FEBRUARY 2, 2023


After a decade fighting fires in technical support, I formed some thick skin and strong opinions. If you work on or with support teams, I hope this post fans the flames of your own hot takes.


AI will not eliminate support jobs. It will only enhance them with the intimate knowledge support engineers have about the product and how customers use it. It will make the support engineers’ role more efficient than ever and enable them with tools to make proactive support more common. It will eliminate the mundane tasks and open opportunities to grow customer loyalty. It will come at a cost so you will need to build the teams that can leverage the tech to your advantage. Intercom’s new ChatGPT integrations are a great example of what’s to come.

Support teams are a product manager’s best friend. They’re the eyes and ears of customer pain and what they value from your product. Support sheds light on the useful features and the missing features. Without this insight, engineering teams may be blindly working on features that may never set a company apart from the competition.

Support is not a cost center. Every support conversation is a sales conversation — retention, growth, championing. A good support agent can resolve an issue. A better support agent can understand why and how the customer got to that point in the first place. Demonstrating understanding and empathy for the customers’ journey opens the door to more opportunities in helping customers grow their business with your product. Empowered with CRM integrations and high-level insight to roadmaps, support can open these conversations with customers and build these relationships. Support teams with high turnover will inevitably frustrate customers because the history and rapport is missing.

Satisfied customers will churn. Customers may reach resolutions and be “satisfied“ but they can still churn because the effort was high. According to the Corporate Executive Board, “customers are four times more likely to leave a service interaction disloyal than loyal”. Support is on the front lines to save each and every customer and knowing the risks will change the perspective. Even better, opportunities exist to build brand loyalty. As the cycle improves, customers will champion your company because of the low effort and that’s free marketing.

Let me say it a little louder for those in the back (or at the top): Support is not a cost center. Support builds experts in your product and team members who can empathize with customer pain. If or when support team members move to engineering teams, they require significantly less onboarding than fresh recruits. It’s a long game but well worth it.

How does support operate within your organization’s structure? Do you care more about an agent’s time to resolution or if they nurture customer relationships? Will you grow your support team or empower them with tools to prepare them for the next wave of knowledge sharing? Let me know your thoughts 🔥