If you think support is just a function designed to answer customers’ technical inquiries and try to keep costs down while doing it, you’re wrong. And thinking about support this way can really cost you.

Your support team members are like secret Swiss Army knives and their most important tool is the most overlooked.

Great support teams have agents that can write, problem-solve, and be empathetic. Support teams are analytical and most importantly, they care.

Caring is a hot commodity right now. In an economy where some companies are choosing to try to keep customers by force—making it difficult for people to cancel or request refunds—it’s better to be a company that keeps them because you care.

The most important tool in the support team’s Swiss Army knife? Caring. And the right way to use it? To grow your revenue.

Customer Support Drives Retention

Everyone we talk to about this pandemic says that their companies are leaning into retention, but what are you trying to retain? Is it ARR? Revenue? People forget that behind every dollar is the face of a customer and the relationship that you have built with them.

One of the best ways that you’ll retain your existing customer base and continue to grow it is by offering excellent customer support. And I’m not just talking about working diligently in the support queue—your team is capable of so much more than that, and can be one of your greatest sources of customer joy and revenue if you just let them.

When given the opportunity, your support team can feed your content marketing, increase your LTV, and sell your product and solutions—all on top of helping your customers get things done. Here’s how.


Generating Marketing Content

Yes, your marketing team knows your customer personas better than anyone, but your support team knows the actual people that fill out those roles. Your support team members are constantly immersed in both the joy and the frustrations of your customers—they know what makes them tick. You can use that to your advantage.

Confirming and Improving Your Customer Personas

According to MarketingBlender, 73% of consumers report feeling frustrated when websites or services offer content (ads, promotions, etc.) that has nothing to do with them.

Instead of basing your marketing outreach on what you hypothetically think your customers are doing, you can use the insights from your helpdesk to determine what your customers actually are doing.

Understanding when customers reach out about certain features, or what their most common questions are can be super helpful when it comes to journey mapping, or planning out larger, more proactive outreach plans. Your support team can be your eyes and ears on the ground here.

To make this work for your team:

  • Train your support team on information that is helpful for solving your persona's problems along specific points of their customer journey. Provide saved replies and workflows that guide your support team to provide the most useful information for each customer type.
  • Bring a support team member into product marketing meetings and ask their opinions on new strategies. While they may not come prepared with data (at least initially), they might have an entirely new way of looking at things you haven’t considered. Your support team members take your product meetings from just smart to smart and insightful. They are the keepers of the customer knowledge that none of the rest of your team members have.

Sourcing Customer Testimonials and Case Studies

Ask any marketer or sales team how hard it is to find the right customer examples and case studies. To support teams, it may seem easy, because they’re so close to customers that they “just know”.

Support agents are the first to know when there’s an excellent customer success story or unique use-case that could be good to use as a testimonial. Sharing customer stories is a great way to help your customers feel appreciated, but also helps prospective customers be inspired and excited to try your product.

A customer use case is different from other types of marketing, in that it feels more authentic and real coming from the voice of a customer, rather than the voice of the company.


Bonus:

If you share stories on social media, they’ll likely also be shared by the customer themselves, thus extending your marketing reach.


To make this work for you:

  • Create a workflow that makes it easy for support agents to tag conversations that could lead to case studies. Creating a tag in the help desk will keep your marketing team overflowing with incoming leads.
  • Review positive customer satisfaction reviews to find customers that are pleased with their experiences and follow up immediately.
  • Bring your support team members into the action of sourcing unique customer success stories.

Driving Expansion and LTV with Proactive Support

You may already be doing some proactive work with your customers. For example, you likely already have documentation and run educational webinars. If you don’t have those things already, now is the time to get started!

Onboarding Customers and Preventing Churn

When you give customers the information that you know they need when you know they need it, you cut out a lot of the stress and hassle that usually comes with looking through a knowledge base. And support teams are in a position to know what users need and when, better than anyone.

A great place to contribute that knowledge is onboarding or activating new customers. Onboarding is a great way to proactively help customers, deflect tickets from your inbox, and make your product stickier.

For example, use step-by-step guides in context to help your customers understand what they need to accomplish next, rather than making them go and search it out for themselves.

After all, the better that someone knows how to use a product and the more powerful they feel with its tools, the harder it will be for them to leave behind.

Support Driven Upselling

Your support team has customer awareness that can really help boost other functions within your company.

For example, your customer support team has a deeper understanding of your product functionality than almost any other team. Along with using that knowledge in your customer journey map, they can also use it to proactively recommend or suggest services.

That’s right: you can turn your support team into a sales resource that feels super authentic and helpful to your customers.

On average, for companies that offer them, 70-95% of revenue comes from upsells and renewals, and your support team is in a prime place to drive this.

For example, if a customer reaches out about something specific that they are trying to accomplish with your product, and it’s something that you offer on a higher tiered pricing package, that’s a prime opportunity for your team to start a deeper conversation about moving up.

Just to be clear: this doesn’t have to happen in every conversation, but there are often opportunities, especially in implementation and feature request-type tickets to have upsell conversations that feel natural and supportive to your customers, rather than sharky and sneaky.


To make this work for you:

  • Train support to do honest, open upsells that follow their tone and style.
  • Advocate for your team to focus on product adoption as a means of expansion.
  • Teach your team about the problems your customer is trying to solve and have them suggest solutions, not just fixes.
  • Drive your team towards more strategic, long-term partnerships with your customers. The better they understand your customers’ needs, the more efficient they will be.

Boosting Product-led Growth

Your support team are the people closest to your customers. So, even if your product team thinks that they know exactly what customers want and need, they often don’t know how people actually use features once they are built. That’s where your support team comes into play.

Use the insights that your support team gleans from the inbox to make your product better and less buggy for your customers. The best way to grow your brand is to let your product do the talking—your support team can give you the tools to boost that signal.

Alongside that, encourage your team to track usage issues or bugs (and their impact on support). One of the best things that your team can do is use a bug tracking software in combination with tagging your support tickets to provide clear context and customer stories to your product team.

For example, if an issue comes in with your payment page being down, your team could tag it #payment-page-bug, and put it in JIRA, Github, Clubhouse, or wherever else your engineering and product teams track bugs.

This process means that your engineers get the context of actual customer issues—they can hear about the problems right from the horse’s mouth. Seeing the actual use cases of customers struggling with your product contextualizes the issues, rather than having them just be another data point in a bug tracker.

If your goal is customer retention, fixing your bugs and making your product stable is one of the best things that you can do. In fact, in one study they discovered that 84% of users abandon a product after seeing two crashes or bugs.

Your support team is an excellent resource on not only bug frequency, but specific examples of when and how they occur. Use that to your advantage to hunker down and make a stable product that your customers love to use. Your brand is infinitely more attractive when your product speaks for itself.


To make it work for you:

  • Create a triage system for any feature requests that come through.
  • Involve support team members in key product or engineering meetings to share insights.
  • Teach customer support team members about the best practices for writing user stories.

Conclusion

Yes, your support team is a great first touchpoint for all of your customers. They know how to communicate effectively, they’ve got great customer focus and they know your product like the back of their hand.

Luckily for you, they’re good at a lot of other things, too. Use your support team as a secret weapon against churn by helping them boost the effectiveness of your product cycle, supercharge your marketing efforts with great customer use cases, and proactively give your customers the documentation alley-oop before they even know they’re running into trouble.

Keeping your existing customers happy while continuing to grow your user base is the best thing you can do to hold your company afloat during tough times.