Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Importance of Customer Support, Identifying the Good and the Bad

How Important is Support?


Throughout all industries of business, one important role always becomes part of the initial design of any company: Support. Some refer to support as the highest cost of business, scrutinizing the very importance of it, and the benefits it can bring to the business. This essentially moves towards cheap support that can handle quantity.  Support is one of the most important aspects of any company, as it can make or break the business.
Whether the product is selling cars, or implementing the latest in technologies for your customers, support will always be an important role in the business. Customers appreciate quality support for any relationship they have with any business, whether it be a bank or an internet service. It all comes down to building the reputation. One of the fastest ways any business grows exponentially is by referral from their current customers.
Customers don’t like to refer bad relationships with companies to other people.  For this very reason, any type of support should be handled with quality. While it shouldn’t be the first priority (a quality product is more important, but not crucial enough to justify cheap support), it should definitely be in the top three aspects of building a successful company. If a customer has a fantastic relationship with a company, chances are that they are more likely to refer anyone who requires the product.
On the other hand, if a customer has a bad relationship with a company, they are even more likely to complain about it to as many people as possible. It is common knowledge that people like to inform others of a negative experience more than a positive one. But, why would the CEO of any company want them to talk about their company in a negative limelight? Wouldn’t it be smarter for them not to have customers speak about any negative experience with the company?
Rather than attempt this approach, companies look at volume rather than quality. If there are 50 customers being supported monthly, and only 2 of them have a negative experience and never return, that’s a 4% loss. To any CEO, that is a gain. This current approach is shifting very rapidly to quality rather than quantity.  Quality support attracts more people to the product, even if the product is of poorer quality than major competitors. This is bringing a current trend in the marketplace to switching to small business, as they focus on quality support to accompany a quality product, rather than just a quality product.
Let’s just hope that this trend does not end up going through the same cycle of cutting support costs to increase volume product.
How do I find good support?
Simply understanding that support is important isn’t enough. You need to be able to identify an organization that will provide you with the best support, but what do you look for to get an idea of what to expect from them? A very important indication can come from the cost structure of a business’ services. Some companies will choose to offer a certain level of support depending on the ‘package’ or payment plan. An article at About.com describes the question a little clearer:
“Do they offer ‘tiered’ support? In other words, do some account types get better support options than others? This means that the support offered for the cheapest level is going to be minimal at best. Support costs money, and if you're not paying them, they won't pay support representatives to help you.”
It can be very frustrating to purchase, for example, a digital product through an online service and not be provided the download link only to find that there is no phone number available to call for support. Filling out a help ticket through the vendors website can have you waiting for weeks to hear a response if you ever even get one at all! Be cautious when investing financially into a business (through purchasing a product or contracting for service) to be sure that if/when something doesn’t work the way it was designed to, someone will be there to help solve the problem and continue to service their products and services.

-Dan Kemper (E. Coastal Group LLC / www.ecoastalgroup.com)
Contributed to by Lemuel Bezares

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