Customers Seek Help in Support Channels When the CX Fails
Sometimes a customer calls a support line because they need a bit of handholding. They need to be nudged in the right direction to find the answer they need, or they need a quick resolution to a manageable problem. That’s a great use case for providing support. Everybody wins. The customer leaves the encounter brand-satisfied, and the organization has spent little time or money responsively offering a helping hand. But these calls are outliers. Most support calls are customers calling in because they have encountered a fundamental CX problem with a product or service and they’ve reached a frustrating roadblock with no way out.
No one wants to reach out to customer service. Ever.
The simple, often unacknowledged truth is that customers need support when CX fails. And those are also the instances when the support organization can’t solve the problem at all. Support staff can only triage and document those issues, then move on to the next call with a friendly smile that conveys their supportive, yet impotent role. They are an inadequate Band-Aid trying to stop a bleeding CX wound.
As they say in recovery circles, the first step to getting help is admitting you have a problem, and that is particularly true in the world of B2B customer experience management.
CX failures discovered through support interactions must be mapped back to the customer journey so they can be addressed in the context of the end-to-end customer experience with the product:
- Support data must be analyzed in the context of CX. Support data can’t sit in a database somewhere. It must be examined for trends, overlap and traced to an origination point. All those support calls, chatbot sessions, and tickets must be analyzed as part of the customer journey mapping process that is critical to identify and address CX failures. No CX picture will ever be complete unless the support layer is included in the analysis.
- Customer pain points must be mapped back to the customer journey. Imagine the customer journey map is a physical map taped to a wall in a giant conference room in your office or better yet in a sharable online map that makes it easy to collaborate. (More on that in the coming weeks!) Each touchpoint where the customer meets your product or service (online or off) is identified by one of those “You are here” stickers you see on the highway maps displayed at rest stops on the Interstate. Then imagine another layer imposed over that base layer. This second layer has big red Xs that mark the spots—the touchpoints—where customer support data analysis (that has been logged, analyzed and prioritized) reveals a CX failure. A customer journey map lacking that second, critical layer is an incomplete and inaccurate representation of the customer journey.
- CX failures are often interaction failures. To develop a deep understanding of those pain points you need to figure out how they were caused. Is it the UX or the UI that must be fixed? Was the support call caused by a failure of interface design on the website or the app? Something as simple (and fixable) as a poorly designed form, process or flow, or incomplete (or incorrect) documentation information? All those nitty-gritty places where what you have provided is inadequate or inaccurate, or perhaps hidden or poorly presented are simple moments that can lead to complex failures for the customer. And you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken so analyzing the minutiae of interactions along the customer journey continuum are what add up to success or failure of the system as a whole.
If this sounds like a lot of tireless, detailed work, that’s because it is. And if you’re tired just thinking about it, imagine how tired your customers are of logging tickets and making calls about things they know you should know are broken or bad in your product or service.
Improving CX is not usually driven by the desire to reduce strain on the support organization, but that goal should be part of the mix because when you fix the CX, the need for support decreases. The relationship between the two is an inverse ratio you should aim to achieve.
The support organization can’t solve your company’s CX problems, but a great customer experience will reduce the volume of support in those channels.