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24/7 Support Ain't Worth Dying For

by Vlad Gurinenko · Updated Apr 4 2019

Don't spend your days and nights at the office – in the end, it’s not as productive as it seems but is costly in terms of the health toll and loss of efficiency. Let your customers find the helping hand at the end of their own sleeve, and intervene only when they can't figure it out on their own.

Important note

Don't get me wrong – we do love our customers, for real. We care about them, and do our best to quickly lend them a hand when they need our help. And yet we do realize that working 20 hours a day to see an empty inbox is a one-way dead-end street.

First, the goal is hardly achievable – you know how a few customers being bored can tease you to play email ping-pong, and that can suck half a day out of your life.

Second, the extra hours at the office don’t contribute neither to your health, nor to your efficiency. After a while, you can easily become irritable, start losing focus in conversations, etc. It's a good way to drop efficiency and gain insomnia or other psychological disorders.

So, equip your customers and let them help themselves and each other before they decide to escalate the issue to your support team.

Here is a sketch of a roadmap to that.

Make a plan

Look around. Precisely, at your weekly and daily ticket counts. Tickets don't come evenly or randomly; the variation of the count usually follows some pattern.

There are days of week and hours of day when the counter hits the maximum, and you have to be at your helpdesk to prevent possible traffic jam. Other times, there are zero to a couple of tickets an hour, and you can quickly handle them, even on the go, and be free until the next wave of tickets hits the shore of your helpdesk. And usually the same thing happens the same day and around the same hour on a regular basis, so you can plan ahead when to spend more time on the tickets, and when to take care of something else.

Do your homework

There is stuff you can do to have the issues handled before they become tickets.

Create knowledge base. Develop the knowledge base of solutions for typical users’ issues. As you cover popular topics with helpful how-to articles, you allow your customers to find the solutions themselves and sort of “prevent” them from submitting their (already resolved!) issues to the support (again).

When there is an answer in the knowledge base, even if a customer does submit a new ticket, the support agent can reply to that ticket much quicker than if the answer was to be recalled and  typed from scratch.

Analyze weekly traffic. It’s very helpful to do a weekly analysis of all the issues that you have handled during the week. That gives you hints on new articles to be added to the knowledge base and new experience worth sharing in the blog. Both naturally contribute to your customers’ self-service portal.

Automate. Set up automation rules for classifying tickets based on product, location, priority, and other parameters. When you see a neatly sorted list of tickets, you won’t waste your time on thinking what to do first.

Hint! Don’t be shy of using automated replies – they aren’t as bad as are often preached to be; many messaging tools now have a great deal of personalization options, so with some creativity you can make up some really friendly and helpful messages. Another hint: don’t forget to include the link to your knowledge base or to specific articles related to the keywords that trigger the reply – draw your users to their self-service portal.

Mobilize yourself

Having all the routine stuff sorted out, grab the mobile application (or even a mobile browser) and take care of the remaining tickets quickly and from somewhere else, e.g. while riding a bus to and from the office. By the way, that gives you an extra couple of hours when you could handle requests from customers in the neighbor time zones. And probably some extra cash for getting the job done. :)

The mobile platform has some great features that the desktop app doesn’t have. For instance, instead of typing you can speak the reply to a microphone, and the smartphone will convert your speech into a text. Or, just as in the web app, you can insert prepared answers from canned responses or knowledge base to the editor.

You may want to take some documents with you – quotes, agreements, etc. Upload them to your smartphone or to a cloud beforehand, to be fully equipped and prepared when you are on the road.

Let customers help each other

Leverage online support groups – forums, discussion boards or whatever else they are called – to gather users around your applications and services, have them jointly look for solutions and help each other on various issues. Add your motivational posts to the forum on a regular basis. With time, a forum with questions and answers grows into another knowledge base further unloading your support desk and a community of fans promoting your solutions.

To wrap it up

Thou shalt love thy customer as thyself. :) Notice the portion about “yourself”, not just about “customer”. Don’t lay down your life for your customers, don’t leave them orphans.

Do your homework, share your knowledge, provide hints, plan your loads, become mobile.

In the end, you will have happy customers with their problems solved, new friends made, and your time freed at literally no cost and with little effort on your end.