8 tech support best practices

Technical support professionals and executives share their tips on how to provide topnotch support that helps both customers and the bottom line.

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Companies can also use customer support software to “automate routine [tech support] tasks, such as problem identification and information gathering, while moving other routine support functions to self-service models to empower your customers,” says Clearkin.

“Support teams should spend more time resolving the needs of customers rather than gathering the necessary information to address it,” he argues. “For example, Twilio sees report requests come through Twitter, so we developed a tool that automatically alerts the Support team of those tweets, conserving the time and effort generally required for Support or another team to surface the customer issue.”

6. Make sure reps know how to listen and be polite to customers.

Tech support agents need to carefully listen to “customers and understand their issues,” says Kean Graham, CEO, MonetizeMore. “It's easy to start blurting out answers because you assumed what they meant instead of actually listening.” Instead, train representatives to listen to customers before responding.

And, no matter what, reps should treat customers cordially, even when – or especially when – the customer is angry or upset. Encourage reps to put themselves in the customer’s position and to practice patience and politeness.

7. Empower reps to better help customers (without having to escalate issues).

“Empower your frontline [representatives] to make decisions in real time in the customer’s best interest,” says Vineet Misra, CIO, Lifesize. “Often frontline employees feel trapped by the ‘red tape’ of approval processes.” Instead, managers should “trust [their] tech support’s instincts and intuition to make decisions that are right for the customer and the company. This helps in making sure the call is closed and ends in satisfaction for all parties involved.”

8. Leverage visual communication.

“Explaining an issue over the phone can be inefficient,” says Mark Notarainni, vice president, customer care, Intuit. “At Intuit, customers would spend as long as 15 minutes just trying to explain the problem. To address this, Intuit implemented a solution called SmartLook, which leverages video technology to connect customers with a live representative, who can answer their questions in real time.”

In addition to providing video chat, the technology allows representatives to see the customer’s screen, so they can actually see what the issue is and come up with a hands-on solution.

“Implementing SmartLook has enabled Intuit to resolve customer issues quickly and also to deliver a superior customer experience,” he says. As a result, “contact resolution [via the web] immediately jumped 12 percent after we introduced SmartLook.”

But you don’t have to develop a special app to work with customers.

“Sometimes a short screencast can say more than a thousand words,” says Robert Brandl, founder, EmailToolTester.com. “Technophobic users will understand a video or an annotated screenshot much better than a text-based email. My favorite tool to create short screencasts is Jing, which is easy to use and also free.”

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