This is part of our ongoing series on scaling customer service, based on our Customer Service Scaling Timeline. This month we’re covering Stage Four.

About our guest blogger: Judi Huck is a community consultant whose current primary goal is to develop community at FeverBee and around The Pillar Summit, which provides professional community management training. Judi joins us today to provide a rebuttal to yesterday’s post on using metrics to determine when to hire more customer support agents.

Support isn’t flipping hamburgers. Or if it is, it should be like working at the Shake Shack of burger joints and ensuring quality every step of the way.

How often do you hear friends complain about bad customer service? I seem to notice these types of complaints on a regular, if not daily, basis.

Instead of support being an investment in customer happiness – which it should be, in my opinion – support is often a high-volume, low-customer-satisfaction practice. The danger is that, more and more, we are living in a world of perfect information. Consumers are able to share everything. If you have an awesome product, they’ll blog about it. If you have horrible customer service, they’ll tell everyone they know.

To an increasing number of people, stellar customer service goes hand-in-hand with awesome products. Having a business that caters to one side without putting appropriate emphasis on the other is a recipe for disaster.

The reason why so many customer service experiences are often unpleasant is probably they are undervalued by management. Because of the level of support that many customers experience, it could appear that support is a distant stepchild to other aspects of running a business like marketing, lead generation, what have you.

In a world of perfect information where expectations of customer service are raised, there is actually a fine line between support and account management. The more your support resembles account management – where dedicated support persons are able to check in with clients and consult them on individual needs – the more you are a step ahead.

The more you are drowning in a sea of requests and unable to provide answers you are proud of…the more opportunity you have for improvement.

word of mouth marketing manifesto

The question that support managers (or community managers if you’re like me) should ask themselves is not “How many support tickets can I handle?” More important is “How many support tickets can I do well?” Or “How many support tickets can I handle to the best of my ability?”

Customers that are referred by friends (for things like sweet customer service) stay with a product longer than those who stumble upon products through other means. The idea is that the strength of referrals and the power of word-of-mouth marketing are unparalleled in the business world. What kind of business do you want to be? What kind of business do you strive to be?

Since you’re reading this, I would hope that you want to be the type of business that people rave about. The kind of business that’s optimized with regards to support. The kind of business that makes money, not just saves money from support efforts – because happy customers are bringing you new leads. As they say, “goes above and beyond.”

Is your support merely preventative? Or is it a solid investment?

Customer service is greater than customer’s service, and if you’re not yet convinced you may be doing it wrong.

Neon sign photo courtesy of Ben Murray.
Word of mouth image courtesy of Neville Hobson.