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6 Steps to Move away from Transactional Support toward Building Strategic Partnerships

March 27, 2017

It’s easy to suggest that companies move away from traditional customer support – transactional and reactive service. Much harder is the implementation and practical strategies to foster a more active strategic partnership between you and your customers/clients. Below, you’ll find a list of six simple strategies to shift your approach to customer support. It’s better to focus on building lasting relationships than simply closing your support tickets as fast as you can.

#1 – Listen to the Crowd

Your customers have a lot to say if you’ll only listen. Social media, complaints, surveys, informal feedback, and many other forms of customer communication can help you build your brand. If someone complains on social media, reach out to them in a public forum to learn more about any issues or common concerns with your products and services. It works the other way too – offer gratitude and thanks to anyone boosting your brand online or within their personal networks.

#2 – Post-Sales Support

Just because you made a sale doesn’t mean your job is done. Use a follow call or email to check in on your customers. This practice not only catches problems proactively but also gives your customer the sense that you aren’t just out to make a quick buck.

#3 – Self-Help Options

It’s nice to get live 1-on-1 support when problems occur, but it’s not always practical for everyone. Self-help customer support is one of the best ways you can support your products and service while displaying care and concern for you customers. Give you customers a chance to solve a problem themselves without the need to reach you directly. FAQs, online user guides, repair videos, and product demonstrations can all help the public better understand your products and services. The best part? You free up internal resources to focus on critical customer issues that require your attention.

#4 – Track Behavior

Through a monitoring and tracking system, you can show your customers that you are with them every step of the way. Proactive support is one way to drive sales and make sure your customers have everything they need to make a purchase. An example of this strategy is in app notifications or product hints. If you keep track of the requests you commonly receive from customers and find solutions that answer those questions within the actual application, you’ll find a win-win. Your customers are able to move forward with their task/issue without having to raise a ticket, relieving your tier 1 support staff to focus on the larger, more complex issues.

#5 – Own Up to Mistakes

Mistakes happen, and how you handle them can make or break your brand. Being transparent with your customers shows them that you respect them and their own priorities in their lives. Announce downtime in advance if possible. Let your users know when you plan to do server maintenance or introduce otherwise disruptive change. If one of your services is down, let your customers know via your status page or directed email campaign. We all know that accidents and errors are part of life – it’s up to you to do your part to minimize the impact on your customer base.

#6 – Dialogue with your Support Team

If you haven’t integrated your support team into product design and development, you are missing a big opportunity to learn from your mistakes. Your customers are likely using your products and services much more often than your staff – they are your expert advisors for things like UX, interface design, readability, workflow efficiencies and other important features of your products and services. If you can learn how to adopt new ideas and improve using user feedback, you can rely on your customers to remain loyal and happy for decades to come. Hopefully, you can use some (or all) of the above tips to begin a transition away from traditional reactive customer support. It’s not always easy to achieve, but the rewards are well worth your investment.

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