Customer support differentiates your organization, whether your company is a vendor to thousands of businesses or an IT organization with hundreds of users. Customer support accelerates success, or failure, for an enterprise. Outstanding customer support creates loyalty while poor customer support destroys confidence, loyalty, and profitability. Start effective customer support by doing the following:
1. Validate and reinforce the mission. Customer support is only valid when it meets the needs of your customers. Assess organizational performance by meeting with customers. Support management can become mission-myopic and work to meet metrics, rather than needs. Regular customer interaction is necessary as it ensures constant improvement of your customer support process, reinforcing success and providing valuable data points to address errors.
2. Establish and articulate performance objectives. Customer support teams need objectives against which performance can be consistently measured. Goals should be based on a pyramid of capacity (how many incidents are addressable per day?); performance (how long are incidents open?); and satisfaction (how did the customer interpret the experience?). Other criteria may be added, but avoid distractions from the core of what support is meant to do—fix issues efficiently and make customers happy. With metrics in mind, set a stretch goal of at least 10 percent improvement from your prior best and communicate and manage these goals with every transaction.
3. Monitor your expectations. Commit to at least an annual reassessment of your customer support operational performance. This forces an inspection of expectations. If the objectives have been achieved, applaud your team and take the next hill.
Global Vice-President, Customer Support
Want to improve the way you run your business? Entrepreneurs, academics, and consultants from diverse industries offer practical advice on a variety of topics each business day.
To submit a tip for consideration, first check our archive of previous tips to make sure you're not repeating a tip someone has already contributed. Then send the tip to Small Business channel contributor Michelle Dammon Loyalka. Because of the volume of material she receives, she may not respond to each individual.