What Makes Great Customer Support?
This past year, I have visited at least 12 different cities providing insight into IBM Power Server directions. At each event, eventually some customer stops me to say how great our support is. So why do I hear this?
Providing great customer support requires a good combination of personnel and technical setup. It takes employees who are patient, thoughtful, and knowledgeable, as well as tools that help get the clearest picture possible of customer issues. As far as technology goes, platforms such as Cisco WebEx have enhanced support specialists’ ability to diagnose and solve problems, while automation of workflows such as ticket assignments has made it feasible for companies to scale support operations.
What are some other specific ways to improve support? They run the gamut from hiring best practices to having the proper tools to manage the customer incidents. Here are a few to keep in mind:
Getting a Handle on Email Support
Email and textual interaction are huge parts of support today. This month, HeyWire Business reported that 53 percent of consumers ages 18 to 34 would rather reach support via email, web chat, SMS and/or social media than phone. Customers want productive interactions, and automation can help companies provide just that.
Email management can quickly become time-consuming if done manually. As the number of submissions mounts, the inbox can spiral out of control, unless someone oversees it full-time and ensures that nothing slips between the cracks. As such, handling email is a prime candidate for automation.
"[E]mail support management automates some of the process," wrote Hoyt Mann for the Phaseware blog. "The automation software is set up to monitor the subject lines and content of incoming emails and matching them up to articles in the knowledge base or creating and assigning a ticket out of specific emails."
There are numerous automation possibilities with email, such as escalating any ticket that hasn't received an answer in a certain amount of time. Overall, automating support email management enables companies to handle large volumes of tickets quickly and accurately.
Setting Up Multiple Support Tiers and Expanding Services
Some support queries are more challenging than others. For this reason, it pays to have a system in place in which questions that cannot be answered by consultants are passed along to technical experts and/or programmers. Our goal at HelpSystems is to make sure all of our frontline customer service staff is certified to take calls on the products that they support.
Organizations may need to have employees from each of these categories in place around the world to facilitate an excellent experience for everyone. Using web chat and collaboration tools such as WebEx makes it easy for anyone anywhere to get the level of support needed. For example, screensharing with a programmer via WebEx, rather than emailing, may be the answer for someone with a complicated issue.
Responding to Calls in a Timely, Efficient Way
No one wants to call customer support only to encounter a brick wall of voicemail inboxes, automatic recordings, and long wait times. By offering support from real humans who can quickly respond to calls, organizations can cultivate customer goodwill and improve business. I believe this is our number one differentiator at HelpSystems.
Specific services such as voice-over-IP, videoconferencing, CRM suites, and remote desktops aid operators as they interact with customers. These tools lead to efficient troubleshooting of customer issues and minimal strain on company IT systems.
And, of course, the number one item for customer support is making sure each customer request is answered correctly. The customer support team at HelpSystems works to understand each situation completely—including which business problem you are trying to solve—and then respond with the best solution for the problem. Our customers sometimes call with questions about using a certain feature, but there might be a more effective option for solving their issue. On any customer interaction, HelpSystems consultants will always ask, “Is there anything else we can help you with today?” before bringing the customer service engagement to a close.
When was the last time you got in touch with your customer support contact at HelpSystems? Some of our customers have made it part of their practice to check in every so often—when it is time to upgrade, for example—to make sure of which version they need, how to move forward, and whether there is anything special to know. It can be handy to have someone walk you through with the right instructions so things go smoothly and stress-free. Don’t be shy; they love to hear from you!