Some time ago, a colleague of mine coined a phrase: “All technical problems have an imaginary part and a real part”; comparing the technical support to a complex variable.

He actually got a point, there actually is a “real” part and an “imaginary” part on each problem a customer have. The “real” part is the actual problem, which the customer may or may not be aware of, the “imaginary” is perception, it is What the customer thinks the problem is.

Now, here comes the tricky part: the support executive also have a perception by itself, they interprete the customer’s report, their “real” problem, and the “imaginary” scenario as they assess the request and develop a solution.

The job of a technical support team is to minimise the perception of problems in a service or product, while solving and preventing “real” problems. Sometimes, even if the service works as expected and the support is effective, a miscommunication with your client will give a bad perception that goes in detriment of your product. Not everything is bolts, nuts, wires and code, you also have to maintain expectation.

Some tips to avoid missing and increasing the “imaginary” part of a ticket:

  1. When opening a service request, always document what the customer is actually reporting, in their own words. That will give a hint of what does the customer is experiencing.
  2. Also include an interpretation of the support executive, to have a first clue of what the “real” problem is.
  3. Give feedback to your customer as soon as possible. That will comfort them knowing that you have acknowledge the problem and that you have actually started to work in the issue.
  4. Keep in touch with the customer to ensure that you are fulfilling their requirements, some times you will detect problems related to the original report, that are not the actual issue experience by the customer.
  5. As my grandma used to said, “always listen before talking”. Read, hear and understand your customer’s request before give back any answer.
  6. Get feedback after closing the case, take metrics and maintain statistics to keep an eye on recurring issues, that’s invaluable info when you are improving processes and services.
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