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Andi Gray: Technical support needs help

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andi grayHaving technical support issues on our end, which is affecting our relations with our customers. This has become a major obstacle for us on a daily basis. Help!

Thoughts of the Day: Put someone with experience in charge of managing technical issues. Make sure communication is a top priority. Understand what the customer wants and needs and match customer expectations to what you’re able to provide. Measure so you can manage.

Whether you’re servicing machines or software, a process or a product, knowing the ins and outs of how it works is essential to providing good customer support. Signal that importance by giving your best technical expert the title of “Guru” and promoting that person to management.

Seek the quickest options first — sometimes they will work. Don’t get lost in elegant solutions, in-depth diagnostics and opportunities to create new workarounds until they’re actually needed.

Customers expect good communication. Give them enough, but not too much, of what they need in written and verbal forms.

Give customers lots of ways to communicate so they can pick the mode that works best for them. Auditory learners need to talk and listen. Visual learners need to look at something to understand what’s happening. Others are hands-on. Some like being part of a group and others want a one-on-one experience. Give customers opportunities to engage with your staff and your product through social media, webinars, live chat, user groups, messaging apps, as well as email and phone requests for assistance.

Create a learning environment for both your clients and your technical staff. Ensure your tech staff makes detailed written notes that are stored for future reference, used to improve the product or service and shared with customers.

Teach your people that patience is a virtue. Many technical people get frustrated handling the same types of calls over and over or deciphering what a nontechnical person is trying to explain. Practice listening and writing skills. Listen to call recordings. Review written communication. Reward good examples and train staff who are struggling.

Make sure your staff goes through diagnostics step by step, repeating back what the customer states to confirm understanding.

Customers only value what they see and hear. Customer satisfaction is likely to be much higher if customers are aware of what a tech plans to do to identify and resolve the problem. Once resolved, make customers aware of what they can do to avoid the problem in the future.

If you can’t reasonably respond to every request within a few hours, be upfront about that. In your selling process as well as your service communications tell customers about any delays they will likely encounter. Offer alternatives such as technical documentation and user groups for customers who need or want a faster response time. Give customers who’ve waited in line and received help a back door to get to the top of the queue if they need more help.

Ask for feedback in simple terms. A one-word questionnaire with a box to provide more input can be useful. Try rotating questions until you find one that resonates with your customers: “Rate how well the solution worked” can be more informative than “How satisfied were you” since it focuses the customer response on the purpose of the interaction.

Track the time that it takes to respond to and resolve customer requests for assistance. Note the number of calls being handled effectively by the person on the front lines, and what percent of requests get bumped to someone with more technical experience.

Looking for a good book? Try “Customer Experience Strategy — Design & Implem-entation: Outgrow your competitors by making your business-to-business customers happier” by Maurice FitzGerald, Peter FitzGerald.

Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc., StrategyLeaders.com, a business consulting firm that teaches companies how to double revenue and triple profits in repetitive growth cycles. Have a question for AskAndi? Wondering how Strategy Leaders can help your business thrive? Call or email for a free consultation and diagnostics: (877)238-3535, AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com.

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