4 Signs Your Customer Support May Be Headed for Trouble

Monitoring your customer support performance will alert you to potential issues that can be addressed before you start losing revenue.

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Having happy customers is crucial to the growth of any business. Unfortunately, too many companies don’t seem to understand this basic fact and wonder why their sales are not growing.

One of the saddest things to see is a company that does understand the need for strong customer support but doesn’t realize when their support department is heading for trouble.

When this happens, companies will find themselves with seriously upset customers; management will scratch their heads, since they had a support department who was supposed to be taking care of this.

How to tell when your support department is heading for trouble? Here are four warning signs to watch for:

1. Customer Satisfaction is on the Decline

While this sounds obvious, many companies don’t measure basic customer satisfaction often enough. There are two ways to look at satisfaction: through transactional and calendar-based surveys.

A transaction survey is performed when an issue is submitted by your customer and then resolved. Asking the user to perform a survey immediately after the issue is resolved will give you a good indication of how effectively (or not) your support team is addressing individual issues. Of course, a transaction-based survey won’t ever reach the customers who don’t contact you, so the results will be skewed and may miss the silent majority.

By comparison, sending out a calendar-based survey—once every quarter, bi-annually or annually—to your entire customer base should give you a good idea of how your users feel about your company and support.

When looking at survey data, be sure that you look at long-term trends. The key thing to monitor is whether your overall customer satisfaction score is increasing or decreasing. Obviously, the goal is for it to increase. If you find that you are broadly losing customer satisfaction, you need to take a serious and deeper look to understand just where the problem is.

2. Lack of Metrics

If you, as a manager, cannot look at key metrics about your support department, then you may have a significant problem. Even though everything may be operating fine and your customer satisfaction surveys are showing good data, without understanding the data about ticket volume, resolution times, etc., of the issues that come into your support organization, you could easily be blindsided.

Simply put, you need to understand what is going on with your support organization on a fairly real-time basis. Lacking this knowledge, you simply won’t know when things are going wrong.

3. Personnel Turnover and Low Morale

Another serious sign that your support department may be in trouble is if you start experiencing high turnover or low morale in the front-line agents. Support agents like solving problems, and if you give them the tools that they need and they are able to successfully resolve issues, they will be a satisfied group as a general rule.

However, if you put them in an impossible situation where they are not able to do their jobs, they will be unhappy. That will quickly lead to turnover. That turnover should be a red flag to you that something serious is wrong, and your reputation with your customers will soon start to suffer.

4. Loss of Revenue and Customers

Finally, the most obvious sign that your customer support department is heading for trouble is when you start losing revenue. When customers abandon your product, in many cases it is because of poor customer service or a general dissatisfaction with your product that should have been recognized by the communication your customers have had with your support group.

Unfortunately, this is most often a trailing indicator. Once you start losing revenue, it will require a major effort on your part to turn things around. It’s rare to start losing customers without some of the above warning signs happening first, and that is why it is critically important that you fully understand what is happening within your support department.

Your customer support group is truly the ‘canary in the coal mine.’ Watching this group will alert you to potential issues that can be addressed before you start losing revenue.

About the Author

Robert Johnson, a seasoned tech executive and entrepreneur, is CEO of TeamSupport, an award winning cloud-based customer support suite that helps companies solve customer issues by enhancing communication, collaboration and knowledge sharing.

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