18 Critical Customer Support Challenges to Overcome (2024)

13 Critical Customer Support Challenges to Overcome (2024)

Customer support is the backbone of any successful enterprise, acting as the direct link between a company and its customers. It’s where support problems are resolved, questions are answered, and loyalty is earned. 

Today’s customer expectations for this function are higher than ever. Customers seek immediate, effective, and personalized solutions to their issues. However, delivering on these expectations is no small feat. 

The customer support landscape is marked by complex CX challenges, including navigating multiple communication platforms, ensuring quick response times, and personalizing service in a way that resonates with each customer.

The push for excellence in customer support is driven by a simple reality: the quality of support a business provides can significantly influence its reputation and bottom line. But achieving this level of service requires more than just good intentions— it demands a strategic blend of technology, processes, and people. 

With the right tools, a well-trained team, and a clear focus on the customer experience, businesses can transform their support services from a basic necessity into a decisive competitive advantage.

This article takes a closer look at the challenges faced by customer support teams and outlines practical, innovative solutions to overcome them. Companies can meet and exceed their customers’ evolving expectations by embracing a customer-centric approach and leveraging technology wisely.

What are the biggest customer support challenges facing companies in 2024?

  1. Answer challenging customer questions
  2. Understanding customer needs
  3. Managing and exceeding customer expectations
  4. Customer requests are outside of your offerings and abilities
  5. Handling angry customers
  6. Serving several customers at once
  7. Handling service outages
  8. Cultural sensitivity and global support
  9. Service ticket overload
  10. Hiring and training customer support reps
  11. Slow response or support times
  12. Providing omnichannel customer support
  13. Mental health and burnout
  14. Choosing the right tools and software
  15. Gaps in technology utilization
  16. Gaps in products or service
  17. Adapting offerings to meet evolving needs
  18. Security and privacy concerns

Why Is Customer Support Difficult?

Customer support is not a backseat role – it demands attention to detail, patience, robust communication, sharp intellect, and punctuality to maintain a positive customer experience and resolve complex problems. It also calls for support agents with thick skin and strong will.

Customer support teams often need more time to tackle complex issues, and frequently deal with less-than-patient customers. Their job is to help customers, and customers typically only reach out when there’s an issue with their product or disruption in their service. This immediately sets a negative tone for the interaction, and it’s on the customer support team’s shoulders to turn the interaction around. 

Your customer support reps are your company’s face for customer interactions. It’s essential that they’re adequately trained on how to handle not just the expected customer interactions, but the difficult ones too.

18 Customer Support Challenges Impacting Businesses in 2024

38% of customers say outstanding customer support significantly impacts how much they trust a brand they regularly buy from – cracking under pressure will quickly dent that trust.

Every company faces different challenges, but what is important is how effectively customer support teams resolve them. 

To better understand the landscape, we can categorize these challenges into four main areas:

Customer Interaction Challenges

1. Answering challenging customer questions

No matter how great your product or service is, there will always be difficult customer questions – it’s part of every business. While you may have process documentation in place, like a customer service training manual that helps handle these difficult conversations, there may be instances when customers catch your reps off guard with questions they simply can’t answer.

The Solution

Not having an answer doesn’t mean it should be left at that – reps must expect the unexpected and be prepared to act quickly when knowledge or information is limited.

The best way to navigate this situation is to avoid being unclear. If you don’t have an answer, acknowledge and articulate the question’s difficulty, ask for time to investigate the issue, and find a solution, then guarantee you’ll contact them. Don’t risk credibility by fumbling over words trying to provide answers that are ultimately inadequate and unsupported.

With Whatfix, organizations are empowered to provide answers to common problems and documentation on what to do in unique scenarios for their call center and customer support teams, with an in-app self-help knowledge base that overlays their support tool UI..

Team members can search for contextual phrases and quickly locate the right documentation for specific support questions – all without having to leave their CRM, help desk, or email clients.


Above: Example of contextual help and user support built with a Digital Adoption Platform.

Whatfix’s Self-Help overlays on to any web application, desktop application, mobile app, or website. It provides contextual help to users and integrates with your FAQs, support center, LMS, user documentation, and more. Users are presented with common issues and help content for their contextual area in the application, or they can use an open-ended search to find the specific help content they’re looking for. These help support cards often prompt in-app guidance, walking users through the specific workflow they need help on.

