Customer support fulfills an invaluable role in global enterprise. Effective customer support boosts ROI, engages customers and drives up sales. The loss of customers is considered the death knell for any business, e-Commerce or otherwise. Falling profitability has forced businesses to re-evaluate their cost structures and address ways of reducing support costs while enhancing the effectiveness of the support offered.

5    Steps to Reduce Support Costs

  1.  The first step towards cost reduction is the implementation of a customer support system that allows for cost-savings. Standard customer service options in the form of support agents responding to all customer queries are expensive, subject to high turnover and generally result in sub-optimal outcomes. Among the many problems associated with this traditional setup are high agent turnover rates (some 40% of customer service agents quit within a year), and an unmanageable work volume. The first step is the implementation of a self-service customer support solution that reduces agent turnover, the cost of maintaining support agents and the workload on support agents. By maintaining a core group of well-trained support agents with a diminished workload – morale is boosted, costs drop precipitously and ROI is boosted.
  2. The second step – which works in tandem with the first step – is to reduce support costs by adopting self-service customer software. Self-service is the way of the future, available today. This type of software makes it possible for customers and support agents to interact in the most efficient way possible. Customers can instantly receive tailored feedback on any number of topics. The intelligent knowledge base is able to provide accurate and contextually-correct responses to individual customers, time and again. This reduces the workload on support agents and frees them up to respond to queries requiring their specialized knowledge. An automated, personalized system requires far fewer agents and costs can be driven down while conversions can be significantly boosted. The self-service option must allow for multi-channel escalation to agents, to ensure prompt feedback on customer queries.
  3. Multi-channel integration of support software is paramount. This is the next step towards reduction in support costs. The customer support software should ideally be available via regular web browsing (on site on every page of the e-Commerce site, via widgets), via a mobile platform (for iOS, Android and Blackberry smartphones and tablets), and via social media sites such as Facebook. The cross-channel integration reduces costs by way of reduced telephone and email queries to agents, enhanced customer satisfaction, higher sales and better conversion rates. This multi-channel system should be fully integrated with the internal management functions.
  4.  The workflow is an area that can significantly reduce the costs of businesses. The escalation of queries to customer support agents is the primary concern. By limiting agent escalation (unless absolutely necessary) it’s possible to cut costs. Flow charts, customer intelligence (charts on customer history, browsing behaviour and interactions), prepared response features, live chat functionality and full multimedia capabilities are some of the many ways to boost overall efficiency while simultaneously reducing costs. Recall that support load reduction is pivotal to cost cutting and boosted ROI.
  5. The final area where support costs can be cut is in customer agent training time. Since turnover rates are high and training takes time, it’s important to retain trained customer support agents. By reducing the time taken to train agents, it becomes easier for induction purposes. By managing a more specialized team of agents, the dual goals of cost reduction and retention of agents can be achieved. The self-service customer software can assist in reducing turnover by reducing the email and call queries to customer support agents. Traditional CRM systems can be replaced by self-aware customer support software.