No matter who you are or what you sell, everyone agrees that customer service is one the most fundamental elements of your organization. At Monsoon Commerce, we’ve been supporting our software for over a decade. In that time, we’ve evolved through many different platforms, processes, systems and approaches. Customer service involves many stakeholders outside and within your company, so setting up an organization and process that works for everyone is a larger undertaking that many realize. Some ideas work great internally but are not successful with customers and vice versa.  Supporting software users is very different from retail or services support.

Here are some tips that we’ve found over the years to help ensure our customers are cared for and our company leverages those interactions to their fullest extent.

Many benefits of having a great customer service organization

In addition to quickly resolving issues, an established process will feed product development, marketing and sales with feedback and ideas for new features.

 

Establish creative ways to reward good behavior

Our customer’s tickets get a boost in their support queue position if they are on the latest versions of our software as well as on current versions of operating systems, database versions and adequate hardware. We can’t force a user to upgrade their software, but there are small ways to encourage it.

 

Put the answer as close to the requester as possible

Through our Support Center customers have access to their ticket history, Help Library, Training and much more. Most people don’t want to get in a queue to get help. Customers are typically happy to use self-service tools as long as they can quickly find the answers they are looking for. This involves not only having the explanations on how to accomplish something, but knowing when to surface it to the user.

 

Control what you can, influence the rest

There are a few commandments when it comes to supporting users:

  1. Respond quickly
  2. Notify appropriately
  3. Resolve ASAP
  4. Follow-up as often as possible

If you excel at 1, 2 and 4, customers will be more tolerant if the complete solution isn’t available as soon as they would like.

 

Customers would rather pay for good service than get bad service for free

This has been proven every time. If you can’t offer great free service, figure out how to pay for it. You’re customers will thank you for it. Many customers are willing to pay a premium to have access to support on terms they feel comfortable with. Experiment with different tiers that offer something for the customers that want a VIP experience and are willing to pay for it.

 

Track Relevant Metrics

As you build your customer service organization, offering and workflows remember to measure how new initiatives effect different parts of the process. Some key numbers to track include: First response time, Problem resolution time, Reason for Contacting Support (Bug, Lack of Knowledge, Setup Help, etc), Average time of Interactions to Resolution and Individual agent performance.

We hope that by sharing some of the things we learned over the years we can help everyone services their customers better.

This post was contributed by Scott Sickler, ‎Director of Client Services Monsoon Commerce.  He’s recently published a book based on his experiences building software customer service organizations: Customer Service Done Right