How to Minimize Customer Support Costs at Your Startup

October 17, 2016

11:20 am

According to Glassdoor, customer service representatives makes more than 21K per year. If you take that cost and multiply it by a full-time team, you are going to find yourself spending a pretty penny on your customer service needs. But do you need to spend that much?

Every good startup needs a customer support team in place to assist customers with problems and requests for information. Unfortunately, the cost of maintaining a full-time customer support staff along with the technology to support them can be quite high. If you would like to minimize your customer service costs, consider the following tips:

Use Social Media

Today, many customer service tickets aren’t opened through your 800 number or the support page on your website. Instead, many consumers will go directly to your social media pages. There, they will direct a Tweet or Facebook status at you with their issue. Resist the temptation to direct them back to official channels.

Customer support through social media can save time, money, and resources. Consider this. How much does a ten-minute exchange on Facebook cost when compared with the time it takes for a call center to open a ticket, route the ticket to the proper department, and maybe solve the problem? Obviously this isn’t an appropriate solution for every support issue, but social media should certainly be considered a customer service platform. In fact, customers who have interacted with brands on social media over support issues are willing to spend up to 21% more to do business with those companies.

Educate Consumers

Better-educated consumers are less likely to need your customer support resources. Cut support costs by providing thorough product documentation, clear instructions, and product tutorials/walkthroughs. Record how to videos.

In the design phase, emphasize the importance of making products as intuitive as possible. If customers can use your products easily, you will receive fewer support calls. Nearly 70% of all people search for information on their own before they go to customer service.

Rethink Internal Customer Service

Customer support needs to ebb and flow. If you have just released a new product, are in the middle of a holiday season, or have a product that’s got a few bugs in it, you will naturally need a lot of customer support resources.

On the other hand, you probably have periods that are relative dry spells. If your customer support staff is not being kept busy, you are losing money in salaries and other costs. Even outsourcing can be a problem if you are using a fixed cost option. It may be time to consider Influx, an offsite, on-demand customer support service with use-based pricing.

Provide a Self Service Path

If they want to, let customers help themselves. For online customer service, provide them with roadmaps to help them walk through and solve their own problems. For phone customer service, do the same thing.

Identify issues that come up frequently, and then help guide customers through the process of fixing their own problems. Many customers find self-service to be more efficient, and less intrusive than dealing with a representative.

Add Customer Support Chat

If you’ve already embraced social media as a customer support option, you might consider adding a customer support chat feature to your website. This will provide you with another option to provide customers with quick and convenient, real-time support. Yes, there will be an upfront cost. However, the value added and money saved will balance that out.

Cost management is an important consideration for any business professional. Apply these tips, and it is very likely that you can reduce the amount of money that you spend on customer support staff and technology. Whether you are an early stage startup, or a well-established corporation, reducing costs is almost always a good thing.

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Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien

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