Any business selling technology to end-users requires customer support. Whether you are a hosted reseller or fully managed service provider, your customers will inevitably have problems and questions.
Establishing channels for support is paramount; otherwise, other departments in your business will hurt. For example, if support calls tie up your sales lines, then your profit-driving front suffers. Of course, an automated voice menu could address this issue, but the point remains: structure and protocol are immensely important.
When creating your support resources, you will discover myriad solutions for interfacing with clients. The phone is still a favourite because it provides direct support, but it also consumes the most staffing power. After all, your technicians cannot group calls. Consequently, call queues can grow long and impatient, making alternative support channels a must.
Approximately 91 percent of consumers use email daily. It is one of the most accessible and efficient communication channels for three reasons:
Email documents the support experience, allowing customers and staff to reference previous conversations;
Email can be received and responded to at any time and from any device, meaning its non-disruptive;
Email can link to internal ticketing systems so that staff can escalate, monitor and resolve issues as a team.
For larger businesses, ticketing systems are useful. They allow teams to integrate their support protocols into an automated workflow rather than accepting waves of emails in no particular sequence. The next level above ticketing is a full-fledged help desk.
Help desks are contained email platforms; the customer must register to log an issue. Since the process is less convenient, the only way to make help desks work is to use the accounts for other things. For example, a place to top-up funds and order new products. In such cases, the account unifies all facets of the customer experience.
Help desks often have robust notification settings, too. Although initiating and responding to support tickets may not be possible externally, customers can still receive email or SMS activity alerts.
A Gartner report estimates poor social media support can result in a 15 percent jump in churn. Even if you do not encourage customers to submit issues via social media, some will try to contact you there. Thus, you need to monitor all your profiles.
Some businesses like using social media for customer support because of the publicity. Like a forum, it becomes a place of reference and a testament to any support claims. Rather than answering two identical questions privately, the company just needs to respond once publicly.
Unfortunately, some social media limit post lengths. For instance, technical support via Twitter would be next to impossible. Such limitations restrict the thoroughness of your technical assistance, too. Therefore, regardless the social platform, it’s best to acknowledge and then direct the user somewhere else.
Self-serve support platforms like knowledge bases, help wizards (think Windows troubleshooting tools) and FAQ databases are the most cost-efficient method of customer care. Once these platforms have resources, any number of customers can use them. This means that there are no agent-to-customer ratios.
That said, most businesses cannot rely on self-service support resources. Salesforce estimates only 39 percent of millennials check FAQs before contacting a company, so you need agents ready to help through other channels.
Largely, businesses should adopt a multi-channel support policy to provide the greatest range of options to their customers. However, such an approach can spread resources thin. Although somewhat counterintuitive, you should select only the channels you’re best at.
The customer experience needs to be consistent. If some channels are less active or effective than others, then cutting them out will only push customers onto the better ones. The sacrificed convenience will be offset by the exceptional job your agents do in the right place.