What is Product Support?

Product support isn’t separate from a product itself - it’s interwoven into the experience a business has with any product they entrust to help them succeed. Too many providers lose customers they’ve fought to win because once the sale is done, their level of support is slow, incomplete or lacking. Customer journeys start with pre-sale, but they go on long past a customer says yes - and that part of the journey - onboarding, servicing and support - can be challenging to deliver well every time.

What is product support?

Product support is responding with tools and knowledge that help end users pull the most value from a purchased product. 

If a customer is stalled while trying to utilize your product or service and can’t solve its issue quickly, it can affect their operations and perception of your business. It most certainly affects whether they will buy from you again. The customer service statistics are clear:

  • A customer is four times more likely to switch to a competitor if the problem they're having is service-based. (Bain and Company)
  • 65% have gone to a competitor after a bad service experience.

In our CXM Impact Report, one of the top complaints of businesses was the inability to find the precise information they needed when they were stalled.

If customers cannot source their own help and don't receive timely responses when they reach out, or if they are bounced around from department to department or to an outside partner with everyone pointing to someone else as the owner of the problem, customers are likely to become frustrated and leave.

That can happen at any point in the customer lifecycle, but one of the most common times for abandonment is during product onboarding.

Product support is as important as the product itself

There are many customer services statistics out there that drive home a clear fact… customers make their decision to choose a company or to stay loyal to a business and spend more of their money with it by the quality of their customer service and product support. 

How important is customer service? Consider this…

  • 68% of those asked would pay more for a product that came with excellent customer service.
  • 9 of 10 say they will make additional purchases from a company that provided excellent service.
  • 33% say good customer service means resolving their problem in a single reach out.
  • There is a 60-70% chance of selling to an existing customer, but only a 5-20% chance to close a sale to a new customer.
  • 76% of business banking customers walked away in the middle of onboarding because the process was too complicated or confusing.
Product support is a key aspect of customer service and it requires attention to hold onto customers and gain new ones.

Providing product support today is different than it was, even a few years ago, before the pandemic. It’s changed expectations on how fast, how thorough and how personalized help should be. In addition, it’s changed how end users want to receive help - and what annoys them when they don’t get product support in a timely way. When delivering product support, customers are telling us some of the things they perceive as great service.

What are Examples of Product Support? 

1. Self-service Help, fueled by AI

While virtual assistants and automated help don’t replace human interactions, businesses indicate they want the opportunity to help themselves first before reaching out to product support. In fact, in our CXM Impact Survey, one of their biggest complaints was around knowledge gaps - not finding information, confusing information and sadly, support teams that didn’t seem to understand their problem either!

Many organizations that provide self-service options to clients think they are doing a pretty good job - 53% said so. End users don’t seem to agree, with only 15% saying the self-service tools were satisfactory. 

But that hasn’t stopped the demand for self-service product support - 81% said they want more access than they have now to self-service information before they reach out to a contact center.

Automating the delivery of knowledge and assistance through generative AI-powered entities has a number of benefits.

AI virtual assistants can:

  • Handle routine queries
  • Offer recommended replies to support teams and tailor them by channel
  • Provide self-directed help resources 
  • Smart routing requests to appropriate teams for faster resolution 
  • Recognize sentiment in chats and alert support teams to positive, neutral or negative interactions
  • Troubleshoot simple issues
  • Kick off tasks and other events based on chats 

Organizations can pivot their support team to focus on complex and value-added customer interactions.

Self-service will continue to grow, particularly with assistance from chatbots and conversational AI. Leverage technology that can take your internal knowledge base and deliver it to end users, across channels, using AI to source and display the precise right answer. Read more about use cases for conversational AI in customer service.

2. Personalized Support Journeys

Every customer is unique, with distinct preferences and expectations and they expect their product support journey to be the same. CXM technology is one of the newest platforms that is making it easier to design, guide and even adjust customer journeys on the fly, in real time, to ensure customers can receive what they need in the support journey with as little friction or effort on their part. 

Takeaway: The best CXM platform should offer visibility to customer interactions in real time, no matter where they happen in the organization or with external partners. It should also be no code/low code, so once plugged into the legacy infrastructure, they can have an immediate impact on the product support experience.

3. Continuous Conversations Across Channels

Businesses also complained about the need to repeat information over and over again while seeking help for a product or service.  We’ve all been there. We start a support request in web chat but then need to continue it later via SMS or a phone call. And even though you are dealing with a single organization, these different channels make you feel as if you are talking to multiple organizations that don’t know each other at all. Or you! Each one makes you start from the beginning and it’s frustrating and doesn’t inspire confidence that your product support need will be addressed effectively.

Customers much prefer to have a continuous conversation in which they can pick up wherever they left off, regardless of which channel they are using, all without losing context.

Takeaway: Providing a singular support journey, in which the customer feels they are dealing with one team that’s consistent across many channels, ensures continuity while allowing customers to choose their preferred method of communication.  

4. Data Sharing Across Organizational Silos and Partners 

Sharing information with everyone that interacts with a customer is the only way to transform the customer journey. You can’t leave out external partners or have functional teams operate in a vacuum unless you want the customer to experience that disconnected, jarring journey. 

When choosing a technology to empower data sharing, organizations have to be sure it unlocks  bi-directional data flow back and forth between internal teams but also with external partners across the ecosystem to guide journeys from end to end. CXMEngine has built connectors to Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Fiserv and many others.

Real-time Analytics Help Teams Proactively Solve CX Concerns

Businesses can’t wait to find out a customer is unhappy at the end of the product support journey because as statistics show, 3 of 4 companies have abandoned the process by then. It’s too late.

To keep up with today’s more exacting customer experience expectations, platforms must have real-time visibility into customer interactions, enabling the organization to monitor and measure the effectiveness of its support initiatives as they are happening. 

Data-driven insights provide valuable in-the-moment guidance to help customers get back on track. However, dashboards that show running metrics and journey health also have value and can drive the direction of product enhancements, support workflows, and trends in customer service and product support.

If the platform offers a drag-and-drop tool to empower business lines to act on these insights and made changes immediately, without waiting for expensive and overwhelmed IT resources to add it to the growing roadmap, all the better.

The only way to provide stellar product support is to continue to anticipate customer needs and find ways to address them gracefully. Companies that fail to do that will see customers leaving for their competitors.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Product Support System:
  • Do you have an ecosystem of providers who engage with end users?
  • Are you connected across teams and with partners into a single shared view of a customer for seamless communication and collaboration?
  • Do customers have to restart conversations across channels when they need help or can they continue on as they move from phone to email to SMS to chat?
  • Can your organization and partners see customer interactions in real time and automate parts of the customer journey to help guide end users through to success?
  • Are you providing precise knowledge to your support teams so they can help customers, confident they have in-depth accurate information close at the ready?

CXM solutions provide companies with efficient, effective product support tools to save money, strengthen client relationships and grow revenue

Product support remains a vital piece of the customer service puzzle… especially as advanced and specialized technology rolls out at a fast pace and customers need help using it. The quality of the product help they receive from you can affect retention, successful onboarding, additional sales, and satisfaction scores. 

In both strong and challenging economies, investing in customer retention is the best move. We offer CX Services solutions, from remote 24/7, on-shore, white-labeled technical experts to field support teams that can be hands-on, supporting your customers. Pair your product support strategy with CXM software that leverages tools like knowledge delivery, conversational AI, journey building and case management - in an all-in-one platform, to gain visibility and insights into your customers at every stage in any journey. Extract the most possible value from your existing customer information to provide more streamlined experiences that lead to greater loyalty and customer retention.

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