10 Best practices to deliver customer support excellence in the durable goods industry.

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Companies are increasingly focusing to become more customer-centric and elevate customer experience to improve customer satisfaction, loyalty and life-time value.  Durable goods companies that provide high value and complex products face unique challenges. Experts at Mize, software leader in Connected Customer Experience, have identified 10 Best practices to deliver customer support excellence in the durable goods industry.

1. Go Digital, Mobile and Omni Channel 2. Simplify access to relevant knowledge
3. Enable 360° view of the product and the customer  4. Integrate Support Fulfillment
5. Consolidate support systems  6. Use mobile and IoT to help troubleshooting
7. Analyze support data to improve product quality and operational performance 8. Use Voice of the Customer (VoC) to enhance Customer Experience  
9. Enable Self-service 10. Become Customer Engagement Centers

1. Go Digital, Mobile and Omni Channel

Calling to wait in line and having to traverse the maze of IVR options is obsolete. Digital channels lower the costs for companies and preferred by most of customers because of ease of access, time savings, and convenience.

Provide consistent support and service experience across many channels including web, mobile, email and chat. Gartner predicts that “By 2017, 35% of all customer support will take place on a mobile device — an increase of 300% over 2014.”

2. Simplify access to relevant knowledge

Simplify access to integrated knowledge base with support will help reduce the cost of support delivery and find faster answers.  Centralized access to all sources of knowledge including service manuals, operator manuals, technical solutions, service bulletins, training documents and videos will help customer and contact center agents find answers to their questions.

Enable simple google like search and smart match of relevant help topics based on input on support request to drive better use of the knowledge resources. Allowing agents to escalate a support incident to add a new technical solution to the knowledge library will make it an invaluable asset over time. 

3. Enable 360° view of the product and the customer

Enable a consolidated view of all transactions related to the product and customer including product configuration, registrations, warranty or service plan entitlements, support requests, warranty claims, inspections, service orders, and service campaigns.

The 360° view allows agents to understand customer needs better and provide a more suitable solution to address those needs. Facilitate the complete view by aggregating information captured from all customer service and support processes that touch the customer. 

4. Integrate Support Fulfillment

Fulfilling a support request for durable goods often requires a follow-up action in the field, a different department, or an independent dealer or service network. Companies need to integrate support with warranty, parts return, parts order, service order, field service dispatch, and scheduling to deliver a unified customer experience.

The integrated support and service will eliminate duplicate data entry and increase visibility to activities in the field. Today’s customers expect seamless integration and workflow across silos instead of being handed off to different groups. It is imperative for brands to deliver connected customer experience across these internal silos and disconnected systems.  

5. Consolidate support systems

Merge various support systems across regions, functional areas and support channels. Having a unified system for technical support, parts, service, warranty and sales will help reduce the cost of support systems and provide a full picture of all customer support needs.

A consolidated support software in Cloud will result in rapid deployment and lower upfront investment. Single support platform, portal and a mobile app for end customers, field service technicians, and channel partners will leverage enterprise wide resources globally to provide consistent customer service experience. 

6. Use mobile and IoT to help troubleshooting

Product support issues can be diagnosed and resolved faster by capturing pictures or video from ubiquitously available cameras on mobile devices. Leverage IoT for remote diagnosis and collecting information directly from the connected products.

Minimize the product down time by leveraging the accurate and timely information collected from the field. In addition to faster diagnosis, the information can help dispatch the right technician and deliver the needed parts to repair the product. 

7. Analyze support data to improve product quality and operational performance

Insights gained from support data will lead to better products and services by helping to fix the problems at the source. Repeat issues can be prevented by using support data to identify emerging quality problems early.

Companies can mobilize rapid response teams to address problems when new products are introduced to the market. Customer complaints and feedback also help identify and fix operational performance issues within the company or channel partners.  

8. Use Voice of the Customer (VoC) to enhance Customer Experience

Establish VoC program to gather customer feedback on resolutions and performance of support agents. Integrate VoC into Customer Experience metrics to improve customer satisfaction.

Systematic analysis of the existing customer service and support processes and focus on continuous improvement will lead to product support excellence. 

9. Enable Self-service

Enable customers to find answers to support inquiries fast and at any time by providing easy and intuitive self-service options.  Call volume can be significantly reduced as most customers prefer self-service.  Other best practices of going digital and simplifying access to knowledge lay the foundation for enabling self-service.

As the percentage of interactions with customers by voice or phone declines, self-service through multiple digital channels becomes even more important. Since mobile device has become the primary channel of communication, having a mobile app or a mobile friendly responsive web site will help customers access the information they need on any device of their choice. 

10. Become Customer Engagement Centers

Call centers have become contact centers and now it is time for contact centers to evolve to be the centers of customer engagement.

Leveraging push notifications and SMS in addition to email to provide proactive notifications, alerts, and timely information can keep the customers engaged and improve the perceptions of responsiveness. Additional revenues can be generated by keeping customer contact information accurate, registering the products and offering related services or accessories.

By engaging the customers, brands can nurture customer loyalty, referrals and advocacy. As customers rely more and more on product ratings and word-of-mouth on social networks, better product support will reduce the cost of customer acquisition and retention.