The greatest failures in the world happen because we use something for the wrong purpose. The purpose of government is to ensure the safety and success of it’s citizens, but some officials see it as a way to accomplish their own goals and end up hurting our trust in government. Twitter is meant for conversation but is seen by some companies as a place for broadcasting loudly and blindly, hurting the legitimacy of the company doing so. Treadmills are meant for running, but then someone puts a skateboard on them…

Most companies are currently using support teams for the wrong purpose. They should be using them for revenue generation rather than cost prevention. They should be focused on customer happiness.

Many companies seem to see customer support as a necessary hassle. They deal with the hassle of support because they know that not providing support could mean mobs of angry customers hurting the bottom line. So instead, these people build up anemic support organization, designed to avoid spending much money by getting rid of the customer through satisfying them just enough that they won’t complain in public.

Let’s break the cycle. From now on, the support team is focused on customer happiness. Hear me out, oh fearful CFOs. This isn’t some community manager hippie idea here. This is a profit equation, plain and simple.

sudoku puzzle that spells out I heart revenue

Here’s the traditional equation for a support team:

Cost of lots of people complaining in public > Cost of fewer people complaining in public + Cost of support efforts

It’s a losing equation, because however you cut it there is cost involved. You never really know what the cost of people complaining is, and you never really know how much support you must provide to prevent it, so you can never feel confident about this equation.

With a customer happiness-focused support center, the equation is this:

(Number of users leaving the support experience happy * Average revenue from a return customer) + (Number of users leaving support center who say they will absolutely refer a friend * Average revenue from new visitors) – Cost of support efforts = Revenue

That’s not only doable, it’s making money! Between internal analytics and exit surveys of customers who used your support center, you can actually put a dollar amount to the happiness you’re creating. Scope out our blog post on the metrics Zappos uses in their call centers for some tips.

napkin with lovely coffee, thank you written on itBonus round: This’ll also mean less turnover on your support staff, because instead of being jerks all day, they’ll get to be human beings. It’ll also mean nice reviews or shout-outs when you end up helping someone with publishing clout, leading to more new customers. Also? It just might be easier to sleep at night knowing you’re helping your customers.

How can you do this?

1. Throw away your cost-prevention metrics, start using customer happiness metrics
2. Stop having the support team report to the CTO or product manager. They’re not a development-focused team, they’re a customer-focused team.
3. Read Delivering Happiness, by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. What he did with Zappos is not a miracle. If you focus on customer happiness, you can achieve it (and make a ton of money).

Does your support organization already think like this? Let me know in the comments and I’ll write about you! 


Sudoku image courtesy of YourDoku

Napkin photo courtesy for James Morrison