What's more important in a software-as-a-service company: the product, or the customer service program? This is a trick question, of course, they're both massively important. From a customer's perspective, service programs are a part of the product experience just like features are. A breakdown in one or the other erodes the complete experience.
Despite the mutual importance of each, it feels as if the two departments drift away from one another over time. This post will give you some ideas for how to strengthen the relationship internally in order to present the best customer experience possible. We'll start by looking at building interpersonal relationships, and then you'll see some tactical advice on creating a unified experience.
Product and customer service share a lot of things in common, despite their obvious differences. The most important thing to remember about each is that the people in them truly want to help customers be successful—they want their work to make an impact. This seems obvious, but it can be easy to lose sight of this in the day to day of process and stressful work.
Customer service professionals bring an extreme amount of potential to the product process. The everyday conversations that are held between CS and customers about wins, pain points, and improvements are pure gold for product teams. Healthy teams are able to communicate and action these learnings over time. An unhealthy team might simply shield or suppress the information because trust has eroded.
It's crucial to keep the communication between CS and product open and healthy. This means strengthening and maintaining the trust between the teams over time.
Build Healthy Company Relationships
It's possible to restore trust and build healthy relationships by making a conscience effort to do so. Remember that all relationships are two-way streets—both sides need to contribute in order to be healthy.
One process that can be established to build these relationships is to loop the department leaders into any major upcoming initiatives. The leader can loop in the right people, or simply make the team aware of what is upcoming.
Another process that will build trust is creating an easy way to communicate between the departments. Wins can be shared wide (to specific teams or larger mailing lists) to help everyone feel happy about customer wins. Problems should be shared in a more constrained environment, but with clear expectations about what will be done, on what timeline, and if it can't be prioritized.
Create a Unified Customer Experience
Customer service involves a wide range of applications to build the complete experience: support ticketing, knowledge base, video library, billing management, onboarding, custom reporting, community engagement, etc. You may not be using all of these tools right now, but it's bound to grow over time. The tool that's best for you should always be used, which means that you'll end up with a fragmented set of applications and a fragmented customer experience.
One of the easier ways to unify a fragmented customer experience is to set up SSO between your product and the tool's portal. Rather than making your users create multiple logins across different systems, everything should just be their login to your product. This initiative is something that typically requires (hopefully) minor coding, so it's important to get prioritized with the product team.
Another tip is to leverage branded templates across all of your portals. If you're going to bounce a user between different systems, then make them feel similar. There are bonus points here if the experience feels similar to your product—your brand is consistent.
How can Clove Help?
Clove allows you to unify your customer service tools into a single experience for your customers. Our completely brandable and customizable hubs give customers all of the information and processes they need—all in a single pane of glass.
Our aim is to make data integration as seamless as possible between your various systems, and then presenting that to your users in a customized and intuitive way.
If you add new tools over time or change existing tools, you can keep the same hub that your customers are used to. No more changing the end-user experience just to use a different tool.