The Practical Guide To Building A Small Business Customer Support Organization – Part 2

As a continuation of our discussion of customer support from Part 1, let’s take a look at suggestions 6 through 10.

6) Make your Company DNA Conducive to Support – If you believe (like I do) that customer support is imperative for your company’s success, you need to make that part of the company’s DNA. You need to make sure the company culture supports that notion. In the first startup that I co-founded, half of the company was convinced that customers were evil. By the time I tried to change that, it was already a steep hill to climb. So:

  • Make EXCELLENT support, part of the company DNA and culture.
  • If possible, give every developer some customer-facing support duties. You will get better code.
  • Make sure everyone knows that customers pay their salaries. Not you, not the investors, it’s the customer that pays every employee’s bills.
  • Hire support agents with personalities that derive satisfaction from helping other people.

7) QA the support – After you set up your support organization, you will need to monitor the quality of support and make adjustments.

  • Read every support e-mail. It is not such a big task when you are small.
  • Eliminate (or block) negative words like (Unfortunately… We are sorry but… No we cannot….). Think Positive!

When an agent must answer with a negative, it is probably because the product is missing a key feature. Learn from that and improve your product or service.

metrics

8) Monitor Key Metrics – Send a questionnaire to customers after each closed ticket in order to learn about your Net Promoter Score (NPS). A single question such as “What is the likelihood that you will recommend our service to others” Can provide great responses!

Monitor other service level key indicators such as the number of calls answered under 1 minute. See the sample list pictured.

9) Training – Being a customer support agent could be frustrating for many people. Continuous training is required since there are always new features and there is usually high agent turnover. Make sure agents know how to use the tools and remember, a frustrated agent will have a hard time providing good customer support!

jennynote

10) Special Treats – If you show your customer that they are important by offering “special treats,” they will respond in kind (see letter pictured). Here are some options to help you make your customer feel special:

  • Customize your support to each user. Use their name.
  • Try to avoid canned answers.
  • Visit your customers.
  • Learn how they use the system and add features to your wish list.
  • Discover customer pain points and work to fix them.
  • Send customers hand written thank you notes.

To summarize, we all want the best customer support whenever it is needed. We can help that happen by educating other business about customer support. We find that we improve ourselves when educating others. For more ideas and updates on how we do things at Phone.com, take a look at:

  • Phone.com Support Leaders’ blog http://CommunicateBetterBlog.com
  • Check out Jenny singing her own “Customer Service Blues” song talking about the hardship of being on the front line:

If you need something else to think about, here is a take home question:

What support function should have a faster response time?

A)    Sales agents

B)   Support agents

Let us know what you think.