We had an incredible time last night talking with Chris Hunt about the way his company, Typeform, is using customer support to grow their business. Chris brought a lot great ideas to the table that sparked an excellent discussion about the role of support within a business, the interactivity between support and other divisions of the company, and the challenges of scaling while maintaining a high level of customer care. Here’s a little bit of what Chris had to say:
Customer Success, not Customer Support:
If you think back on the many company ads you’ve seen over the years, you probably won’t be able to recall a single time in which a business promised you only mediocre support. There aren’t too many companies out there proclaiming that they’ll only help a little, or that your experience doesn’t really matter to them. No, every company will tell you they’re committed to customers and declare support as a top priority. It’s become one of those empty sayings every business has to tout, like the car salesmen’s promise of low prices, or a politician’s declaration of love for the middle class.
Saying that you care about support is easy. What’s not so easy is actually putting support at the core of everything your business does. Doing so means that the experience of your customers influences every product decision, every policy, and every progression your company makes. In this model, the big question isn’t “how will this help the company,” but “how will this help the customer?” For many businesses, that’s a major shift in ideology.
The shift, however, makes sense if you really consider the true purpose of customer support. At the end of the day, the goal is to help customers achieve the success they strive for by using your product or service. That’s what support people do every day. They help customers reach success. Now, if a company aligns its practices with support to help customers achieve that success, then there’s really no limit to how quickly or fast a company can grow.
The 5 Pillars of Customer Success.
Committing to customer success isn’t just a thing that can be said, and poof! It happens. It takes some serious restructuring to ensure that customer support is at the core of every facet of the business. Here are the 5 branches that Typeform uses to make it work:
- Customer Experience:
Understanding the customer experience is absolutely essential to helping them achieve success. For Typeform, this means an internal marketing team that studies the ways their customers interact and use their products. They create “customer voice” reports that represent the collective experience of their community. And they use this to learn ways to improve the product and help potential clients understand how Typeform’s products can help them achieve success in their own endeavors.
A customer that has the resources to understand the product is in the best position to achieve success. Reference materials, FAQ’s, and a well-structured support process all play a part in providing this to customers. Copywriters and engineers need to create content that doesn’t just align with brand identity, but also directly provides the customer with more opportunity to learn and become successful in their use of the product.
- Account Management:
Keeping a close eye on your accounts will help ensure your customers are getting the experience you need. For some businesses, this may be as simple as checking in with individual customers to see how their experience is going. For others, it could be a team dedicated to the experience of specific clients, making sure their unique needs are met. Whatever the model, these close relationships with customers are crucial to the success of your community.
It might seem weird for sales to fall under the realm of customer success. But too often in business, the sales team over-promises a client and under-delivers on the product. If your sales team is rooted in support, this is far less likely to happen. By putting the customer’s success first, a sales agent can adequately assess what product will provide the greasted likelihood for that customer to achieve his or her goals. The result is a community of users who are far more likely to experience success with your product than become frustrated with it.
- Customer Support:
Nobody can achieve their highest goals without a little help. A support team dedicated to the success of customers is invaluable, not just because it keeps customers happy, but because it’s a wealth of vital metrics regarding the product. The support team knows better than anyone where the difficulties are. They know the glitches and bugs in the system, understand who the customers are, and have experience engaging with them directly. If packaged properly, this insight can be the key to generating rapid growth in any business.
Despite what model or divisions exist in a company, the key to customer success is great communication. Each facet of the business must engage in a collaborative effort to better serve the customer. This means that the marketing team must learn from support about the experiences of the customers. Sales agents have to work with engineers to understand how the product can be used. Support needs to inform content creators of trouble areas so they can build new resources to address the issue.
Structuring these channels of communication can be difficult, but it’s worth the effort. Because the goal of each department is the success of the customer, there are fewer conflicts of interests. Project tend to progress at a faster pace, and employees typically have more empathy with each other and the work they’re doing. The company moves forward as a single entity. And that’s good for everyone.
We’d like to extend a big thank you to Chris for taking the time to share with us. We hope that his ideas will help you improve your own customer support endeavors. And also, thanks to everyone who came out and made it an incredible evening. Your questions and comments really helped to make the evening rich with insight. Our next Support Group is scheduled for November 3rd. Visit back soon for more information on the topic and our speaker. Hope to see you then!
Also published on Medium.