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Article 4 min read

Untapped: the ROI of customer service

By Laura Shear

Last updated September 21, 2021

If you manage a customer support center, you know your team is capable of great things. With a finger on the pulse of customer needs, and access to anecdotal (if not hard) data on how well a company is attracting and retaining customers, customer service teams can provide great value. The surprising thing is not that support centers can do so much more than typically asked. It’s that so few companies understand the ROI of customer service.

Treating a support center as a cost center does everyone a disservice. It’s not an isolated entity, bound only to improve processes and save money within their own sphere. A successful and dynamic customer service team can and will produce positive results that ripple throughout the company.

Support center performance directly impacts the customer—and of course that’s huge. Given appropriate resources and training, however, support centers can also play a starring role in improving and addressing other aspects of the business. Switching gears to view a support center as a profit center instead of a cost center has a tangible positive impact on important aspects of business, from cost efficiency and strategic value to customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.

Invest in customer service

Where to begin? It stands to reason that customer service teams that feel they’re an integral part of the company will add more value than those that don’t. Smart companies understand that churn and burn in the support center makes it practically impossible to provide best-in-class customer experiences. Agents need to feel valued, heard, and supported with technology that allows them to perform their jobs well. Investing in a strong customer service team is critical for many reasons, not least that veteran agents possess valuable institutional knowledge and enhance company culture. At the end of the day, supported customer service teams are far more likely to deliver additional benefits to the company.

With an investment in customer service, what kinds of added value can a company expect? It’s a no-brainer that the right tools and training in customer service mean higher functioning teams and increased customer satisfaction, so there’s high value right off the bat. Customer satisfaction (CSAT) is the holy grail for all companies today, regardless of their industry. A surprising number do not use readily accessible tools to assess and measure their rate of customer satisfaction. As support centers employ tools to increase customer satisfaction, it stands to reason these efforts should be measured to maximize their efficiency and provide insight into changing course in the event results are not as positive as they should be.

Beyond its primary function to offer excellent customer service, the support center is also uniquely poised to gather and share rich customer insights and valuable data. That fact, in and of itself, should be enough of a reason to put customer service teams front and center in your company, not behind the scenes.

Customer service teams looking to add value without taking their eye off serving their customers should focus attention on how they can contribute to overall company success.

If you as a customer service team lead aren’t clear on how your mission, vision and values line up with the rest of your business, you need to find out.

Support centers can vastly improve marketing campaigns by sharing what they know about their customers and targets. They can help companies get out in front of any service or product defect issues. Because support centers are frequently the first to know about customer complaints and issues, they’re uniquely positioned to assist with strategy for a range of corporate communications. Based on their daily interactions with customers, customer service intrinsically understands competitive advantages and disadvantages and can suggest improvements to existing products or advise on new ones.

Avoid customer churn

Finally, support centers can be instrumental in selling in new products and services to existing customers. Armed with knowledge of cross and up-sell programs, agents can offer best-in-class customer service and impact revenue. Support centers that are equipped to handle these transactions via new software platforms and agent training can house their customers service and sales functionalities in one place. (Cue the applause).

Fact: Customers today have higher expectations (and better technology at hand) than ever before. As customer interactions increase and yield richer data along the way, support centers have moved way beyond being a simple business requirement and fully into the realm of strategic necessity. Given the right tools and information, customer service centers are poised to move to center stage and deliver real value. A shift in perspective, away from viewing the support center as a cost center, and towards a vision of the support center as a strategic partner, will pay huge dividends for companies that take the leap.

Need to justify putting additional resources towards customer support teams? Use this ROI Calculator to estimate the economic benefit of implementing Zendesk.

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