As the business you work for – Natterbox – is all about connecting businesses & customers, what do you think are the most important elements of the customer's journey for businesses to get right when connecting with their customers?
There are two key points here.
One, getting the channels right is incredibly important. I think it's very easy for a business to just try and use every channel that is available to them, even ones that might not necessarily be suitable.
Businesses need to understand and dig into why people are contacting them, and look at the demographic and the types of users. By getting data on that before making any decisions on the channels to offer you are able to determine what support your customers need and how best to provide it.
Having a variety can be very good, but I do think it's important to look at what problems are solved by offering each of those channels - and the experience for the individuals interacting. I see a big increase in automation, bots and a lot of other similar tools, and you have to dig into what scenarios, and what questions, these are good at answering when things are deflected to them.
The second point is more from a customer journey perspective – be clear with customers in terms of how to contact the teams, and who to contact at particular times.
I see this a lot, where a client will work with numerous individuals through the sales and deployment journey, and then it’ll become confusing for them once implemented who to go to for questions and support.
It is therefore really important to be clear at the different stages of the customer journey who the points of contact are and to ensure handover meetings are not just internal but also external with the client. Following this up with documentation or making it available through a customer community is also key.
What role does customer support have in the successful retention of customers and ultimately MRR/ARR?
A critical role; however, I don’t think it’s recognised enough.
I often get feedback and hear from customers directly that the reason they either renewed or increased their spending is down to the support they received and relationship they’ve built with members of the customer support team. The impact of that is significant and needs to be recognised. It's really great to be able to share some of that data and feedback with the support teams and ensure they understand the positive impact they have.
What metrics do you encourage businesses to track to ensure they remain close to the health of their customer accounts?
There are a lot of valuable metrics to track which ultimately provide an indication of the health of specific accounts or the wider account base. Commercially, Net Revenue Retention and Gross Revenue Retention are really important; these provide a key indication into the overall growth of accounts and churn. It is important not just to focus on bringing in more revenue; you have to also retain the existing revenue you have.
In terms of other metrics, I'm a big advocate of building adoption metrics into products as they give a much more proactive indication of the health of a customer. I think surveys are great – NPS surveys, customer effort surveys – but often they are used in a reactive way. For example, you may receive a poor NPS and then have to follow up, going into firefighting mode to get that customer happy. Whereas if you can see proactively that adoption has dropped or if you can see that a feature is not being utilised, this allows the customer success team to focus and understand why.
What is your advice for scale-ups and disruptors wanting to get their customer support right in 2022?
I would have to say invest. Just like you invest in marketing or other go-to-market strategies, support also needs to be invested in, especially as you build up your customer base; you need to have the plans in place to be able to support not only a growing amount of customers but also new features and products. It's really important to invest in that support team.
I also think it is very important to test your support interactions. Put yourself in the shoes of a customer and review the experience you get. In my opinion many companies are overcomplicating their support processes and it is having the opposite outcome to what they intended. Iterate as you build out your support processes and frequently get feedback from customers, internal teams and yourself through role-play testing.
I am also a big advocate of customer communities, I think it is really valuable to have a central place for customers to go to see help articles but also to contact support. This also means you can capture more information about the individual and better and more proactively assist their queries.
You can read part one of the chat here.
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