– By Elad Eran, Founder & CEO of Wix Answers

As a support leader, it’s been incredibly rewarding to watch more and more businesses adopt a customer-first approach in recent years. We now expect personalized support because our favorite brands provide it, which means companies are continually raising the bar of what they will do for their customers. That’s great news for the user, but is it good for business?`

The answer is yes – and yet I still see companies making the same mistakes time after time – strategic mistakes that cause them to miss out on the true ROI of customer support. When I joined Wix.com in 2008 to head their Customer Care team, they knew they wanted to be the best DIY website-builder in the world, but the product still had a long way to go. Today Wix serves 189M users, a number that would have been unthinkable without a strategic approach to customer support. The trick was that we never used customer support to make the problems go away, we used it to find problems to solve.

We never used customer support to make problems go away,
we used it to find problems to solve.”

Before I launched Wix Answers as a standalone SaaS product, businesses wanted to know what Wix was using to manage support for its surging user base. We told them customer support wasn’t just something we invested in for our customers, it was also our secret weapon for product development. Customer support gave us something that the whole company would be lost without, a North Star. Support isn’t simply about putting out fires. It’s your map to understanding what is and isn’t working with your product or service. Most valuable of all, support gives you a megaphone to hear what your users actually want.

Stop chasing tickets

The biggest mistake I see companies making in customer support is focusing on the wrong metrics. Support departments love to measure stats like first-call resolution (FCR), as if it were a game of who could close the most tickets in a day.

I’m not entirely unsympathetic. Support departments have a lot on their plates, and it can be helpful to reduce things to a single number to track overall performance. But this approach to support – trying to meet resolution times and boost customer satisfaction – is still only half the game. If support leaders understood the value of these customer interactions, they wouldn’t be so eager to deflect tickets.

Customer support isn’t a fire extinguisher for customer complaints –
it’s a metal detector that reveals golden insights into how your product (and your customers) work.

So what are the right metrics to measure? For me, data starts with self-service. These days, most of us are too impatient to call customer support if we can avoid it. Instead, we Google it. The first hit should be the product’s help center, where there is most likely a helpful how-to on the subject.

While self-service helps take the load off of your agents, the real fun is just getting started:

  • How many visitors did that article receive? 
  • What was the abandon rate? 
  • What’s the average time on video? 
  • How many of those visitors STILL had to contact customer support for their issue?

These questions aren’t something you have to wonder about, they’re real numbers that you can track and know and optimize for. Each support ticket is like a small clue, a micro example for how your product can be improved on a macro level. Miss the clues and you’re putting in a lot of effort for very little reward.

Support smarter, not harder

Support is already hard work, just ask any agent who has to field calls from frustrated customers all day. But as support leaders, we don’t want to shy away from those challenging tasks, we want to lean into them – and we also want to make sure we’re reaping the insights of our good work.

Monitoring your support articles allows you to spot and act on trends such as a spike in ticket volume. Too many downvotes on an article and you know it’s time to adjust the text. And recurring issues help you to solve bugs and deliver findings in order to improve your product.

By now, most business leaders realize that providing a great customer experience is a key differentiator that can help them stand out in the market, but too often support strategy is still seen as a nice-to-have, or a band-aid that can be added on later. Small businesses aren’t sure if or when they can afford to dedicate the resources to setting up a smart self-service portal.

I say they can’t afford not to.

A win-win loop

Creating a knowledge base is mutually beneficial for customers and companies alike. Keeping your customers in self-service resolves their issues faster, while easing the load on your agents, allowing them to focus on more substantial problems.

But closing the circle requires a bit of follow-through. Publishing helpful content is great – but it’s only the first step. The content must be measured, and improved upon. Like tending a garden, it’s all about the maintenance.

Strategic customer support is not about cutting resolution times or even customer satisfaction (though you should be measuring those, too). It’s about maintaining your content throughout its lifecycle, monitoring how your knowledge articles perform, and following the clues where they lead you.

Quit too soon and you miss out on the real value. Nurture it patiently and your customers will tell you exactly where to go next.

Yes, support is about helping customers to use your product or service (and hopefully delighting them with your exceptional service) but the other reason is far more selfish. Look what’s in it for you – your customers are literally telling you how to make your product better all the time.