Technical Support Best Practices – My Best Tips

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Ok, so technical support seems to be viewed as insular from traditional customer service, and as a result, everyone’s overlooking my customer service analyses and advice while searching for the same advice, applied to technical support. Doggone it, I guess I have to actually talk about technical support best practices on their own terms then, to be heard by these guys. Well, alright, I guess that does give me a chance to get into some more specific things that do in fact apply to technical support.

I’ve steered away from technical support best practices which don’t apply to other customer service niches in the past, because I wasn’t specifically addressing technical support. So, I guess now’s a good chance to reign in the customer service practices with a little tech-specificity as well.

So, let’s get the general ones out of the way a bit condensed, because those looking for the advice that covers, you can see these things in high resolution by reading general customer support practices writing. I’ve got some, check it out sometime.

Anyhow, let’s address your call center, which is lousy. Yes, I have no idea who you are or who your company is, but I can say right now that your call center is lousy. How dare I? Because every call center is lousy. The system in general is a horrible way to do technical support or any kind of customer service. It’s so popular because at one point, it was all we had for long distance communication. The internet had to become pretty robust before it was practical, to use it. It has become practical, but all of the lemurs in charge of technical support departments seem to have no noticed this fact.

So, we’ll get to internet stuff more later, but for the moment, let’s talk a bit about how to make your call center suck less. You can’t make it not suck, but suck less, sure. Stop using phone trees. They’re bad, alright? It’s annoying to have to press a button, wait for long rhetoric, press a button, wait for long rhetoric, lather, rinse and repeat. It’s even worse if you have to try to talk to it, because frankly, voice recognition’s not ready yet. That’s ten years on the best outset right now. People needing technical support are already frustrated, and this lengthy procedural tactic is just awful. It’s best to just use an old fashioned directory. List your departments in a timely manner with a recording, and then just have one layer of options above that. Go no deeper than two depths, and have an opt out to agent for each and every branch of this simple system.

Now, let’s get to some things more specific to technical support .

First, for tech support, let’s offload some stress from that call center I just spent way longer nagging about than I intended. Why not use social networks primarily for technical support. When a customer subscribes to your service or purchases your product, give them an otherwise not widely-known twitter account to follow, and have your agents follow back. Then, when they have technical problems, allow them to tweet you or PM you, and carry on easy problem solving from there?

Consider also providing some agents on Skype and instant messengers, which eliminates hold times mostly, and allows for convenience on the end of the customers.

Another thing to consider here is putting more emphasis on email and help desks. I spent some time naysaying help desks, but with the new SaaS systems for it out there, it’s become a pretty good way to handle stuff actually. If it’s a tech support issue, people are likely to be at their computers at the time, whether they are planning to use a phone or not, so there’s no reason to shift as much of it as possible to the computer.

Now, in closing, let’s talk for a moment about some practices for people providing the help. Do not, under any circumstances, pander to people. Do not talk down to them, but be willing to avoid jargon at the same time. Gage the customer by letting them talk for a minute. Let them indicate how knowledged they are in the technology in question, and then interact with them accordingly.

These are technical support best practices, and the most important ones. It’s mostly applicable to the rest of customer service, like I sand and you now see, but I think this is the first industry that’d see benefits from the online migration.


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Stefanie Amini
is Specialist in Customer Success and chief writer and editor of I Want It Now, a blog for Customer Service Experts. Follow her @StefWalkMe