The State of Customer Support 2021
One of the most profound changes to the technology services industry is the clear shift away from selling perpetual product ownership toward a concerted effort to drive customers to subscription-based relationships. As we enter the new year the strategic role of Support must be realigned with overall corporate strategies focused on creating enhanced customer experiences, driving adoption, and maximizing customer retention.
The State of Support
Support continues to be the preeminent technical resource for resolving customer issues and advocating for product usability and performance enhancements. For many companies Support remains a reactive post-sales activity driven by metrics that emphasize the volume and velocity of case closure. However, in an era of subscription licensing and everything-as-a-service, reactive Support models are not enough.
As the technology industry shifts to subscription-based relationships and company-wide initiatives focus on improving customer experiences (CX) and driving success, Support is under increased pressure to engage in new, more meaningful customer interactions. Support processes, resources and strategies are challenged to keep pace.
As we enter a new year the strategic role of Support must be aligned with overall corporate strategies.
Many aspects of Support remain unchanged from years past, yet strong indications suggest that Support is making the transition from a reactive transactional model to a more proactive and preventive posture. Self-help, automation, and concerted efforts to upskill customers and improve product quality are helping Support to scale beyond simply meeting demand and are delivering enhanced customer value. Here are our key observations about the current state of Support.
- Support demand will outpace staffing and resources unless Support invests in efforts to scale capabilities by reducing demand and operating more efficiently.
- Support will increasingly be influenced by and involved with success-related efforts to drive customer adoption, success, and retention.
- Efforts to capture and learn from customer interactions are imperative to driving Support efficiency and scalability yet remain suboptimized.
- As assisted case submission shifts to electronic channels, significant opportunities to automate and improve Support efficiency become evident.
- Top Support metrics emphasize transactional efficiency but need to expand to reflect relationship health and the likelihood of retention or churn.
- Initiatives to help scale Support are widespread but lack maturity.
- The use of self-help resources is growing modestly while its impact remains steady.
- Self-help initiatives alone cannot scale Support capacity enough to meet demand.
- The Support/Engineering interface must be optimized to prevent issues through product-related enhancements.
While we observe positive trends in the scaling and refocusing of Support on proactive and preventative initiatives, we also see areas where Support leaders must focus to drive the transformation of Support. Consider the following imperatives for Support:
- Focus Support efforts on delivering positive experiences that retain customer relationships and recognize that this is not just a Customer Success mandate.
- Adopt customer retention and relationship health scoring as top Support metrics.
- Prioritize investment in Support initiatives to improve resolution efficiency, enhance self-help effectiveness, and to mitigate future demand for Support.
- Align organizational, team and individual goals to contribute to delivery efficiency, issue prevention and customer retention metrics.
- Synchronize Support and Success offers to provide customers with end-to-end service portfolio choices.
- Optimize Support policies, process, and tools to capture complete customer and case data at case creation and closure.
- Look beyond self-help to scale Support and expand efforts to build customer proficiency through training, coaching and skills development.
- Leverage customer interactions and support case data to identify predictive and preventative opportunities.
- Increase investments in issue prevention and coordinate with Engineering to improve product performance and usability.
- Align Support metrics to measure the issues prevented, cases resolved, and relationships retained.
Are you ready for 2021?
Are you ready for the challenges Support will face in the year ahead? Are you ready to capitalize on new opportunities? How will you scale and transform Support?
For insights about how support is changing and the opportunities and imperative for 2021 please review ServiceXRG’s latest study: Support Transformation: The Guide to Essential Practices and Metrics. This report examines current trends in Support delivery and offers tangible guidance for Support, Success and Service professionals to meet growing expectations of both customers and company executives.
Make a Plan to Scale and Transform Support
ServiceXRG provides coaching and guidance to help companies forecast support demand; develop strategies and initiatives to scale support and justify appropriate staffing and funding levels.