Regular communication with customers is critical for building a software business. But when it comes to technical support, sometimes not talking to customers and deflecting them towards self-service resources is the better policy.
If putting the words “deflection” and “customer support” in the same sentence makes you nervous, you’re not alone. Recently, when we asked a client about their company’s deflection strategy, the co-founder replied “We don’t want to deflect anybody. We love our customers. We want to talk to our customers!”
Obviously, our client’s heart was in the right place, and many software publishers share his attitude. Most companies view deflection as simply a cost-cutting measure, and assume users would rather talk to a live rep, if they could.
Yet software customers see the situation differently: in a recent poll, 67% of users said they prefer to find answers on their own, and regard calling support as an inconvenience. By the time most users connect with a rep, they’ve crossed the frustration threshold and you are doing damage control.
So, if we can agree that “deflection” does not equal “ignoring or undeserving customers”, let’s discuss some general types of deflection strategies. Just note these suggestions assume you have excellent self-service support resources and the user in question is a regular user (i.e., not the CIO of a major account) experiencing a first-time issue.
At the end of the day, support is about helping users minimize frustration and maximize value from your products. If the shortest path from pain to productivity is a knowledgebase article or video, then you are doing users a favor by deflecting them towards self-service. And if they still need hand-holding from a live rep (and their subscription/license warrants it), they should have that option, too… just not as a first resort.