By now, most organizations have adopted or started planning for a 'customer-first' approach to the way they do business.
That comes as no surprise. In an age of increasing demand and offer, customer retention requires more than excellent product execution and the benefits of a customer-centric strategy can be invaluable.
Research suggests more than 50% of consumers would pay more for a better experience and a study by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) shows consumers equate an ideal customer experience to fast response rates to inquiries or complaints.
Customer support is a central part of customer experience. Some companies go above and beyond to provide superior service - to do so, they believe everybody on the team has to be involved in customer support.
All hands support means all team members, regardless of job title, spend a certain amount of time doing customer support.
Here are 5 reasons everyone - from CEO to Sales - should be involved in customer service.
The world - and as a consequence, your customers - is constantly evolving. Presumably, so is your product. When roles within a company are well divided between teams, most employees never come into direct contact with the customer.
A disconnect between customer and the teams behind product design, development, or management can delay iterations product enhancements or upgrades.
When product teams spend face-to-face time with the customer and feedback is experienced first hand, product improvement can happen faster and more efficiently.
Though sales and customer support teams deal with the product and customer at very different stages, they actually go hand in hand.
Most companies won’t stop selling to a customer after the first purchase - there are upgrades, improved versions, new products, additional services, and win back campaigns.
So direct customer interaction provides priceless insight for salespeople on how the product is used, the extent to which customer expectations or needs have been fulfilled, foreseeable objections, and so on.
This is especially true for tech companies. Customer support reps are highly trained, skilled professionals, but they have to turn to development teams for issue reports or feature requests.
Getting engineers actively involved in customer support (willingly or not) can reduce the number of steps necessary for the information to reach the right person and thus allow for faster resolution of some inquiries or complaints.
Beyond that aspect, interacting with the creator of a product can reinforce the customer’s feeling of trust and personal touch with the company.
Though all hands support is practiced mostly in large companies with numerous teams, established procedures, and a reputation for customer centricity, small companies can benefit greatly from this strategy.
In the case of startups, for example, it helps avoid the high costs associated with customer support staffing, training, and procedures. Plus, the entire team should experience customer interaction at a time where understanding product-market fit is vital for the organization.
For larger companies, it can be a tool to increase team collaboration, create a feeling of responsibility and ownership over business results, and increase empathy with customer support teams.
Implementing all hands support requires Structure.
For everyone to be able to provide support, you need procedures regarding who, how, and when has access to what information and how information flows in the company.
The systems you rely on (CRM, ticketing, etc) have to be consistently used by everyone in the company, and you need to set up regular trainings and meetings with all the teams.
If these practices aren’t already built into your customer support, they will do you a great amount of service. Implementing them will turn customer support into the well-oiled machine that it should be.
There are, of course, some downsides.
Customer service reps possess a specific set of skills - both professional and personal - that may be harder to find in other job titles.
Engineers are not known for their patience or deference, the same way salespeople aren’t expected to be technically knowledgeable about the product they’re selling.
And then there’s the cost factor - executive, engineering, and sales time is expensive. For some companies that cost may be too high to spend on something else.
We’ve written about the pros and cons of all hands customer support in this article a while back.
Though it may not work for all businesses and all growth stages, all hands support remains a great way for your teams to really understand the customer so they can go on and build better products more efficiently.
Alex has founded Jitbit in 2005 and is a software engineer passionate about customer support.