Miller Heiman Group
December 12, 2014
‘Tis the season to call for help! Caller A wants to install a car stereo for his sweetheart. Caller B can’t seem to coax those party invitations out of the printer. Caller C is “all thumbs” when it comes to assembling a child’s bicycle. Caller “D”… well, you get the picture! Deadlines and seasonal expectations can cause frayed nerves as consumers venture into territory they’re not familiar with or trained to handle, and it’s up to your tech support team to ease their pain. Here are 4 easy to follow tips for preparing your support team for the holiday caller crunch and provide excellent customer success despite the increased caller volume.
Today’s consumer is very loyal to excellent customer service, making this the perfect opportunity to shine amidst the clutter of the season. Begin with an overall assessment: Do you have the people and processes in place to handle the increased volume? Is each team member trained, not only on the products and processes, but in diagnostic and communication skills? Are there ways to handle inquiries other than phone?
Here are four suggestions to get you on the right path.
In medical terms, triage means to assign urgency to wounds or illnesses in order to successfully treat the greatest number of patients. In service, triage is a process of deciding who has the most critical need and assigning consumers directly to the support person who can best handle the call. Triage can be handled manually, by reviewing each case upon arrival, then assigning issues to the right support team member in order of priority. It can also be managed with voice recognition, email, or chat software using filters based on specific subjects or keywords. You might find it useful to include additional keywords during the holiday season.
It pays to have a well-trained support team. Although highly skilled, many technicians don’t understand the critical thinking and problem-solving processes needed to systematically diagnose a problem, communicate the solution, wrap up the call, and set up the customer for ongoing success. A standardized process for opening, identifying, resolving, and closing issue-related calls is critical so that the customer has a consistently positive experience with your company.
An interesting anecdote comes from Phil Jones, director of tech support for Crutchfield, a company that specializes in car and home electronics. He says, “Imagine being on the phone with someone who has absolutely no concept of how to tie a necktie. Now, imagine it is your task to walk him or her through the process of tying the perfect Windsor knot. Could you do it? Or would your patience run out the fifth time you had to explain exactly which end went through which loop? Not only does tech support need to know their product inside and out, they need the skills to explain that to someone who has never installed a home theater system!”
The telephone isn’t the only way to get product support. In fact, a lot of consumers now prefer other methods. Here are some of the other avenues your customers might use to find the answers to their questions:
Frequently Asked Questions: Support more customers faster and more cost effectively by making pertinent FAQs readily available online that they can troubleshoot their issue themselves before reaching out. Brainstorm with your front-line tech staff to develop FAQ pages that target the issues most troubling to consumers. This will free your team to tackle the tougher issues that couldn’t otherwise be answered through a simple guide on your website.
Email: Many consumers have shown preference for the convenience of email over chat or phone support. However, oftentimes email isn’t the best way to achieve a resolution, so this is a good area to review processes and implement training.
Chat: Although not as popular as email, chat is gaining traction for both retailers and consumers. According to Kevin Gardiner, director of store operations for Macy’s, “We are staffing up based on what the customer wants, and customers seem to like chat because of the immediate response.”
When Disneyland first opened, it sold books of tickets ranging from “A” to “E”, and everyone knew an “E” ticket would get you on the best, most exciting rides. For tech support, the “E” stands for “Empathy”. Demonstrate understanding of the caller’s situation, and offer reassurance that you will personally oversee that their concern is resolved. Everyone is extra busy this time of year so words of empathy such as “this must be really frustrating for you” or “I remember the first time I tried that; it was a disaster!” may provide just the human element needed to create a loyal customer.
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Jodi is a Marketing and Customer Experience fanatic. Some might say "guru", but she prefers it the other way around, as there’s always something to learn and grow as it relates to Marketing and the Customer Experience, and how each is connected to one another. In the past three years, Jodi has dedicated her career to thought leadership in both realms through her work at MHI Global, and has earned honors as Top 100 Customer Success Influencer from Mindtouch, Top 15 Most Influential Customer Service Experts To Follow on Twitter from GetApp, and Top 50 Contact Center Thought Leader on Twitter from ICMI. MHI Global is a TSIA Program Alliance Partner.
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