Your Call Is (Not) Very Important to Us
How to Add Real Value Beyond Lip Service in Client Care
By Katie Wilcox
When my husband and I moved about a year ago, I drew the short straw to switch over all our utility and service contracts to our new house. If you’ve ever had to go through this process before, you’re probably cringing inside. The process tends to go like this:
- Call generic customer service line and speak to a robot.
- Provide account numbers and request details. Confirm your answers and details.
- Sit on hold from 5 to 50 minutes to be transferred to some loosely relevant department.
- Speak to human who asks for your account numbers and what you are hoping to accomplish (didn’t I press the 4 key for a reason?).
- Find out you have been transferred to the wrong department and sit on hold while you are transferred again.
- Think you’ve finally made it when you speak to another human. Verify numbers again.
- Find out you don’t have all the information you need to make your request and that you will need to call back another time.
- Hang up.
- Throw phone across room while cursing.
I tend to put off these excruciating experiences until the last possible minute and then frequently have more than one call to make. I know from the moment I dial the phone that the process is not going to be easy, frustration will abound, and it will be a lucky break to actually get my issues solved.
We all probably have an arsenal of poor customer service experiences, but what does it look like to have actual, supportive assistance? Here are a few principles I follow in my support role at Onspring to ensure that I’m conveying “care” instead of “couldn’t care less”:
1. Listen and Understand
It can be extremely irritating to have a support rep assume they know what you need immediately and then rattle off a canned answer. Instead, I try to button my lips, let my client voice their issues, then ask clarifying questions. I also state the problem back to the client in my own words to be sure I’m getting the message. I find that restating the issue helps my clients rethink what they said to me, and I am rewarded with either more information or an affirmative that I’m on the right track.
2. Pick the Right Channel
Onspring clients have a variety of methods for getting the support they need, including phone, email, web chat, web conference and on-site discussions. There’s no “one-size-fits-all” for support. Some of our clients have very full schedules, and arranging a meeting is nearly impossible. In those cases, an email exchange with instructions and screenshots works best for them. On the flip side, some of our clients receive hundreds of emails every day, and a message from me will be lost in the melee. In that case, I try to grab a few minutes of their focus over the phone so I can answer their questions.
3. Be an Advisor
We’ve all heard the old adage, “The customer is always right.” However, you know your product inside and out, including the “best” or “surest” methods to accomplish certain goals. When it comes to the Onspring platform, my goal is not only to answer a specific question, but also to guide our clients toward long-term success. I keep these ideas in mind when helping clients adapt Onspring to their needs:
Is it sustainable? If the person who makes this change leaves the organization, will the next person be able to understand what’s going on and maintain it?
Is it simple? If we are building complex formula calculations across apps to generate the same number we can produce in a report, is it necessary to consume the system resources to run those formulas?
Is it painless? End users are more likely to uphold a process and less likely to look for ways to bypass it if using the system is intuitive and straightforward.
4. Track Response Times, Issues & Ideas
At Onspring, we use our own software to track incoming client support requests. From days open, to documentation of the question and resolution, to tagging specific system components, we log our support information meticulously. That way, we can ensure we are meeting our 24-hour response time goal, and frequently, our responses are within an hour or two. Every now and then, a support request is directly related to an enhancement idea that should live in our product roadmap or an issue with our system that needs to be addressed. We log those items too, so that our customers know their requests and concerns are a high priority to us.
These principles guide every facet of our company, not just the support function. It’s one of the main reasons clients continue to choose Onspring over some of the industry behemoths. They know they are not customer #42256. They are “Susan” or “Jerry.” They know we care about them as people just as much as we care about the workflow configuration that will help solve the challenges in their approval process. They know their calls are important because we answer promptly, listen closely and work to improve their experiences every day.
That’s what we do, but what are some of the ways you show clients you care?