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5 Useful Customer Service Tips You Need to Know

Level 14

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Customer service is a key revenue stream for companies that offer end-user support as a business offering. Especially when it comes to IT support, and your end-users are not technologically savvy, there is a high likelihood of having communication gaps in understanding the user’s issue and determining the cause—which may result in IT teams spending more time in identifying and solving issues. Here are some useful tips for IT teams (both MSPs serving clients and internal IT support teams) that will help simplify the support process and enhance the communication with end-users.

#1 Be Responsive & Communicate Effectively

This is a very common requirement in customer service. When end-users create trouble tickets, make sure they get a response from the IT team acknowledging receipt of the ticket. Also, institute a process to keep the end-users updated about the progress and status of the tickets as you keep working on them. Your end-users may know you are doing your job, but keeping them updated helps them understand you care about their problem, and, more so, are attending to their issue and not leaving them wondering what IT is doing and whether at all their ticket is being processed.

#2 Show Patience & Positivity During On-Call Support

When you are handling on-call support, the communication can go awry when the customer feels his concern is not understood or if he’s not getting a convincing response. Be patient in addressing customer concerns, and listen to the entire request before making your conclusion and cutting the customer out from expressing his problem fully. State your responses positively and share timelines for support action.

#3 Help Your Customers Help Themselves

By providing self-service and self-resolution options to your customers, you will make them feel empowered to resolve some basic and recurring IT issues such as resetting passwords or unlocking accounts. From the IT teams’ angle, this will cause a reduction in common and recurring service requests which the customers can now handle themselves. Especially for smaller support teams with lean workforce, end-user self-service is a cost and time-saving option.

#4 Organize & Streamline Your Support Process

Help desk tools are an effective solution to help organize and work with customer service requests. When an end-user creates a trouble ticket (via email or from a service request portal), having a help desk configured to assign and route the ticket to the right technician for the job based on technician availability, skill, location, department, and any other custom logic will save you a ton of back-end time in sorting and manually routing tickets. This will help you improve time-to-resolution of problem resolution and positively influence customer satisfaction.

#5 Invite Customer Feedback

Customer feedback is of primacy when it comes to measuring support performance and improving quality of service. IT teams should plan on conducting periodic customer surveys to understand what the customers think of the service provided, and help the support team measure their success. Feedback need not always be a full-fledged survey, it can also be built into a help desk framework to allow the customer the select a satisfaction criteria when a ticket is closed.

Build a customer-friendly and effective support framework that improves the efficiency of your support process while also boosting customer satisfaction.

5 Comments
Level 18

While these are "basic blocking and tackling" thoughts (I'm not minimizing them - many organizations clearly need to get back to these basics), here are some moderately simple things I'd like to see standardized in customer service which would actually make it EASIER to help customers:

  • If you google it for me, I swear I will cut you
    One giant vendor (who's name rhymes with "Why Key Gem") is notorious for this. I submit my ticket, and get the first hit on google for the exact wording of my ticket subject.
    Dude... seriously?
  • Admit you have details from the last time I called about this issue
    (and if you don't have details, start recording them!)
    This should be obvious, but the number of times I have had to maintain copious notes about who I spoke to, when we spoke, what they said the resolution was, who I was transferred to, and so on is amazing. And then when I call to follow up, I have to basically prompt the new technician on the history of my last call. Just say "Ok, I see that you called about this last week, and you spoke to Tracy, and...".
  • Link your CRM system into your ticket system.
    The number of times I call a vendor and I am completely unknown is astonishing. Especially because I call vendors - often - as part of large multi-national corporations. If I call and I'm not associated with a company, take a moment to set me up (or let me set myself up). And when you see I'm part of $120-billion organization that owns over $1million of your software, react accordingly. No, I won't tell you what "accordingly" means. You can figure that part out.
  • Have a technical ranking for callers.
    If I've called before and proven myself to be technically competent; or I'm certified in your software; or I have industry-accepted certifications; or whatever criteria you want - whatever it is, if I know my stuff please don't make me go through level 1 "have you tried turning it off and on again" support.
Level 17

Very nice, if all support entities were as in depth as you we would all love calling our ISP.

Level 17

All great points, I think the main thing here is how much some people help themselves and how others just want the help. Step-by-step lead me through as if I was blind type of help that I am calling for without the wait is what they want.

Only issue is the prompts at that point, the prompt for them to get to the right agent, the correct prompt for them to input their issue or details about why they are calling.

Going ITIL creates the paperwork for this, and also the tracking to log and notate your customers as Leon Adato wishes everyone should do.

But if you don't have the ITSM (I.T. Service Management) Tool then you will never get there... and if you do not cultivate that tool properly you will build a bigger mess than ever before.

I must say, being the one (in the past) who picks up the phone; I have had more people recognize me by Voice/Name and come to know me initially that way, but secondly by the help & solutions I provided.

I can say with surety that most of my callers knew me (and would ask for), not the other way around.

As sad as that may be, those taking the calls might just take too many to remember the good ones... with caller ID enabled I can say for sure that I did remember some callers; other agents kept those names on a quick reference list and then I would get the roll over.

Level 11

I did a bit of network support/help desk/on-call at a major healthcare provider at my old job. I also handled a lot of projects, and this is where customer service tends to mean significantly more...especially when you're sitting in a meeting with a bunch of people who want you, as an engineer, to solve all the problems they have, and you have the same meeting every week until you do. I'd add the following as keys to being a successful engineer/support technician:

  • Follow up. When people have a recurring issue, or something big just got resolved/completed, customers like to have someone who will make sure the fix is still resolving the problem. It displays attentiveness, awareness and consideration.

  • Answer questions completely. Don't leave a customer with more questions than when they started. Basic help desk functions aside (because explaining something to a non-geek causes physical pain to some), try to answer questions from the users perspective. They like to know that you understand the impact the problem is having on their work, and how you've made their job easier or helped them get back to work. Added note on this one: Get really good at using analogies. If you can compare how you fixed the problem to something the user may understand, they tend to appreciate the added effort made to help them understand what it was and how you've helped.
  • If you don't know, admit it, then find someone who does. I think everyone in IT has met the guy who just won't admit he has no idea what is wrong, or where to begin looking. At this point, proper escalation should come into play, and every technician should know what their limits are. Admitting them, even to a customer, is a good thing. You're human and you need help, too (sometimes). The key to this is also finding the person who does know the answer, or digging out the answer yourself. Demonstrating collaboration (and involving the customer in it) makes them part of the solution (and this is a very good thing, hence #3 above).

HTH!

Level 15

Good information.  Thanks for the posting.

About the Author
Vinod Mohan is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at DataCore Software. He has over a decade of experience in product, technology and solution marketing of IT software and services spanning application performance management, network, systems, virtualization, storage, IT security and IT service management (ITSM). In his current capacity at DataCore, Vinod focuses on communicating the value proposition of software-defined storage to IT teams helping them benefit from infrastructure cost savings, storage efficiency, performance acceleration, and ultimate flexibility for storing and managing data. Prior to DataCore, Vinod held product marketing positions at eG Innovations and SolarWinds, focusing on IT performance monitoring solutions. An avid technology enthusiast, he is a contributing author to many popular sites including APMdigest, VMblog, Cyber Defense Magazine, Citrix Blog, The Hacker News, NetworkDataPedia, IT Briefcase, IT Pro Portal, and more.