2. Understanding customer needs

The core of all customer support interactions is identifying the customer’s needs and the best way to satisfy them. Depending on your product or service offerings, your business may serve a variety of buyers and customer personas. Every customer is different, so understandably, their needs, goals, must-haves, and expectations for a solution may be different too. 

To make matters even more complicated, many customers have a hard time communicating their needs and what they want in a solution. They may not know the technical terminology to convey the problem, and it requires concentrated effort from the support rep to understand what your customer expects.

The Solution

Begin by asking the customer to talk through the issue or pain point step-by-step. After the initial fact-finding mission, customer support reps must then act as investigators as they use that information to ask additional questions, hunt down resources or backup, and get to the source of the problem. 

Then, identify the best solution based on your company’s processes and procedures. Don’t be afraid to jot down notes during these customer conversations – they may be used to create process documentation that will ultimately help another rep down the line.

3. Managing and exceeding customer expectations

In any competitive market, the only way to stand out is to go the extra mile and exceed expectations. But how to do this is one of the biggest challenges in customer support. 

If you constantly manage and exceed customer expectations, the chances of customers remaining loyal and turning into promoters skyrocket – but not being able to do so will lead them to abandon your connection and find alternative services with better support.

The Solution

As a business, refrain from remaining stagnant in your offerings and approach – stay ahead of the competition by exploring new initiatives and initiating better support processes based on industry trends. Improving your performance across departments doesn’t have to mean overhauling your entire strategy, but minor improvements add up over time. 

You should also take a customer-centric approach and collect feedback regularly. Feedback directly from the people who use your product or service is incredibly valuable when trying to improve the overall customer experience and exceed expectations. 

Whatfix makes gathering and analyzing user feedback easy thanks to Whatfix Analytics, which allows users to provide real-time feedback on in-app experiences.


4. Customer requests are outside of your offerings and abilities

It’s not uncommon for customers to request something unrealistic. 

They may be as bold as to demand a discount you can’t give, a feature you don’t offer, or some customization outside of your capabilities. ​​

In the simplest terms, the biggest challenge here is having to say no.

The Solution

Before turning down an abnormal request, creatively think to determine whether the request made by customers is achievable. If you can find a workaround or a way to deliver, the next step is to determine how much it will cost— in terms of resources, time, and funds. 

If the cost is reasonable, weigh it against how much the customer would pay you. If the price justifies the request, you may decide to move forward. If not, politely explain that their request is not achievable. Keep your approach fact-oriented and always move towards alternative solutions or remedies.

5. Handling angry customers

Even the best companies experience unhappy customers – things go wrong and customers get upset. This is common in customer support, and there’s no escaping it. A customer may be upset for many reasons, but regardless of the cause, it’s your team’s job to handle the situation appropriately. Your response can lead to good or bad promotions for your business.

The Solution

The solution is to reach a satisfying conclusion for everyone – calmly, gracefully, and efficiently. Customers want their dissatisfaction taken seriously and problems resolved as quickly as possible. 

Start by apologizing to show accountability, explain (if possible), and offer reassurance. One commonly known method is the HEARD approach:

  • Hear: Listen to the customer with intention and allow them to share their entire experience uninterrupted. 
  • Empathize: Show that you understand their frustrations and dissatisfaction.
  • Apologize: Even if the issue isn’t your fault, provide a sincere apology for what happened (or didn’t happen).
  • Resolve: If possible, resolve the issue quickly and provide follow-ups as necessary. A simple, “What can I do to make this right?” can go a long way.
  • Diagnose: One of the most important aspects is to understand why the issue happened so it can be avoided in the future, if possible.

6. Serving several customers at once

Working in customer support means you need to be prepared to deal with several customers at a time on a regular basis. Customer support reps may be on live chat with several users at once, or they may be dealing with a flood of emails and calls from demanding customers. The issue is that over-extending your customer support team may impact their productivity due to burnout and the mental toll of constantly multitasking. 

Overburdening your reps can also keep other customers waiting in the queue with no updates, which may lead them to feel like they’re not a priority. Customers expect immediate service, or they may start looking elsewhere to take their business.

The Solution

One way to quickly support more customers is to assign issues to customer support reps based on their experience and seniority. The more complex the issue, the more seniored the rep that’s put on the case. Their expertise will allow them to serve more customers quickly, while newer reps handle simpler, more black-and-white issues.

