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Two-way Proactive Synchronous Support – Merging Marketing and Sales and Support – Customer Success or Customer Experience

The support part of the role of a Software Support and Development Engineer traditionally has been reactive. Tech support or customer support has been long established as a cost center that reacts-to, resolves, and answers these things: customer questions, issues, concerns, and complaints.

Do I call my building maintenance person to ask how they are today? No, I tend to only call them when my plumbing has a problem, or my heating, or when something is wrong or broken or needs fixing. Do I call support when my software isn’t broken? No.

This presents a problem. It means that usually, by the time the customer picks up the phone (or writes the email), the customer at that point already is concerned, unhappy, unimpressed, or confused.

The problem is the customer, and the Customer Support person, is constantly faced with this negative energy. It’s not balanced. It creates an unbalanced life for the customer and for the customer support person. The customer has to call a general number (or a general email address) and ask a stranger for help. This means that the first time the customer and the support person meet, it is over a problem. How terrible is that?

This problem is in part caused by the traditional role of Marketing developing a relationship with the customer then passing the customer to sales, then sales developing a relationship with the customer then passing the customer to support.

How to fix this? What if support was two-way, proactive or synchronous. What does this mean? It means the support person periodically calls or emails the customer and asks how things are. “Hi Jane, I can’t believe 100 days have again passed! It’s me, John from ACME, and it’s time for my regular 100-day call to ask you how our solution’s behaving for you?”

Wow! Amazing — John from ACME has the support strength, foresight, caring and attentiveness to call the customer and introduce himself(or again say hi if they already met 100 days before). John has in effect performed a bit of marketing and sales, by contacting the customer and checking in. This is what nowadays people call Customer Experience or Customer Success. John is a Customer Success Engineer.

What happened here? Well John and Jane are meeting for the first time when Jane likely wasn’t stewing over a problem. The degree of negative energy will likely be much less. Now that they know each other exist and know each other’s names, they will be able to know who to call *if* there *does* ever arise a problem. Also it’s balanced for both people.

Another way to fix this? Welcome the customer to call in any time to talk about the software, even when there’s not a problem.

Traditionally an exception has been that some people give their building maintenance person a baked goods or a bonus money at new year’s day. Also, some companies send a holiday card to their customers on New Year’s day to see how things are going and check up on them and say thanks. And that is something that some companies traditionally have done. The marketing or sales department would have done that.

To summarize, traditional Software Support’s problem of the first support contact being over a problem is caused by marketing and sales being separate from support, and the answer can be merging marketing with sales and with support. The answer can be the support person or the customer reaching out ahead of time to establish a relationship in the beginning, in the manner done nowadays by Customer Success or Customer Experience pros.

Edit: This post was previously published at: w̶i̶e̶l̶d̶l̶i̶n̶u̶x̶.̶c̶o̶m̶/2016-06-19-success-merges-marketing-support.php

[2019 edit: Moved to: https://investorworker.com/2016/... .html.]