Effective customer support is the key to success of any organization. It is a journey travelled together with the customer throughout their period of usage. We will have to plan multiple stages of this support based on various factors such as number of years of usage, usage pattern, support need, changing business, onsite support, etc. Customer gets to understand the intricacies of our product only when it is put to complete use. This is the stage when we move out from the Utopian world and get to see reality. By virtue of this, we cannot afford to play an elite role but have to be ready to get our hands dirty! Below are some tips for a healthy customer support.
- It is mandatory that we get to understand customer’s business irrespective of the stage of support we are in. It helps us to understand their needs better. It will be beneficial if we get to know the key roles, users and the way our application is put to use in a typical day.
- Customer support is always a challenging environment where multi-tasking is very important. Work priority will be volatile and we need to smartly take decisions and make moves that suit the situation. It is even more challenging when we provide support for multiple customers in multiple versions. Lateral thinking and continuous work prioritization will be inevitable and is the key to success.
- “See before customer sees” is an important rule of customer support. We have complete access to customer database and it is like a gold mine in front of us. We can dig any deep for the gold! We will have to continuously monitor customer data and ensure it is clean in all aspects. We need to learn more about our customers from their defects such as-What are their high priority reconciliation items? /Which data stays in their radar? and ensure to keep track of the same in our database. If we can apply learning from other customer defects by striking a balance between usage patterns and data accuracy, we will be able to reap high benefits of lesser customer defect inflows/escalations. Smart automation techniques helps to do this easier, having our ownITSystem weeds out manual routines.
- 6 Tips to handle a problem= 5W+1H. Every request/bug/data should be analyzed by answering the following aspects -Who, When, Where, What, Why, How! This will help you to decipher and trail back to the source of the problem. Few tips for trouble shooting includes:1. There is no non-simulatable defect, 2. Detailed customer data analysis/code reviews helps, 3. Verify fixes only when you know what failed exactly and finally 4. Provide effective work around when fixes gets delayed.
- There needs to be a mechanism of continuous monitoring /identification of code that needs revamp and plan for the same. Support mode is when we get a better grip of usage of each lines of code. Execute such plans and ensure customer gets to benefit out of it.
- As any business is changing, so is it for our customers. Scalability of our software to their changing business/usage patterns is essential. We will have to be abreast of such changes and ensure a win-win situation by addressing their ongoing changing business needs. Fitting in changes aptly in our application is required which needs an in-depth study of the requirements. Pricing such changes is also another area to be taken care off. A good balance of effort vs. feature richness is required.
- It is not only prompt response that is important in Customer support but mails with good tone are vital. Understand each customer uniquely and chart out customized plans to engage them. Talk their language, meaning- do not talk in technical/functional terms instead in business terms. It is crucial that we stay pleasant and reachable at all times. These help in developing good bonding and trust.
- It is good to plan periodical visits. Visits are of two types- one that reaches the top management that helps us understand customer needs better, assess satisfaction levels and makes way for new business. This will also be a forum to review AMC and put forth revisions whenever it warrants matching current support levels. The second type is to visit end users. This will help in understanding/attacking ground level issues leading to better customer satisfaction.
Customer support is the stage we reap all the benefits of winning a deal, making this phase very crucial. This is also a revenue making avenue. Effective customer support leads to a win- win situation resulting in good will which is another important factor of any business. Personally, customer support is one of the best places for learning. We get to see a variety of issues all through the day putting us into a roller coaster journey, taking us through all phases of a software life cycle with a treat of customer interaction.
Ramco support is well streamlined with support activities planned in 3 levels. Level 1 is customer facing which also includes 24/7 support that addresses all customer issues and provides immediate resolution. Level 2 works on data health monitoring, handling change requests and issues which have a lengthier lead time. Level 3 closely works with development team and ensures product stability. Continuous interaction with customers at different levels is periodically ensured. Customer advisory board is another forum, where-in we get to understand market trends &needs and chart out our product road map.