Turn a Support Center into a Profit Center

When is the last time you can think of where you were thoroughly impressed by your experience as a customer?
Disney almost immediately comes to mind – after all, they are all about creating a “magical” experience. The sheer creativity at Disney blows me away. From a replicated Employees at Disney are instructed to always say, “my pleasure,” rather than “you’re welcome.” Characters can never be seen changing costumes in front of customers and ride attendants become actors each diligently playing a part in the experience. Disney has a whole college program dedicated to teaching and encouraging a beyond enchanting customer experience. While little gestures might not always be remembered, they contribute meaningfully to the overall feeling associated with a particular place or company and the overall satisfaction. For example, how many people would go back to or recommend a salon after one bad hair cut? Would you go back to a hotel is the sheets were unclean? Or, would you recommend a restaurant if the service was bad?
Little details go a long way.
This point might already be obvious so let me say the inverse; a little screw up can cost a lot of business. This brings me to my next point and case study – when a company makes a little or big screw up, it goes a long way if it fixes it by rewarding the customer  and/or going above what’s necessary to fix the mistake.
You may have heard about the recent Delta glitch – the one that completely shut down Delta’s servers and entire control board in August 2016 (yeah, that one). I happened to be unlucky (or lucky) enough to be in the middle of it. Our 2 hour flight turned into a 5 hour delay in Detroit. Needless to say, we were not happy.
A couple days after our flight, Sean received an email from Delta stating that they were going to give him 20,000 bonus Skymiles for his trouble as a Gold Medallion (translation – the perks of status are awesome). Sean, however, had the brilliant idea of complaining to Delta since I did not receive such lovely bonus miles. Since there were two travelers, logically, there should have been apologetic emails to both of us.
After two emails and several days later, I received the following email from Delta:


Score!!! 20,000 Delta SkyMiles bonus points!
Keys to a good support email:
I highlighted a few key points in their email back to me which I found to be good in any customer support email:
  • Personalizing the email (note the extra time he took to say that he acknowledges that I was looking forward to quality time with family);
  • Showing empathy for customer’s circumstances;
  • Highlighted the most important takeaways;
  • Demonstrated that they listened AND responded by making the customer happy a la bonus miles;
  • Made it sound like I am a valued customer in the very last sentence
Oh wait, I’m not done. On top of that. We received two more emails a few days later stating that we received $200 eCertificates for the inconvenience that the mistake caused us.
That was a total value of $800 freely given by Delta for their mistake. Needless to say, we will continue flying with them. Delta went above and beyond to keep us as customers. But beyond just saying that they wanted to keep us as customers (of course they do), they acknowledged that flying is more than just flying. It is about getting to your destination and the experience of what comes at the other end of reaching your final destination. For most travelers, this means a much anticipated vacation that may have been planned out MONTHS in advance. The fact that Delta acknowledges the real reason I was traveling (to spend quality time with family) hits the nail on the head as to the service and experience they are selling. Every hour waiting in an airport is an hour lost from that precious PTO accrued throughout the year.
So what can you take away from all of this? Little mistakes (or in Delta’s case, a huge mistake) can end up costing companies millions. Delighting each and every customer on the front end (proactively via Customer Success), can end up saving companies a ton. Likewise, knowing that a service or product is just one conduit to a much bigger experience (e.g. I want NetFlix to work so that I can spend relaxing time with my family) is just as important on the support side. It’s way cheaper to set the bar high than to constantly put out fires or in other words, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
Support as Sales
The support team is really the sales team. Success plays a critical role in driving sales by not only answering customer questions, but by keeping customers happy with the product or service (via education, marketing, etc. It turns support from a cost center to a profit center in the company because of their ability to enchant customers to be loyal to the brand.
Proactive AND Reactive
There’s a time and a place to woo customers over and to be putting out fires when things get ugly. While customer success is proactive, a company cannot survive without a good group of reactive support ready for action when the time comes.