How to boost support team efficiency

4 ways your support team can boost efficiency and do more with less

In uncertain economic times, it’s even more important to build a strong, resilient business. And the key to business resilience in 2022? Excellent customer experience.

Recent research from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services reveals that 88% of survey respondents believe that customer engagement has a significant impact on their organization’s bottom line. That’s no surprise: as professional services firm PwC says, customer experience is everything. Loyal, engaged customers are the lifeblood of your company’s success, providing a steady and reliable revenue stream as well as positive word of mouth for your brand.

Given the current economic landscape, it’s never been more important to foster strong customer relationships and deepen engagement through positive, consistent customer experiences. At the same time, many teams are being challenged to do more with less. Leaders are trying to get laser-focused on delivering value and increasing impact. For customer-facing teams, this often means looking for ways to maximize the return on their investments in people and tools, while finding opportunities to reduce spend and streamline processes.

In particular, support teams have a crucial role to play when it comes to engaging customers and building those positive, long-term relationships. So how can you empower them to have maximum impact without using maximum resources? By optimizing processes and leveraging the right tools to help your support team to be more efficient, you can significantly improve your business resilience and set your company up for long-term success.

Here are four ways your support team can become more efficient and help your business save time and money – all without sacrificing customer happiness.

1. Optimize your support tech stack to improve productivity

When it comes to efficiency, switching between tools is the silent killer. According to recent research from Asana, workers in 2022 are spending 58% of their time on “work about work”. These are activities such as searching for information, switching between apps, and chasing status updates.

“68% of employees spend at least 30 minutes a day switching between apps. This doesn’t just slow your business down; it slows your customers down, too”

And since the average business uses 88 apps – rising to an average of 175 apps for larger businesses – it’s easy to see how “work about work” can become so siloed and time-intensive. In fact, research shows that 56% of employees say switching between apps makes it harder to get essential work done, while 68% spend at least 30 minutes a day switching between apps. (Now multiply that 2.5 hours per week by the number of people on your support team to get your weekly total of lost time ​​😱)

For customer support teams, this directly impacts the quality of the experience you can deliver. Having to cycle through multiple apps to get answers or find the relevant customer data you need to provide personalized help doesn’t just slow your business down; it slows your customers down, too.

Integrated tech stacks = improved efficiency

So how can you reduce time spent switching between tools and apps, without losing out on all that valuable information that helps you to deliver better support? Look for tools that integrate seamlessly to create a unified support tech stack that helps you do more without having to, well, do more.

Whether you’re looking for out-of-the-box interoperability with the other tools you use every day or custom APIs to help your team create tailor-made solutions, it’s important to ensure any new software you add plays well with others.

Having an optimized, integrated support tech stack means that you can leverage first-party data between tools, allowing you to reduce time spent searching, switching, and doing “work about work” while still providing comprehensive, personalized answers – so you can be more efficient and productive.

Time savings: ⏳⏳⏳⏳
Cost savings: 💰💰
Efficiency improvements: 📈📈📈

2. Use automation to make your headcount count for more

Efficiency is all about doing more with the resources you have. And for any support team, your most important resource is your support reps. These are the people who build long-term, meaningful relationships with your customers, helping them to solve complex problems and get the most out of your product or service.

“86% of respondents expect a self-service support option and two-thirds try self-service first before contacting a live agent”

But while customers understand the value of personal, human support, they also know that not every question needs a human touch. In fact, sometimes, customers prefer to self-serve and get instant answers: one report from Microsoft found that 86% of respondents expect a self-service support option and two-thirds try self-service first before contacting a live agent.

Trying to handle every conversation manually is a poor use of your support team’s time. Not only can it lead to frustration and burnout for your support reps (unsurprisingly, answering the same questions day in and day out isn’t good for morale), but it doesn’t give customers what they need, either.

Empower your team – and your customers – with self-serve support and automation

The answer? Look for opportunities to add self-serve and automated support to your workflow to resolve simple queries, reduce time spent on administrative tasks, and efficiently route questions to the right teams or people.

For example, if your team is spending hours every week answering simple, repetitive questions like “How can I update my payment details?”, they’re losing time that could be spent on higher-value conversations. By empowering customers to self-serve with a knowledge base or leveraging a bot to quickly and instantly respond with the right answer, you can provide instant results while protecting your team’s time – a win-win.

