The Hidden Cost of “Free”: Why Email Support Should Be a Temporary Solution
“Free” customer support can cost you more than money.
As a small business just starting out, it makes sense to kick off your customer support on a free system such as a shared email inbox.
When your support interaction volumes are still small enough and you’ve got one or two people working on it, using just email will work out for you just fine, and you might even hesitate to make the switch to a paid customer service solution such as Groove.
However, just like every other area of your company, customer service keeps evolving and getting more complex, and your tools need to grow with your business.
Exceptional customer support can be worth a lot of money when it comes to your bottom line, and a shared email inbox won’t cut it forever.
Today, we’re going to talk about some aspects of customer service that can be complicated to manage if you’re using just email, and how a help desk software can help you with them when you’re ready to upgrade.
This isn’t something you need to think about just yet if you’ve got just one person dealing with customer support.
However, as your company grows, you’ll probably hire more reps and want to make collaboration between them as easy as possible.
This is tricky with a shared email inbox, since:
- You’ll no idea what someone is working on
- It’s hard to immediately tell whether an email is being handled or not
- Emails are easy to lose or forget about
- Communicating within your team requires an endless chain of CC-s and FWD-s
- There is virtually no personalization going on
Collaboration is one of the main things customer service help desks are designed to help with.
Features that will make communication between support reps much easier and faster include:
- Adding notes to tickets for more clarity
- Taking ownership of issues so nothing falls through the cracks
- Instantly knowing what’s being worked on so there are no double replies
- Easy communication between team members
- Seeing the numbers of resolved tickets and ratings per agent
- Setting up simple automation rules (for example: if ticket subject includes “billing”, assign to Alex)
This all means that your support team can play off each other with ease as well as work on their individual performance.
Email providers have some limited organization features to help keep your support communications from getting too messy and piled together.
For example, in Gmail, you can create filters for certain searches by clicking on the down arrow in your search box and selecting the “create filter with this search” in the bottom right corner:
There’s no super convenient way to organize interactions into specific folders, although you can add labels to emails which will group them together into one place:
However, that’s pretty much as far as Gmail’s organization powers go.
That’s totally fine for your personal or work email, but managing your whole customer support through it is very likely going to get really annoying very fast, let alone the fact that it’ll cost you time.
The main issue with insufficient organization is speed—it’s not everything in customer service, but you’d want your service process to be as smooth as possible, right?
That means that for quick navigation and cleanup, there needs to be plenty of options to categorize, organize, and manage your interactions.
Here are some of the organizational tasks that help desk software can help you with:
You can easily configure your mailbox settings, add labels to interactions, create simple “if-then” rules, and also use a classic folders system—all in one place.
This means that your interactions are easy to manage, clean up, find and monitor, giving your reps more time to focus on what’s really important.
As a bonus, with proper labeling and categorizing you can easily see which complaints, bug reports and feature requests are trending among your customers by keeping track of your most-used labels—a perfect way to design your product roadmap to build something people are willing to pay for.
Customer Support Metrics
We’ve talked a lot about customer support metrics and which ones you should measure on a regular basis.
Quantifying your support efforts is the best way to maximize your potential when it comes to customer service as well as business and product development.
The one thing email providers don’t have almost at all compared to customer support software is a really good look at your analytics.
With a help desk software such as Groove, you’ve got all of your metrics tracking and reports at hand at any time:
When you’re just starting out, you’ll probably not have enough support action going on to need need detailed tracking like that.
However, as your volumes grow, eventually you’ll be ready to really take a good stab at improving the bottom line of your business via customer support—and that’s where email just won’t cut it anymore.
Speedy Support With Canned Replies
While speed isn’t the most important thing in customer service, it does matter.
There are a lot of interactions that start repeating themselves, and having a quick way to get back to the people with common issues can save your support reps tons of time—we’re talking about automation.
Most people assume that customer service automation is about replacing, or minimizing, human-to-human interaction. That’s not the goal of support automation at all.
Rather than wasting time typing the same reply over and over again (probably the single most time-sucking repetitive task that support professionals have to do), common (sometimes called “canned”) replies let you insert frequently used messages with a click.
Automating little things like this is one of the 5 things to do to improve your customer support in under 10 minutes, and will save you tons of time and money in the long run.
We’ve found incredible correlations between customer satisfaction trends and the revenue growth rate at Groove, far more than with any other support metric.
Customer satisfaction is usually based on a short survey customers fill out, typically after a conversation or ticket is resolved.
Either way, at its core, it asks the customer to rate their experience on a scale ranging from good/great to bad.
Every support email we send contains the following prompt in the footer:
And then you can track these replies in your help desk software:
An overview like that helps you see how your customers feel about the support they get from your team members with daily, weekly, monthly and yearly breakdowns of satisfaction ratings.
Keeping your hand on your customer satisfaction pulse allows you to take immediate action when the ratings are going down—before leaving you for a competitor.
Upgrade When You’re Ready
As a small business just starting out, it makes sense to kick off your customer support on a free system such as a shared email inbox—it is free, as simple as it gets, and totally fine when you have low support ticket volumes and only one person handling them.
However, with how competitive every market is getting, soon enough you can’t afford to settle for mediocre support and a team held back by insufficient tools.
You can offer legendary support, but you need the right tool for it—and help desk software is specifically designed to help you make the absolute most of your efforts and help you do it faster and more efficiently.
When you’re ready to kick your support levels up a notch, it’ll be absolutely worth it to spend money on a custom solution that will make your customers absolutely delighted to work with you—and ultimately willing to pay much more for exceptional support.
Do you use a help desk software to manage your customer support? Let us know in the comments!