The Secret to Better Customer Support

Revamp Your Support System to Save Money and Retain Clients

A few weeks ago, I sat down with a new client to talk through her service package. Partway through the meeting, she asked, “Randy, will I have a technician assigned to my account, or do you have a
tiered support system?”

She wasn’t the first to ask me that question. I hear it fairly regularly from new clients, and it’s a reasonable thing to be curious about. But the answer I give often surprises people: “No, we don’t offer dedicated support representatives or tiered support, and trust me — you don’t want either of them.”

It’s true! I don’t assign a technician to every single account, and our company doesn’t offer tiered support. Both options are bad for business.

A look inside a failing model.

In this customer service model, every client who calls in with a problem has to climb a chain of customer service representatives to get it fixed. This is a common practice even though everyone who calls into a company hates to hear the phrase, “I’m going to transfer you up to Tier 2/Tier 3.” The first tier of support can only fix the most basic problems, making them useless for most customers. Sometimes the customer’s call has to be passed all the way up to a manager before they find someone who knows how to help them. When a company claims to have customer support available 24/7, they often have this system. Someone “assigned to your account” is code for a Tier 1 person available to you at any time.

Welcome to frustration station.

You can probably already see why the tiered support structure is bad for customers. It’s frustrating and a waste of time! Having to relay your problem over and over again makes you want to throw your phone across the room. It also takes longer on average for every question to be answered. When we asked our clients what was most important to them in customer service, “knowledgeable,” “friendly,” and “fixing the problem the first time” were the top three items on their lists. If we had a tiered support system, we would be kissing No. 1 and No. 3 goodbye.

The more tiers you have, the less money you make.

As a business owner, there are a lot of reasons to ditch the tiered support system. One is that when you have a Tier 1, that means you’ve hired a lot of people with only cursory knowledge of your product or service. And that’s a huge waste of money! You can reduce your costs and make your customers happier if you skip the lower tiers and only hire knowledgeable customer support staff. This “collaborative support model” is a more profitable business structure.

Collaboration is the best medicine.

There are five big reasons to choose a collaborative support model.

  1. It’s easier for your employees to share knowledge. When one employee goes on vacation or leaves the company, the others can quickly pick up the slack and step in.
  2. Your clients’ problems will be solved faster.
  3. Your company will be more profitable because you’ll have fewer employees and happier clients, which means higher retention rates.
  4. Your employees won’t burn out. When employees can only answer a select number of questions, this gets monotonous and causes them to burn out.
  5. Your company culture will improve. In a tiered system, Tier 2 might look down on Tier 1, causing rifts in the company.

Here at Sklar Technology Partners, our customer support model is one of the secrets to our success. If yours is holding you back, it’s time to make a change.

-Randy Sklar


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