Help Us Help You: What Customer Support Teams Wish You Knew

This post is the other side of our previous piece about how customer support teams can be there 100% and make the most of every interaction. Now, we’re looking at it from the customer’s perspective, because that’s where it counts.

The customer-company relationship is sacred and deserves a bit of nurturing from both sides. There is that moment when something more is needed for the customer to continue to feel satisfied with the product or experience, and that moment is very often when customer support steps in to save the day. But let’s give customers more credit because they’re resourceful and sometimes it’s a simple issue.

Be Prepared

Research your issue online. Often just typing in a description of what’s happening (or any error message you see), along with the product name, into Google search can bring you straight to a solution. Including the company’s name, or searching the company’s HelpDocs, can be surprisingly helpful. This will help you see if others have encountered this problem before and if there is an easy fix.

We use HelpDocs in Teamwork Desk to make sure our customers are informed. Learn from fellow customers’ experiences, challenges, and resolutions by seeing how they effectively overcame similar issues. You may even troubleshoot your way to resolution without needing to proceed to a support call.

Sometimes it really is as simple as turning it off, and turning it back on again.

Collect your information and have it handy. If you do not have the relevant paperwork or issue in front of you, you can’t make full use of the customer support interaction. Know any relevant customer identification number, order or account details, and if you’ve had a previous interaction with their support team on a related issue, look up the ticket number and agent’s name.

Check out the company on social media to see if they handle customer support queries online as well. If they do, see to what extent things are resolved, or how they advise customers to proceed. If they handle minor questions quickly on Twitter or Facebook, this could save you time. If the issue is complex, or benefits from explaining with screenshots, email is better.

Set aside time and a quiet place to take care of this. It’s worth it. Make sure your phone is charged and sit comfortably. Choose a time that overlaps with the customer support hours of operation. Keep in mind, regional or national companies may not have 24/7 customer support.

Be Positive

Approach the customer support interaction ready to communicate your issues or frustration, without anger or a preconceived notion of how they might respond. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Start with a sincere “hello” and go from there. Knowing that whatever the issue is wasn’t directly caused by the agent with whom you’re about to speak, be patient, explain calmly, and don’t skip on the details. Remember that you’re talking or emailing with a fellow human being and they are logical and compassionate, just like you!

Allow yourself to be receptive to ideas, even if you’ve tried it before. If you are asked if you’ve turned it off and back on again, do not be offended because sometimes the simplest solutions do work in some cases. It often takes ruling out the simple issues before moving on to figuring out the more complicated ones.

Don’t take it personally if the questions seem obvious to you, just keep in mind that the customer support agent isn’t sitting with you to experience the issue first-hand.

Remember to maintain as calm a voice as you can muster, acknowledge the agent and the help being offered, listen carefully and actively, keep a steady interest in the agent’s suggestions and ideas, avoid confronting the agent or making it personal, use neutral or positive language, convey the importance of solving this issue, and express appreciation for the agent’s time assisting you.

Though it seems like you’re doing a lot to make the agent feel at ease, you are also paving the way for the best possible outcome for yourself as well.

Be Clear

Speak clearly and use constructive language. Go over what happened and, if possible, share screenshots or photos of the issue. Explain what you’ve already done to try to resolve the issue if you researched the issue online or in their HelpDocs. If you got a result you didn’t expect, explain to the support team what you did expect and why. Mention if this is an isolated or first-time issue or recurring, as well as any issues or warning signs that preceded it. The more the agent knows, the better he or she may help find a resolution.

Take a chance and ask questions, even if they make you sound like you don’t know what you’re doing. Because there may be a workaround or shortcut you didn’t know about and you could learn a new approach for using the product.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to correct the agent if they’ve misunderstood the situation or issue. This interaction is about your specific and possibly unique problem, so make sure you’re communicating it accurately and completely.

Stick to the essentials related to your issue: there is no need to explain why you chose that product over another. This is about solving problems, not learning about past decisions. The exception is when the background includes information on how you bought the camera for underwater shots because you’re a diver, in which case how you use the product is directly relevant in case you dove a meter too deep for the camera’s casing to handle.

Takeaway

If you’re a customer, as we all are at one time or another, or if you’re on the other side of the call at the support agent desk, there is never harm in being prepared, being positive, and being clear.

What would you add to this?