help desk support success

Tackling the more technical side of customer service can be tricky at times. When customers need a more specific solution to a tech challenge, there’s value in knowing how to resolve the problem in the fastest, most effective way. While many of the same core principles of customer service apply, help desk and tech support often require a more specialized touch to master.

It’s worth noting that many companies roll the help desk and tech support roles together. In general, however, help desk is most frequently considered the first line of defense for handling initial customer contact and more easily remedied tech issues, while tech support is the more specialized second tier that tougher problems get escalated to for resolutions that require deeper expertise.

A customer support ticket that comes in through phone, email, or any other channel your team uses will most often hit the help desk, where an agent will work to resolve the issue or gauge whether it needs to be escalated higher up the knowledge ladder. If it’s a simple solution—for example, if a customer purchased a product that’s missing a key component and they’d like a replacement part it’ll get resolved at the help desk level.

If a customer is experiencing more in-depth problems with a product that help desk doesn’t have a workable solution for, however, their inquiry would be bumped up to tech support. For example, if a device is acting unusual and normal steps to reboot or reset the device aren’t working, an agent with more intimate technical knowhow on the product can help tackle the problem.

Depending on your company, your products, and your team makeup, help desk and tech support might be either consolidated into one role or broken down further into a larger number of tiers or departments for each role or product line.

Whatever your approach, here’s a selection of top tips to help boost the techie side of your customer support team.

1) Identify and evaluate the problem level

Customer issues of a more technical nature can run the gamut in terms of complexity and ease of resolution, which is why it’s important to pinpoint the problem immediately and quickly evaluate whether it’s something that can potentially be solved with a simple fix. On one end of the spectrum, a customer might simply need instructions on how to recover a lost password or directions to return a defective product for replacement. On the upper end, they might need to troubleshoot an unexpected device failure or report a software-halting glitch they’ve encountered that’s never been seen before.

Directing customers to helpful resources—like video tutorials, step-by-step instructions, and user forums—that provide immediate answers to common tech problems can be a great way to speed things along. However, it’s also useful to identify more complex issues early on so they can be routed to team members with the proper expertise to solve them.

2) Gauge the customer’s technical level

Using intuition and clues from the conversation or correspondence, it’s helpful to try to identify the customer’s level of tech savviness in order to determine the best way to help them. For some customers, something that might seem like a simple fix could be a lot more complicated if they’re not technically inclined. Conversely, a customer with a greater level of technical knowhow may interact more fluidly and get the solution they need from speaking with an agent that has more specialized expertise on the matter.

Cable and Wi-Fi connectivity problems are a common example. A tech-savvy customer might figure out a fix quickly with access to your company’s knowledge base, while other casual users might be flustered over the thought of even hunting around for the reset button.

Figuring out a customer’s level of technical expertise makes it easier to point your team’s response in the right direction.

3) Check for previous support tickets

It’s not uncommon for many customers who experience technical issues to encounter some of the same problems—or even related ones—more than once. Looking up any prior support tickets logged for a particular customer can give helpful clues that may help speed the process along, which is a good thing for everyone involved. Previous tickets may have notes that let you direct customers to a better solution or fast-track them to the right department to better solve their issues.

4) Take detailed, useful ticket notes on every interaction

Agents don’t have to write a book on every customer, but keeping detailed notes that shine light onto the problem, their unique situation, the proposed solution, and the end result can be invaluable—both for tracking common issues and for helping customers who reach out repeatedly with similar issues. Customer service software solutions like Zendesk, Salesforce, and Desk can make the process of tracking tickets and keeping good customer data organized much easier.

5) Direct customers to self-service solutions like Q&A, forums, and video

Cultivating a variety of self-service options that provide solutions to common problems can be a powerful way to cut down on the time spent on individual support tickets. Since many customers prefer to find an answer on their own, directing them to the right resources can save everyone time and energy.

The value here is in creating the best resources possible for the most common issues raised by customers, then offering several different formats for a la carte self-service troubleshooting. Some customers may respond best to a guided video walkthrough. Others may respond better to Q&A text or a searchable customer forum. Give them options to explore, and leave the door open for further direct assistance if needed.

6) Keep solutions clear and easy to understand

Any solutions you offer to customers, especially if they are pre-created, should be as clear to follow as possible. Avoid getting too technical, keep things short, and whenever it makes sense to do so, take customers through the solution step-by-step. It’s also wise to gather feedback on the quality of any problem-solving materials you create, so you can continue to fine-tune them to best suit customers’ needs and technical ability levels.

7) Make it easy for customers to follow up

Nobody likes getting what seems to be a good solution to their problem only to find that it doesn’t actually solve it—after they’ve already hung up or waited hours for an email response. This can be particularly frustrating, spurring some customers to give up entirely and remain unsatisfied with your company’s product or service. To avoid this, make sure customers are given a quick way to follow up if their issue persists and requires further assistance, whether that’s a direct phone line to the agent who helped them initially or an email address. This pairs well with assurances that their further support requests will be fast-tracked if needed.

8) Be prepared to escalate tougher support requests

Agents who serve as the first point of contact for tech-centric customer support inquiries should become experts at gauging the difficulty level of a request, so they can be prepared to escalate the support ticket to the appropriate team members with the right expertise and skill to troubleshoot more involved customer challenges.

Successful help desk and tech support is all about tackling challenges as they come and finding ways to make life easier for customers while solving their high-tech troubles in a hurry. Paired with different support options and the right approach from your team, these tips will help ease some of the strain that can come from juggling tech snafus and other challenges that might arise.

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