The support leader’s guide to personal, efficient human support

A look into using automation wisely within customer engagement strategies. A guide to personal, efficient human support.

Today, customers’ expectations for fast, personal support are higher than ever – making automation essential for resolving simple, repetitive queries at scale. But there is an inescapable fact that not every answer can, or should, be automated.

After all, not even the best chatbot can help calm an angry customer, investigate a thorny issue, or build rapport with high-value customers quite like your team can. These types of issues require an empathetic, human touch.

Human support is an essential part of any successful support strategy, but the reality is that it doesn’t scale and it is expensive to operate. It is also a waste of your support team’s expertise and resources if they need to answer every question that rolls in – regardless of each issue’s priority, how urgent it is, or how much the customer is spending with you.

So how do you empower your team to be both highly efficient and hyper-personal so they can meet and exceed the demands of modern customers? Below, we share a proven framework and powerful workflows for freeing up your support team’s workload and ensuring only the most high-value, complex queries reach their inbox. We will also dive into effective support principles for resolving high-touch queries with empathy, transparency, and speed.

Ensure only complex queries reach your team

At Intercom, we use a framework called the Conversational Support Funnel to deliver efficient, personal support to our customers. It combines proactive, self-serve, and human support capabilities to get ahead of known problems before they arise, automatically answer repetitive queries, and quickly resolve complex issues.

With the funnel, proactive and self-serve support resolve most simple, repetitive queries, meaning only the most complex and critical issues ever reach your team.

When most of your customers’ questions are resolved proactively and automatically, it frees up your support team to focus on your most important, complex, and VIP support queries. This also empowers your team to do what they do best – using their product knowledge, technical expertise, and empathy skills to keep customers satisfied and ensure they are getting long-term value from your product or service.

By freeing them up to do more of the work they love, you’ll also boost job satisfaction and team morale. 

Plus, most support reps don’t enjoy answering the same simple questions over and over – instead, they get a kick out of the kind of work that requires flexing their deep problem-solving skills. By freeing them up to do more of the work they love, you’ll also boost job satisfaction and team morale.

Supercharge your team efficiency with automation and apps

Your support team may appear to possess superhero powers, like the ability to calm angry customers, translate technical issues into easy-to-understand solutions, and solve complex problems. But they’re still human, and being human comes with productivity limits. Some of your biggest efficiency gains won’t come from the hands of your support reps at all, but from the backend of a well-oiled, automated inbox.

It’s worth making your workflows as efficient as possible. Taking mundane, repetitive tasks off your team’s hands will add more fuel to their tank and leave them with more time to better support your customers. Here are some powerful foundational steps to take

Automate your inbox workflows

“Can I put you on hold?” “Let me pass you to my colleague.” If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of this type of ping-pong support as a customer, you’ll know how frustrating it is to be passed from rep to rep. It wastes both the agent’s and the customer’s time. Set up a workflow that automatically collects conversation data from your customer on what their query is about.

A far more efficient (and polite) approach is to set up a workflow that automatically collects conversation data from your customer on what their query is about – whether that’s a billing query, a technical issue, or something else. Then route the conversation to the right team, like your billing team, so they can step in and provide the customer with a speedy, empathetic response.

This also means your team won’t have to spend time manually tagging conversations to identify common customer pain points for your proactive support.

Prioritize VIP and urgent conversations

When a VIP customer gets in touch, you’ll want to fast-track the issue to your VIP team so they can reply ASAP. With a modern conversational support tool, like Intercom, you can apply multiple automated rules within each workflow. For example, you can mark these pressing issues as priority and apply an SLA rule to hold your team accountable to delivering a top quality, rapid response.

Seamlessly manage all of your tools from one inbox

A whopping 68 per cent of support leaders say their team hit roadblocks once a month because their support stack is not integrated with technology used by other teams. What’s more, the majority of support teams have between six and 10 tools in their support tech stack alone. Imagine how many wasted hours your team is racking up switching between all these tools, not to mention the headaches.

Whatever tools you are using – whether that’s social media, call center, issue management, or even sales tools – you’ll want to make sure your conversational support tool can plug into and play nicely with them. Ultimately, this will make your support more efficient, powerful, and all-around more helpful for customers.

Get The Ultimate Guide to Conversational Support to learn how to combine proactive, self-serve and human support to achieve world-class support – without burning out your team or budget.

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