What is my story?
I work as a customer service manager in a Finnish hosting company and I have been working with IT and customer relations for over 5 years now and during these past years I have experienced a lot of things that have developed my technical skills and also me as a person. I have gained valuable experience on how to success on developing customer experience and relations. The cynicism is still my main opponent in my work which is why i'm trying to avoid unnecessary front line (1st/2nd level) tasks nowadays. Not that it wouldn't be fun every once in a while but for example I know how it will get frustrating to argue with a customer of the same issue over 1000th time. This is why it's better for me to focus on the big picture and give all necessary help and guidance to people who are brave enough to work in tech support or in customer service.
I'll start the article with my favorite chapter from the book "4 hour work week" by Timothy Ferriss. * NR = New Rich
The customers are always right, aren’t they? Part of doing business, right? Hell, no. Not for the NR , anyway. I fired their asses and enjoyed every second of it.
The first conversation went like this:
Customer: What the &#@$? I ordered two cases and they arrived two days late. Note: He had sent the order to the ... You guys are the most disorganized bunch of idiots I’ve ever worked with. I have 20 years of experience in this industry, and this is the worst.
Any NR—in this case, me: I will kill you. Be afraid, be very afraid.
I wish. I did rehearse that a million times in my mental theater, but it actually went something more like this:
I’m sorry to hear that. You know, I’ve been taking your insults for a while now, and it’s unfortunate that it seems we won’t be able to do business anymore. I’d recommend you take a good look at where this unhappiness and anger is actually coming from. In any case, I wish you well. If you would like to order product, we’ll be happy to supply it, but only if you can conduct yourself without profanity and unnecessary insults. You have our fax number. All the best and have a nice day. Click.
It's the most important chapter of the book because it reminds me of my job and how to success in it. I recommend reading the whole book.
Customers, developers and the service
Customers and developers have their own view of the product and service what it should look like and what features it should have. You'll face the real problem when you try to please too many people with different features in the service, this is probably why simple solutions success better nowadays. Sometimes customers may demand some little features that are impossible or just stupid to implement into the service but sometimes the service may be missing some very basic and also mandatory features that the most of the customers are demanding and pointing out. The most important aspect is about listening enough customer feedback and doing evaluations based on demands.
The main aspects of communication? Available methods including phone, chat and email/form.
Spoken vs written service request?
Quite many people require service immediately and they feel like that if they send a service request via email or chat, it will be unnoticed or they may get the answer with a delay; this argument may be true with quite many service desks and cases but what I have also learned is that sometimes trying to solve issues using phone may mislead or cause unwanted results if the matter is too complex. Also quite often the person serving you is only working as a converter who translates your spoken words into service request and the case may also mislead into unwanted results.
I think the chat is better alternative option for phone in many cases since you may use screen captures, copy-paste, macros and because it's text, there is always chance to think what you write and you can always check the backlog. It's also easier to get more specific information of the issue if these are written instead of being converted into text using phone. Even thought some people think they are better to clarify the issue over phone, the conversation may be misleading since it's always depending on two or more people who directly communicates with each other.
The best option of these all if you have detailed service request and/or you're able to forward it through an email or form. How quick is the response is all about the service provider. It's all about the matter of complexity of the service request. I'm going to open more of this subject in my next post introducing escalation of a service request.
Main properties for successful customer service in tech support
- 1. Service level (response time)
Not the automated message that you may receive from the SRM (email or chat) or not the robot answering to your call. The actual response that you'll get when you're communicating with another person.
- 2. Efficiency
How much communication is required to the service request to be actually done. I think less is better even though this may be understood that I wouldn't care to talk with the customer. No, I care how great service we can provide with less time spent.
- 3. Experience
The whole experience from the first contact till the very last confirmation of the service request been done. After the whole process is done I'm usually asking these questions from myself as a person who served the customer: How quickly I noticed the customer? How I opened and closed the conversation? How polite I was?
What customers want?
Aggressive sales and customer satisfaction do not walk hand in hand; as you may have been on a situation as a customer of an aggressive sales person that have sold you a service or a product that after a day or week you're still not satisfied and you realize the same thing as you were buying the service or product that you don't need. The best example of successful communication is a result of customer's demand.
Customers don't want to hear about escalation of the service request and i'm going to open the subject a bit more in my next post.