Defining RADICAL Support®

Most companies strive to provide good customer service, or even great customer service. But, as we’ve mentioned before, it’s exceptional customer service that’s the key to success.

“Radical Support®” is a term we started using internally at The Receptionist to describe the customer-centric approach we take with our business. We credit it in part for our rapid growth and for the glowing reviews we get for our visitor management software.

So, what’s the difference between good customer support and exceptional customer support? We see six key chances to stand out.

1. Radical Support® is Proactive

Good support – Fixes problems promptly
Radical support – Anticipates potential problems and addresses them before they arise

Many companies have systems in place to make sure customers get prompt and thoughtful support. But Radical Support® requires that companies take it a step further and look for ways to prevent support calls in the first place.

By the time any customer reaches out with an issue, they’ve likely spent time struggling on their own. And for every customer that calls, many others have probably struggled with the same issues in silence. That’s why even when a call is handled perfectly, the support request itself still indicates the potential for improvements to the product, the documentation, or the support process.

Changing what you sell can be complicated. But in the short-term, you can at least be proactive about helping clients avoid stumbling blocks.

Establish some “triggers” that indicate when a customer is likely to struggle. There might be particularly tricky moments in the setup process that tend to cause confusion, for example. Perhaps customers using a certain feature or working in a certain industry tend to have problems. Or maybe you’ve noticed that when a customer doesn’t log in for a few days, it’s a red flag.

Once you know the triggers, you can improve documentation and schedule personal calls from the support team as necessary.

2. Radical Support® is Empathetic

Good support – Apologizes for mistakes and validates people’s feelings
Radical support – Remembers customers as people with unique needs

Good customer support specialists really try to understand what the customer is feeling and reflect those needs back to them. They help the customer feel heard.

But usually, after the phone call, that empathy ends. The phone call is over, the issue is fixed. Reps wait for the next customer call to fire that empathy back up. At most, they’ll check the caller’s history to understand the issues they’ve had in the past.

However, Radical Support® requires empathy even when you’re not live with a customer.

Think of it this way: If a good friend called you with a problem or concern, you wouldn’t consider the issue resolved when you got off the phone. You’d check in occasionally to see how they were doing and see if you could help them in any way.

Support reps should do the same thing. Case in point: When one of our newer clients mentioned that she had to make a presentation on our software to her leadership team, our employees took the initiative to check in with her frequently leading up to the meeting and send her helpful materials she could use for the presentation.

This kind of behavior isn’t easy to quantify or measure like other support data (e.g. number of calls answered, support times). And these kinds of relationships are typically only possible when the same rep is assigned the same clients for a longer period of time so that real relationships begin to develop. But once you put the customer’s best interests at the heart of the company, these kinds of efforts come naturally.

3. Radical Support® is Company-Wide

Good support – Has a dedicated support team
Radical support – Makes support a company-wide goal

Providing good customer support typically requires a dedicated, happy, in-house team.

Companies that provide Radical Support®, however, don’t see support as the job of one department. Instead, it’s considered a goal for the entire company.

We wrote an entire post on this topic, but will summarize it here: For customer support to be valued, company leaders have to understand the value of personal interaction with customers — not just for a few employees, but for everyone on staff.

Leaders also need to recognize the importance of their own role in establishing company culture and commit to interacting with customers themselves at least occasionally. It’s not enough to rely on data or secondhand reports from the support team to get a handle on customer experience.

4. Radical Support® Follows Up

Good support – Tracks support requests until they are closed
Radical support – Follows up on closed support requests personally

Many support requests can’t be resolved with one phone call.

The Receptionist is in the software industry, so we know that this is especially the case with feature requests and certain bug reports. Those are often impossible to fix overnight.

Companies with good customer service make it easy for customers to log problems and get updates on those problems. Plenty of help desk software programs let customers check the progress of their requests online. These programs may even send customers email updates automatically as issues are fixed.

However, companies that are committed to Radical Support® don’t leave these follow-ups solely to software. They also personally follow up with clients who have had to wait for a fix or a feature.

Personal follow-ups let clients know they haven’t been forgotten about and assure them that their issues are being taken seriously. Personal calls also give companies a chance to check in and see if the issues were actually resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.

5. Radical Support® is Quick

Good support – Takes less than a day to respond
Radical Support – Responds in less than a few minutes

It used to be far more acceptable for support requests to sit in a queue for hours or even days before they were addressed.

However, in an age of nonstop, instantaneous communication, people expect and appreciate quicker responses.

That’s why companies devoted to Radical Support® should commit to replying to customers in minutes instead of hours.

It’s not easy. It takes dedication and focus, and can also only be accomplished if you are proactively making your product easier and better. But our own company’s average response time of less than 2 minutes tends to pleasantly surprise and delight our clients and is well worth the effort.

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Note that response time isn’t the same as resolution time. Some companies get in trouble by incentivizing quick resolutions to problems, which can result in reps focusing on the wrong things and rushing customers through their problems.

6. Radical Support® Integrates Customer Feedback

Good support – Efficiently solves each issue as it comes up
Radical support – Regularly looks at the big picture to make key changes

As we mentioned in our first point, every customer support request should be considered an opportunity to improve something about your company.

“Good enough” companies are satisfied when the queue of support requests is empty. But companies dedicated to Radical Support® also have systems in place to regularly review the support data for trends and important insights.

Looking at the big picture to understand why people are calling can be enormously helpful. It’s common for insights gathered from customer support trends to lead to changes to the product itself. However, they may also lead to changes in how the product is presented, marketed, or explained to customers.

Your customers are the reason your product or service exists, so you absolutely need to follow their lead by using their insights.

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