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The term Customer Support, if divided, comprises of two individual components, 1. Customers, 2. Support staff. Be it any business, online or offline, no one can deny the importance of these two entities in business. Customers, however, enjoy there share of importance that they have been provided by the vendors over the last few decades. But the same cannot be said about the support agents or the support staff members.
While there are companies who have understood the importance of both these and are working very hard to empower both the customers as well as their support staff. But still, there are many who debate the need to empower customer support as a field of more importance.
In this article, we will discuss the importance of empowering customers along with the support staff towards an outstanding online business. Moreover, this article will also cover various ways online business owners can make sure they put efforts to empower both. And in the very end, we will enlighten you with some of the amazing outcomes of empowering your customer and support staff.
So let us start with an awesome quote by Shep Hyken, a customer support expert, who says,
“Empower people to make great, customer focussed decisions.
This comes from hiring the right people and training them right.”
Since he talks about the importance of empowered support staff, let us take a look at how important is it.
Empowering Customer Support Staff
Customer Suppor has emerged from a mere formality to one of the most important departments in any company, online or offline. Not only business owners invest heavily in customer support but they also ensure the quality of people working in that department.
Over the few decades, many companies have been seen changing their business strategies towards customers and customer support empowerment. Take a look at Zappos’s strategy:
Zappos has more than 600 in their Customer Loyalty Team and all of them have been empowered to make their customers happy.
From executives to the front line, each one of them has the liberty to surprise their customers with complementary services. These include free overnight shipping, an instant refund or sending surprise flowers or cookies to a customer’s house. They have the power to do it all.
This was the example of outstanding support staff empowerment by an amazing company that knows the importance of their employees and customers.
So now let us dig deep into how you can put efforts in empowering your support staff and moving towards a successful and great customer experience.
How to empower your customer support team..?
Here are some ways to empower your customer support team:
By thinking out of the box
Check out the way Ritz-Carlton empowers its employees.
We entrust every single Ritz-Carlton staff member, without approval from their general manager, to spend up to $2,000 on a guest. And that’s not per year. It’s per incident. When you say up to $2,000, suddenly somebody says, wow, this isn’t just about rebating a movie because your room was late, this is a really meaningful amount. It doesn’t get used much, but it displays a deep trust in our staff’s judgment. Frankly, they could go over that amount, with the general manager’s permission.
The concept is to do something, to create an absolutely wonderful stay for a guest. Significantly, there is no assumption that it’s because there is a problem. It could be that someone finds out it’s a guest’s birthday, and the next thing you know there’s champagne and cake in the room. A lot of the stuff that crosses my desk is not that they overcame a problem but that they used their $2,000 to create an outstanding experience.
– Simon Cooper, Former President of the Ritz-Carlton Company
By looking at this example, you can clearly say that is surely a way to empower your employees.
The idea here not the money, but the willingness to go a step further in terms of creating a team to have an outstanding customer experience.
Empowerment- A policy not just a suggestion
The only reason employee empowerment seems to lag behind is because it is still not implied as a policy in most of the companies. Every time someone comes up with the term employee empowerment, it is taken as a great suggestion.
For having a great team, there should be reforms in the company policy. Customer support is not just another department. It has emerged as one of the leading fields in the business world. So empowering customer support staff should be the top priority of the companies.
Customer support tools
Customer support staff’s responsibilities have grown over the time, from just taking care of customer issues to being an expert advisor to the customer needs. So to empower your support staff you can provide them with some of the customer support tools listed below:
- Helpdesk software
Helpdesks are the complete package when it comes to customer support. With the right helpdesk solution to your support team, the whole concept of providing support to the customers is automated.
Zendesk, WSdesk, Freshdesk, etc. are some of the best helpdesk systems that you can use.
- Chat solutions
Live chat is one of the most popular ways of dealing with customers. It is less time consuming than most of the other means of communication.
You can click here if you want to read more on live chat.
- Social media integrations
Social media is the one-stop solution to reaching out the masses. With the ability to reach out millions of customers in a go, social media makes it to the list of employee empowerment ways.
- Self-service tools
These tools act as major helping hands while dealing with the customers. It includes knowledge base, FAQs, etc. as a way to solve issues in a textual manner.
Other self-service tools include virtual assistants, auto-suggestion systems, etc. that help in solving customer issues efficiently.
So these were the ways you can empower your customer support staff to ensure higher efficiency and customer satisfaction. Now let us dig deep into a similar but important aspect of the business world- Customer empowerment..!
Empowering the customers
Online business, just like any other form of business, has seen the impact customers have on the companies and their products. Customers have become very choosy due to the fact that they can have hundreds of choices by the end of the day. So most of the companies have chosen to provide their customer with something extra.
The business owners have decoded the secret that, a happy and satisfied customer is a loyal customer. But making a customer happy and satisfied takes it all that you have to offer.
Empowering customers have proven to be very significant when it comes to becoming the choice of the customers for most of the companies. You might have come across websites like eBay, Olx, etc. which allows consumers to have direct contact with other consumers so that they can buy/sell products among themselves. This strategy has been working wonders for such companies.