All of this leads to time saved for your support team, allowing them to devote extra resources where it really matters.

Time savings: ⏳⏳⏳⏳⏳
Cost savings: 💰💰💰💰💰
Efficiency improvements: 📈📈📈📈📈

3. Continue to deliver the personalized customer experience your customers expect – and deserve

In times of uncertainty, many teams will be trying to find ways to cut spending and reduce their budgets. But while leaders struggle to do this behind the scenes, customers still have high expectations.

“88% of customers say that the experience a company provides is as important as its product or services”

According to Salesforce, a whopping 88% of customers say that the experience a company provides is as important as its product or services. Similarly, 73% of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations – up from 66% just two years ago. And for customers who switched to a competing brand in the last year, 48% listed “better customer service” as their reason for doing so.

There’s an old saying that acquiring a new customer costs five times more than retaining an existing one. Retention is an investment that keeps paying off. Research by Frederick Reichheld, creator of the Net Promoter Score, has shown that increasing customer retention rates by just 5% could increase profits by 25-95%. Not only that, but those customers often go on to spend more money, more frequently, and will often refer new customers.

The crystal-clear takeaway? Businesses can’t afford to reduce the quality of their customer experience – or customers will churn.

Leverage first-party data to provide personalized, proactive support

Reducing spend while maintaining quality may seem an impossible task, but it all comes down to cleverly using customer data and targeting. With almost three-quarters of customers expecting you to understand their needs – and 62% expecting companies to anticipate their needs – it’s important that you’re able to provide personalized, proactive support.

Here are three quick ways you can be more proactive and personalized:

Preemptively identify and address common customer issues. You can do this manually by auditing your conversations and tagging recurring topics, but a great customer support tool will automatically surface these common queries for you, saving your team valuable time. Once you have these insights, consider creating specialized help docs and sending targeted messages at the right moment to help customers before they even have a problem.

Use targeting to deliver tailored, personalized messages based on contextual data or actions your customers have taken. Features such as targeted messages, banners, and custom bots allow you to share the right message, at the right time, with the right people.

Build rich customer profiles with first-party data and unified conversation histories so that you can support your customers with context. By capturing all customer conversations in one integrated tool, you can better support repeat customers by deeply understanding their customer journey to date.

Want to learn more about improving efficiency with proactive support? Check out these additional resources:

Time savings: ⏳⏳⏳
Cost savings: 💰💰💰💰
Efficiency improvements: 📈📈📈📈

4. Be there at the moments that matter with in-context communications

We know that the value of engaging customers when they’re already thinking about you is exponentially more powerful than trying to communicate with them out of context. That’s because what you communicate is important, but where and when you communicate it is also critical.

This is the beauty of in-context customer engagement: when customers are already on your website, product, or app, they’re already engaged and interested, so you have a direct channel to them when they need you most.

“In-context support means that you can solve blockers in the moment, so customers don’t need to wait for resolutions and are empowered to get more value from your product”

For support teams, in-context communications means giving your customers faster answers directly in your product, app, or website, right when they’re most needed. This allows you to solve blockers in the moment, so customers don’t need to wait for resolutions and are empowered to get more value from your product.

All of this means that in-context communication is a significantly more efficient way to communicate with your customers, at the exact moment it’s most impactful.

Why in-context is no contest

Adding in-context support to your existing support tech stack with Intercom is a simple and efficient way to supercharge your support offering. It allows you to go from slow, outdated, one-way support methods to a two-way dialogue that helps every support interaction build meaningful customer engagement.

The Intercom Messenger works alongside your existing support channels – like email and phone – to give customers the support they need, when they need it, without increasing headcount or hours logged for your support team.

Time savings: ⏳⏳⏳⏳⏳
Cost savings: 💰💰💰💰💰
Efficiency improvements: 📈📈📈📈📈

Put a dollar value on success by seeing how much you can save

Still wondering how much time and money you could really save by improving your support team’s efficiency? Try our ROI Calculator to see how much time and money your support team could save, as well as how much extra ticket capacity you could unlock with Intercom.

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