Customer support is the basis of good business! You can have an amazing product or service and the best technicians that are swiftly getting tickets off the table and still, there will be no guarantee that your clients will be happy nor that you will attract and keep the top-tier customers.
Dealing with customers and their issues is stressful. It can create tension in both your clients and your staff, clouding the goal of solving the issue.
Luckily, improving the weaknesses in the way your staff handles customer tickets, communication, ticket escalation processes and cultural compatibility can drastically improve this experience and leave your customers more satisfied and your staff happier!
Some of the points worth stressing in achieving the best customer service are
- Managing expectations
- Clear internal communication
- Firm procedure guidelines
- Cultural compatibility
- Customer Satisfaction
Managing expectations as a tool for avoiding push-back from your customers and building integrity
Your communication with the customer begins with this step, even before they actually reach out to you for help. Setting the right expectation when it comes to the way their issue will be managed will give your business more integrity and your staff a more peaceful and productive environment
How can you do that?
Firstly, on your websites Help Center or Contact us page, you can offer different categories of communication regarding the severity of the issue.
Depending on your staff capacity and the usual load of customers’ requests you can build a time-frame in which your clients can expect their issue to be solved.
If the issue is preventing their business from operating or they suspect there might be a security breach they would like your guidance immediately. How bad would it be if they can not reach you at this crucial time because someone is already on the line, requesting a password reset or something similar and occupying your technician that could relieve their worries and potentially save their business? Your client will not be happy and as an addition to the stress they are experiencing because of the issue, they will now be frustrated with you.
This is why it is important to make it clear to your clients what is the call wait time!
You, as a leader of your MSP, want your customers to feel that they are in safe hands and know that they can rely on your business for assistance!
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and create options for the different ways they can reach out from their perspective, taking into consideration your capacities.
There are some questions you can ask yourself that will help you with categorizations, such as:
- What type of problems are customers reaching out to us with most often?
- What is my staff having issues with the most in the process of customer support?
- Am I utilizing multiple communication channels?
- How can I empower my clients and encourage them to reach out to us in the best way?
Answering these questions will help you in setting realistic expectations for your MSPs clients.
They should recognize the severity of their issue, and be offered multiple ways of reaching out to you in accordance with that severity.
For an example, they can write an email for non-urgent matters or call you if they want faster service with more critical issues and know that there will be someone on the other side of the line to help them!
|The urgency of the Issue||Best way to communicate||Expected solution time|
|Blocker or Critical||Phone call||Depending on the issue|
|Not affecting crucial points||Live chat/email||End of the day|
|Trivial, advice, inquiry||Day/Two|
Create Help Center Articles that will empower your clients to solve some issues themselves and get information about your product! This will make them feel cared for and free up your staff so they could be more focused on harder issues. Also, these articles can be used as training material for your new staff members or reminders in case of unexpected brain-farts!
Good ticket escalation practice and clear communication procedures will improve your MSPs functionality
Once you’ve set the right expectation, created a way to direct your customers’ complaints and guided them to the best communication channel, it is time to look at the way your clients’ problems are being solved!
The best place to start getting a sense of this process is, of course, the environment in which this is all done and the staff that is caring for your customers.
The way you manage your staff can tell your customers a lot about the way they themselves will be treated!
It is important to have a comfortable and distraction-free environment for your staff to be productive and fulfill their potential. Things like ring groups, every minute time tracking, bad ticket escalation, and wasting your top technicians on simple tickets will create an atmosphere that is hard to work in and your clients will sense the dissatisfaction of your staff!
There are some practical solutions and advice you can implement to prevent this from happening and set yourself up for success:
- Internal communication should be clear
- Job distribution should be established well
- Escalation procedures should be correctly followed
Clear internal communication leads to clear results
Running an MSP is not easy. There are a lot of details to pay attention to, different aspects of the business should work in synchronicity and documentation should be well organized.
For this to happen, it is important that you communicate with your technicians about their needs in the workplace. Organize the work they should be doing according to those needs
- Have an open document where they can express ideas
- Provide guidelines to difficult situations
- Use emails and chat for non-urgent matters only and have a separate channel for escalations
- Have weekly meetings
- Use timesheets to track their progress and difficulties
You will find that some of your technicians’ talents are not being put to good use and that some of them are overwhelmed with the position they are in at the moment
Straightening out the roles and responsibilities of your technicians will contribute to your MSPs growth and attract more clients while ensuring the old ones will continue to work with you
These practices build integrity and a firm base where your staff management style will create a mechanism that will help your technicians spend time doing good work instead of being caught up in circles of frustration.
Your clients will feel that they are in good hands when the person who is helping them feels happy and motivated to help them!
PRO TIP: Don’t be afraid of idle time. From our experience, some of the top-level engineers, people who’ve run their own companies, prefer to spend 60-80% of the time on tickets. The rest of the time they can dedicate to working on projects, improving systems, or just simply having time to decompress.
Strengthening your frontline – helpdesk management and job distribution
The first line of defence for your MSP is your Help desk center. This is where all the phone calls, emails and chats get in and if the damn you’ve built around it is leaking, the flood will come rushing in, wreaking havoc on your whole practice.
If you understand the mechanism behind the frequency and type of requests you get from your clients it will not be hard to distribute the intake of tickets according to their requirements.
How can you utilize your help desk center to benefit your clients and business the most?
It can be done in several ways all of which include having specialized staff for defending the frontline and fair job distribution:
- Service Desk manager
- Technician in training
- Triage agent
From our experience dispatchers are essential for MSPs that have more than 5 technicians in their team. You can research about the difference between a service desk manager and a dispatcher and choose which type will work best for you.
