Turn customer support agents into customer support heroes

Every company aims to build software that is elegant, simple, and easy to use. But with technology, something unexpected will inevitably ship to production: a minor bug, to a major issue, an uncovered edge case that became highly discoverable. While these moments are rare, when they do occur, a company’s first line of defense is their customer-facing support team.

PlanGrid’s support team is a top-notch, award-winning department. They’re a customer’s first outlet when they hit an issue, but they also gather this feedback from customers and turn it into actionable insights for the R&D team. Additionally, it’s important for support to have empathy for customers and respond in a timely manner. A great support experience for customers can lead to good reviews, too.

Designing and developing products alongside customer support heroes makes a business better. It’s one thing to have a good product, but great support is key in providing a high-quality user experience — especially for newer companies.

During the development process, it’s important to ask yourself:

Are error messages easy to understand?

User-facing error messages should be informative. Some users are unfamiliar with technology, so support needs to be able to easily assist them. Clear and concise error messages will help support resolve issues faster.

Generic Application Error

Is support prepared to handle user questions?

Companies should make it easy for users to contact support, but mapping out the workflow after the user reaches out is important. Key questions to ask include: are you directing the user to contact support because of a displayed error message? Does support have the ability to troubleshoot such an error? Are users reaching out to obtain general information about how a feature works?

PlanGrid synchronization error in the Android app

Can support make use of logs?

Typically, companies capture actions and errors into third-party logging systems, and it’s important that these logs are readable by non-programmers. Even if companies don’t expose detailed error messaging or event logs to their users, these entries should be able to be used by the support team — including logs of items that have been deleted or renamed.

Does support have the tools they need?

Competition for engineering resources can make this a difficult goal, but some of the most valuable tools support teams have are built in-house. This helps with password resets, project recovery, license management, and so much more, all inside an administration tool — built from the ground up — that pulls data from a company’s apps. The key here is to avoid setting it and forgetting it; new products and features are built for users, so new tooling for those functions should be built for support teams, too.

Bonus: “Try again” doesn’t cut it.

Sometimes error messages tell users to “please try again,” but there are circumstances where this simply does not work. Users who follow these instructions and try again in earnest often become more frustrated, and they inevitably will reach out to support anyway. To set up your support team for success, consider ditching the “try again” messaging.

A well-armed support team leads to faster resolutions and happier users. How do you ensure your support team is successful? What kinds of tools have you built to help your customer support agents become customer support heroes? Tell us in the comments!