Customer Support Course: Day 2 of 4 - Replying to tickets

Day 2 of 4 - Replying to tickets

Welcome to Chapter 2 or our customer support course! It's time for some actionable stuff.

1. Response speed is crucial

As we pointed out in our previous email, users have pretty low expectations about customer support so it is easy to surprise them. The simplest way to do that is to respond fast. Customers do not expect you to reply to an email within minutes... Seriously, that's the easiest way to get a free “wow” from a customer. The faster you reply the better. From our experience, if you reply within the first 30 minutes, you will likely impress the customer. No need to solve the problem right away, a basic acknowledgement along with a simple 'sorry, we're looking into this' does magic.

2. Doing support part time? Set up a schedule

If you're wearing the customer support hat part-time - don't let a customer email interrupt you. Do not give the impression that you are answering a customer's email while shifting your eyes from something else.

Instead, set aside a time of day (two times maybe) devoted to customer support only. This will benefit both you and your customer, big time. More info about handling support on a tough schedule in our blog posts Support by founders and 4 Time-saving tips for your Help Desk.

3. Your first reply is VERY important

Your first reply should be fast and friendly. You're making your first impression on a customer. So go through the “new” tickets and emails first.

Once again: even if you have no clue what's wrong with that particular case - respond fast with a simple “we're looking into this, getting back to your shortly”. Don't wait for the problem to be actually solved if it takes long.

4. Email hints

All email apps have some kind of categorizing features built-in. Sometimes called “tags”. Or “labels” - in Gmail. Use that to categorize and prioritize support/request/inquiry emails. Set up rules (“filters” in Gmail) that will do that automatically for you.

Here are some priority hints:

  • Critical: Something broken
  • High: Need help, billing issues
  • Normal: How does it work, does it do X?
  • Low: Feature requests (which you do need to reply to)

We have more tips in this article: How to prioritize your support queue

5. Tools

Obviously, using a helpdesk app is better than plain old email software, but if you're on a budget - even Gmail will do. A help desk app just allows better collaboration ('who's doing what'), easy categorizing and prioritizing and tracking previous customer activities.

Another great tool would be an “auto typing” program. If you're on a Mac - try Text Expander. If you're on a PC - have a look at our AutoText tool.

6. Always NUMBER your questions if there's more than one

Plain and simple - it you're asking multiple questions in your reply to a customer - make sure you have numbered your questions. Otherwise they will answer the last one only.

7. Use canned responses

Save yourself some time and create canned responses. Most of email software and helpdesk apps have this feature (including GMail). Example: “Yes, we do provide free version upgrades, you can download the latest version here” etc. No need to type that over and over.

See our blog post for more info: Speeding up your helpdesk by 50% with canned responses

8. Reply quickly to Tweets and Facebook posts

This is public space. So reply fast. Asking the customer to send you an email or create a support ticket at some point to move the conversation to the private space. And keep your replies light and friendly even if you think someone's baiting you.

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