How a Support Playbook Keeps Customers Happy

A friend told me the other day about a customer service nightmare.

He emailed the company that provides his sales management software because the system was throwing errors. Here’s what happened…

No reply after 48 hours. On hold for 15+ minutes with the telephone support. A “support” rep who 1) didn’t have a clue and 2) promised someone else would call back later that day. And finally…

…a broken promise (no one called).

On and on it went.

If You Don’t Care for Customers, They Won’t Stick With You

“I’m sick of this BS,” my friend told me. “I’m shopping for new sales management software.”

Sound familiar?

We’ve all experienced a nightmare like this one. And many of us have switched vendors because of rotten customer service.

I think there are two kinds of businesses:

  • Those who have designed and implemented a plan to support customers with care and respect.
  • Those who haven’t.

Without a Customer Care Plan, You Put Your Business at Risk

Those with no such plan — or who don’t consistently implement a plan — roll the dice every time a customer calls.

Maybe it will turn out OK. Maybe it won’t.

Maybe the customer will stick around and tolerate inconsistent, rotten service. Maybe they won’t.

Maybe the company will get lucky and retain customers at a decent rate…

…Probably it won’t.

Our Customer Care System

At STR, we have a customer care playbook. The details have evolved over the years. But the premise remains the same: Treat customers with care and respect. Be specific and clear about what you’ll do to help the client — and when you’ll do it. And most importantly: Keep your promises.

Here’s our customer care playbook. You’re welcome to borrow and adjust it to serve your business and your customers:

  1. Answer phone calls, emails and chat requests ASAP. Have adequate staff to answer the phone (or chat requests) 95% of the time. If you can’t answer immediately, commit to returning all messages within one hour.
  2. Triage your tickets.  Not all tickets are created equal.  Develop rules to prioritize tickets.  The most urgent issues need to be handled first. Design questions to help your support team assess urgency. For example: How many users are affected by the problem? Is the problem keeping you from performing critical business functions?
  3. Respond to tickets on the day they arrive. Don’t let the business day end with an unanswered support request — even if that request arrives five minutes before closing.   You don’t have to resolve the ticket, but you must acknowledge it — with a clear promise when the issue will be resolved/worked on (See #4 below).
  4. Set clients’ expectations.  Have you ever been told “we’ll get to it as soon as we can?” That’s vague and meaningless. It leaves customers guessing or assuming. You may think that “soon” means “later today.” Your customer may assume that “soon” means “within the hour.” Be specific. Example: “I’ll get back to you by 3 p.m. today.” Don’t leave your clients in limbo. And when you make that specific promise, keep it!
  5. Don’t fall for the multi-tier trap. At many help desks you start with a customer service rep who’s little more than an intake clerk. They take your information and pass it to “Tier 1” support. When you finally connect with Tier 1, you have to explain your problem again.  When they realize they can’t fix your problem you move to Tier 2…and so on and so on. Train your support team — at all levels — to address as many issues as possible. This isn’t easy and it isn’t cheap, but if it’s done right your customers will love you for it. (See #6 to make this work better).
  6. Train your support reps and document processes. Implement systems and processes to train your support team. Set aside time for training. Record issues as they come in, and document solutions. Involve your support team in adjusting and improving the systems (See #7 for the key to make this happen).
  7. Invest in good customer support software.  With a quality ticketing system, you can accomplish all of the above with greater efficiency. You prevent issues from falling through the cracks. You can document and organize solutions. You may even be able to organize solutions into a customer-facing knowledge base that allows them to find solutions on their own.   Most of these systems will help to automatically capture important data for each ticket.  This allows you to generate detailed reports on key performance indicators that will help you make your help desk even better.

Are you fed up with IT “support” that isn’t there when you need it, leaves you hanging, and breaks its promises?

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We can evaluate your IT support needs and offer a solution. We’ll help you turn IT support from something that makes you cringe to something that makes you celebrate.

This evaluation won’t take long and is guaranteed to give you a better understanding of your current IT environment.