Commentary

Your Unhelpful Help Desk Hurts Business; Time To Spice Things Up

You're only as good as your last success. The customer you're helping right now doesn't care about your track record; they care about resolving their problem. And some of you are messing it up — big time.

Your mediocre effort is not good enough. You need to use every opportunity available to grab your target market’s attention, including when they’re annoyed with you. And you need to be clever about it.

Social isn't just for cat memes

Businesses who assume their target audience doesn’t use social couldn't be more wrong. Even if those looking for support via social channels are in the minority, they're an important minority — and they're a group that will complain loudly about you online.

As younger generations, like Millennials and Gen Z — the "mobile-first" generation — come of age, being connected on digital channels like social media will become a deal-breaker for doing business with you.

But just showing up isn’t good enough, either. When they come to you looking for help, they need to find personalized support with a side of sass, if that flies for your brand. Or some sort of brand personality that resonates with who your product/service is to these folks.

You need to develop a brand voice and a plan that takes into account who your target audience is, who your company is to this audience and what essential need you’re seeking to meet for each defined segment. And you need to have clear communication guidelines in place for your customer service reps defining each of those things as well.

You have none of this? Is it time to worry? Perhaps.

Don't Panic — Evolve 

If you're already using social media for marketing purposes, bringing your help desk into the mix is simply an expansion of how you apply your social listening tools and accompanying analytics. If you're not using social media for marketing, then you do have your work cut out for you — and it's well past time to evolve. Get on that.

But it's not so scary — in fact, it's all "up side." Embracing newer technologies and methodologies right now saves you in the long run. And we’re not just talking about saving you time and money, but saving your company from being edged out of its market.

"Too many businesses have chosen to remain with what they know best, and what feels familiar — even as better options have developed," observes Due.com. Speaking specifically of payment processes, they caution companies are still spending "too much money and too much time" to maintain and organize transactions. But there's a broader message that applies: Old, familiar and easy isn't necessarily better. Actually, it almost always isn't.

And not only do you lose out on a more effective way to do business by resisting evolution, you run the risk of being disrupted beyond recovery.

Sticking with payments for a moment, consider the way PayPal and Square displaced traditional payment processor giants like MasterCard, by offering lower pricing and an easier way to invoice and pay. And now mobile is forcing yet another shift — as Gen Y and Gen Z embrace mobile payment apps like Venmo, which offer an even more seamless option.

It's the same type of "next level of tech disruption" feel that Uber and Lyft brought to the taxi industry — the game has completely changed. And no doubt it will change again.

Just think of it this way — would you be more likely to reach out to and do business with a place that offers immediate, personalized service when you have a problem, or one with an auto-responder that does little more than waste your time? It’s a no brainer. And now compare those personalized options between one that is exceptionally pleasant, offering the right mix of understanding and bad puns to help defuse frustrating situations versus one that may reply immediately but sends canned answers offering little empathy.

Leveling up isn’t impossible, but it also isn’t easy. And it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. But all businesses must adapt as these shifts happen — or you'll be stuck playing catch-up forever, assuming you have customers that long!

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