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The support leader’s guide to proactive support

Today, customer expectations are at an all-time high. Simultaneously, support teams are struggling with spikes in conversation volumes. A proactive customer support approach is the key to regaining control.

The typical support “strategy” is to let common issues roll in for your support team to address. But this approach not only overwhelms your team, it also means customers frequently have to wait hours or even days to get the help they need. This is costly not just for your team’s bandwidth and budget – but also for your customers’ satisfaction and overall perception of your brand.

Instead of deflecting conversations, your team can prevent common issues from occurring in the first place. With the right strategy and proactive support tools – think Outbound MessagesProduct ToursMobile Carousels, and Banners – you can alert customers to known issues, like delivery delays, bugs in your product, and website downtime.

You can also onboard and educate new customers so they are set up for success with your product from day one and have all of the information they need to get started and overcome common hurdles, such as configuring your app or installing it on mobile.

Proactive support can drastically reduce the number of conversations that reach your support team, all while increasing customer satisfaction and retention. Below, we share the latest and greatest proactive support strategies – including how to automatically identify recurring customer issues, preemptively resolve customer queries with targeted messages, and ultimately, position support as a core value driver for your business.

Why proactive support is your first line of defense

At Intercom, we use a framework called the Conversational Support Funnel to deliver fast, personal support to our customers. Proactive support is at the top of the Conversational Support Funnel for a reason – it is your first line of defense.

With the funnel, you can combine 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.

Proactive support diagram 1

Armed with the right proactive support approach, you can significantly reduce the number of queries that reach your support team’s inbox, all while keeping your customers satisfied. Proactive support has a positive knock-on effect on every layer of the funnel – for instance, when most of your customers’ queries are resolved proactively, it frees up your support team to focus on your most pressing, complex, and VIP support queries. They’ll have more time and headspace to help top tier customers solve their thorny problems in a truly personal way.

“78 per cent of support leaders want to move to a more proactive support approach, but only 26 per cent are sure they have the knowledge and tools to do so”

With proactive support leading the charge, not only will you take pressure off your team, you can also demonstrate how support is impacting your business’ bottom line with positive customer loyalty and retention figures.

proactive support 2

With all of these powerful benefits, it’s no surprise that a survey we ran with almost 600 support leaders revealed that 78 per cent of support leaders want to move to a more proactive support approach. However, only 26 per cent are sure they have the knowledge and tools to do so.

Preemptively identify recurring customer issues

By now, you may be thinking, “Proactive support sounds great – it’s the Holy Grail of support!” But when your team is so busy managing day-to-day reactive conversations you may be wondering how you’ll find time to identify recurring customer questions and pain points, so you can begin proactively resolving issues.

“A modern conversational support tool will automatically surface your customers’ most common issues to your team”

The right tools will automatically do a lot of the groundwork for you, preventing unnecessary headaches for your support team and helping them reclaim valuable time. Armed with these insights, you can pinpoint exactly how to improve your team’s effectiveness, improve resolution times, and enhance customer satisfaction.

Here are our tips:

Gather valuable conversation data fast

A modern conversational support tool, like Intercom, will automatically surface your customers’ most common issues and pressing questions to your team – removing the need to manually tag conversations or go digging for details. You’ll also be able to quickly see how effective your team is at resolving these issues at a glance.

For example, with Intercom you can:

  • View AI-powered suggestions to see the topics your customers are writing in about most.
  • Quickly see how effective your team is at resolving each type of issue, and how much time it’s taking to reach a resolution.
  • Unlock trends and insights from customer conversations that help improve teammate efficiency and boost customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Proactive support 3

Partner cross-functionally for maximum impact

No support team should ever be an island. Getting ahead of customer issues and providing a great proactive customer experience is everyone’s responsibility in your company and that makes collaboration critical to success.

“Keep open lines of communication with every customer-facing team so you can share critical insights that drive business growth”

Your support team is in a unique position – you know your customers’ pain points, questions, and desires better than anyone else. Make sure your team has open lines of communication with every customer-facing team – from product to marketing to sales – so you can share eye-opening, critical insights that help drive business growth, improve your product or service, and more.

For example, at Intercom our Support team regularly:

  • Shares the top topics customers have questions about with our Product Education team so they can address these topics in our Outbound Messages, Product Tours, and Academy training courses.
  • Surfaces top feature requests and product pain points to our Product team so they can fix mission-critical issues and create a more customer-centric roadmap.
  • Partners with Sales to streamline conversation passing for a better customer experience and to maximize revenue-generation opportunities.

Create a customer feedback loop

Quantitative data is meaningful. But it won’t help you fully understand all of the context behind your customers’ pain points. Often, you will be left with questions like: Why do they have these issues, how do they feel, and where are the stumbling blocks?

While reviewing customer conversations is useful, sometimes you need a quick route to unlocking immediately actionable insights – for example, you may want to understand the “why” behind the issues new customers are facing. That’s why it is important to create a qualitative customer feedback loop where customers can quickly and easily share more detail on their issues.

“You’ll know the exact questions to address in your help content and the precise words to use – your customers’ words”

One of the best ways to do this is create a feedback message. For example, you can check in with customers who are trialing a beta of your new product to get context on any issues they are experiencing. Then, by the time you launch your new product you’ll know the exact questions to address in your help content and the precise words to use – your customers’ words.

Proactive Support 4

Pro tip: If you’re using Intercom you can quickly collect qualitative data from a customer by embedding a Typeform survey into the Intercom Messenger.

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.

Source: The support leader’s guide to proactive support | CX Network

Eelco Krikke

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