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How To Get Customer Insights from Support Requests

Customer service11 MIN READDec 19, 2023

Getting customer insights from support requests - cover image.

How many support requests do you receive every week? 

And how many of those contain crucial information that could improve your business? 

More than you would imagine. 

Many support teams perceive the requests they get as quite routine. And yet, in that seemingly routine exchange, each support interaction is a unique window into the minds of your customers — and can be a rich source of customer feedback, grievances, and, most importantly, growth opportunities.

The value of these interactions goes beyond issue resolution. It’s a valuable source of data that, when carefully mined and analyzed, can unveil patterns, preferences, and customer pain points.

Here’s how you can transform your support requests into valuable and actionable customer insights that improve your business. 

Klaus encouraging you to read the next paragraph.

What are customer insights?

Customer insights are the knowledge you can gain about your customers through analyzing customer feedback. 

These insights go beyond basic demographic data and transactional information. They’re about delving into the motivations, preferences, behaviors, and needs of your customers. 

The goal is to uncover valuable information that can be used to inform business decisions, enhance customer experience (CX), increase customer loyalty, and improve your product. 

Support requests are a treasure trove of information. They’re the raw, unfiltered questions and opinions from your customers. 

An illustration of Klaus drowning in documents.

Gathering customer insights from your support requests can help you:

  • Predict and reduce churn. Identifying and fixing pain points can improve your retention rates. Understanding which types of pain points correlate with churn can help you proactively address those issues. 
  • Increase customer lifetime value. Say you advertise a cross-selling opportunity in your ecommerce business but then customers have to write to your support team before they can purchase. These are the types of cases that translate to an easy business win. 

An illustration of Klaus dealing with customer churn.

How customer insights can improve CX

These are some of the types of insights that you can gather from support requests:

Customers struggling with a new feature

What’s confusing for existing users who are invested enough in your product to write to your customer support? 

Your product team might think they have developed a clear new flow, but the numbers show low conversion. 

Without this customer feedback, the product team spends some weeks running multiple A/B tests to even find the right issues that are leading to this low conversion. 

You could’ve saved them that time (and your customers that frustration) by surfacing insights earlier. 

Help center documentation not helping 

Help center documentation exists so customers can resolve their issues faster while deflecting incoming tickets. 

If, instead, they create more work on all sides because your customers find the article, read it, and reach out anyway, there are huge opportunities for improvement. 

An illustration of Klaus saying that knowledge is power.

Email campaigns that aren’t actionable

Say you send marketing campaigns to your customers with a CTA. 

The open and click-through rate for this campaign is very high, so your marketing team considers it a successful newsletter. 

But your customers have some questions after they click that button and contact your support team, showing that there is an issue in translating those nice emails into action. 

Getting that customer insight to your marketing team could make for more effective campaigns in the future. 

Internal processes where customers get stuck

Maybe your team worked on a new process to handle damages, but since it went live, you have received more tickets on the topic. 

Or your product team released an improvement to the purchase flow that has great conversion on the whole but makes it harder for customers to change their payment method. 

Customers can get stuck at multiple points throughout their customer journey. Support requests are typically the first place you’ll hear about that, but even if you’re collecting customer insights and tons of behavioral data — these can easily get buried.

Klaus handling documentation.

Why customer insights get lost in support requests

Your support team is directly in contact with customers all day, every day. 

So when your product or marketing teams want to collect customer feedback about something, they might just send a message over to your support team asking what customers are saying about this feature or that campaign. 

That rarely uncovers meaningful insights. 

Here’s why. 

  • Customer support teams rarely know what useful insights look like. Did you ever notice how, after learning something new, you start seeing it everywhere? The same thing can happen with feedback collection. Support reps receive plenty of insights, but their frame of mind is focused on speed and accuracy. They might not notice something is valuable because they simply don’t know it’s important.
  • There is no clear process for sharing feedback. When a member of your customer service finds a valuable bit of information from a ticket, what should they do? Contact someone? Paste it somewhere? The customer data will only ever reach the right team with an explicit process specifying each step. 
  • They don’t know which topics have a business impact. With so much coming in from customers, support staff are busy delivering quality customer support. Having frontline staff out of product decisions means they don’t know where the priority lies or what’s ahead.
  • A Support team’s success is measured in support metrics, like Resolution Time or Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT). That means agents typically focus on closing a ticket rather than sharing insights because that’s their job.
  • Insights get lost through multiple layers of communication. Every layer, from your frontline agents to team leads to your department heads, has their own understanding of which information is important to share and with whom. That means critical information takes a long time to reach decision-makers. 

