How to Provide Effective Customer Support..


Customer Support /Client Support is a vital cog when it comes to doing business effectively. After you sell a particular product , you need to see how your clients are using that product and support them on how to use the product; as well as when they face any problems and issues.

I have been in the IT industry for 2.5 years now and I have met a wide range of clients from all walks of life. I have had the privilege of working with local as well as foreign clients and from about two months back, I have had the chance of working in the customer support function which has taught me some important lessons on how to provide customer support effectively.

Today, I am going to share some tips and techniques from my experience thus far , so you will be able to use them as a guide to provide support to your client's .


Tip #1 - Know Your Product
When I first joined my current workplace in late 2009, I was fascinated by the product I was working on ( I still am) and I was eager to learn everything about it . It was totally a different domain to me but yet with some hard work I was able to get to know all the in and outs of the application I am working on. But, when I started client support I realized there were some more things that I didn't know about the product. I realized this through the client queries so I had to ask my seniors on those areas and improve my knowledge so I would be able to support the clients effectively.

The lesson here is that , "you will never know your product 100 percent, but you should know it 99.9 percent. " You need to ask queries from the experts in the industry , you need to do research and you need to work with your product very closely in order to be thorough about it. I still ask queries from my seniors and colleagues when I don't know anything. Remember .. "Its always ok to ask.." if a client ask you something and you don't know it.. tell them you will get back to them and ask someone who knows about it. Then respond back to your client. It's better to take time and tell the truth and the correct way rather than assuming things and giving wrong instructions. Also try your best to remember what you have learned before; so you will be able to answer the next client who asks the same question quickly; reducing their waiting time.


Tip #2 - When responding to Customer Queries through Email, Respond to them in Detail

Clients could sometimes become a headache to you. They could ask you every little step to do certain tasks which in most cases irritates the support staff. This could happen due to one main reason; "You have not given your client an effective answer to their query ".

In order to avoid a situation like the above, you can use the following techniques.

  • Use Simple, Understandable Language when writing Emails.
  • Provide step by step instructions on how to perform the task / how to solve the problem the client need to do/solve.
  • Provide screen shots where it's necessary so clients can get a better idea on how to carry out the instructions you are providing to them.
The above techniques will help you immensely to provide a better response to your clients and also increase their understanding on your reply. It will help the client to get their job done and will also help you to focus on other client's without getting bombarded by phone calls and emails.


Tip #3 - Listen First and Then Respond..

This technique is really important when you respond to your clients through the phone . Let me take some personal experience here and explain to you on how to use this technique.

At the end of last of year the product I am working on got some new clients. These client's were overseas so after our team came back from the implementation process ; I was given the job of providing support to those clients. One day, they called me regarding an issue, I was really confused;the problem was I was in the bus going to work and there was a lot of noise so I couldn't understand anything. To further my problems, I couldn't understand his English as I haven't heard that kind of an accent before =) . So to understand the issue , I just excused my client for a minute, got down from the bus , went to a quiet place and listened carefully about the issue the client was reporting. I understood the issue and I gave him a solution which in the end helped him and also his operations which were carried out without a delay.

The above experience taught me some vital lessons which I am going to share with you.
  • You should listen carefully to every word your client is saying and should not jump in the middle and provide a solution before the whole problem is explain
  • If you are in a noisy , crowded place , do your best to go to a quiet area and talk with your client.
  • Be Patient and try to interpret what the client is trying to say by asking them a lot of questions.
  • If you are still left confused, Ask an expert or your senior for guidance.
The above lessons come in handy when you are faced in a situation like I faced and I am sure it will help you to provide better solutions by listening correctly to their queries.


Tip #4 - Be Patient..

This is a quality any person should have in themselves and when it comes to customer support, It's nothing different . Your client will keep on bombarding you with thousands and thousands of queries and sometimes, you could get really mad and irritated about the whole thing. ( believe me it has happened to me as well). This could be worse if your on support 24/7 .

The best thing to avoid such a situation is do the necessary testing and check if the application / product is working in order periodically. Also try to share your responsibilities with your team mates and try to do something else for a change or take a leave. This will help you to calm your nerves and be ready when the support job is given back to you. emember, "Never let your Emotions run out in front of your Customer ".
If you do, it could be the end of working with your client and possibly the end of your job as well.


Tip #5 - Use it as a Learning Curve..

Client Support could be no fun thing. But, one other hidden advantage of it is that you can learn a lot about the product you are working on in a variety of ways. Clients are a section who are very knowledgeable of the domain they are working on and when they use your product they might question you about various aspects of the domain which could / doesn't be available in your product/application. You could learn this experience as a learning curve and use to get to know about the domain you are working on . I have had similar experiences and I have had the chance of learning a lot of things regarding my domain. So look at the positives side such as this when providing client support, you will enjoy the job role more and " definitely learn more".

So those are my tips on how to provide effective customer support. It's not an easy ride (but then again nothing is easy right ? =) ) but with the correct attitude and qualities like the ones mentioned above, you can be a great "client support engineer ". It will definitely improve your value to your customer as well as your value to the company so don't be afraid and provide customer support "effectively "

Cheers !!

What are your thoughts on how to provide effective client support? If you are have any thoughts be sure to share them with everyone through the comments section.




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