In this special guest feature, Robert C. Johnson, co-founder and CEO of TeamSupport, discusses his belief that mining data from customer support interactions can be a goldmine for gaining invaluable knowledge of how a product is used in order to help develop future versions of the product. TeamSupport is a cloud-based, B2B software application built to help customer-facing support teams serve clients better through stronger collaboration, superior teamwork, and faster issue resolution. A seasoned executive and entrepreneur who has founded and invested in numerous software and high-tech companies, Robert’s industry experience as a business leader and a customer inspired him to create TeamSupport to give Support Desk teams the tools and best practices to enhance customer loyalty and positively impact product sales.
There’s a lot of information in the media these days about using big data, and for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) that often have limited resources, this can seem an intimidating task. For some it’s about collecting the data in the first place, while for others it’s about how to use all that collected information.
To help understand how to leverage customer-related data in your SMB, we’ve assembled a list of 6 best practices:
1. Use the information you already have
If you’ve been in business for any amount of time you likely have lots of basic data already, such as contacts, addresses, order history, etc. Ideally you also have a system that allows you to collect this data and sort/filter to show patterns and opportunities. If not, the first step is getting one. Step two is collecting and managing transaction-based data. You should be keeping a record of every interaction your customers have with your business – phone calls, chats, emails, order history, and everything in between. Customer support software is a great way to keep track of all of this data, but look for one that lets you create reports to easily compile the information you need.
2. Use customer data to provide better customer service
Understanding your customers is critical, especially in B2B where multiple contacts make up a single customer. Share as much customer related data as possible with support teams so they don’t have to hunt for information, which in turn improves issue resolution times. Agents should have access to what products a customer has, what issues they’ve experienced, and any notes or comments from sales and marketing about the account. This information also enables them to gain a deeper understanding of customers’ needs and pain points, so they can provide a superior experience and provide proactive, rather than reactive, customer support.
Using customer data isn’t just about running numbers and spouting statistics – it’s about using it in the most efficient way to yield a positive outcome for your business. In this respect it’s important to share customer data across teams and business units. Customers don’t care who answers their question, as long as it gets answered accurately, and in a timely manner. Empowering teams to work together to resolve issues builds a strong company culture and greatly reduces resolution time which increases customer satisfaction. To collaborate effectively, you need to share information across business functions.
4. Integrate with other Business Systems
Many organizations operate in silos, with each department acting as a standalone entity. This is a flawed system, and to provide an exceptional customer experience it needs to be fixed. Often the infrastructure is at fault – each department uses a different system, suited to their unique needs, and the systems don’t talk to each other. With today’s technology it is increasingly simple to integrate multiple business systems and seamlessly share information between groups, departments, and even different physical locations. Integrations increase data sharing and reduce duplicate entry of customer information.
5. Share knowledge with your customers
The most adept customer organizations recognize the value in the information they collect, both at a customer and organization level. Sharing internal knowledge with customers increases satisfaction by providing self-service options like a knowledge base or FAQs, while reducing the burden on your customer service team. If one customer had a unique issue that was resolved, it should be easy to find and share that solution with another customer experiencing the same issue (without disclosing the previous customers’ information of course). It can also be helpful to share a customer’s own data with them – their open issues for example, or how many of their employees use a certain product. You can use the information you already collect to provide valuable information to your customers – making you an invaluable partner in the process.
6. Use data for product development
Data collected by your customer support team is priceless in terms of customer feedback and product intel. The daily interactions they have with customers can provide endless information about how your product is used, and what features should be added to the product roadmap for maximum impact.
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