How to Make Your IT Tech Support More User-Friendly

Over the last 40 years, technology has been improving and advancing while customer service practices have stayed stagnant. In fact, an Arizona State University (ASU) study reported they’ve gotten slightly worse. The study found that the number of respondents who felt completely satisfied with a company’s attempt to resolve a complaint had dropped from 23 percent to 17 percent, and the number who found company resolution attempts acceptable had dropped from 44 percent to 41 percent.

Annoying recorded responses are fueling consumer rage, in combination with too many automated response menus, a shortage of customer care agents, wasted time and an average of four contact attempts before getting a resolution, ASU’s ongoing research has found. Researchers estimate that this poor customer service is costing companies $202 billion in repeat sales annually. Here are some things IT directors can do to streamline their internal and external support processes in order to improve their company’s customer satisfaction and financial bottom line.

Train a Dedicated Team

Apple consistently ranks as the top support provider in the PC industry, once again winning Laptop’s annual Tech Support Showdown for its superior average call time and web, social and phone support. Technology is part of the reason for Apple’s success, but a bigger reason is the way Apple trains its support team.

As “The Apple Experience” author Carmine Gallo explains, Apple Store representatives receive training in a five-step customer service procedure. They learn to approach customers with a warm welcome, probe politely to discover their needs, present a solution they can take home immediately, listen for and resolve any issues and concerns, and end the interaction with a fond farewell and invitation to return. Developing this type of standard procedure and training a dedicated team to follow it forms a foundation for superior support. For best results, keep your tech support team focused on providing service instead of requiring them to juggle support with other tasks like sales and marketing.

Use Automation Efficiently to Optimize Your Responses

ASU’s research found that customer rage is triggered by annoying recorded phrases such as, “Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold.” Consumer Reports research concurs, finding that customers’ biggest complaint is not being able to reach a live representative. Other top gripes include getting disconnected and being unable to reach the same representative again, being unable to find a customer service phone number, having to wait too long on hold, having to go through too many phone menu steps and being repeatedly asked for the same information.

These complaints revolve around poor deployment of technology. Many of these issues can be resolved by using an automated customer call center solution that allows multi-channel support. Providing good online service lays a foundation for efficient multi-channel support. Ninety-one percent of customers responding to an Amdocs survey said they would use an online knowledge database if it were available, and 67 percent of respondents to a Nuance survey said they prefer self-service to speak to a company representative. For those who do need to speak to a representative, supplementing phone support with online alternatives, such as texting, email and VoIP voice chat services — all easy to install — can alleviate the burden on your phone staff and reduce customer frustration with long phone waits.

Script Your Solutions for Clear Communication and Quick Response

An Aberdeen Group study found that best-in-class service providers consistently used troubleshooting scripts to manage support issues. Developing and deploying a knowledge management system enables your representatives to identify problems more easily, facilitating clearer communication with customers. This, in turn, leads to more rapid response time, reducing one of the biggest sources of customer complaints.

Solicit Post-Support Feedback

The Aberdeen Group’s study also underscored the importance of formalizing your post-support survey follow-up in order to elicit customer feedback. Establishing metrics to measure your support performance empowers you to make adjustments and improvements. Consider tracking metrics like average response time, resolution handling time and number of contacts required for resolution, suggests Salesforce.com.

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