Three words…No Phone Support. If you want to send your hard-won customers and clients straight into the arms of your competitors then I encourage you to eliminate phone support. This really works; trust me…I have personally abandoned companies who either go out of their way to hide their phone numbers, or even worse have eliminated phone support altogether. In today’s post, I’ll buck yet another trend and share why strong phone support is mission-critical to your business…

Doing business in a Web 2.0+ world is a great thing, but even great things can be taken too far. FAQs, Knowledge Bases, E-mail support, and Online Chat are great ancillary support channels that can be effectively used to augment phone support. However, they should never be used to replace phone support. I cannot even comprehend what is going through someone’s mind when they decide to do away with phone support.

Okay, you caught me…I know exactly what’s going through their mind, but it is nothing short of unadulterated lunacy. Doing away with phone support is always a feeble attempt at cost-cutting. I’ll admit that you can lower support costs by eliminating your call center, but this is like tripping over dollars to pick up pennies. Any business that supplants customer centricity with extreme cost-cutting measures won’t be around long enough to reap the benefits of their misplaced initiatives.

Every time I see a business jump on the me-too bandwagon and scrap phone support I can only think of the lost opportunity costs associated with their flawed business logic.

The following three items are just a few reasons why phone support is a valuable customer-facing opportunity:

  1. New Isn’t Always Better: Tech-savvy people who don’t want the human touch can always opt for a digital response and will likely do so in most cases. That being said, this still represents the minority of instances. When people have a problem the default service preference is to speak to a live human who can help. Believe it or not, there are still a large number of people who will not use any other support channel other than phone support, and when you eliminate that option you just give that business to someone else.
  2. Learn from the Banks: Phone support agents at banks are normally very polite, customer-focused, and they never miss an opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell. Banks understand that when they can answer a question, solve a problem, or add value, they are enhancing customer loyalty. Moreover, they understand that creating a positive customer experience can lead to a selling opportunity. If your phone support agents are not trained to look for selling opportunities then shame on you.
  3. Be Smart: If nothing I’ve said thus far makes sense, then try this…Rather than eliminate phone support to cut costs, charge for phone support, and create a new revenue channel. Listen, I don’t like to pay for support, but like most people, I’ll do so if it is the only way I can solve a problem.

The bottom line is this…Don’t hide from your customers to cut costs, rather embrace them to increase brand equity, customer satisfaction, and loyalty, and to generate new revenue opportunities. Your customers want to be served and to have their needs met. What they will not tolerate is to be brushed aside in the name of cost savings.