Apart from properly managing the workload of each customer support rep, consider setting up task routing based on the issue type or rep experience level to enable faster and more effective support. You can also support common user questions by setting up self-service features or answer bot. 

Whatfix Self Help is an in-app collection of guided flows, videos, and links that help users complete activities or tasks on an application. Once Flows have been created, Self Help is one of the ways users can navigate on their own more efficiently and reduce requests to customer support.


7. Handling service outages

It’s not ideal, but it happens to every business. When your service experiences an unexpected outage, panicked customers will come knocking. In these moments, it’s difficult not to feel helpless knowing that customers aren’t getting the product or service they need and that some technical factors are simply out of your control.

The Solution

It’s reasonable to expect your customers to be frustrated in these moments, and it’s a natural reaction to want to alleviate, act, and resolve. In the moments when it’s not immediately possible, your reps must avoid oversimplifying the situation and overpromising the resolution. 

The best approach is to be transparent with customers about what the problem appears to be at that moment, including if there is no current estimated time of resolution. At the end of the day, your team is putting all their effort into getting the service back on track – and that’s what should be conveyed.

8. Cultural sensitivity and global support

Navigating cultural sensitivities and providing support on a global scale present unique challenges for customer service teams. They have to juggle a diverse array of cultural norms, languages, and expectations, ensuring each customer feels understood and respected, no matter where they are in the world. Customers from different parts of the world may have unique communication styles, preferences for interaction, and service expectations, making one-size-fits-all support strategies ineffective.

Language barriers and differing time zones also complicate the ability to offer immediate and appropriate responses, potentially leading to misunderstandings or dissatisfaction.

The Solution

Addressing the challenge of cultural sensitivity and global support requires a multifaceted approach. 

Investing in a diverse customer support team with multilingual representatives and individuals from various cultural backgrounds can foster better understanding and communication. Training programs focused on cultural awareness and sensitivity can also equip support staff with the knowledge and skills they need to interact effectively with a global customer base. 

Leveraging technology to offer support in multiple languages, including translation services and localized content, can also bridge communication gaps. Whatfix can play a pivotal role by providing digital adoption solutions that cater to a diverse user base. Whatfix’s platform offers personalized, contextual guidance in multiple languages, making it easier for users worldwide to navigate and fully utilize web applications.

Operational Challenges

9. Service ticket overload

Customers expect a lot from businesses, especially when it comes to customer support. With an increasing demand for more support faster, tickets have become an instrumental tool for streamlining requests. 

However, managing a customer support ticket queue is daunting. Reps often struggle to keep up– going through ticket after ticket, trying to respond and resolve as quickly as possible, barely having time to finish each ticket before a new one appears. It’s a stressful cycle that can wear down even the most patient customer support reps.

The Solution

To meet customers’ demands for fast resolution times, agents and support reps must adopt ticketing system best practices that drive consistent, excellent service. If reps have best practices on prioritizing, responding to, and following up on each service request, your company’s overall customer experience will improve across the board.

When your customer support service ticket queue is backed up, focus on responding instead of resolving. Provide updates on where the ticket stands, offer the necessary insight to move it along, and request follow-up from any appropriate contributors. Whenever possible, provide customers with an estimated wait time for when they can expect assistance. It also doesn’t hurt to write a personal email letting customers know that you’re backlogged and will take care of them as soon as possible – this is a simple and easy way to keep users engaged and confident in your support capabilities. 

Another solution is to find ways to proactively reduce the number of overall support tickets. This means focusing on self-help support channels and solutions that provide better product onboarding and training. This may include:

  • New onboarding flows in response to common support ticket questions
  • In-app tooltips that highlight customer frustration areas
  • A new FAQ page or customer knowledge base

10. Hiring and training customer support reps

The hiring, onboarding, and training process is inherently daunting. Spending time on candidates who don’t have fitting experience can lead to dull, off-putting interactions with customers, and inefficient training is a waste of time and resources for everyone involved. Companies need support teams they know are up for the challenge – without the right expertise on your customer support team, you can miss opportunities to improve the customer experience.

The Solution

Making the right hires will save time and money, so choose your customer support professionals wisely. Find customer support professionals who have the attitude, skills, experience, and mentality to provide only the best service to your customers. 

