Value those people who tell you the truth, not just those people who tell you what you want to hear.Pat Summitt
One of the most important aspects of providing support is the ability to be open and transparent with the information you are sharing… and knowing how best to provide that information.
Telling a customer the truth about a feature not working as expected, or perhaps not existing is much more valuable that find an obfuscated turn of phrase that is intended to provide an answer although not provide a solution. If you do not know, just say so!
Not knowing an answer is not necessarily a bad thing provided you let the customer know that is the case and also that you will find out what the answer is and get back to them with it. If you don’t find that answer, still get back to the customer with a response and let them know that, too.
Support is mostly about communication and building a rapport with the customers you are working with. These customers should know, or at the least be comfortable with, you will provide them the best, most truthful and complete answer you are able to.
Tell the truth… sugar-coat if you must but not so much you lost the customer. Going forward, you will both know you are starting from the same point and understanding.
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Success is attaining your dream while helping others to benefit from that dream materializing.Sugar Ray Leonard
There is no reason to climb over others to reach the goals you have set for yourself. You will feel much better and more accomplished by having others rise up with you.
Make room for your family, friends, team, circles of influence, and acquaintances to benefit from your dreams. Make room for everyone you meet along the path your dream takes you on, and to share the successes and benefits of the goals you achieve.
A dream shared is much easier to turn into a goal. Sharing a dream with others means they may be able to help you turn that dream into a goal and perhaps even make their own dreams come true along the way.
It is far greater to share a dream with others than to sit alone, at the top, and have no one to share the successes it can bring you.
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You don’t have to hit all of life’s curveballs out of the park… singles, doubles, and triples can still move your team mates around the bases.
Accept that not everything will go your way. To continue in the analogy above, the ball is not going to bounce your way every time. If you think it will, or more importantly think it does, you can consider yourself extremely lucky or fortunate… or in life’s reality: probably mislead.
Some days you’re going to make that catch and other days you’re going to make Bucky Dent look good. The idea is not so much to dwell on that ball slipping through your legs, or catching a fly ball as it tries to sail over the left field fence. See both as opportunities to learn and improve… block the ball so it doesn’t get past you, or anticipate that spot on the fence and get there ahead of the ball so that spectacular leap has less chance of not being timed perfectly.
Both of these ideals will provide benefits if you take the time to learn from them. Also, share these experiences with your teammates whether they were there on the field with you or not.
The most important part of lessons learned is sharing which can only help; and, every little bit of help can make the difference especially when you’re expecting that curveball on the outside corner and it drops off the table when it gets to the plate.
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Measuring programming progress by lines of code is like measuring aircraft building progress by weight. Bill Gates
When reviewing your success rates, or progress towards the goals you are trying to achieve, you should be looking at what you are actually reviewing to ensure it is relevant in the first place… or, in other words, does it really what matters?
My thoughts on this are more or less to the point of looking at how well a customer care person addressed the concern brought to their attention. This is the end result metric to be considered over most any other indicator.
This does not mean volumes should not be taken into consideration only that it is likely more relevant to look at the volume in the context of how it relates specifically to the concern at hand. The more concerns being brought forward for the same problem would point to something upstream that may need to be addressed in general such as a software bug or a process that is inefficient or poorly explained.
Also to be taken into consideration with the above is the length of the conversation. Providing a suggested solution and explaining it clearly in a language the customer can understand and take action with is ideally done with the first response although in some cases more details and context are needed to provide the most correct solution idea. A relevant benchmark for the number of back and forth responses should be set but does not need to be explicitly held to a specific number that cannot be exceeded.
Keeping the conversation on point and to an ideal minimum will ultimately provide the best customer care. Ensuring these two ideals will generally address any other metrics you may want to consider provided when you take those measurements you know exactly what you are looking at and why you need to know them.
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If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to treat everything as if it were a nail. Abraham Maslow
Although pounding something into place may be satisfying and even possibly achieve the end results needed ultimately it may not have been the best approach to take.
Providing support requires you make certain the toolbox of resources you have at your disposal consists of more than a one-size fits all hammer. To continue with the analogy, you may need a screwdriver because it may be a screw you are faced with instead of a nail. Again, this doesn’t mean the hammer wouldn’t work but it’s not likely the right tool for the job.
Using what you believe to be the right tool for the job, aside from likely achieving the goal most effectively and efficiently also generally provides for the means to walk-back a solution if it turns out not to be correct.
Also to note, don’t just reach into your toolbox and be satisfied the first tool you grab will be the right one. Take time to review the problem and then look in your toolbox to see if you have the right tool for the job… and if you don’t, know where to get help with finding the right tool and learn how to add it to your toolbox.
