Customer support

When starting Cordless…

We interviewed 150+ Heads of Customer Support to understand how different companies approach support and what they are struggling with. Apart from helping us narrow down the problem we should be solving, there were a lot of learnings that we will be sharing in a series of blog posts. This is the first one!

Your relationship with customers

Today there are a lot of different ways customers can speak to a business if they need help. Web or app chat; email, of course; Whatsapp; Instagram; some even offer a video chat. And then there is phone, which has been the default for so long, but now seems to be losing ground.

As we were interviewing Heads of Customer Support, it became very clear that the most customer centric companies offer phone support and will continue to do so.

Different channels are great for different things. Email is great for the record, chat is perfect for quick interactions, but nothing beats voice for complex, emotional and urgent stuff. Phone is the ultimate relationship building tool in our remote world.

We heard over and over that customers really value an ability to call. Here’re just a couple of quotes from our interviews with Support Leaders:

We see that NPS is the highest after the call.

Our customers consistently asked us to introduce phone support and we did.

At the start we were chat only, but having phone support dramatically increased our customer retention. We now offer phone in every single country.

There is a lot of data to support this too. To quote just one study, according to this Accenture survey 57% of customers ranked call support as their preferred channel for complex and urgent questions.

Voice is always quicker

We even leave each other voice messages in text apps like Whatsapp. One of the support leaders even said that one day when the technology catches up, we will be talking to websites. I think that’s true, because if you think about it, customers call despite the poor experience! As a customer, you frequently have to face long waiting line, lengthy IVRs, bad hold music and spelling your mother’s maiden to authenticate. Customers go through all of that, because ultimately voice is the path of least resistance - it’s easier to ask, explain and reason.

But voice is not great for everything. It’s the combination of different channels - voice, text, app, web - that makes it delightful. The most innovative and customer centric companies are not running away from Voice, but they are enriching it with the power of a smartphone. It’s the smartphone that 80% of people are calling from today.

How the most innovative companies do it

This UX research by Built for Mars of how different banks do customer support is a good illustration of this point. They call out the experience built by Monzo bank as magical - why? When a customer selects a particular option on the IVR they receive a push notification that directs them to the right part of the app where they can download their bank statement in 2 clicks.

Similarly if you call Apple support, you never need to wait on the line. They give you a call back and send you helpful updates while you are getting on with your life. On top of that, they authenticate customers within seconds using biometrics instead of quizzing them about their personal details.

The most customer centric companies strive for this kind of experience and voice is at the centre of that. But this is hard! Not every company can afford to have an engineering team focussed on customer support.

A problem to solve

It’s this problem that we chose to focus on at Cordless. We’re on mission to enable more companies to offer phone support and build a magical experience that combines different channels in the same interaction for customers on a smartphone.

In the next post, we will discuss why so many companies try to avoid doing phone support (spoiler: it’s expensive!) and how you can fix that.

April 29, 2021

Luba Chudnovets