This post is one in a series of tips for making your small business run better and is sponsored by UPS. UPS is all about logistics — the logistics that makes your business run better and faster
Providing customer training and support is costly, but it’s also quite important.
Some organizations view it as a necessary evil while other, more innovative thinking companies, view it as a way to differentiate, up sell and create additional profits.
The key to creating support that generates profit is to create support that’s worth paying for. The way to do this is make it a formal package, think about it like a product and offer it either as a tangible added value or as an à la carte offering.
The Apple Genius Bar is a great example of how to generate profits from support. They sell service packages, offer training programs and even take back and recycle old products when you upgrade.
There are many ways to tap this mindset. Below are just five examples of how to turn extraordinary customer service into a revenue stream.
Live Q and A chats
When someone buys a product or service of any kind you can offer reassurance that they will receive full value from their purchase by implementing regularly scheduled chat sessions where users or customers may ask questions about their purchase and receive help with features or implementations.
Of course this is also something you could offer as a pre-sales education tactic as well as a paid subscription add-on.
There are many tools available that make this tactic somewhat easy to implement. If you are a 37Signals software user you probably already use their integrated chat tool Campfire. There are other tools such as Chatroll that allow you to embed a group chat tool on your website for a simple branded option.
Drop in Fridays
If your customers are primarily local you may want to schedule a time when customers can come in or bring a product in and receive additional advice, specific training or simply a chance to network with other users.
Trade in days
If you sell a product that is upgraded frequently, such as technology, or has you going head to head with competitors, create and promote specific times when customers or prospects can come in and get credit for recycling an old version or upgrading to your product over a competitors.
Be prepared to offer a service that makes it both very attractive and very easy to switch.
This tactic lends itself to hard goods, but certainly software and other process driven services could benefit from this approach as well.
One of my favorite tools right now is Google+ Hangouts. Using this tool you could easily create video Q and A chats, offer weekly lessons or simply create a series of expert adviser knowledge sharing sessions to benefit your clients.
One of the reasons I really like this tool is that you also broadcast these sessions publicly or password protected and archive them on YouTube to instantly create a library of customer service and training videos.
Once someone buys a product or engages you to provide a service you easily establish a relationship of ongoing support through online courses.
The technology to create, manage and deliver content using full-blown membership site tools such as Kajabi or WordPress plugins such as Premise or Wishlist Member makes this approach something that every business should consider as a way to expand offerings and generate a residual stream of revenue.
Most content delivery applications today integrate with leading eCommerce payment systems as well as shopping cart, CRM and email service providers.
The need to provide basic support and training will always be part of the deal, but by creating even greater levels of support, delivering it in new and exciting ways and making is worth paying for is how you grow your profitability in ways that also makes your organization stand out.