Note: This is Part Two in a two-part series on customer support, and one of many in our Field Guide series. Read Part One here.

Support is so important that it took two whole blog posts to cover. In this post, we see even more great advice, tricks, and tools for staying enthused and avoiding burnout as a customer support professional from the pros.

image00Yong Lee @ SuperRewards

We handle support via multiple communication channels, so ensuring every customer is attended to can be a challenge. We employ strong prioritization guidelines internally and train each customer support rep to operate a daily routine that doesn’t let anything slip by us.

A strong CRM tool with robust ticketing has always been our core tool requirement. We’re using Zendesk and build our routine around it’s workflows.

Our three tenants for the support team are adaptability, a problem-solving bias, and unusually great listening skills. Those three things have allowed each new member to jump in and contribute right away, as well as handle the heavy volume they’re expected to face every single day.

The most surprising elements of support are typically the spots where users get held up in ways you never imagined were possible. Sometimes your preconceptions of how a product works are so ingrained that you have a hard time even understanding basic problems from the customer’s perspective. It takes a lot of empathy to be great at support.

Never take anything personally, ever. Put on thick skin and focus on the problem right in front of you every day, while weeding out all the unnecessary context. Rinse, repeat, and then kill them with kindness.

image02Ally Greer @ ScoopIt

The biggest challenge I’ve faced as a customer support professional is the ability to disconnect myself from the job. Over the last three years of handling customer support at a growing tech company, I’ve heard some pretty interesting (and even creative) things that I’ve had brush off to focus on the issue at hand. A great way to overcome this is to think about how you feel when reaching out to customer support people and remember that there’s a person on the other side of that. That’s how I always increase my patience level.

We all take good customer support for granted. It’s hard to remember sometimes that in order to get a quick and correct answer, someone has to do a lot of work behind the scenes, and now, you’re that person.

Some of the best qualities of effective customer support professionals are patience, willingness to learn, ability to speak in a consistent voice, dedication to getting things solved rather than just getting issues closed, ability to spot potential opportunities in seemingly basic requests, and motivation to keep going even when it’s not fully inspiring or exciting.

My go-to tools are UserVoice for helpdesk and knowledge base, and SparkCentral for social. I love the HelpScout resource center for support professionals too.

vincentVincent Le Hénaff @ Mention

The biggest challenge a support professional faces is to make the interaction with our customers lively and enjoyable. Providing answers like a machine doesn’t make you a good “customer happiness expert”. Solving a problem is essential, but you also have to leave your customer happy about the interaction.

My favorite tool is Intercom for friendly interactions with our customers. I use Uservoice for developing a solid knowledge base and for analyzing our support performance via their statistic tool.

Handling support implies that you have to be rigorous, patient, and user-friendly for each support ticket you receive in order to solve the issue, but also to make sure that your customer is having a nice experience.

My one piece of advice is to give short and simple answers, go straight to the point. Be efficient, but don’t forget to be human in your communications either.

image03Caty Kobe @ FeverBee

In the past, my biggest challenge was time and resource management. Not having enough people to cover all of the issues, or the complexity of issues that were coming in.

To overcome these issues, I worked hard to build strong relationships cross-functionally, and leverage the support of my team members in other departments. I worked with our product and engineering leaders to identify who on their team could help me with complex issues, and we set up some baseline SLAs working under the assumption that I wouldn’t abuse the agreement (I didn’t).

When the complex issues would come in, I knew exactly who to reach out to for help and how long it would take for me to hear back. Not only was I getting the support that I needed to resolve things quickly, but the agreement in place helped me to immediately set the proper expectations with the customer.

A ticketing system that is tied into a CRM should be the number one tool for any support professional. It’s so SO important to understand the customer’s history when you’re working with them. You would treat a customer differently if you knew this is the third ticket that they’ve submitted about the problem than you would if it were the first time.

An easy to navigate public knowledge base or customer community is also essential. Having searchable, public-facing documentation can reduce a lot of inbound questions on its own, but its also handy to have the links available for the most frequently asked questions. This will save you a lot of time in writing email responses!

RescueTime is a useful tool if you feel like you are easily sidetracked. It’s a free app for the desktop that monitors where you spend your time throughout the day. That way, you can make adjustments as necessary.

Empathy, the determination and urgency to resolve cases quickly and effectively, and the right attitude are the essential qualities for a support pro. Customer support agents should never come across like they’re above the job that they’re doing. They are the face of the company and repair relationships that have been damaged due to a faulty product or service. It is imperative that they carry the voice across regardless of how often they’ve solved the problem in the past.

Do you have any tips or questions about becoming a customer support pro? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll be sure to get an answer for you!

Shannon Byrne is the Content & PR Manager at Mention where she crafts words, creates strategies, and recruits loyal advocates. She’s based in New York. Get in touch with her at @ShannnonB.

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