Most organizations, whether they are service or product focused, have clients or customers. They may not be end users, or consumers either. It's possible that your client is another person in your organization. Support activities - whether they are service oriented, troubleshooting activities or training events are common with any client or customer base.
Everyone in an organization probably wears the support hat at some point in their day to day work. It's inevitable. The question is, how do you prepare yourself to deliver the best support possible to your team and to your clients?
As an enterprise inbound marketing agency, we support our clients' varied needs daily. Regardless of the industry - clients can get frustrated, have questions, or just need moral support. We work with and help many clients. We are always seeking to learn and receive feedback from our clients. Below are some best practices that have worked well for us and we thought they would be worth sharing....
Always be communicating
In Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin's character said "always be closing", we say "always be communicating".
Keeping an open line of communication between you as the support team and the client is important.
Whenever you have someone on the phone or chat for support, make sure you don't leave them with too much dead air. Tell them what you are doing. Being absent for too long doesn't look good. It can seem that you've abandoned the client when you are looking over their account or consulting with another teammate.
You should double down on communication for email support. If an issue takes longer than a few hours (or a day) to fix, you should follow up with the client at least once a day on the status.
"I don't know"
Some people are afraid to say this, but it's okay to admit. No one is perfect (if you want proof, ask my wife about me), and that's fine. You're not always going to have the answer for every question. We need to accept that about ourselves.
If you're presented with a question or problem that throws you for a loop be honest about it. The worst thing you can do in this situation is give an answer that isn't accurate. It will make you look bad.
Step back and say that you need to consult with your team to get to the root of the problem before you feel comfortable offering a solution.
Document! Document! Document!
Whether it's internal or client facing, you should have documentation in place for your products and services. If you don't have documentation written, go ahead and write it. Go ahead, we'll wait.
Actually, that may take a while, so do it after you finish reading this post.
Once you have your documentation written, put it somewhere where it is accessible to those who needs it. Most importantly, make sure it's always up to date.
If you see that an issue comes up or a question is repeatedly asked, it should be addressed in your documentation. Depending on what the issue or question is, it may be a simple addition to an FAQ, or it may require some lengthy writing.
Having these updated docs at your fingertips makes answering these support issues that much quicker. The next time an issue arises, a simple copy and paste response may be all that you need to resolve it.
If you get a large number of support requests and you have a support team you may want to look at further options for support.
We built a support portal at http://support.lyntonweb.com that feeds user support directly into our ticketing system.
To speed up the trouble shooting phase, the site automatically collects non-personal data about your browser and computer (operating system, browser type/version). This allows us to create a virtual machine that best matches the your computer so we can try to replicate the issue before we follow up with you.
Once the support form is submitted, the user will get an automated email saying that we received the message, and it is under investigation. In that email they also receive a ticket number, which they can use to refer to if needed.
Support is an important part of any business. Make sure you are providing the best possible support to your clients. Support that you would want to receive if you were the client.
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Mike Rastiello is a support specialist at Lynton Web Solutions. When he's not working, he is either reading comic books, watching baseball, hockey or is wandering around aimlessly with a camera. You can follow him on Twitter at @mikerastiello or connect with him on LinkedIn.