One thing to remember, and often overlooked when you have a wide array of tools to choose from, if you are actually dealing with a nail go ahead and use your hammer.
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Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect.Margaret Mitchell
Much like Baden Powell and the Boy Scouts promote, always be prepared especially when dealing with others. Although one might think they know what to expect it is often times something else causing the issue or concern.
It is important to remember that to find common ground in your communication to ensure you are able to explain the idea you are trying to present. This may mean reducing your vocabulary to more common, every-day words and phrases or being more precise in the technical description of the problem at hand. Each instance will be based on the overall context of the conversation.
Do not expect everyone will be able to immediately understand what you are saying, and in the same vein, you should not always expect to be immediately understood. Sometimes the communication gap needs to be bridged otherwise you might have the gist of the idea get lost in translation.
Always take the time to understand what is expected rather than simply moving forward believing you know, without doubt, those expectations.
Support needs to be encouraged and uplifted all the time. This should not be because they need it but more for letting them know they are doing a great job and offering that recognition of their efforts.
Everyone likes to know they doing well, or maybe not so well, and making efforts to let them know is a vital part of them being successful.
For those team members doing well it’s mostly a nice-to-do and for those struggling it’s an opportunity to interact and assist.
Always temper encouragement and recognition with the appropriate context of the situation making subtle adjustments to let everyone know they have support internally and an open door to walk through for help… or maybe just an attentive listening board.
Never give up! It’s a rather simple philosophy to consider and follow. If you have a goal you want to reach you simply must keep trying to reach it. Now, obviously, this does not mean you will reach it because it’s your goal only that you must focus on getting to it.
Sometimes goals are really easy and sometimes goals are near impossible although no matter the case it is still a goal and something to focus on.
Do you want to help people? Make the effort to learn what they need help with and share that knowledge to provide the assistance they need.
Do you want to write something? A book? A play? A piece of software? Put pen to paper, as they say, and start writing.
One of the biggest challenges of achieving one’s goals is not so much in setting ones that can be met (it’s often time better to set goals just beyond that point), it’s the whole point of getting started! If you never take that first step you will never finish the trip.
The greatest journey’s in life all begin with its first step … and sometimes that first step might not be the right direction although that’s OK, there’s nothing to say you cannot change directions mid-course. Just focus on the goals you have set and keep looking forward to achieving them. Follow the paths that will lead you to there and don’t worry if those paths are not the one everyone else has taken.
We are all individuals and each in their own right has to follow the best path for themselves.
… and just like customers are all individuals, sometimes you may have to lead them down a different path for them to see the same answers others have found already.
Life opens up opportunities to you, and you either take them or you stay afraid of taking them.Jim Carrey
There may be times when a door appears to have closed in front of you and perhaps that opportunity has passed you by? Have you ever considered that the door is only closed, it’s not locked.
Opportunity may have knocked on your door and you did not answer although there is nothing to say you cannot walk up to opportunity’s door and knock on it yourself.
If you are not willing to take that chance, be bold, step up, then you may be missing those opportunities in your life that will change it forever.
Sometimes you may have to make those opportunities for yourself and other times they will be just there for you to seize upon but no matter the case you still have to not be afraid of taking that chance and adventuring out into the unknown.
Find that opportunity to grow, to share, to learn!
Also keep in mind, when looking or finding these opportunities, do you want to look back and ask yourself… what if?
Service and support should not just be for front-facing interactions with customers it must also be for those that provide this front-facing communication.
It is vitally important to take the time and spend the energy to care for your own team’s needs and requirements which in turn will allow them to continue and improve in how they provide the service and support your customer deserves and needs.
On-boarding and training are not just some catchwords to bandy about the office space. The company must focus on actually providing an on-boarding process and ensuring training is at least at a minimum standard for the support team member to understand what they do not know.
Knowing what you don’t know is a great starting point to improvement and although you will never truly know what you don’t know it will become less over time as you continue to provide and receive the appropriate training to do the job well.
This is not necessarily something only in the purview of customer care teams it can happen in any role although some of the most common places to find this are in support focused roles.
Also to note, most providers of customer care and support need to know that it is OK not to have the answer immediately. They also need to know where best to look for the answer as the case may be.
On-boarding is often one of the best cornerstones when it comes to providing a basis to finding answers and it often leads to pointing out potential gaps in a company’s internal support systems as well as external support services.
Ongoing training will fill these gaps and in so doing so can only improve the company, its support team, its product offering … and ultimately its customer’s approval rating.
Support is a lynchpin to greatness in moving a company forward. The team that provides it should be recognized and offered any and all assistance to continually improve and strive for more.