Klaus keeps communicating (and unicycling) while working from home

7 ways to gather customer insights from support tickets

The best customer insights include:

  • Aggregated, structured data and numbers that show you how prevalent an issue is and what its impact on your business is,
  • Punctuated with a few meaningful and specific examples directly from customers that back that up. 

Nothing is quite as powerful as the combination of data with real customer sentiment

That’s why these are the two overarching areas to tackle:

  1. Enable your agents to discover valuable insights and pass them on to the team with specific customer examples and sentiment. 
  2. Gather customer insights and share them across your organization, which will provide the data. 

Sentiment Filter in Klaus.

Enable your agents to provide insights

Your agents likely have a lot of the information at hand. 

They just need a little more context and the belief that customer insights are a priority for your business. 

Here’s what that looks like. 

Share your business priorities with the support team

Be specific about the areas of your business that reps need to look out for. 

You can go for a simple or sophisticated solution, ranging from sharing business goals regularly to getting teams to present their most impactful work with success criteria often, to asking your team leads to discuss business priorities with their teams. 

As long as frontline agents know what types of cases are really important, they can quickly identify them when they see them in support requests. 

Embed support in product development

Another way to ensure support agents are fully informed and up-to-date is to embed them in product development. They can represent the Voice of the Customer during the development process while also getting first-hand information on what topics matter the most. 

Train them on how to identify crucial insights

Your agents need to understand how support requests relate to the bigger picture. 

Train them how to answer these questions based on an interaction they have:

  • What’s driving negative ratings of your product or service?
  • When do customers indicate or hint that they might choose to switch to a competitor? 
  • What are their underlying needs when they send in a feature request? Where is your product falling short from meeting those needs?

Treat gathering feedback as part of an agent’s responsibilities

You can either have a couple of agents who are responsible for collecting insights or treat it as a collective responsibility across your team. That means dedicating time to this regularly and giving them the space to uncover real insights. 

The more quality the insights have, the more impact they’ll have.

Klaus following up on feedback.

Gather and share customer insights

Empowering your agents can go a long way, especially when you have a fairly small team with limited resources.

Adding customer data to those examples will always help you fill in the bigger picture. That’s ultimately a question of the tools that you use and finding ways to make aggregated data less manual and time-intensive for your team.  

Analyze customer data from support requests

Most support teams start with basic categorization. 

That can be based on manually selected tags (that your agents choose when they interact with a customer) or be fully automated based on keyword analysis. 

If you have a ton of data and aren’t getting very deep insights from categorization, investing in a feedback analytics tool can be a huge help.

These tools can analyze consumer insights, from a variety of sources, in mere minutes, helping you uncover common themes and understand impact drivers to make informed decisions.

Use tools that make collecting insights easy

The tools you work with can have a massive impact on how easy it is to collect customer insights. You can: 

  • Analyze customer sentiment: Categorizing based on a ticket topic might be where you start but sometimes customer sentiment can provide a much deeper and richer set of data to work with, especially if you combine that with customer behavior. 
  • AI-powered quality assurance: Zendesk QA (formerly Klaus) can help you find conversations that are critical to review and identify coaching opportunities to tackle recurring issues and help your agents improve. These are also customer insights that can help you dramatically level up your CX. 
  • Create automations with integrations: Most customer service software comes with integrations that connect it to other tools. For example, you could integrate your helpdesk software with a particular Slack channel, a spreadsheet, or a Trello board created for that purpose. From the help desk, agents can send the feedback to Slack or Trello, for example.

Establish a process for sharing insights

Create a clear and simple process so that folks don’t need to go out of their way to share feedback. 

Your process should cover:

  • Who’s responsible for gathering that data
  • How customer insights get collected. 
  • A format for how to present this information like a report or a dashboard. 
  • When it gets shared across your organization.
  • To whom–ideally all of the biggest stakeholders that would benefit. 

Establishing a regular cadence and taking the time to leverage customer insights will increase engagement across your company and ensure these insights actually get used and have an impact.

An illustration of Klaus with the necessary tools.

Use customer insights to transform your business

Customer insights are some of the most valuable information your business possesses. 

And while it’s often overlooked, your support inbox is one of the best places to start building a comprehensive customer insights program. It’s a starting point for taking customer feedback and translating it into actionable insights that can directly improve your product. 

That goes hand-in-hand with delivering great quality customer service. 

Klaus Banner.

Written by

Nouran Smogluk - headshot.
Nouran Smogluk
Nouran is a passionate people manager who believes that work should be a place where people grow, develop, and thrive. She blogs about a variety of topics, including remote work, leadership, and creating great customer experiences.

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