ReadyTech recently received a letter from a customer, thanking us for our great tech support. The letter complimented our support team’s “responsive, professional and courteous” assistance. A short excerpt from the letter read:
Whether it is a request dealing with deployment or a last-minute event change, your team handles it quickly and with extreme professionalism and patience. We are perfectionists with our classes, and ReadyTech’s support meshes well with that expectation of perfection for our classes.
The truth is that providing excellent tech support is quite challenging. After all, who calls tech support to give compliments? Add in the difficulty of having virtual teams with employees distributed across the globe in various time zones—and you have a daunting task.
The customer letter made me stop and think about the tech support department we’ve created at ReadyTech. What makes it so good? Are there things we can do to be even better? What advice would we give to other organizations building a 24/7/365 support team? Here are some thoughts on how to deliver strong and reliable tech support:
Leadership: Each office location should have an experienced team lead in charge. This lead can be a point of contact for all urgent and complex tech issues.
Ongoing training: Training helps any tech support team understand their roles and responsibilities. In addition, training can improve their well-being and confidence in performing their responsibilities effectively. Support representatives who receive training are better able to perform in their jobs. This builds confidence by providing a stronger understanding of job duties—and this confidence inspires them to work harder and perform better. Additionally, investing in training proves to employees that they are valued and supported.
Communication: Because virtual teams don’t see each other regularly, good communication between managers and employees is vital. Strong communication enables employees to be self-sufficient, which is crucial when it comes to remote employees tackling spur-of-the-moment, complex issues. Develop an open door policy and consistently encourage employees to ask questions.
Another way to foster strong communication is to create an internal support blog. For example, ReadyTech has a section on its intranet that is used for support team announcements and policy changes--and maintained regularly by support management.
Not only is it useful to have a designated place to share what's happening in support, but managers should communicate to all staff that it is their responsibility to regularly check the blog. In addition, every support team should have some kind of chat system, such as HipChat or Slack. This chat system allows for quick and easy communication between staff.
Hiring: To avoid employee burnout--which is quite common in the customer service industry--it is important to pay special attention to hiring. Try to employ individuals who are self-motivated, positive thinkers, independent, multi-taskers and tech savvy. In addition, seek candidates who are confident in making quick decisions, thrive under pressure, and possess empathy and patience with customers.
Keep in mind that customer satisfaction is an important differentiator for many companies. Consequently, it is vital to personalize the customer service experience. Because every business is a “people business,” your support team members should consistently personalize their service. This means engaging in one-on-one conversations, obtaining the loyalty and trust of customers, working hard to resolve issues quickly and always making customers feel important.
And this, in turn, can reduce burnout because personalized service translates into an increase in creativity and individuality for support team members. Many organizations that provide support use call scripts for almost everything they do. However, this creates a monotonous and repetitive workplace, which can result in employees feeling bored, discouraged, unsatisfied and frustrated.
For ReadyTech, hiring qualified staff is especially important. When anyone calls or emails ReadyTech with technical issues, support staff treats every interaction as urgent. Consequently, hiring people-saavy employees who believe in ReadyTech’s values--and can be the voice of our company--is crucial.
Resource center: Establish a shared, online resource center. This center should cover common problems and solutions, as well as FAQs. A shared knowledge base enables all team members to be on the same page, and feel like they have the needed resources on hand. For example, ReadyTech has a resource center maintained by support reps. Support staff writes most of these articles, which makes sense since the reps manage the ins and outs of support each and every day.
Employee engagement: Technical support can be extremely demanding due to the high stress work environment and emotional aspects of the job. Consequently, be sure to consistently check in with employees to hear about their highs and lows. Listen to their feedback and implement their suggestions.
Customer feedback: Another way to improve your support team is to encourage feedback from customers. This feedback will allow you recognize your support team’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as improve processes.
Onboarding: More than 85 percent of new employees lack the level of knowledge to do their jobs, causing stress and anxiety during the transition to a new position. That’s where onboarding comes in. Integrating new employees into an organization and making them productive as soon as possible is the mission of a good onboarding program.
It is vital to realize that onboarding and training are different. Michel Falcon, founder of Experience Academy, explains: “Employee onboarding is the design of what your employees feel, see and hear after they have been hired. Often companies confuse onboarding with training. While training does have a role within the onboarding, it doesn’t represent the entire scope of the process.”
Onboarding is the opportunity to equip employees with resources, tools and confidence they need once they are on their own. This is the time to set expectations and teach skills, knowledge and behavior in order to be effective on the job. Strong onboarding can lead to higher job performance, job satisfaction, greater organizational commitment and a reduction in job stress.
As described in the Hiring section, many support organizations use call scripts as a way to enforce standards and speed up the onboarding process for new hires to make sure there is ROI on the support representative before they quit. But scripted conversations lack engagement, resulting in customers feeling like the support representative isn’t listening and the support representative feeling like a robot. During the onboarding process, be sure to address the critical need for personalized service. After all, giving employees freedom to tap into their individuality will not only reduce burnout, but improve the experiences of customers.
A strong tech support team can make the difference between happy and unhappy customers. By implementing these suggestions, you, too can receive compliments—instead of complaints.