Other than that, you can have a level one engineer or a technician in training handling the income of tickets and escalate the ones they can not solve themselves, a way a dispatcher would.
A triage agent is also someone who can greatly contribute to the quality of your customer service by getting the answers to required questions before forwarding the issue to your technician accordingly.
This has proven itself as a much better way of handling tickets than MSP ring groups which, from our experience, spell disaster for your business.
|Dispatcher||Service desk manager||Technician in training||Triage agent|
|Escalates client issues||Creates and manages the service desk systems and procedures||Works in the service desk system||Gets information from clients and their computers|
|Checks on the status of the issues||Analyzes the work done by technicians||Solves straightforward tasks||Writes tickets to help technicians solve issues faster|
|Enforces system procedures||Creates solutions to potential issues in the system||Escalates tickets when necessary||Explore the issue further with the information they’ve gained|
This way, you will cut customer call wait time and send your customers’ requests to the right address. Your higher-level engineers will be happy to work on more complex issues that will boost their creativity and problem-solving skills, making them engaged, and your lower level engineers a chance to grow and develop in a steady way.
How to escalate tickets well – strict procedures for a peaceful mind
Establish a precise time-frame in which a technician is required to solve the ticket.If they exceed that time, the ticket should be escalated in the right way, so it doesn’t get lost in the funnels or causes too much distraction.
Which way is the best to escalate tickets?
- The ticket should be escalated in a way that is ownership-based.
- Use Freshdesk, Connectwise, Autotask to keep track of the tickets.
- Technicians should not rely on chat for escalation so the tickets don’t get lost.
- Offline escalations should be documented.
- Internal ticket notes should be robust and include as much useful information as possible about the steps taken prior to escalation.
- Status of the ticket should be well defined. For an example: “Waiting for answer from client” or “In progress” or “Call back needed” or “Completed”
Having all the tickets documented and your customers information in the system will decrease the time a technician would need to spend on scrolling through chats and enlisting the customer over and over again. This will make your technician focused on actually helping the customer.
PRO TIP: Emphasise the quality of the ticket input instead of the quantity and speed of which the tickets are solved. Sometimes, the right measure is the attention and thoughtfulness someone has put into creating and solving the ticket, as well as into escalating and following up properly.
Cultural compatibility is invaluable in customer support
Technical expertise is not all it takes for your staff to be well equipped to solve every problem or complaint thrown at them. What is as equally important is the way they are interacting with the customers and their colleagues be it in an office or remotely.
At Support Adventure, we value this dearly.
With more than 40 members on 5 continents, what we all have in common is the culture we share. We are able to provide our members a great standard of living sometimes for half of the price of the technician in the US, for example, and get the same expertise and work culture.
How is that?
We test and train the best talent that we find has the soft-skills required to interact with customers all over the world, speak great English and have the ability to learn quickly, adjusting to their environment.
We’ve matched with more than 50 MSPs and have a unique, bird-eye vision of the challenges both the technicians and the MSPs face. This has created great experience in overcoming those issues and improving the environment, documentation processes and more.
Cultural compatibility and friendly attitude is the glue that binds all of the technical stuff we’ve talked about above together and one aspect does not work without the other – there has to be a comfortable and organized environment for the people to be friendly and helpful and the people need to have natural abilities for communication and organisation to keep that system running.
Customer satisfaction – the journey is the goal
One of the biggest mistakes a customer service specialist can do is to try and sell some products or features to the customer!
Ofcourse, informing the client about a new feature, or a system change that will affect the way their business works at the time when they’ve reached out is alright but, most of the time, it will only complicate things for the sales and account management teams.
Support technicians should instead focus on positioning and helping the customer in the best way.
However, the support journey your client takes starts long before they reach out to you:
- Pre-onboarding process – here you want to know the client and be oriented to solutions in the way that they will benefit them truly.
- Onboarding – where you want your customers to feel welcomed and already learn the ropes in regarding your product and how to reach out
- Post-onboarding – a process largely dismissed by businesses but a step that has great value. Customers should feel important and cared for.
This is where your team can shine to its brightest. Regularly reaching out to your clients, making sure that the expectations are set and met, or having a friendly chat and inquiry can go a long way
Stand out from other businesses by having a culturally compatible team to the type of clients you are working with and follow up frequently to make your customers feel extra welcomed and cared for, and create an opportunity for up-selling!
A kind word can unlock an iron door
Finally, don’t take customers’ complaints personally. Maintaining a positive and friendly attitude when facing a difficult customer is not easy, but if you have the right support and mindset it can be less stressful.
Showing compassion and empathizing with the client is certainly useful and it is a good practice. However, we can not make difficult decisions and solve confrontations solely on empathy.
Luckily, there are tested methods that can help you and the customer get a piece of mind and that is the golden rule of customer service a.k.a the “3 A’s”:
- Acknowledge the discomfort they are experiencing
- Align yourself with the client and their perspective
- Assure them that you will do your best to solve the issue correctly
In practice, this would sound like : “I am sorry you are experiencing this, I completely understand how frustrating it is. Be assured that we will solve this problem for you and I will make sure to give you the best solution possible.”
Encourage your technicians to listen in on active calls and be there for their colleagues dealing with a difficult customer. This will make your technician feel supported. Their colleague can jump in and fetch data while the technician is positioning themselves out of the difficult situation, focusing on cooling down the customer!
Having clear procedures in place, a good environment and friendly, cultural compatible staff will make your customer support service the best it can be!