Of all the software companies that I worked for during my technical writing days, only one had a system for reporting technical support calls to the rest of the company. This made sense, since the system was actually one of the company’s product offerings. But, it really woke me up to the benefits of connecting everyone involved with your products or services to the customer issues that need attention.
No one wants to hear about things that they could do better. It’s certainly tempting to leave customer issues in the hands of the people you pay to make customers happy. But, what if a better communications process can help eliminate issues forever? Read on to learn why everyone needs to know about things that need attention.
Customer Issues Need to Echo Throughout the Company
Every support call signals a problem (and hopefully more than an occasional compliment). These calls can tell everyone in your business about what needs to be done better and how to do more of what is right. My own technical writing experience clearly illustrates how clear inter-company communication made a difference to my ability to meet customer needs.
When I first started working with the company, I received training on how to use the customer support system — and clear instructions that regular monitoring was an important part of my job. On a weekly basis, I received mountains of support call summaries related to the documentation, mostly involving fuzzy or confusing instructions in the documentation.
When they took these calls, the Support team did four things:
- Since no one voluntarily reads the manual, they helped the customer locate the instructions in the documentation.
- They reviewed the written instructions with the customer to see if it made sense.
- If the instructions were unclear, they walked the customer through the process to make sure that the problem was instantly resolved.
- AND, they also documented each customer communication so that I knew how to clarify written instructions or make them easier to locate.
Since I was the person with the power to resolve documentation issues, I reviewed every one of them and made changes whenever it would make the next release stronger. Admittedly, it took quite a while initially, but over time I saw hundreds of issues melt down to just one or two per week. I was pretty proud, to say the least.
Well-Addressed Issues Create Better Offerings Down the Road
Handling support issues is more than an immediate problem-fixer. Granted, your products or services don’t automatically require modification based solely on one support call; but when patterns emerge, they can be very telling.
It didn’t take long for me to spot the customers who simply refused to look things up in the manual or the online help. Short of writing the manuals in cartoon format, I had little power to change this behavior. And, since I took over someone else’s documentation, I had already spent time reviewing everything to organize it better and write it more clearly. But, it’s pretty challenging to identify every shortcoming within thousands of pages of documentation.
For me, the support call records acted as spotlights on issues that I didn’t notice on my own. I learned a lot more about how readers think and learn — and formats that help entice them to read documentation before calling for support. This knowledge has served me well for more years than I care to mention, and support call reviews can give your business the same type of insight.
A Software Assist can Make a Difference
If you use our website regularly, then you probably already know the importance of choosing basic software. Just about every business needs software. Heck, if you believe TV commercials, then you’ve probably noticed the use of software in children’s lemonade stands. Unless your business absolutely never receives customer requests for assistance, then it’s worth considering buying a customer support system, as well.
Whenever you receive a ticket number when you place a support call, that number was issued by some sort of customer support tracking software. Good tracking systems, however, do more than just create a numbered record of the call. For example:
- They provide your Support team with well-organized space to keep track of the initial issue and the steps taken to resolve it.
- They probably provide a method for categorizing calls. This might be organization by product, but it can also allow for type of issue, such as broken products, shipping damages, usage issues and so forth.
- Good software typically resides on a network or in the Cloud to make each call record accessible to other people in the company. They may even provide mobile options like smart phone or tablet apps to make them available on the road. In other words, they allow everyone connected with a product the chance to learn what’s happening with it.
- Some provide analytic options. For example, a few clicks might identify issues based on time-to-resolution or list the most-frequent issues.
It’s all about tracking detailed information and then having the ability to notify the people in your business who can fix them to satisfy the customer. But, don’t stop there; the next step is to identify issues that will crop up again until you find ways to resolve them permanently.
Communications Should Extend Beyond The Customer
Anyone who has ever placed a call to Support knows that the primary concern is to quickly satisfy immediate customer needs. But, initial good feelings can change to frustration when customers repeatedly experience the same issues.
The people who take support calls are true ambassadors for your business. Unfortunately, even the great ambassadors of the world cannot do their jobs well without backup from the administrations that they represent. Your support team is most likely to notice patterns that identify the need for repairs, but they need a good way to pass that information on to the people who can make the repairs. This is how you reduce future support calls and improve the customer experience.
Good communication is essential. When all members of your company are well-informed about issues (and, hopefully kudos as well), then they have a clear picture of how to keep customers satisfied — and even attract more in the future.