We believe customer service professionals are the experts. No one knows how to create value better than the person who spends all day hearing from your customers and about your product. Each customer support professional knows exactly what your community wants — and what they don’t want.

In too many companies, though, leaders relegate these superheroes of the business world to mundane, reactive work. If you don’t give customer support a voice and the right tools, teams don’t have the internal leverage to boost revenue the way they could.

Related: Stop Defending Customer Support

We set out to elevate support professionals — their careers and the greater field — by going all in on education. We develop resources like HelpU and the annual salary study to empower support professionals around the world, and we do our best to include the priorities of our community in our purpose and our product. Because support professionals are our end users, we advocate for their success in every aspect of our work, from product design to our own support team.

Let’s look at how we’re aspiring to empower support professionals to do more impactful work and dive into why other platforms are successful at supporting their respective communities.

How platforms empower communities

Communities come in every shape and size. In working with support professionals, we’ve honed in on five keys for driving our community forward. When community-specific companies prioritize these guidelines, they create positive change in any field.

  1. Revolve around the community, not the vendor.
  2. Help customers do their jobs better every day.
  3. Celebrate their customers’ craft.
  4. Consistently give customers a platform to learn, share and grow.
  5. Champion inclusivity and openness in the industry.

Companies that guide their decisions with these values are well on their way to elevating a professional community. Championing your community collectively and individually maximizes the impact your customers can make.

While we focus on supporting customer support teams, we also admire platforms that empower other professional communities. Companies like HubSpot, InVision and Litmus have created products that serve a specific community of professionals, raising their profile with extensive educational resources, professional growth opportunities and, ultimately, tools that help them elevate the work of individuals and champion the group as a whole.

HubSpot

HubSpot educates up-and-coming marketers in “inbound marketing,” a strategy they created to challenge traditional marketing techniques. To support their community, HubSpot’s team built out a prolific body of free content, a full curriculum of courses as well as certification programs that educate customers and raise industry standards. Now, when HubSpot-educated marketers grow in their careers, they often choose the tool they love and the company that educated them with value-packed content.

InVision

Building digital products online was a disjointed, difficult process before InVision. The platform makes it seamless to design and manage the digital customer experience. What sets InVision apart, though, is its insistence on celebrating the work of community members. The team devotes energy and resources to supporting designers in building a new world well beyond competitors. For example, their Design Forward Fund empowers (rather than limits) the discovery of new design tools with $5 million in grants and equity investments.

Litmus

Litmus’ founders knew that email designers were often overlooked but played an outsize role in a business’s success. Litmus built an intuitive tool that streamlined day-to-day tasks while taking the high road in supporting customers. The Litmus Live event series differs from every other conference you’ve been to. The company brings together email designers from around the world to celebrate and learn without sponsorships, sales pitches, booths or keynote speakers.

Our approach to elevating customer support

Just like these companies, our goal is to be a one-stop resource that helps professionals enjoy their work and bring more value to their companies every day. Yes, we sponsor community activities and help support professionals in advocating for higher salaries, but beyond these community-based initiatives, we bring the same enthusiasm to every element of our product. Smarter tools and thoughtful automation help these experts drive value in everything they do.

If you’ll humor our analogy for a moment: consider the role of the ATM.

Fifty-two years ago, these machines transformed the way we make financial exchanges. You didn’t have to wait in line to withdraw cash, and you could complete simple transactions any time of day — not just during business hours. We take these extraordinary changes for granted now, but at the time, they were revolutionary.

This major shift in banking ushered in some of the automation fears we hear now: Will banks close? Will machines take our jobs?

That’s not what happened.

Though each branch employed fewer tellers, lowering the cost of branch operations made it easier to open new branches. Automating mundane financial transactions created more jobs to support the technology and elevated the work of tellers, who now sell everything from investment funds to mortgages, credit cards and even car insurance.

Similarly, we understand that customer-driven automation doesn’t threaten support teams; it helps support professionals elevate their craft , leaving grunt work in the rearview mirror.

We’re in the business of making work easier for community support teams, so we baked automation into our product to minimize the repetitive work that gives customer service a bad rap. By automating the grunt work, we champion the people who can and want to do more with their working hours.

All of Help Scout’s features — from our workflow capabilities to the queue and productivity reports — enable professionals to spend time on the work with the greatest footprint. Docs, for example — our knowledge base — makes it easy for customers to find instant answers (especially in conjunction with Beacon), which frees up support teams to focus on more challenging issues.

With Help Scout, companies can scale their support teams without increasing the complexity of their work or decreasing the customer experience. Our goal is for support teams to channel their attention into revenue-building activities that delight customers.

8,000+ customer-driven businesses use Help Scout to support their customers. Try it free today ➝

This purpose-driven automation has another positive effect that too many companies overlook:

When customer support pros aren’t constantly managing the drudge of administrative chores, they are more engaged and happier on the job.

And that’s good for everyone: Research shows that a positive work environment correlates directly with productivity and longevity at a company.

Maximizing support pros’ impact helps everyone

When customer support professionals have the right tools, they can engage with customers more meaningfully.

Imagine a scenario when a support pro solves a problem faster because they have access to all past communication with the customer and an organized queue. Those extra minutes can then go toward giving customers more value. Here’s one way that works.

Customer: Does Help Scout have a Mailchimp integration?

Team member: Yes, here are those details. I notice you started a trial, but you haven’t been to one of our “getting started” classes yet. You can sign up for one here!

This deepened engagement may seem like an upsell, but it’s not. You’re taking the time to interact with a customer and help them enhance their work for free. Instead of merely neutralizing an issue, you’re making a strategic effort to offer more.

Here’s another example.

Customer: I’m struggling to add another person to queue. Can you help me with that?

Team member: Absolutely! Where are you getting tripped up? While we’re at it, I notice you haven’t created any Workflows yet either. Here’s our breakdown of that process. I’m happy to walk you through both!

In both these scenarios, the support pro leans into their deep product knowledge and customer experience to anticipate what the customer needs next. This proactive thoughtfulness brings a human voice to the equation. In a few sentences, customers learn they’re not alone; there are talented, thoughtful, real people behind the scenes working to make their jobs easier.

Boost business value with Support-Driven Growth

As much as we advocate for the intrinsic value of empowering support professionals, there are concrete cost-savings and revenue-boosting benefits for the company. That’s because automation enables companies to tap into Support-Driven Growth.

Our working definition of Support-Driven Growth:

A business approach aimed at shifting the customer support channel from cost center to critical revenue driver.

Before you ask: No, we’re not talking about customer success or the sales funnel. We’re talking about a proactive approach to business that leverages your customer support all-stars, and their ability to engage in small efforts that make a big difference for your customers.

Automation not only gives team members the bandwidth to break through the initial problem, but it also allows them to scale these kinds of proactive conversations. When we notice a customer with a free trial hasn’t set up their mail forwarder, for example, our customer support team sends them a saved reply with a warm welcome and specific directions.

With this approach, the support team becomes the keepers of the everyday relationship between us and our customers.

Related: The Business Case for Support-Driven Growth

Automation succeeds when it empowers you as a person and a professional

We want to be the partner that makes your job easier, elevates your work and helps grow your career. That’s why committed to championing our community before we ask you to choose us as a tool. Every day, we aspire to deliver valuable resources that help you thrive, and purpose-driven automation that deepens the impact on your company and customers.

Elizabeth Wellington

Elizabeth Wellington

Liz writes about business, creativity and making meaningful work. Say hello on Twitter or through her website.