In this series on customer care as seen through the eyes of someone who’s done support but is a frequent consumer of support as well, I’m leaving out the names of the service providers discussed. It shouldn’t be hard to figure out who I’m talking about in some cases.
When an app-hosting service recently changed their pricing model, as a way to get customers acclimatized, they started sending out notifications about the usage on the formerly-free tier. I noticed that the way I was using the service (an always-on Node.js app that wasn’t web-accessible) wasn't covered, so I sent in a note about it. It was not a complaint, but rather a suggestion to account for my not-uncommon way of using the service. Their replies were staggeringly quick, and they decided right away to accept my suggestion, and they wrote a paragraph on the spot, ran it by me, and included it that day in future notifications. It might have been just that it was a slow day on a Friday afternoon, but you can still colour me impressed.
They use a ticketing system, with a web interface, and replies are possible via email. As a customer, I had the ability to close a ticket myself, and re-open it myself. They didn't close the ticket immediately when they felt the issue was resolved, waiting for me to confirm.
Relatedly, But Not About Company A
I’ve had a cloud service close a ticket on me unannounced after they assumed something was resolved (as far as I was concerned). It was resolved, but a service provider cannot assume a support ticket is closed until they are 100% sure the customer considers the issue closed. If enough time passes (a week, or maybe a couple of days, is probably enough time in fast-moving environments), you can say “We haven't heard from you, so we’ll close this, but please reply or re-open if this is still an issue.” You absolutely cannot just close a ticket without mentioning why you're closing the ticket like they did.
Lessons for technical support teams:
- Quick response times. Even if it’s a “We’re looking into it” response from a person, not a robot, that goes a long way towards easing anxiety on the customer end.
- It was nice to think that the support agent had some decision-making authority (on this, a small concern).
- They used a ticketing system, so if I as a customer had to pass a URL to someone (a client, or as a cross-reference in my own ticketing system), I could paste that in (rather than copy & paste an email thread).
- Sometimes it makes sense to run a small change by the person requesting it.
- Close tickets only after you're 100% certain the issue is closed (or enough time passes). Say why you’re closing the ticket.
In the next episode of Customer Care Experiences From the Other Side, I will write about hands-on support I’ve received, the good and the bad. Spoiler: ask first!
Originally posted on LinkedIn Pulse.