10 CommandementsI’ve commented before that support is the one side of the business I have trouble letting go of and letting others take full responsibility for. It’s just so important that we get it right as it’s essential to encouraging those taking our free trial to become paying customers and to keep existing customers happy (and therefore continue to recommend us).

Whilst we have a procedure document detailing how support requests should be dealt with, I thought it might also be useful to distill this into to 10 golden rules. I’m publishing them here so that customers and trialists know what they have the right to expect from the support team.

Perhaps if you’re starting a business where there’s an element of support then you could take and adapt these for your own uses too.

1) Be Responsive – Keep the Customer Informed

We’re well known for being very quick to answer support emails, whatever the time of day or day of the week. We need to keep it that way. If when you first look at a support request you can’t answer it right away -perhaps because you need to do some investigation or you need to speak to someone – let the customer know. It’s not ideal that you can’t give them a solution straight away, but at least they know they’re not being ignored.

2) Be Honest

Don’t try to fob off a customer. If they’ve found a bug or we’ve cocked up, acknowledge it and deal with it. Trying to pull the wool over their eyes wont work and breaks Rule #3.

3) Show Respect

Yes, we sometimes get asked what seem like a silly question. But if we’re not making the process intuitive enough or the solution easy enough to find, that’s our fault – not the customers. So don’t patronise customers.

Occasionally we might get someone be rude or hostile on a support ticket. Help them and they’ll calm down – and usually apologise.

4) Don’t Doubt What the Customer Tells You

I know that what the customer is saying has happened is technically impossible, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a problem. No one is going to send us a support ticket and lie for the sake of it. Don’t assume it’s a PEBCAK issue. Work with the customer to get to the root of the issue.

5) Answer ALL Questions

It’s so frustrating when you email a support desk with 3 questions and their reply answers 2 of the questions and totally ignores the 3rd.

Yes, we’re busy. But not taking the time to deal with things properly in the first place is going to make us even busier. Check and double check you’ve answered all questions asked of you before you send the reply.

6) Be Sure about the Question and the Answer

Don’t guess. If you don’t understand what you’re being asked then ask for clarification. An answer to a question they didn’t ask helps no one.

Don’t guess the answer either. If you’re not 100% sure that the information you’re giving is accurate then check with someone or test your solution.

7) Be Clear in your Response

If you’re telling someone they need to activate the laser guided missile function to resolve their problem, tell them HOW to activate it. It’s better to not assume anything and give a comprehensive answer than to be vague.

8) Keep Your Promises

If you tell a user you’ll let them know when a feature is available or that you’ll get back to them tomorrow after checking with someone – make damn sure you do it.

9) Be Human

Your mother didn’t give you the name “Support”, so don’t sign off as “Support”. Use your real name, be friendly and own the problem. People prefer to deal with real people rather than someone that sounds like a computer.

10) ?

I’m leaving 10 open for you, the reader, to suggest. Based on your experience of our support desk and other support systems, what really frustrates you? Use the comment form below to submit Rule #10.

I’ll update this post in a week or so with one of the suggestions

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