It’s critical to define your ideal candidate’s skills and experience, get your job posting in front of the right people, conduct comprehensive interviews, and test their skills with a quick task or project. Having your applicants do work that is close to the actual job is an excellent opportunity to see how they perform and can offer an even broader perspective than an interview can.

Once a hire is made, you’ll need to coach and train them on your business and product or service. Educate them about your company culture, policies, business practices, and processes involved in handling the customers. 

Whatfix’s customer support training software enables customer support onboarding and training initiatives and processes through personalized and engaging employee onboarding programs, allowing leaders to catapult customer support employees to rapid productivity.

Create personalized onboarding & training flows for your customer support reps with Whatfix

11. Slow response or support times

Customers want answers, and they want them now – or better yet, ten minutes ago. A fast response makes your customers feel important. So what happens when support teams take too long to respond? 

They cut ties and stop doing business with you. 

If you have tickets or calls bouncing around from one department to another or chats piling up in your queue as you wait for answers, patience is bound to wear out in your customers and they’ll be inclined to find other solutions elsewhere.

The Solution

Strengthen your operation channels and implement the necessary customer support software. Try omnichannel support, create a service level agreement (SLA), and set up your internal structure for team success. Chatbots, automation, and Whatfix’s self-help features will help you be well on your way toward providing efficient and effective customer support that will make happy customers and help reduce response time for your team.

12. Providing omnichannel customer support

Omnichannel customer service is all about delivering a more cohesive, integrated customer experience, free of restrictions, no matter how a customer reaches out to you. It allows a seamless transition between channels and provides the same experience the whole way through. When done correctly, it enables customers to start their experience on one channel and seamlessly navigate to another while receiving the same level of support – when done poorly, confusion ensues, frustrations boil, and customers drop off.

The Solution

Embed support inside your product or service to enable users to seek help while using it so they don’t have to disrupt their workflow and seek out customer support. Whatfix empowers an omnichannel customer experience through guided walkthroughs, self-help knowledge bases, and in-app training. Whatfix makes it easy to embed in-app self-help support by curating the content in your knowledge base and planting it inside your product to assist your users.

13. Mental health and burnout

Mental health and burnout are increasingly concerning issues within customer support teams. The repetitive nature of addressing customer issues, dealing with unhappy customers, and the pressure to meet performance metrics can lead to stress, anxiety, and burnout among support representatives. This not only affects the well-being of employees, but also impacts the quality of service provided to customers. The challenge is compounded by remote work environments, where team members may feel isolated and disconnected from their colleagues.

The Solution

Companies must foster a supportive and understanding work culture to combat mental health issues and burnout in customer support teams. This could mean implementing regular check-ins, offering mental health days, or providing access to wellness resources. Encouraging breaks, flexible work hours, and promoting a healthy work-life balance are also crucial. Creating a buddy system or support networks within the team is another great way to help employees feel connected and supported.

Technology and Tools Challenges

14. Choosing the right tools and software

Customer support is costly, and choosing the right tools and software to support your customer support team is extremely important. Just because your competition uses certain tools for support doesn’t mean you should too. 

Picking tools that don’t serve your unique business needs will overcomplicate your processes, slow down your support time, and lead to frustrated reps and customers.

The Solution

Everyone – including sales, marketing, and customer support – must work together to find the right technology that can improve customer experience, from the first interaction, to sales, to support, and so on. 

There are several channels – including phone, email, live chat, self-serve, and community support – that can streamline customer interactions more efficiently. Determine the most fitting channel(s) for your customer support team and select the right tools and software for facilitating customer support and engagement. 

Whatfix offers several solutions to empower customer support teams and provide customer support across multiple touchpoints, including:

  • In-app guidance on key workflows for customers, which provides real-time contextual guidance that drives feature adoption and reduces the need for support tickets.
  • User Intelligent Nudges to improve task completion rates and showcase underutilized features.
  • Chatbot integration to enable conversational support within the application.
  • Personalized Self Help based on user role and location within the application.

15. Gaps in technology utilization

Many organizations struggle to fully leverage technology within their customer support operations. Despite investing in advanced customer support tools and platforms, companies often struggle to fully leverage these technologies. 

This underutilization can result from a lack of training, resistance to change among staff, or the complexity of integrating new tools with existing systems. As a result, the potential benefits of improved efficiency, enhanced customer satisfaction, and better data analysis go unrealized.

The Solution

Bridging the gap in technology utilization requires a strategic approach that begins with thorough training and education for all users. Hands-on workshops, regular training sessions, and accessible support materials can empower staff to use new tools confidently. 

