Customer support is vital for most businesses. It’s how problems are resolved, questions are answered, and customers get any help they need making purchases. While offering customer support is non-negotiable, how you provide that support can and should change over time.
We’re going to go over how you can add business texting to your customer support channels to help turn your support center from a sunk cost to a revenue maker.
Why customer support costs so much
Before we go into how you can change your customer support center from a cost center to a revenue center, let’s look at three reasons why customer support costs so much.
Cost of labor
Customer support runs completely on people and the average pay for a customer service representative is $14.45 per hour, according to Payscale. Support can be streamlined but there’s no efficient way to remove people from the support process completely, nor would you want to. You need agents to handle pretty much every request you get, which can cost quite a chunk of change. With phone support, you need a person on the phone to take the call, too. As your business grows and you need more agents, the more it will cost to run support.
This is why customer support is frequently viewed as a sunk cost. Businesses expect customer support to only cost money, not make money, and treat it as such. Once we start thinking of customer support as a revenue maker, we can start acting like it is and then making money.
Cost of turnover
In addition to relying on people, customer support is a difficult role to fill and comes with some high turnover rates. That means you’re also paying the price for hiring and training more regularly than you might for another type of role. So making your customer support more efficient to less likely to burn out employees will be better for your business in the long run.
Call center employees between the ages of 20 and 34 generally only stay in their jobs for about one year before moving on to another opportunity. On average, call centers have a turnover rate of 30 to 45 percent, according to Quality Assurance and Training Connection. That means you want to be careful with the amount of work you give them and how easy you make it for them to do that work. The more manageable their jobs are, the less likely you need to replace them and pay hiring and training costs.
On average, it costs $2,500 to hire a new agent, according to Contact Bable. If you’re regularly hiring new agents and then losing them, this will take a toll on how much money your support center can earn.
Challenges facing customer support centers
In addition to the ways customer support can be inherently set up as a cost center, there are unique and new challenges that the support industry is facing.
Increase in consumer choice
Your customers have hundreds of choices regarding making a purchase thanks to the addition of online shopping and, of course, the rise of Amazon. Other selling platforms add to the mix too, Shopify has more than 1 million businesses on its platform. This means more competition for you and more time spent trying to convince your customers that you’re the best option for them. Customer support teams are now expected to wear multiple hats, sometimes covering support, operations, success, and sometimes sales, just like an associate in a physical store would.
Customer expectations have changed
Your customers want more. They have access to all the information they need to know what the perfect product is for them, and the top companies are showing them the best of the best that they have access to. They’re looking for experts, not simply sales associates or support. They want to know that they’re getting expert help and support from the best of the best when they decide to shop with you. You need to be proactive instead of reactive to meet these expectations.
Businesses like Curology and Noom offer personalized treatment and health plans, as well as experts, to help answer questions and to form those plans in the first place. This is a new standard for businesses, and customers are getting more accustomed to it every day. It’s a great way to help increase retention as well as the lifetime value of each customer.
Personalized experiences win
Customers want personalized experiences; 80 percent of them do. So it’s in your best interest to work on giving them exactly that. You can use texting to accomplish this if you aren’t already doing it. They want to feel like they’re making the right choice when shopping with you and feel confident in their choice when they have so many other options.
How to use business texting to drive revenue from customer support
Your customers expect the most from their favorite brands. Be sure to give them the best experience possible to help make your support center one that brings in revenue and keeps customers long term. Improving your customers’ experience will mean more sales, more income, and a higher lifetime value for your customers.
Texting allows you to engage with customers in a new way. You can actively engage with customers by making sure your texting phone number is easy to find, visible on your website, and that your customers know they can text your business.
The more you engage with customers, and they engage with you, the more chances you have to make a sale and increase your revenue. You can use that engagement to show that you have experts available, offer to troubleshoot issues, or make it clear you can work with your customer’s schedule.
Overall, staying engaged with your customers will help keep your business at the top of mind for them. When it comes to engagement, 64 percent of customers want brands to connect with them. Research from Gallup shows that fully engaged customers represent a 23 percent premium over the average customer. Plus, B2B companies that engage customers end up getting a 55 percent higher wallet share from their engaged customers.
Ensuring your customers know they can reach you any time with texting is one sure-fire way to help turn support into a revenue center. Texting can cost as little as $.25 per text. Compared to calls and emails, that’s a fraction of the price you could expect to pay using other channels.
Offer expert advice
Use business texting to offer your customers the most expert advice of any business out there. Textline customer Thirdlove offers its clients expert fit advice from experienced specialists over text. More than 50 percent of their texts have to do with product and fit.
You, too, can use business texting to offer this expert advice without your customers ever having to enter a store. Plus, when your agents text, they can be helping serve multiple customers at once instead of only dealing with one request at a time like you would in person or on the phone.
There are also some key performance indicators or KPIs, you can set up to track how your experts are doing. Some potential KPIs depending on your business might be:
- Number of customers an expert texts in a certain time frame
- Number of people an expert texts who go on to make a purchase
- Number of first-time customers an expert re-engages to make a second purchase
- Number of issues resolved in a certain time period
Texting can help drive down the cost of support drastically because your agents can help significantly more customers in a day. Customers might also feel more comfortable texting or might find it helpful to refer back to a conversation. If they had a conversation on the phone or in-store, they might need to take notes or write down what was discussed. Or worse, they might not remember at all, meaning they’d have to spend time doing it all over again.
Personalize customer experiences
Along with expert advice, your customer support can offer personalized customer experiences through business texting. One survey found that 38 percent of customers say personalization was the most significant factor in creating a satisfactory experience.
Texting allows you to create highly personalized experiences for all of your customers. No need to sacrifice time that would be spent with another customer for the sake of making an experience personal for one. Like with offering expertise, your agents can manage multiple conversations at once, instead of only one. This is also a benefit for the customer. It gives them time to consider their options and answers to any questions the expert might have asked.
Using texting would allow your customers to see support as a personal shopping experience. They could share photos of what they’re looking for, ask for advice, and get feedback from your support team.
Remember to personalize the experience by sharing photos and links with customers. You should also be sure to use their name and keep the conversation two-way. A personalized experience means one that’s different than what’s applied to any other customer.
By adding business texting to your customer support, you can also anticipate the needs of your customers. This not only improves the customer experience but opens up the opportunity to retain, upsell, or re-engage those customers as well.
Take, for instance, the example of a mattress company. If a customer buys a mattress, has a great experience, and relays that message to support, there’s an opportunity to see if they also want another product. Your support team could offer pillows, sheets, or anything else your business sells or produces.
Another way for you to do this is to check in with customers and ask if there’s anything else they’re looking for or that you can help them with. This is part of being proactive and predicting your customers’ needs instead of waiting for them to contact you with a problem to solve.
How to turn support into a revenue center: The bottom line
The best way for your support center to turn into a revenue center is to be proactive and expect customer needs. Giving your customers the experiences they’re looking for is the key to not only meeting their needs but exceeding them. Remember, using business texting can facilitate you doing each one of the things listed above.