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Some Ideas on Scaling Great Customer Support

Some Ideas on Scaling Great Customer Support

Almost every business wants to offer great customer support. It promotes positive word of mouth marketing, increases the chance of repeat buyers and subscriber retention, and importantly, it's the right thing to do. Great customer support is difficult to scale though, so here are a few pointers that we have picked up over the years.

Firstly it's important to define what you're aiming to provide – both internally and externally. Both your customers and your team need some clear objectives. "We plan to answer every call within 30 seconds" or "We'll replace any faulty items within one day." Statements that provide clear measurables are far more comforting and believable than messages like "Check out our awesome support!" which don’t offer any real value. Products fail, services falter, but sticking to well defined and measurable support metrics can turn almost any customer issue around.

Secondly, know your customers. If you provide services to the education market then make sure you are aware of any common processes or guidelines that are used to measure support in the education industry. Try to map or even beat these – even at the expense of other areas. If you match your customers' own expectations then you're one step closer to keeping them happy already. I'm in the software business so I'm fully aware of how bugs can sneak into a product release. As a result I don't expect every software package or online service that I use to be without a glitch – ever, but just don't tell me it's because I am holding it wrong. Customer perceptions are everything and if your product behaves in a way that makes your customers think it is faulty then so be it. Apologize, fix it, replace it.

Finally, know your team. Have the correct people on the phone or answering emails and the correct people "in the workshop". If you are lucky enough to have staff with both sets of skills then make sure you retain and reward them. Also recognize that some of your customers will form valuable parts of your support team. Community forums are a great way to empower and recognize customers, but make sure your moderators understand your objectives. Forums need rapid responses and careful curation or they can easily turn into a showcase for your shortfalls.

Ian van Reenen is CTO CentraStage, which works closely with MSPs. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of MSPmentor’s annual platinum sponsorship. Read all of CentraStage’s guest blogs here.

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