If you’re thinking about investing in customer support software, you’re probably wondering if the cost will pay off. Calculating the return on investment (ROI) of a new tool can be tricky. What impact will it actually have on bringing in revenue? Will it truly decrease the cost of doing business? This is an especially perplexing question for customer support teams, where measuring the impact of our actions on business metrics has always been a difficult exercise. Customer support is still fighting the perception of being a “cost center” rather than a revenue generator.
But times are a-changing. More customer support teams are focused on driving growth and proving significant worth to the business. When an exceptional customer experience is part of your product’s offerings, that’s hardly a cost center! Customer-focused businesses are beginning to leverage their support teams’ connection to the customer in ways that help the business grow.
All this is great news for customer support as an industry. The even better news? For Support-Driven Growth organizations, the right help desk software can make them even more effective at driving revenue.
To create a return on investment, software for help desks needs to do one of two things (and ideally, both): save money for the company or bring money in the door. (It’s worth noting that if a help desk cuts costs but drives customers away through lower quality, you’ll see decreasing ROI.)
How do you measure your investment in software for help desks?
If you’re just beginning to put processes into place to support your customer — or if you’re trying to fix some gaps in the system — the right help desk will make sure that you get back to all customers in a timely fashion. And that’s an important baseline to meet! Even missing just one email, just once, can cause a customer to stop doing business with you. When asked why they’ve quit doing business with a company, 86% of customers identified poor customer service as their reason. For 51% of customers, it only takes one poor experience for them to consider leaving a company.
All of those disappointed customers equate to lost revenue. Let’s look at five ways that investing in help desk software can save that revenue and increase your customer support team’s ROI.
1. Move from ticketing to a streamlined queue
Originally, help desks were built around the idea of tickets, as you might still see at the butcher. Take a ticket number, and get help in the order that you came in the door. This is where the term “help desk ticketing system” came from in the first place! But we don’t treat customers like tickets anymore. We need a more nuanced approach to organizing incoming customer questions.
Modern help desks can help you become more adept at managing your inbox by prioritizing customers who are more upset or have a higher opportunity of converting to a paid customer. Investing in a help desk that offers better queue management features can help your customer support team be more effective.
2. Make self-service part of your customer service
Another valuable feature of help desks is the ability to offer content in the form of knowledge base articles and FAQs to help customers’ help themselves. Self-service is just another form of customer service, and it often carries the highest return on investment for two reasons.
Customers love being able to help themselves. Study after study has shown how important it is for companies to offer easy-to-use help centers:
- 70% of customers expect to see a self-service option on a company’s website. If you don’t offer it, customers are frustrated that they need to contact you.
- 73% of customers prefer to search for their own answers instead of talking with a human over live chat or social media.
- 81% of customers will try to help themselves before trying to contact a human support agent.
Investing in a help desk that makes self-service content easily available keeps customers happy. And when it’s easy to do business with you, customers will keep coming back for more.
Not only do customers really like helping themselves, but self-service is also good for your bottom line. According to HBR, self-service is a drastically more cost-effective way to help customers resolve issues than other help channels. Help Scout CEO Nick Francis agrees that self-service might be the next frontier in customer service: “When you get it right, self-service is an infinitely scalable, cost-effective way to make customers happy,”
3. Leverage your team
Revenue-driven support teams let their skilled employees shine in high-value customer interactions to create goodwill and delight. They can’t do this if frontline employees are spending their time just filing away customer emails.
Customer support software can help reduce the amount of time agents spend on the monotonous administrative work. Rather than chasing down customers who haven’t replied, they can let the software automatically remind customers after a certain number of days. Instead of reading through every email to decide what’s urgent and what’s not, they can work through emails in order of priority. Every saved click means your team gets the same amount of work done in less time. This means agents have more time to use those empathetic problem-solving skills that build relationships and keep customers coming back for more. Providing a consistently great customer experience isn’t something that can be automated.
As Help Scout Customer Champion Mo McKibbon says in her article about Support-Driven Growth, “When your support team is freed up to spend 40% of their time on activities that drive the business forward, the entire funnel becomes more efficient.” More efficiency means more engagement with prospects, more conversions to paying customers, and more ROI from your customer experience.
Give them the tools they need to be more effective so they can spend time on high-leverage activities.
4. Personalize each transaction
Small business writer Ty Kiisel says investing in your customers is the only way to build customer loyalty. “You and your employees need to focus on building relationships with your customers beyond the transaction itself.”
Instead of treating customer problems like a series of unrelated events and one-off support tickets, we need to start forming more holistic relationships.
But thinking beyond the transaction is impossible if you don’t have any context around who your customer is. If all your support team can see is the question in front of them, they can’t have a personalized, nuanced conversation about the needs of the customer.
Help desks can often provide additional context with each conversation. For example, they might show you the last five conversations the customer initiated. Or if you’ve integrated your CRM with your help desk, you can see when their renewal date is coming up and how many users they currently are paying for. When you have context around a customer’s history, you can start tailoring your approach. Rather than offering every customer the same webinar or upsell opportunity, you can see exactly what your customer needs and offer that instead.
Businesses using personalization to provide a better experience increase sales by 19%. When Help Scout support started using a Support-Driven Growth approach toward interacting with prospects more intentionally and driving them toward the best method of engagement, 42% of those they talked to became paying customers. That additional revenue can be attributed, in part, to being able to see where a customer is in their journey, identifying the best way for them to engage further with Help Scout, and offering that within the conversation.
Help desks drive ROI by giving teams more context around the customer’s journey, making personalization possible in every conversation.
5. Provide valuable data
The ROI of customer support isn’t always directly tied to sales. Customer support is also a valuable source for user research, including what your customers think of your product, how they use it, and what they think of your competition. Getting all of that information out of your conversations would be nearly impossible without help desk reporting that allows your team to capture trends.
Tagging incoming questions with the product area and identifying whether they are the result of a bug or a feature request provides product teams with incredible amounts of data. Using this data means that your product team becomes more efficient over time and your product becomes better suited to what your customers want.
Reporting on customer conversations can also help identify places where the customer support team can be more proactive or offer self-service options. But without a robust help desk with reporting, customer support teams can only guess at what actions will help customers become more successful.
Investing in software for help desk is money well spent
Being able to calculate customer experience ROI is an important requirement for frontline teams. We all want to know how our actions impact the business. By connecting customer support goals to business goals we move from just making customers “happy” to showing the value we’re creating (while still making customers happy!).
Help desks play a big part in that journey to connect the dots between customer interactions and making money. Whether it’s through increasing the power of your customer support team, improving customer loyalty, or uncovering valuable data, help desks can deliver a huge return on a small investment.