Customer service is part of your product

Customer service and support is often a function that is overlooked from a product management perspective. There are debates as to whether it falls under sales, account management, product, community or marketing.

It’s my opinion that customer service and support should fall heavily under product. If it is not influenced by the product team then it needs to be heavily ingrained throughout all areas of the company and in every employee. Some of the most successful companies make customer service a huge part of their product experience. Great examples of this are Zappos, Uber, Mailbox, Airbnb and Soundcloud.

What do I mean by making it part of the product experience?  I mean that customer service should be a central feature that integrates with your product. Users should quickly and easily be able to find out how to contact you with questions or if they need support. Also, making it a visible component of your product gives users and customers a feeling of comfort. This comfort level is critical for products that use, store or integrate with a users personal information.

One other thing that you should do is have an informal, internal “SLA” (service level agreement) whereby you implement a process where you get back to any customer service request within minutes. Most users and customers are not used to great customer service and you can blow users away by getting back to them within minutes of the point of contact. Even if you don’t have an answer for them right away you should at least acknowledge you or your team are on top of it.

One great tool that I am a big fan of is Olark. It allows you to install a real-time chat widget on your site giving you the ability to chat with customers, answer their questions and put it in offline mode where users can still contact you via email. Other great tools for managing service are Twitter (obviously), UserVoice and Zendesk.

If you have any suggestions on other great customer service examples or tools drop them in the comments.

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