Have you tried turning it off and on again? No one phrase has ever been the pure characterization of tech support as this one. Just hearing these words from the other end of the line, when attempting to work with the technician in order to solve your current crisis, can cause blood to instantly boil. Of course you’ve done that, along with several other basic troubleshooting steps, this isn’t your first rodeo after all.
One of the easiest things to spot when conversing with techs is when they are reading from a script. Not every issue is cut and dry and your specific concern should be honed directly toward you, not necessarily what’s listed on page 42 of the company’s operation manual. As obvious as it may seem a core aspect of support is to know your product. Not just from an overview level, but the more intricate facets as well, knowing how different features and solutions interact with each other and what is going to work best for that particular user’s situation. Having been on both sides of the ticket myself, there are some support essentials that I have been fortunate enough throughout my years here at CCBill to assist in implementing and fine tune to help improve the overall merchant experience.
Help when and how you need it.
The days of standard support hours, Monday through Friday 9-5, no longer exists in this always-online, always-moving, globally-connected world we live in today. A merchant’s consumers are looking for that instant gratification, making it critical that support be available at a moment’s notice.
With that, it’s important to know that when you are working on a new project, or getting ready to launch a new promotional offer, that help is there should you find yourself stuck against a wall. The concept of 24/7 support is no longer a luxury as it once was, but rather a necessity, especially in this consumer-driven industry.
Not only when, but how you are available to your users is equally as important. An email ticketing system may still be considered the standard, but as users begin to further expand out into different social mediums so should your support options.
Chat-based programs are an excellent “I need to speak to someone about this now without having to wait for an email reply” platform. Of course, for the times when you would rather speak with support directly, there is always the tried and true telephone option.
Empowering the user.
Sometimes, whether it is restrictions due to time or the simplicity of an issue, users would rather not have to contact support. People are becoming more technically savvy every day; they want to do more things on their own, figure things out for themselves, and save contacting support as a last resort. Tools are needed in these instances to make the end users more self-sufficient and not have to wait for an answer on things they would rather take care of themselves.
Enhancing the merchant experience can be accomplished in several different ways, some of which include making documents and product manuals publicly available in a centralized support center location.
Having a help index as well as a knowledge base geared toward standard “How to” and FAQs empowers the user with a very powerful resource. CCBill Support tracks common questions that are asked by our merchants and affiliates, and whenever applicable we will add them to our online knowledge base. It’s an ever growing tool, and one that we are always looking to build upon.
Having the right tool for the job.
A great support organization functions as a team, and in order to offer the best possible merchant experience, it is just as important to make sure your support staff has the tools needed to succeed. An internal support wiki serves as an excellent repository for common occurrences as well as storing detailed information on product functionality.
Many organizations look at training as a prelude to being released into a live support environment; however, equally as important is refresher training on an ongoing basis. By performing daily quality assurance checks on your support staff and following that up with one-on-one micro training sessions, you soon find that you’re working with a confident and knowledgeable staff that is capable of resolving any issue that comes their way. Here at CCBill, we foster these processes to create an environment that is both proficient and collaborative.
Communication is key.
This primary factor is what separates good support from great support. Help requests more often than not involve frustrated users, however, it is that ability to not only be able to understand their needs but also to empathize as well, which can turn a call circling the drain into a loyal customer for life. It starts by simply listening to the users. Once you are able to determine where their frustrations stem from, it allows the technician to properly articulate a response that meets what the user is looking to accomplish. A good rapport with users is only half of what makes successful communication so important, internal communication amongst teams is just as essential.
Our client support team works alongside additional support teams such as consumer support and client Risk to provide a comprehensive merchant and consumer experience. Each of these departments, as well as members of our sales organization, work very closely together and consistently generate feedback to ensure we can provide our sponsored merchants recommended best practices and guidelines to enhance the overall consumer experience.
A personal touch.
Always know your audience. While the product itself might be similar, the specific needs of one user will not always be the same as another. One recent change over the past couple of years that has been met with much success has been employing focused support teams within client support. We have always made efforts to help out new clients however we can, and now we’ve expanded upon that by offering new merchants full boarding support through our implementations team.
Understanding everything you may need in order to get up and running correctly and start down the path to success can be quite a challenge for new users. The implementations team was developed in order to look at each account individually based on business model, and assist in providing support and recommendations on tools and features that would be beneficial to that merchant.
This may not be the most common approach to take, but it is one in which we have taken a concerted effort to implement. Additionally, it helps to establish open communication right from the beginning, creating a friendlier, almost family-like environment where any of our teams can readily provide assistance.
Satisfaction is everything.
Today, great service is the norm rather than the exception, and as such is expected by the user. One of the best ways to learn about what you are currently doing well along with where you could use some improvement is through satisfaction surveys. Remember, the goal here is to receive this feedback, so avoid providing the users with something so overbearing that they don’t even bother taking it. Keep it simple; give the users the opportunity to express their concerns or compliments, and make improvements where you can based on your results. These can also work as an excellent source for training material to go along with the refresher training that was previously mentioned.
To use a personal example regarding this topic, before our Support Department restructure, we started looking very heavily at our merchants’ needs and frustrations by using these simple surveys. Today, our satisfaction scores pertaining to our Support Teams are the highest they have been. And we got there through the collaborative work place we now enjoy. Was it always an easy process? No. But to really provide the support today’s consumers demand, it was and is necessary.
So what’s on the horizon?
Consumer behavior is changing all the time and just as merchants are always looking to predict what the next big trend is going to be, support too must stay flexible to these changes in order to not only meet but exceed expectations. What was working great just five years ago may no longer be the preferred method for consumers to obtain support. And that is something we have definitely seen throughout our history. It’s all about the experience and to continue to make that experience as simple and frustration free as possible.
A number of our merchants have remained with us for 14 years, and the average tenure of a CCBill staff member is at least seven years. And there is good reason for that. Those numbers reinforce the dedication everyone in the CCBill family has to providing the best service, and support, to our merchants, affiliates, and their consumers. As we like to say around here, “If it matters to you, it matters to us.”
James Anderson, CCBill’s manager of client support, has been with CCBill for nine years. He carries more than 12 years of experience in the field of support and client relations.