December 14, 2016

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Product Support: Being proactive is the way forward

Co-author:Ankit Shah

Whenever we talk about enterprises coming out with a new product which addresses some of the key needs of end-user, there are apprehensions about the usability of the product. There are questions around to what extent the users will have to adapt to these products, through what channels the customer can raise their queries, and how do you enable the internal support teams to identify the issues in the shortest possible time without compromising on the quality of the solution offered.

In a traditional product support, often the service representatives are reactive to issues raised by the customer i.e. they respond only when queried about any particular issue. This disables the support ecosystem as the agent would wait for the next issue to come in, which hampers their productivity and also the customers are left in a discomfort as they have to reach out to the respective channels to resolve the issue at hand. This leads to a decrease in CSAT and also increases the support costs. This would become a backbreaker for product adoption in the future since customers would interact and transfer experiences in myriad ways. Hence, one key question which keeps the CIO awake is:

How do we move away from reactive support and shift to a proactive support model?

And do so, without increasing the workload on support staff, and simultaneously stand out in terms of the services delivered to customers?

Going forward, we can look at solving the aforementioned question and will lay down how the future of proactive support holds good for us. Let us look at why we should get intrigued by proactive support:

  • A report by Enkata found that taking the initiative in your support could increase customer retention by 3-5%.( link)
  • A study by Incontact found that about 87% are happy to be contacted proactively by an organization for the issues they face. About 65% would want to be contacted about fraudulent activity and 51% on questions about a product.
  • Proactive support (solving issues before they become problems) reduces the ticket volume, thereby enabling the customer to believe that they are not disconnected to their problems and organizations can obtain insights through these issues and correct them in the forthcoming versions.

So there is definitely a good reason to transform your product support structure and integrate the proactive component. We can try to first integrate this at the most common touch points the customers hang on to, viz. webmails/calls/point of sales or social media and understand the customer problem history and make suitable suggestions as and when they log on to these channels for a new problem. Focus on self-service and empower your customers to help themselves, let’s say, creating an FAQ/ Issue Search Guide and let them consume it. Introducing virtual agents at your point of sales has become a common practice but we can introduce the assistants with customer Forums/Self Service tools to increase the service scope. Also, you can use these platforms to highlight existing problems with your product, which improves transparency and ensures trust for your brand.

To outdo the incumbents in the market, the provision of support facilities is indispensable. It enables us to retain a customer, which is 6 times cheaper than acquiring a new one. Proactive support is thus the need of the hour and it’s high time for the market to think ahead for the next generation support system for their products.

References:

http://www.superoffice.com/blog/proactive-support/

http://www.softwareadvice.com/resources/what-is-proactive-support/

http://www.business2community.com/infographics/apparently-acquiring-new-customers-is-6-times-more-costly-than-retaining-one-0440403#P3zdZ3qDgipsLR6G.97