If you’ve ever been in a customer service or support role, the title of this blog should be relatively familiar to you. In my 18 months on the Media Suite support team, this phrase has been a popular one with our users.
Here’s where I have to make a confession – I used to scoff (just a little) at some of these requests. Because they are usually issues we’ve looked at many times before. When you’re dealing with the same problems over and over again, the repetition kind of gets to you – especially when you know the applications well. Then one day, I had an epiphany. No user wants to have to contact the support desk. The vast majority are only doing so if they need to. Well, most of the time anyway.
With this in mind, it seems to me that our role is more than just quickly and professionally unblocking user issues. It’s also about doing it with empathy. Responding with empathy isn’t always easy. Sometimes, the call for help isn’t a polite one. Sometimes it’s desperately devoid of any useful information to make our jobs easier. However, it pays to bear in mind what the user may be dealing with at the other end of the line. Maybe it’s a terrible day at the office and they’re struggling. Perhaps if we look beyond the tone of the request, we can spot something that provides a real learning opportunity for us. Getting into that mindset isn’t easy, and is probably one of the main reasons people don’t like Support desks in the first place! We try to be different at Media Suite.
Because no application is perfect (not even ours!), there are bound to be issues we’ve missed during development and testing, or use-cases we didn’t know about. Therefore, every support request is an opportunity to get feedback on our applications, identify recurring themes, and use those to inform the decisions on future enhancements or direction of our applications.
Here at Media Suite, we don’t always stick to a traditional [Tier 1/2/3 support model], because our team’s capable of doing a combination of support tiers. This means we can reduce how often we need to escalate a support request within our team. It can be very frustrating for the user to be waiting for the next person up the food chain to solve their problem. Our support crew can deal with most issues themselves, only escalating when truly necessary.
When escalation occurs, it’s because we don’t know everything. Our aim is to be as factual and honest as we can, even if it’s not the answer/response the user is looking for.
We also have third party software to help us diagnose problems. Raygun is built into some of our applications, allowing us to be more proactive in troubleshooting issues reported by users. How does it work? A request comes in with minimal information about the issue, and we’ll have to tease more information out of the user in order to figure out what’s actually wrong. This can be time consuming, as emails are fired back and forth between the user and Support. With Raygun, we can retrieve some of this information, such as the browser type and version, page the error occurred on etc., without having to go back to the user. It’s a good starting point.
We also improve our support service by sharing knowledge within our team. Documenting solutions to common issues and FAQs shared among the team helps turn around support requests quicker, as well as allowing us to maintain consistency across our responses. That doesn’t mean we’ll all be copying and pasting templated replies – we like the personal touch! It’s more of a knowledge-sharing exercise.
Going forward, we plan to use these documents to build self-service portals or FAQ documentation for some of our applications. The idea is to empower our users to resolve common issues almost instantly themselves, instead of having to wait for the support team to respond.
This would reduce the time the team spends on responding to straightforward issues, and free us up to look at the more curly problems that require more investigation and quick solutions.
Empowering our users is a win-win for both parties. However, I will personally miss the “please help” emails!