Golden Rules of Good Support (Part 3)

This post breaks away from the direct Helpdesk comments I’ve posted previously to highlight an example of some excellent and unexpected good service I’d like to highlight. Most of my support life is built around desktop and server/infrastructure support, and I’ve been getting more heavily involved with web server/sites and services recently and been bring my experience to bear on what makes great experience for desktop support to web support- you might think there’s a lot of overlap here, but actually it’s a whole different kettle of fish- when something’s broken on a site, user’s generally don’t complain- they just stop being your users (at least for a time being, but, all too often you’ve lost that person for good, especially if you’re new/haven’t built a loyal fanbase yet)- so you’ve only got one chance to impress. But we all know things go wrong- web servers under perform and upgrades break obscure features which your users need- so how do you save the day?

Here’s where my example of excellent service kicks in – I was trying to make a purchase on AppSumo the other day- and I miss keyed my card details (sloppy, I know!). I corrected my details and placed my order- but later that day I got a quick mail saying that they saw I’d had an issue and was everything ok and did I need any help. I was actually touched by this- I don’t think I’d ever received an email about an error filling in a form before – and when I replied saying it was a typo and I managed to order ok in the end I got a human reply again joking about the issue. Suddenly the “human element” of the support equation shone through- even though I hadn’t had to call up support and raise an issue.

Now I can imagine the back end workflow- an alert comes through on a failed payment form submission and someone one fires off a quick email- a simple template would be more than enough in this case- but suddenly you’ve started communications with a potential customer or an existing one. And that’s the important thing to recognise about support for a web service- communicate. Be up front with customers – post notifications of downtime or issues prominently- I know some may baulk at the idea of being “honest” about an issue – but it’s better to be honest about it than to let the customer walk away thinking the issue was just “bad code”/a bad site rather than a temporary fault. And don’t be afraid to engage with users when things go wrong- send an email, etc. in response to alerts (and setup alerts if you haven’t got them already!) but make sure you know the likely scenarios where things could go wrong so you’re able to feedback appropriately and turn a failure into an opportunity.

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