It was the 1960’s when the first call centers appeared. Businesses started to focus on solving customer issues on a larger scale. They represented the beginning of customer support departments and prepared the ground for what was yet to come. After a few years, phones found a new partner: the Internet. Customer care was taken in the online medium and companies had new methods of helping their customers.
Customer support has come a long way. While a few decades ago people knew that they could obtain the information they needed by calling a customer support representative, nowadays, customers feel very comfortable asking support chatbots questions about products and services. For this reason, it is interesting to see how we can define customer support, taking into consideration the changes it has undergone. It is clear that the present customer support is very different from what it was 10 years ago.
The technological advances, the higher expectations of customers and the changes in the business world are just a few factors that have had an impact on the evolution of customer support. They somehow managed to show that there are different ways of doing customer support. The two ways are traditional and new customer support.
Basically, the attributes traditional and new represent characteristics of how customer support is done. The first one refers more to how customer support was perceived in the beginning, while the second one has a more modern approach of the field. Also, the techniques and processes used by each type of customer support explain why one is traditional and one is new. In order to understand this aspect better, let’s look at a few characteristics of traditional and new customer support.
Traditional – Perceived as a cost center
Traditional customer support perceived this domain as being an additional cost for the business. Although it brought several benefits, as companies were able to satisfy their customers’ needs, businesses would focus more on the expenses part.
New – Perceived as an essential business component
Nowadays, customer support is an important component of a business. Satisfying their customers’ needs is a top priority for companies and they understand its value. The benefits it brings overcome the costs:
Traditional – Customer support representatives
When we speak about traditional customer support, we think about a group of representatives talking with customers via telephone and answering their questions. Their responsibility was to help people, explain how they can use a feature of a product or a service and provide solutions when it was not working.
New – Self-service support, customer support representatives, support chatbots
Nowadays, customers have a wide variety of support methods to choose from. From calling, emailing a customer support representative, to texting a support chatbot or looking for answers in a FAQ section, they can use the method that is convenient for them. In this way, companies manage to offer customers a great experience. Moreover, the more support methods, the more chances of people finding the answer they are looking for.
Traditional – Answers questions about product or services
As mentioned above, customer support representatives had one main responsibility: to answer questions related to certain products or services. Having to work in this field could be described as having a dead-end job. The position did not give people too much professional development opportunities.
New – Provide information about products or services, announce customers of potential issues, contribute to the sales process
People who currently work in the customer support field have several responsibilities. They:
All these responsibilities are ways in which support representatives can develop new skills and evolve from the professional point of view. In this way, the job brings people various development opportunities.
Traditional – Customer support available during business hours
Traditional customer support had specific business hours during which people could contact representatives. If customers had an issue and customer support department was closed, they would find themselves in the situation of not having a person to help them.
New – 24-hour support service
Companies understand that poor customer support can make them lose customers and it can affect their business growth process. Research has shown that 76% of customers stopped working with certain companies due to bad customer experiences. Also, it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for a negative one. For these reasons, businesses have concentrated on providing customers full support service. Non-stop availability increases the chances of delivering great experiences to customers.
The differences between traditional and new customer support do not show that we have two categories of customer support. They illustrate that the focus of the work in this department has changed. Customers are the main focus and a critical element for businesses nowadays. Companies are constantly trying to satisfying their needs.
We are gladly inviting you to share with us your latest customer support experiences!