The environment moves incredibly fast in the software world. Customer support always has to keep pace. Customers are using our apps online, which leads them to expect instant and personalised help from your support team – on any number of channels they choose.
What’s more, the current health crisis means more people than ever are relying on software providers to deliver essential services… and also to provide entertainment that makes lockdown just that little bit more bearable.
Such circumstances place increased pressure on customer support teams during a time when more companies than ever are rapidly evolving their working practices. Businesses are pivoting so they can continue to offer the same reliable service that has always defined their brand.
That’s why the software pros always manage to deliver market-leading customer support in radically different ways. For example, some businesses specialise in providing share-worthy social media support, while others use live chat with lightning speed, and some make their mark self-service.
So, there are many things we can learn from world-renowned companies such Spotify, Netflix, Slack, and Help Scout. Without further ado, let’s dive right into these customer support best practice examples.
Considering the current COVID-19 lockdown, which company might experience more usage other than Netflix? This movie and TV streaming service is a firm staple even at the best of times. Now we rely on it more than ever for escapism, and we want to be transported with quality entertainment. Not surprisingly, Netflix has seen 16 million new sign ups since lockdown, according to the BBC.
Netflix has also hired more than 2,000 new support staff who can work remotely to handle the increased customer demand – but it’s not quite enough. When your customer base expands so rapidly, this can be good news for profits, but your customer service quality can decline as you struggle to keep up.
It’s times like these when your customer support knowledge base is a lifesaver – and customers prefer knowledge bases over all other channels. Well-chosen self-service content helps you handle the rising tides of new customers who may be learning how to use the software for the first time. Frustration is high. The knowledge base has a prominent search bar, so customers can quickly find content they need.
Like many companies, Netflix has also provided a timely note on its knowledge base that explains why their support responses may be slower than usual. Whatever happens, it’s crucial to manage customer expectations – particularly in a crisis.
Image source: Netflix customer support knowledge base
Netflix takes its job of entertaining people very seriously, and they are customer-obsessed. Their approach to customer support is proactive rather than reactive, because they use a method they call “consumer science” to “discover what delights customers through the scientific process,” according to Gibson Biddle, Former VP at Netflix.
Customer support is not just about helping your customers when they have already encountered a problem. It should also be about looking at the data to discover subtle trends in behaviour, so you can resolve any issues before they have a chance to balloon out of control.
For example, the executive team at Netflix noticed a slight rise in cancellations in comparison with previous years. They had no idea what was causing the spike, and they ruled out a glitch in the reporting. Biddle says, “I recall being impressed by the increasing number of analysts we threw against the problem — the team’s intellectual curiosity was insatiable.” They eventually found out the reason it was because they had not lowered the subscription cost this time for new customers, unlike they had in previous years.
Takeaway: Monitor the data so you can stay ahead of customer trends, and proactively prevent stem negative outcomes like customer churn.
Our next company, Spotify, has a reputation for being whimsical with customers during support interactions. This is just one of the reasons why they are so successful as a software brand in the music entertainment industry. Spotify understands that its B2C customers are a diverse bunch, united by their love of music.
Spotify brings the fun, but when the music stops, that can result in some very angry customers. Luckily, Spotify knows exactly how to bring the smile back to customers’ faces.
“We try to look for ways to put that special smile on customers’ faces,” says Chug Abramowitz, Vice President of Global Customer Service and Social Media at Spotify. “We try to do things from within our product that accomplish that.” Chug is onto something – 73% of customers fell in love with a brand because of their friendly customer service reps.
Spotify responds promptly and efficiently to every customer concern, often in the form of music playlists that spell out a message through song titles. Spotify doesn’t take itself too seriously, which also gives customers permission to be a bit silly when interacting with them online. Spotify absolutely smashes it with social media customer service, particularly using the handle @SpotifyCares.
Image Source: The @SpotifyCares handle |Twitter
Social media support is considered the gold standard for Spotify customer support agents. New hires don’t even touch social media channels until they have mastered the brand voice and tone. “We don’t really let them get into social media until they no longer really have to be thinking about how to solve the cases,” Abramowitz says.
Takeaway: Be alert to the communication channels your customers prefer to use. Cultivate a distinctive brand voice that allows you to provide a coherent support experience that delights your customers every time.
Perhaps one of the most notable things about Slack customer support is that you rarely if ever have to contact them. The product – team workspace software – just works so well and intuitively that customers can become successful independently. Not to mention, Slack uses its own customer support knowledgebase to provide exceptional customer support. With more teams than ever working remotely, the popularity of Slack is only going to rise.
Image Source: The Slack customer support knowledge base
“While skills like patience, empathy and understanding are key to helping others, functionality in Slack keeps our CE team organized and efficient,” says Matt Haughey, writer at Slack. Business can grow up to 8% above the normal market rate when they focus on better customer service experiences.
The Slack support team answers thousands of support tickets per week, responds to hundreds of tweets a day, with thousands of tweets incoming during their busiest hours. Slack also has a robust and helpful customer support portal to answer common user questions. At last count, Slack had around 200 hundred agents in their Customer Experience team, with surely many more now.
Slack uses Channels to organise support issues, share announcements, resolve urgent matters, and coordinate responses to customers. Slack takes support very seriously, helping their support agents to collaborate with one another and coordinate internally with Subject Matter Experts. They have a channel in Slack where support agents can propose a new article for the Slack help centre, thereby reducing the support load by providing effective self-service for common issues.
With such a large support team, Slack streamlines and coordinates support operations so that teams can respond on a mass scale. Slack breaks down organisational silos by ensuring support agents are connected with Communications, Engineering, and Operations. We can all learn from Slack when coordinating our support efforts.
Takeaway: Prepare for your busiest support periods, and hire enough hands on deck to deal with the volume. Streamline operations by automating away common tasks within Slack, and help support agents to connect with other teams.
When customers benefit from market-leading support, they become brand ambassadors and rave about you to their friends. When they take to social media to express their gratitude, that can be even more kudos for your brand. Happy American customers shared their support experience with 11 of their friends.
Although primarily software companies, each of these brands operates in very different industries, ranging from entertainment, music, cross-industry customer support, to business messaging software. The one thing that connects them all is market-leading customer support. We hope you’re inspired by some of these examples and their customer support best practices, and start putting them into practice right now in your own business.
Consider trying out Document360 for your own customer support knowledge base.