Chances are you work for one of many teams at your organization—product, engineering, sales, marketing, just to name a few. And it’s not always easy for the different functions to communicate with one another, despite efforts spent on improving cross-functional collaboration. Especially when a company is striving to deliver a consistently great customer experience, you can imagine how important it is to have teams aligned and focused on the same mission in service of customers.
Think about your own organization. Not all functions spend equal time interacting with customers (nor are all functions expected to). For teams that work on product, how well does each team member know the end user? How often do your engineering and QA teams connect with marketing or customer service to better understand customer issues and sentiments? If you’re like SurveyMonkey, then you may be thinking, “We could probably do more of that.”
And there’s good reason to do more of it. If your goal is to deliver awesome product experiences to customers, then you’d want to keep a pulse on customer feedback and satisfaction. You may not be in the position, or have the opportunity, to talk directly with customers, but you can get in touch with your customer support team.
Support reps talk to customers all day, every day and have visibility into problems across all areas. Ideally these insights can be shared and leveraged across the organization, feeding back into product and engineering to improve the product experience.
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How to get your product and customer service teams to talk
To encourage teams to stay closely connected to customer support and to our customers, SurveyMonkey held our own internal summit here at HQ in Palo Alto. We hosted members from our Customer Operations team based in Portland, OR and invited all of product and engineering to join in on the conversation. And what we learned really brought home the importance of sharing customer insights across teams—and opened our eyes to customer pain points and needs.
It was so exciting and eye opening to learn of all of the the things CS is doing to support our customers. It was also incredible to learn how they are capturing the exchanges and pain points of the customers, analyzing that information and providing rich reporting. This will be so useful to the product team (as well as company-wide).
– SurveyMonkey UX Designer
5 important reasons for communicating across teams
- Staying connected to customer support is critical not just for identifying product issues, but for keeping a pulse on customer demand and expectations. Support teams are brimming with customer insights! They know which features confuse users, which ones delight, and why. Leverage their knowledge to make customer-backed decisions with regards to developing and marketing products. They can keep all of us honest as we build out new products and services.
- Remember that even support teams need to be supported too! Oftentimes, your support team becomes the face of the company to your customers. Customer service and support reps have to know your products and services inside and out to provide high quality assistance to customers in need. It’s incredibly important for your product and marketing teams to arm the frontlines with adequate information, at the right frequency, to anticipate customer inquiries. Weekly syncs between teams can help open the lines of communication.
- If possible, create opportunities for different teams to observe customer support reps as they’re in their element. Inevitably, everyone will learn something new—whether that’s gaining a unique perspective or discovering a newfound appreciation for someone else’s work. When SurveyMonkey product managers, engineers, and marketers shadowed our customer reps, they were astonished to see just how fast response times were. Nearly all customer cases received a response within two hours, with many of them under 30 minutes.
- As often as product and engineering may work with support teams to resolve issues and bugs reported by users, it can be helpful to uplevel the conversation from time to time just to put things into perspective. For example, a list of bugs can help identify a problematic feature or product area, but it won’t necessarily convey underlying customer needs or gaps in functionality that might have been documented in support logs. Encourage support teams to bubble up bigger pain points and trends to enable other teams to see the forest beyond the trees.
- Lastly, don’t take your customers for granted. Just like your product roadmap, customer sentiments evolve over time. As technology progresses, customers will seek help in different ways, such as asking questions via live chat or accessing product info via video webcasts. Your support teams may need the help of other functions to develop new content and experiences to accommodate user demand. If customers can’t easily find and use the resources they need, then they’ll be less likely to invest in their relationship with your company and more likely to leave.
We hope that our own eye-opening summit can inspire you to hold your own. Because while you’ll often hear about the importance of working on improving your company’s customer service skills, creating customer loyalty takes a lot more than providing good customer support. Your engineers and product managers need to know what’s important to customers in terms of the product—and your marketers need to be sure that your company is upholding the brand promises you’ve made.
Do your customer support and product and engineering teams communicate well? Have any tips to share? Let us know in the Comments below!