7 Ways to Create and Optimize Your Customer Support Funnel

  • Written By:
    Julia Serdiuk
  • Published On:
    May 5th, 2022
  • Read Time:
    7 Mins
  • Category:
    Growth

Every marketing-related post starts with “put your customer at the heart of your business,” and that’s for a reason. A 5% increase in customer retention can bring you more than a 25% increase in profit, according to Bain&Company

Salesforce has evidence that almost 80% of consumers see customer experience as important as the product or service quality. But what exactly can you do to deliver the experience your customer want? Use data and plan your customer care properly. And that’s just what a customer support funnel helps to do.

Customer support funnel explained

Marketers use the term “funnel” to describe stages of a customer’s relationship with a company. You’re probably familiar with the marketing and sales funnels representing the customer’s journey from awareness to purchase decision.

The customer support funnel is a new practice that focuses on the post-sale relationship with a customer. Its goal is to retain clients and enhance loyalty. But how exactly does it help your business?

Knowing your customers’ needs after they have completed their marketing and sales journey with your company, can help you plan and improve customer experience. A customer service funnel allows you to identify weak spots and eliminate them. If you know what to expect, you can influence consumer behavior and increase profit. And finally, a strong customer support funnel will help you deliver the best customer experience possible.

How to create a customer support funnel

  1. Define your priorities

Source: pixabay.com

The funnel approach involves the strategic handling of support requests. You should decide how different contacts should be dealt with and how to escalate them within the customer service department. Also, streamlining requests by type makes it easier to pick automation software and decreases the number of tickets for a support agent to handle.

The criteria to categorize support tickets will differ depending on a niche or a business’s nature. For example, you can break support inquiries into the following categories:

  • Highly repetitive
  • Complex
  • Urgent

Tickets that belong to the same category can be treated in the same scenario. For instance, repetitive inquiries can be answered with a canned response – a pre-written response that you can write beforehand and shoot if need be – and easy tickets can be solved by less experienced agents.

Next, you can streamline the support tickets flow and assign them to the most relevant channel to get solved. Thus, highly repetitive, low-urgency, and low-complexity tickets can escalate to a self-service platform while urgent and complex issues should be addressed via phone or live chat.

  1. Implement self-service

Source: www.flickr.com 

According to the Zendesk report, 69% of consumers try to solve the problem on their own before turning to a customer service representative. Another research shows that 34% of respondents would rather fix their devices with the guidance of an AR assistant than send them for repair.

Self-service optimization gives customers more convenience and power, thus improving their experience with a business. In terms of ROI, a well-implemented self-service cuts the number of support tickets, boosts on-site traffic, decreases response times, and lowers total support costs.

For example, if your main product is life insurance, help your clients make appointments without contacting your customer support—a special portal where they can solve all the questions on their own. So, there are five ways to help your clients help themselves (PayKickstart has some of them too but we get to that later):

  • Knowledge base — a single source of information both customers and employees can use.
  • Customer portal — a resource providing curated information to customers via a personalized login.
  • Community forum — a place where customers can share their knowledge on the topic.
  • Integrated customer support — a tool bringing all the information about the customer and their issues to aid a support agent in providing a thoughtful response.

PayKickstart, for that matter, offers a hosted link option as well as an embeddable billing portal that makes it possible for vendors to easily manage their billing inquiries, see their transactions, download invoices, and perform other financial activities on their own.  

  1. Provide multiple points for interaction

According to stats, 57% of consumers prefer contacting businesses via email and social media. However, if the issue is complicated, 40% of consumers want to hear a real person over a phone, and 23% seek a face-to-face interaction for troubleshooting problems.

All that means you should provide support through different communication channels. This way, you allow clients to choose the most comfortable way of getting help, thus increasing their engagement and getting higher CSAT scores.

To smooth out funnel management, consider centralizing all the interactions by implementing an omnichannel approach. The less time your team has to spend switching between channels, the faster their responses will be. 

At PayKickstart, visitors are able to install a Facebook Messenger chat widget on their checkouts – SegMate. Why is it not only helpful but also time-saving? Such a bot is feature-packed as its toolset involves (this list is much more in-depth):

  • Subscriber tools 
  • Post engage 
  • Ad engage
  • Evergreen and Reminder sequences (for drip and date-specific campaigns, respectively)

Source: https://segmateapp.com/

There is evidence that over 40% of consumers expect an answer from a company within an hour. Even more, half of the respondents believe that the response time should be the same during weekends and days off. So, all means are good if they help to meet customer expectations.