How to empower your customers..?
Empowering customers takes a different route than employees. Customers, along with the convenience, need to be shown that there is something in it. These things can be as small as a coupon code to as big as a free shopping card for a day.
Here are some ways to empower your customers:
It has been seen among the customers that they participate actively in online communities- one field which is not much exploited by the business owners. By letting your customers represent your product in open discussions not only make them feel empowered but also acts as a marketing strategy for your product.
Who doesn’t love a free-of-cost marketing, right..?
As discussed earlier, customers love to have an opinion of your products and they don’t feel shy talking about it. The business owners need to find a way to channelize the means of online discussion through open communities or their own discussion forums to make full use of their customers as online marketers.
Apart from benefitting the product and the company, the customers feel more and more involved in the whole process. This increases the chances of having a huge loyal customer base.
Prioritize Customer Preferences
Today most of the business owners are keeping it as a priority to make sure their customer’s preferences are taken into consideration. As a result, most of the companies are now making sure their employees are engaging customers on social media platforms.
Customer support is now not limited to just the voice calling and emails. To meet the customer demands other channels of customer support are becoming popular such as live chat, social media support, support through messaging, etc.
Personalize customer assistance
Most of the companies are moving towards personalized support just to empower their customers. Customers now feel less dependant on the companies limitation to meet his demands.
Online business today is having assistance portals just so that customers can have their own personalized portal to help them with the product issues. It means a lot for customers that businesses are not telling them to change but instead, they make sure the company changes for their customers. A brave but wise move.
The effects of Empowerment
Empowering your employees, as well as customers, is bound to have outstanding and unexpected results, in a good way of course. The reason for that is your employees are growing along with the company and they are the sole reason for whatever reaction the brand and its products get from the customers.
You may be well aware till now that empowering your employees and customers may lead to a successful business. But you may not be aware that up to what extent it affects them.
So let us take a look at the following pointers:
Customers have become more and more brand conscious now. They want to stick to a brand and its products. But the number of choices in terms of companies and products they have is overwhelming. So in such a scenario, the company which has a lot to offer other than just products and features is likely to succeed.
The same thing is there for employees. Employees offer a lot to the company as well as their customers. So their quality and satisfaction mean that they will be loyal to the company they are working. Further, they will take their work, their clients and customers very seriously.
If you are having an online store, you may be aware of the term customer satisfaction and its importance. This was the sole reason many companies and products didn’t make it to the top. Needless to say, Customer satisfaction matters, it is the most important thing that actually matters. Empowering customers is one of the easiest ways to achieve it. Empowerment means a lot to customers. They want to feel that they have a control over the product and the company is working day-night to offer them the best.
Your support team is one of the reasons your customers are happy. So the easier their work is, the happier they will make your customers. Employee satisfaction, especially in customer support, directly affects customer satisfaction. Empowering your support staff with the help of various tools make them realize that they are being taken care of. It is this feeling of satisfaction and relief which helps them deliver.
Word of mouth
This factor is very powerful when it comes to customers. Over the time it has been seen to change the market share of a brand to a significant extent.
Word Of mouth works. And it works wonders. But it takes a lot for customers to build trust over a brand and its products.
As we discussed, with so many choices, it is the one company that empowers its customers and entrusts them with their products, makes it to the top. Customers like to talk about the good stuff that happened to them out of the blue. So you don’t like to miss out the opportunity to surprise your customers with something every now and then.
Better decision making
Handling customer support is not as easy as it sounds. It takes a lot of responsibility and understanding while dealing with customers. One mistake can prove to be disastrous for the whole company.
But the support staff doesn’t like to work under so much pressure. It not only diminishes their problem-solving abilities but also affects their decision making.
Empowering them is one of the best ways to ensure quality efforts from your employees. It not only reduces the stress of having to deal with so many customers on a daily basis, but it also makes them more responsible and helps them perform better.
Creativity in work
Customer support is a tiring and not so exciting work in itself. It involves working with customers on a daily basis. Solving issues, maintaining their satisfaction, hearing about their day and sometimes even dealing with some angry customers.
With all that going on every day, it is the employees who can stir things up and make it a bit exciting. By empowering your support staff to be open to your customers, being friendly and letting them be personal to an extent helps a lot.
This not only makes the workplace a fun place to be but it also helps in delivering an outstanding and unforgettable experience to the customers.
Inspired and excited
As we discussed, customer and employee empowerment, especially in customer support can give amazing results. All the above pointers have one and the only aim, to make the work environment more exciting for your customers.
The support team must be empowered to the extent where they feel inspired to work hard and be creative to go out of the box while working towards customer satisfaction.
Wrapping things up…
Being an online business owner, you know the influence customers and your employees have on the internal as well as the external working of your company. There is no denying the fact that Customer Support is the only department that makes it possible to know the customer requirement as well as the employee performance.
So there is a dire need for owners like you to understand the need and importance of empowering your employees so that they can deliver to their fullest.
Please let us know how you feel about the current scenario in the business world today. And feel free to talk about the interaction of the customer with the support staff, below in the comment section.
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