Customer Support 101 - A Recipe for Success

Customer Support 101 – A Recipe for Success

December 21, 2015

So I have a problem and I need support, what do I need to do to get myself moving again? The journey from disillusion and despair to empathy and happiness may be poles apart depending on the options as to who I can call and the person that answers my call.

I have worked within the IT support industry for the majority of my working life. Over this time I have experienced many different approaches to support some good and some bad. There is no real right way to provide support, but we can always adopt good principles and practices.

The idea of this blog is by explaining some of the best practices we provide to our customers, it will allow us to work even better together on Support issues – but also it will help them to provide better support to their own customers. Real customer support success can be the difference between you and the competition.

Support that makes a Difference

I believe support to be a very simple process, and the role itself is a vital contribution as to how your training company is visualised beyond your four walls. If I visualise support to be the nexus point for all customer communications, then the importance of an efficient support hub becomes essential. Great support will enhance your company reputation, whilst poor support can destroy it.

I always view a support call as an opportunity to impress existing customers and entice new ones. When your phone rings the caller on the other end will probably need your support…I never assume that they are ringing just to wish me a nice day, well not initially anyway.

So how do we move forward to the empathy and happiness stage you ask? By breaking a support call down into stages. Every support call requires essential information, e.g. name, contact information, departments, address, equipment, make / model, licence agreements and serial numbers etc.

Before logging a call or accepting a support request I run through this mantra, execute these best practice steps well and you give yourself the best chance of customer support success;

  • Who
  • What
  • How
  • When
  • Why

Who – Who is having the problem?

We are not going to get very far if I omit this stage. ‘Who’ as is who is having the problem. Consider the following call scenario:

Caller: I need to log a ticket

Support: Ok, can you tell me who has the problem?

Caller: I don’t know, I will call you back!

Sound familiar? This was a very short call indeed. I know this may seem a little far-fetched, but this has happened to me on more than one occasion. The initial support request is information gathering 101 – the more information the better. So if you are emailing your ticket, send an email attachment with any additional information. If this is not possible then always have it to hand because this information will be required later.

What – What is the problem?

‘The needle in the haystack’ question. This can be a very difficult question to answer as we all operate at different levels and within different environments. At this stage the response could be ‘information overload’ or ‘more information required’.

A good school of thought process is to ask yourself the question, ‘can I paint a picture of my problem? Remember, ‘A picture paints a thousand words’. Providing screenshots is always a good method…try making notes for any error messages or codes and you will see. If possible, make notes and log the date and time of your issue. This is a very good start for any support ticket.

How – How many workers are effected?

This can be the easiest to consider. Before logging a ticket ask the question to your colleagues as to whether they have experiencing similar problems. Also try and logon to another PC and see if the problem follows you there.

When – When is this problem occurring?

All environments differ and are also susceptible to external applications running at set times that can also effect the operations of other applications. An example of this would be a database search scheduled to run at the busiest part of the day. As a result all other applications can appear sluggish and can also cause application timeouts.

So if your problem occurs at a particular time of the day, this is a good starting point and an important note to add within your support ticket. Remember regular patterns and trends are a good thing.

Why – Why is this happening?

Finally, we have to consider the why? Again, if you are logging the ticket the why is for the support team to ascertain and resolve. But if we consider a scenario where the company has experienced a power cut and all the servers were not shutdown correctly this is a ‘why’ for the person making the support call.

All the information gathered and presented will enable the support team to build a clear picture as to what is happening. There may be additional questions and information required, and there may also be a request for additional log files and screenshots.

 

As my breakdown suggests, information is the key to resolving any issue – and that is true if it’s us supporting our customers – or our customers supporting their customers.

The better the picture you paint of your problem, the easier the support team can try and find the resolution.

In a crowded and competitive market like Learning and Development, providing effective and efficient support to your customers could help differentiate you from the crowd – and help you retain and grow key accounts.


Clive Gayle

                        Clive Gayle

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support Consultant

An experienced System Support Analyst with a proven track record of success, Clive specialises in project implementation, hardware and software deployment and 1st and 2nd line customer support. Contributing to the building of consistently improved business systems for ISL customers, Clive is results oriented and customer focused.