  1. Rely on automation

Source: pixabay.com 

AI tools make customer service faster, more personal than a knowledge base, and much more helpful than an automated voice system. And they also free your agents for solving complex issues requiring an empathetic touch.

Thus, IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems can recognize keywords and provide voice instructions or transfer the call to the proper support channel.

AI-powered chatbots can route customers to the most equipped team to handle their issues. They can also quickly provide links to resources that help customers find a solution on their own or even compile a straightforward answer to a simple question using machine learning.

Automation also gives you more data to improve your customer service. For instance, PayKickstart platform lets you create automated surveys to be sent via email and get customer details or learn their opinion about your company.

  1. Provide chat transcript

Source: www.flickr.com 

Make it easy to find what has been said regardless of the channel by tracking and storing support-related chat transcripts. This is useful for agents as they can quickly review the history of the client’s interactions instead of repeatedly asking for information.

Customers may want a transcript of a conversation too, to be able to solve the issue on their own if it arises again. To make your transcripts scannable, ensure they include:

  • All replies
  • Timestamps
  • The customer’s and agent’s names

Chat transcripts can also give you valuable insights in terms of customer vocabulary and use them to better connect with clients.

  1. Reward customers through loyalty programs

Loyalty programs can be useful in the post-sale stage of your support funnel to encourage customers to keep sticking to your brand. A successful loyalty program extends customer lifetime value and improves customer experience by offering rewards and perks. 

There are stats showing that 67% of customers spend more in their third year with a company than they do within the first six months.

In terms of customer support, loyalty programs may offer the following:

  • On-site support
  • Personalized service
  • A limited-time free troubleshooting services

Actually, strong customer service can be a secret weapon of your loyalty program. CFI Group and Radial found that 39% of consumers refuse to sign up for loyalty programs because they don’t see the value of it. Taking time to appreciate your customer’s loyalty and ensuring they are educated enough to use your rewards may do wonders to the retention and repeated purchases.

If a loyalty program isn’t quite relevant to your business, you may try and turn your customer into affiliates. This way, each of you will maximize the benefit from cooperation. Thus, PayKickstart lets you set up an affiliate program with automated payouts to your partners.

How to optimize a customer support funnel

Customers may go up and down a customer support funnel as their relationship with your company develops. They can also go through the funnel multiple times throughout their life with your business. A well-optimized support funnel makes it easy to move across stages and get a consistent customer experience. To ensure this, do:

  • Give resolution options

Allow customers to escape from self-service and automated support options and contact a human agent. At the end of the day, support professionals still beat articles and bots in resolving issues.

You can encourage a customer to choose some contact channels over others but make sure the path to the best answer is clear — leave a call center phone number or allow a call-back option. 

It’s important that the support agent focuses on problem-solving and doesn’t try to educate or upsell the customer. After all, what they really want is to eliminate the obstacle and go back to using your product.

Note! But what you’re going to undertake if a user wants to cancel? Simply let them go? No way! First and foremost, let them provide reasons why they want to leave. For instance, PayKickstart has this handy Cancellation Saver feature. It allows viewing feedback reasons related to the cancellation attempts. The results you gain then can help you fine-tune your customer support funnel accordingly.

  • Provide high-value interactions 

High-value interactions provide deeper knowledge to customers of how to use your product and increase their loyalty. But how can you do this if educating isn’t appreciated as a customer contacts support with a question?

You should do proactive support. For example, if you notice a customer is using the new functionality, reach out to them with an invitation to a tutorial. Similarly, if you know the delivery will be late, send an early apology letter and a tracking code.

Being helpful creates a great customer experience and helps your clients flow through the support funnel.

Metrics to monitor

You want to track and measure your support funnel performance to detect possible bottlenecks before everyone gets pissed. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, yet the most common measures are: 

  • CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score)
  • NPS (Net Promoter Score)
  • CES (Customer Effort Score)

The customer support funnel is a framework to provide a better customer experience after the sale and cultivate loyalty. Its main components are strategic planning, accessibility, and proactive support. Build your customer support funnel with this in mind, track the right KPIs, and make timely changes to your plans to maximize efficiency.

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Julia Serdiuk

Julia Serdiuk is an outreach specialist at HelpCrunch, an innovative platform to build relationships with customers. She is a seasoned traveler and yoga enthusiast who appreciates life and believes in the cloudless future of our planet.

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