Remote Customer Support
One of the things we do at ME is remote customer support. The technology spectrum is wide, and encompasses MS-Windows administration, end user support (help desk), Network troubleshooting, PBX / Phone system support etc.
We – usually – do a good job of helping a client out of a pickle, but not always. Things do fall through the cracks. Furthermore, since sometimes multiple people are involved in interacting with a single client on a given problem, the internal communication (or lack thereof) may contribute to the perceived lack of service / responsiveness by a client.
And even, when we DO assist a client in an effective and timely manner, this effort is not always sufficiently documented to allow proper billing. So things fall through the cracks at both ends: (a) the client perceives non-responsive service; (b) as a business, we spend time and effort without compensation.
Avoid Verbal Orders
This was hammered into me when working at a large government contractor / consulting company. The reasons are legion. Firstly, it is too easy to misunderstand, or even simply mishear a communication / complaint / issue. Secondly, the action required may be misunderstood. The client in question might simply have wanted you to be aware of something, NOT to jump in and start reconfiguring their system. Or vice-versa, you think it’s piece of info to be filed, while the client expects immediate attention – if not action.
email to the rescue
Well .. maybe .. perhaps .. who knows. The problem there is, again, follow-through. While an email alleviates the mis-communication issue, or at least provides a defensible CYA response in case of later complaints, it still can lead to a ‘crack fall’ at either end (see above). The problem, of course, is who the email is actually sent to, and if that person takes action, if only to perhaps alert someone else. And, after ‘delegating’, what if it does not get followed up. Or it does get followed-up, the client is happy, but never billed, because we lost track. At least we have an email – right? Not really. Emails get sent by clients – or associates – to different people (read email addresses). Unless there is some unification going on afterwards, this can well lead to more mass confusion.
Ah! One single email address. Now what? We have multiple clients – multiple technologies – multiple responders. So we’d have to task a single person / agent as support manager, to (a) watch the inbox; (b) delegate cases; (c) track progress; (d) ensure issue resolution (i.e. client satisfaction); (e) ensure proper client billing; (f) ensure proper credit to responders.
Hmm .. sounds like a full-time job, AND error-prone. At ME, as at most organizations of a similar nature, this job gets only partially done with resulting efficiency (we spend too much) and effectiveness (the client is still unhappy) issues.
I have in my past lives setup and used RT from Best Practical in an IT support and Customer Satisfaction environment. This is one of the reasons that here at ME we offer our services to install / configure / train your organization in setting up RT. Sad to say, we are – as of January 15, 2009 – not using it ourselves. This is about to change. We have experienced the issues alluded to above, and as our business continues to grow, we need to get better at supporting our clients. So, we’ll be deploying an RT based ticket system for the various activities we are engaged in. Stay tuned.
Links and Plug
Read all about it. We will offer an RT Appliance in the near future. In the mean time, ask (use our contact page) if you want RT deployed for your organization, we may be able to assist you.