Involving customer support representatives in the selection and implementation process of new technologies can also increase buy-in and reduce resistance. It might also be wise to consolidate your tech stack in order to minimize disruptions and ease the transition.

Whatfix can help close technology utilization gaps with easy in-app guidance. With Whatfix, organizations can streamline the adoption of new software and tools through interactive walkthroughs, step-by-step guides, and personalized support right within an application. This accelerates learning, reduces resistance, and enhances productivity by providing real-time help.

Product and Services Challenges

16. Gaps in product or service

Customers won’t hesitate to call out gaps or shortcomings in your offerings. Unfortunately, companies may not always have the threshold to bring in a new product or implement a feature upgrade. And if there’s a lack of internal communication between development, marketing, and support teams, customer support reps are put in an especially vulnerable position with no satisfying, contextual answers for demanding customers.

The Solution

As underwhelming or disappointing as it may feel sometimes, honesty is the best policy. Telling users that you don’t currently offer a given feature they’re after is better than trying to appease them by overpromising. If possible and applicable, offer a similar, alternative feature or service that your company can provide for the time being. 

If your customer support reps receive enough feedback about a lacking feature or offering, it may be a good opportunity to commit to exploring the potential of that feature or service gap. If the feature is currently in the works, you can inform them that it is under development and that you hope to see a new release soon – then offer to notify them via email when it is released. This demonstrates your commitment to communication, transparency, and constant improvement.

17. Adapting offerings to meet evolving needs

As a constantly changing market becomes the norm, businesses must continuously adapt to meet evolving customer needs. Changes in consumer preferences, technological advancements, and competitive pressures require companies to be agile and responsive. However, identifying and implementing changes can be slow, leading to gaps between customer expectations and business delivery.

The Solution

To effectively adapt offerings, businesses must foster a culture of continuous innovation and feedback. Implementing systems for gathering and analyzing customer feedback across various touchpoints can provide actionable insights into changing preferences and emerging needs. 

Engaging directly with customers through social media, surveys, and feedback tools can also provide immediate insights into what changes or improvements they want to see. This proactive approach to adapting offerings ensures that businesses remain relevant and competitive, ultimately enhancing customer loyalty and satisfaction.

18. Security and privacy concerns

Security and privacy concerns in customer support have become increasingly significant as the volume of sensitive customer information handled by support teams continues to grow. 

The challenge is twofold: protecting this information from external breaches, and ensuring internal processes comply with global data protection regulations. Customers expect their data to be handled with the utmost care, and failure to meet these expectations can result in lost trust and even legal consequences. The complexity of managing security across various channels, including online platforms, chat, and email, further complicates this challenge.

The Solution

Addressing security and privacy concerns requires a comprehensive approach that includes both technological investments and rigorous policy enforcement. 

On the technological front, deploying end-to-end encryption for all customer interactions, regularly updating IT infrastructure to guard against vulnerabilities, and using secure authentication methods can significantly reduce the risk of data breaches. 

From a policy standpoint, developing clear data handling and privacy policies, training staff on these policies, and regularly auditing compliance are essential steps.

Enable customers and end-users with contextual in-app guidance and moment-of-need support

Like every other aspect of a business, customer support has its own challenges, and companies should strive to overcome them for the betterment of both their customers and their business. 

Every time your customer support reps speak with a customer and receive feedback or insight about your functionality, it’s a chance to improve your product or service. Look at these support challenges as relationship-building opportunities and improve your customer satisfaction tenfold.

If you want to retain customers, you need to provide exceptional customer service and effectively manage any problems faced by your support team. A customer-first culture is formed through the values your business embodies.

Whatfix empowers your users to self-service their queries and gives customer support reps insights into your product or service to cut down on your support costs.


Whatfix provides a step-by-step guidance system that allows users to perform any task from start to end successfully, which aims to reduce users’ confusion and their dependence on your customer support team.

Learn more about how Whatfix can strengthen your customer support processes and team today.

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What Is Whatfix?
Whatfix is a digital adoption platform that provides organizations with a no-code editor to create in-app guidance on any application that looks 100% native. With Whatfix, create interactive walkthroughs, product tours, task lists, smart tips, field validation, self-help wikis, hotspots, and more. Understand how users are engaging with your applications with advanced product analytics.
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