The following is a guest post by Ben Mulholland, a content marketer at Process Street.
I used to hate being put on customer support duty. I’m a marketer, not a support technician, and that Intercom notification noise has practically given me PTSD by now.
Then I realized the benefits being on support had given me. Other than mixing up my daily tasks (which I’ve found can help me be more productive) it:
- Forced me to learn our product inside-out
- Brought me closer to my audience
- Showed me what my audience wanted/needed to know
- Kept me up-to-date with our product releases (features, bug fixes, etc)
- Taught me more about our SaaS stack
Rather than waffle on about every little thing support has taught me, let’s stick to those four points and expand them. Here we go.
Support duty makes them learn your product inside-out
Before being assigned to support duty, I had a basic understanding of what our product was, how you could use it, and what problems it could solve. After one week on Intercom chatting with customers, there was practically nothing I didn’t know about the product.
This is a vital advantage of marketers who have taken support duties – they’re ultimately more aware of the benefits and limitations of your product, and so they know better how to position their marketing efforts.
For example, without support duties I wouldn’t have known about the various use cases for our API, and by answering questions on the topic I inherently drilled the solutions into my own head.
So, when I switched back to marketing I knew more of what our product could do, and therefore how to more easily tie it into topics such as integrating SaaS apps.
Not only that, but I also knew what you can’t do with our API, meaning that nothing in our marketing made false promises as a result of incorrect assumptions.
It brings them closer to their audience
There’s nothing like support duty to let you know what your customers really want. From the questions asked, along with Intercom stats such as the company size, what platform they’re using, and what product plan they’re on, I was able to better flesh out the personas of our target audience.
This, in turn, led to us being able to better target a similar audience with relevant topics. For example, in manufacturing the most valuable feature of your product could be the ability to track the success rate of your processes. Knowing that means that we can benefit from making a point of that feature in any material which relates back to manufacturing.
There’s also the element of direct communication between your marketing team and their audience. Having some of your most visible employees (eg, your blog’s authors) answer direct questions from customers is a great way to enhance the connection they have to both your content and product.
Think about it – if you saw an article you liked, and then after reaching out to the support team manage to strike up a conversation with the author of that very article, there’s going to be an instant affinity to that team and author.
Common misunderstandings become apparent
Speaking of bringing your marketers and audience closer together, this also makes your team aware of the most common misunderstandings and points of confusion with your product.
In turn, this means that your marketers will have a much better idea of what they should be writing about to cater to their audience.
For example, let’s say that you’re an SEO SaaS startup, and your churn rate is in dire need to fixing. In your support box, ¾ of all free plan customers that leave are asking how to analyze the keywords their site currently ranks for, and what keywords they could branch off into.
That’s an opportunity.
If your marketers are on support duty they will automatically know that your audience needs to be told how to use your product to do this. Whether they create a single hefty blog post, a series of posts, a video, or an entire ebook on the topic, the content they create from knowing those questions will target key friction points your audience encounters, and help to ease them through their troubles.
This knowledge of common/key friction points can even help to reduce churn through your marketing material, as you’ll both attract a wider audience and educate your existing customers in the same piece of content.
They will know exactly what’s going on with the product
First, a declaration – I’m not in any way saying that marketers who haven’t been on customer support duty won’t have a clue what’s going on with the product. An organized team (no matter the shared responsibilities) will keep itself in the know with little trouble.
However, we still come back to the fact that the support team is closer to the product than marketing. For example, while you both may be told of updates that are coming to your platform, support will likely know of them first (through answering customer feature requests). Marketing (in my experience) is also far less likely to be notified of bug fixes when they’re pushed.
Once again, this knowledge can be vital when organizing your marketing processes and content. If there’s a big upcoming update then there’s every chance you’ll have been told to produce some sort of promotional material to go along with it, but minor updates can slip under the radar instead of being tied into fresh material for the blog.
For example, let’s say that your product is going to be updated to allow you to assign a group of people where previously only individuals could be placed. Knowing this, your marketing team could tie in some content which will allow them to mention how that’s possible using your app as an example.
Honestly, the list goes on, but even with these four key elements, it’s easy to see why your marketing team should be taking part of your support duty roster. Yes, it takes up their time, but the knowledge gained and relationships built from doing so far outweigh the negatives.
Have any experiences of your own with mixing up your support roster? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.