1. Customer Service, Get Some!

    As a web services company, one of the most difficult aspects of our business is support and customer service.

    There is often a huge disconnect between support staff and the customer and their expectations for each other’s roles in the conversation are murky at best. The customer often has the idea that the problems with their service are simple enough that we can just flip a switch, and boom, it’s solved. The support staff – who has access to day-to-day experience, and reference resources – expect the customer to provide information that is beyond their capability.

    Fact of the matter is, you can’t solve that problem. These are human traits. However, if you can keep your support staff from becoming upset, resenting the customer, and instead, presenting an always helpful, attitude you can turn a problem into a long term fan of your company and it’s services. That’s my thinking anyways.

    Fundamental fact: Customer support is a horrible job.

    If you’ve ever worked in a technical support role you can probably share horror stories about the job. Your attitude is that the customers sucked, you got yelled at, and your boss was never happy with you. The fundamental problem is that companies treat their support staff like crap. It’s typically a low paying job, no benefits, and little respect is given to the support staff by the internal team.

    What are the repercussions?

    Here’s a quick question. Who interacts more with your customer over the years of a business relationship? The executives, or the support staff? Your support staff, hands down. After the projects are complete, the people that represent the public face of your company is your support staff.

    If you place a low value on your support department, you will see two types of repercussions typically:

    Unhappy employees – who underperform: These people are treated like shit on a daily basis. Unhappy customers call in, every situation is an emergency, and the first person to get blamed for mistakes in your service are the very people who are trying to resolve the problem — your support staff. I posit that a human being cannot be subjected to this type of treatment on a day-in-day-out basis, receive little compensation and be expected to deliver quality results.

    Unhappy customers: When your support staff is unhappy with their job, they will always be less interested in helping the customer. The end result is that though your customer’s problem is resolved, they are not going to be walking away from a good experience. They are going to have a less than favorable view of your company from then on.

    Change your attitude!

    In the coming years, businesses on the web will see closer competition as technology becomes more prevelent and accessible. The winners of this race will be the companies that provide the best customer service.

    • Every customer that walks away from your company with a bad customer support experience is one less fan, one less referral, one less future project for your company.
    • You have to view customer service as your sales department. These are the people that provide 90% of the face-time with your customers.
    • You have to make your company a culture of customer service, where everyone from the CEO to the intern are not above providing great support to a customer.
    • Customer service is not an optional add-on, it should be the #1 selling point for your company.

    What are we doing?

    Over the next month or two, Avelient is going to begin hiring new customer support staff, and developing a Customer Service manifesto.

    Our focus will be on creating rockstars of support. A team of people that wants to show up every-day to work, and is actually someone you’d like to talk to.

    Our customer service team will be apart of our sales team. We will focus on not only fixing a customer’s problem, but turning them into our biggest fans, and introducing them to new services (free or otherwise) that may actually be of some benefit to their business — not just a sales line item.

    We’re looking forward to pushing forward with this mentality!

    Food for thought: Gary V on Customer Service