Formerly known as User Conference (UserConf), the newly christened Elevate Summit is a major conference for customer support and success professionals, as well as product managers in the web and application space. I attended the most recent Elevate Summit in Austin, Texas as a representative of the Talkdesk Customer Support Team.
Here are my top five takeaways:
Customer support is conventionally thought of as a reactive profession. This makes sense; support team members help customers when they reach out and not before. Thought leaders at Elevate Summit put forth the idea that support teams can and should be proactive contributors to the customer experience.
Support teams have access to a wealth of data and personal information regarding customer issues. This puts them in a great position to be more involved in influencing the product development cycle.
Rather than reactively troubleshooting issues with new products, it’s important to empower Support to contribute to the product cycle in a way that proactively helps anticipate what type of potential issues customers will encounter and fix them before they come up.
The biggest theme of Elevate Summit 2016 was that customer support team should not be siloed. They should be a part of company decisions across teams.
In example, insights from the support team can be of great help to product management. Support teams spend their time fielding customer questions and complaints. This means that they can provide an intimate and nuanced perspective on customer needs.
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Successful companies take data-driven approaches to problem solving. It is essential that the customer support team be a part of sourcing this data.
Douglas Hanna, Director of Business Strategy at Zendesk, spoke about how support teams should create comprehensive lists of customer issues, needs and wants. This will include information like number of inquiries by type, time and revenue impact, as well as things like frequently asked questions, length of support conversations and number of tickets submitted.
Part of Support’s data collection should also include qualitative data like customer anecdotes.
“All-Hands Support” is the idea that everyone within the company, regardless of title, should spend time interacting and problem-solving with customers. StatusPage Customer Advocate Jake Bartlett explained that are a few major benefits to this style of customer support, particularly in the case of developers:
It builds empathy externally and internally
Team members from every department get closer to the customer and gain a better understanding of how they use the product. One upshot is that developers can become more aware of customer pain points and feature requests. Internally, problem-solving becomes a team effort and unites everyone under a common endeavor.
Bugs get fixed faster and internal tools get more attention
Developers who are closer to customers will understand how bugs are directly impacting customers and prioritize crushing those accordingly. Developers who are more involved in the support process will also be more invested to develop internal tools that help troubleshoot for customers.
Customers will notice and appreciate the effort
Conversations with leadership can delight the customer. Imagine what speaking with the CEO can do for brand loyalty! Or how quickly frustration cools of when a customer gets to speak directly to engineering.
Dustin Meza, the Director of Customer Experience for WP Engine discussed how his team scaled from 15 to 115 support technicians in a short period of time while increasing customer satisfaction and Net Promoter Score. Here are the secrets he shared:
Create a “5X Plan” to anticipate all challenges when scaling to address 5X the number of customers, 5X the number of support tickets and 5X the number of support agents. Identify breaking points and solve them proactively because simple questions like how a team buys computers for new hires can get complicated quickly when scaling.
Set expectations with leadership around resources
Growing customer support teams need to ensure that they have the appropriate resources. In order to manage management expectations, evaluate the current state of the team using metrics. Utilize the support operations team. Use existing data to anticipate what resources it will take to hire the best agents.
Empower Support leaders to stand up for their teams
Dustin spoke extensively about how WP Engine has industry low turnover and part of that success is predicated on his ability to make decisions that prevent other company departments from making decisions that drown his customer support team. Support has a seat at every table to ensure that the team’s voice is heard.
As a Technical Support Representative at Talkdesk, the content of Elevate Summit resonated with me on a few levels. I feel confident that some of these insights will help me in my role assisting Talkdesk customers. Further, many of the customers I speak with turn around and use Talkdesk cloud-based call center software to provide support to their own customers. I am glad to be a part of a ripple effect of excellent customer support!