Why Every CEO Should Do Customer Support

Customer Support July 17, 2018

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Why Every CEO Should Do Customer Support

I have a confession: I hate waiting in line.

Yet, I once waited an hour for a pizza. Sure, I could have grabbed one from the countless restaurants in my neighborhood.

But no, I didn’t.

It’s funny because this tiny restaurant was so crowded to the point I was literally in the streets. And trust me, it’s no McDonald’s.

So what happened?

The staff is friendly. The owner himself always welcomes you with a big smile and a warm hug.

The only take away from this story is that CS keeps your venture alive.

If you are reading this, that means you already care about your customer support team and understand its importance in keeping your business profitable.

And because it’s important, every CEO has to do it. Here’s why.

It can tank your business

Have you ever played poker or any game with money at stake?

You start all excited, you get into the game and without you realizing it, it is the end of the game. That’s when the horrible reality hits you: you lost every single penny of yours.

Poker is a game of skill and luck (but mostly skill). Without training, countless hours of practicing, and best practices, the game ends up feeling more like a gamble (which is why more people lose money than win).

Business is kinda similar.

According to Forbes, U.S. companies lose more than $62 billions due to poor customer service every year.

This is one of the reasons why customer support is still imperative to your growth strategy. And this is also an extra reason for you to go on support. We are big fans of Basecamp’s 5% support model.

Bottom line, every CEO should make a full day every month for support.

There’s more to say about the 62 billion dollars.

While a loss is considered a loss anyway, looking beyond that and learning how to fix the real problem is crucial.

In a 1989 study, consultant Sidney Yoshida found what he called “The Iceberg of Ignorance.”

While 100 percent of front-line problems were known to the front-line employees, only 74 percent were known to team leaders, 9 percent to middle management, and just 4 percent to top management.

This is still true today. The further away from the current customer you are, the less likely you are to understand the true fundamental problems with your business.

When it comes to customer support, CS teams don’t have the bandwidth to go back and truly understand the cause of this churn. The minute they are done with one conversation, they are quickly dragged into another.

That’s when you, as the CEO, have to make the time to get involved.

 

Enhancing your brand while understanding your customer

Did you know customers don’t buy after a first failed attempt from a poor customer support service?

Humans are complex creatures. When I ask you about the word “customer”, the first thing that comes to mind is profit, money, or sales, right?

This is partly due to the business mindset, but do you know what makes a loyal customer?

A solid brand that values its customers.

It’s not about building a new cutting edge tech solution only anymore.

You can literally launch a website or build a mobile app in your bathroom time even if you have zero coding skills.

Indeed, Daniel Cancel, CEO of Drift, also insists that the true battle is about brands. Whoever builds the best brand wins, and part of building a brand means attention to details and adopting a “customer is king” mantra.

When you participate in customer support, you get to experience the customer bond from a whole new perspective.

And you get to understand exactly which parts of YOUR brand drives demand.

 

Bring your product and customer service teams together

Running a successful business depends on a variety of factors: the product, the team, and the execution.  For the team to execute and build the desired product easily and efficiently, communication is key.

You have probably heard this a lot of times already, but it’s easier said than done.

For one simple reason: multi-disciplinary teams.

Most companies won’t give the CS teams a seat at the table with the product. It’s not because they don’t want to. They just can’t.

Because businesses bring CS to their structure in a later stage, it’s hard to include them in the decision making process.

It’s hard to give them the budget they need too.

You have experienced this at least once in a lifetime. Helping out your customer support team will allow you to have a clear understanding of both parties and get them up to speed to collaborate together.

If you have a strong internal feedback loop implemented, then the product development process gets smoother.

Your sales and marketing also improve accordingly (which of course means you’re able to acquire new and existing markets more effectively).

You’re constantly learning who gets the most value out of the product while also building new features that support the needs and wants of your customers. All the while retaining them and preventing churn — which means growth.

The results tend to be enormous. A stronger faster product that your customer constantly needs.

Here’s the secret.

Y Combinator partner and Wufoo founder Kevin Hale delivered a great talk at UserConf 2012 where he stated CS endorses what he calls “support-driven development.”

When you deal with customers’ tickets, you get fresh insights on how to polish the product for the people who give their money to rely on it.

 

Empower your customer support team

Being a CEO means you are expected to provide the best work environment where everyone feels valued.

Unfortunately, support teams usually get the short end of the stick.

They aren’t always empowered to make the best technology investments, they usually have to compromise on quality for quantity, and they’re often the last to know when anything in the company changes.

But still, you can turn this around.

First, hand them the tools they need to do their job well. Analytics, JIRA, Zendesk, Veamly, you name it.

Moreover, leave no man behind. Long story short, give them a voice, powerful enough to affect positively the decision making process.

For instance, if your sales and marketing teams want to explore other niches in the market, support should be there from day one, and also be empowered with the right influence.

Your product is crafting a new roadmap? Great! Include the support team.

At Veamly, we believe that people who “touch” your customer every day are the ones who know the best about them.

In other words, have faith in your support leaders and let them determine the best way to both run the team, and chart the best course for customer retention.

This is how great work is done.

And by the way, it would be nice to reward hard workers. Maybe it’s bonuses? A vacation? A gold star? Company-wide recognition? As long as it makes them happy, you are good to go.