and more importantly how you can build a company around these people.
Chris takes you through a letter he wrote to himself on how to prepare for the redesign of his help center. This is advice he wishes he wrote to himself six months in the future, and he takes you through the stresses, pains, and ever changing landscape of building the perfect help center for your customers.
Mathew clearly lays out many problems your customer service are probably facing. He covers aspects of potential whys, but circles back around to job satisfaction and fulfillment being the main issue. Even better he leads you down a path to inspire your working environment and customer service employees.
Lessons from the Woman Who Built
Squarespace’s Customer Care Team from 1 to 184,
by Shaun Young and Christa Collins
One of the most comprehensive articles on developing a support team. There’s nothing like being guided from beginning to end with a fantastic walk through of all the trials and tribulations on the way of a rapidly growing company. An important read for any aspiring customer support manager.
Know of a blog post that should be on this list? Drop me a comment here and tell me why it’s important and I’ll add it!