Whole Company Support
Whole Company Support, also known as All Hands Support, has been gaining traction with companies that want to build a more well-rounded organization with deep levels of customer empathy.
Support is often viewed as a cost center and position of minor value. I take the opposite view and believe Support is one of the most valuable teams in a company. They are often product experts and have a thorough understanding of the customers and the most common use cases. They are on the front lines keeping customers calm while making excuses for product shortcomings. There is often a disconnect between the people who build the software and those who use it. The Support team helps to bridge that gap by playing the role of customer advocate and liaison between the customers and Product team.
Customer Support is a craft and not everyone is good at it. If there are team members in the organization that do not have the confidence, patience or communication skills to directly handle support requests, all is not lost! The goal of Whole Company Support is not necessarily to create more support agents, although that may be a positive side effect. Rather, the goal is to increase collaboration and build a company where everyone develops a deeper understanding of their products and empathy for their customers. Everyone can help the company meet these goals by partnering with a member of the Support team, reviewing support cases for common themes and committing to using their skills to help solve problems and improve the customer experience.
For example, if you are a documentation writer you may find that poor documentation for a certain feature is causing frustration. If you are on the website team, you may come to find out that the pricing page is too confusing and you can improve it. If you are a Developer, bug reports may help you realize that one of the product features is clunky and you can help streamline it. Helping the Support team and solving problems for your customers is empowering!
After all, if we are not all working to better understand our customers and solve their problems, what are we working on?