When I think about client support and customer service, I think about calling a number, reaching an automated system, pressing some buttons, and hoping someone — or something — provides a solution as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, I go into most of these exchanges expecting my opinion not to matter much, nor do I anticipate walking away with more knowledge than before. I expect the worst, and hope only for a solution.
At Clockwork, we are more than a solution provider, we are also teachers, thinkers, and planners. And our approach to support is no different. The support team is a central part of not only post-launch client service, but also to project and product teams. Our support team wrangles the phone calls, emails, and other inquiries and feedback that clients have about their site, app, or tool. If it’s a question, we answer it; if it’s feedback, we log it. As the core support team member, I work with System Administrators, Developers, Strategists, and others to make sure the client gets thorough and well-considered help. Integrating the support team within all other teams is the key to a positive client experience.
What does that look like?
What do we do to improve clients’ and internal teams’ experiences, solve problems, and exceed expectations?
Support information sharing.
Custom code, product updates, content updates — these are just a few of the things we do in preparation of project launches. After launch, projects transition to maintenance mode and it’s now up to the support team to answer incoming questions. Scheduling time for a support handoff between the project team and the support team is critical for a smooth transition, and for a successful client experience. If a client calls your support team and the team isn’t familiar with the feature the client’s using, you’re doing it wrong.
After the internal handoff, project and product teams have limited day-to-day interactions with clients. However, they’re the ones building and updating the features. So, how are they supposed to do that with no feedback? That’s where the support team comes in handy. At Clockwork, we are constantly bringing feedback from simple day-to-day interactions back to our product teams — what are clients asking about? Are there any features clients request? This is valuable information that our project and product teams can use to make a product that really works for those using the tool, not just those building it. As a result of the integration between teams, clients see their feedback reflected in the product, making them a part of the solution.
Support your people.
When you think of support, do you think of your own people calling your 1-800 number? Not likely, but training your own people is one of the keys to superior support. When employees and teams have knowledge of the products, services, and processes that clients are experiencing, they are empowered to answer questions right on the spot. In addition to ad hoc help, we offer quarterly re-training for all employees, so if they have new questions or if there are new features to explore, they have an opportunity to learn. It’s a great confidence boost for clients when any person they talk to — from business development to a front-end developer, from the project team to the support team — can answer their questions. If your own people don’t know how to use your product or services, how can your clients?
Support learning, not just doing.
As a person who “does support” day-in and day-out, I can tell you that hearing the same questions over and over can, at times, border on annoying, especially if they are coming from the same people. I always take this as my cue to teach rather than just answer — as the adage goes: give someone a fish, they eat for a day; teach someone to fish, they eat for a lifetime. One of the best parts about being on the support team is just that: you are actually in a position to make your job, your colleagues’ jobs, and your clients’ jobs easier!
Support all who need a little help.
Sometimes you might get a call from someone who isn’t your client, but they are still in need. I occasionally get support calls for Assurance Wireless because our 1-800 numbers are very similar. Instead of getting angry I have simply memorized the correct number and can now easily give it to a caller. Nearly 100% of the time you can hear the relief they got from a little helpfulness.
Your support team is often the front line for not only your clients, but the world at-large. Make sure they stick by the same cultural values as the rest of the company, no matter who is calling.