Almost invariably, the standard of small business IT support received from helpdesks tends to leave a lasting impression on customers. At contract renewal time, exceptionally good or bad service affects repeat business and referrals, too.
If your organisation provides IT support services to small and medium-sized enterprises, you will probably be well aware that quality and customer satisfaction are paramount. Conversely, if you are a client who has called for assistance, you are likely to have experienced the difference that first-rate helpdesk technicians and analysts can make to your working day.
Given that the quality of IT support is so important, how can companies excel in its provision? In this post, we offer some suggestions, based on experience. Whether you are a provider or an interested customer, read on for some helpful pointers.
Managing Computer Infrastructure
In the competitive modern marketplace, the peak performance and maximum availability of computer systems are crucial for the success of almost every business. However, in growing SMEs, managing IT can be technically demanding and require full-time attention. To ensure high reliability, normal productivity and proper return on investment, therefore, additional staff or professional support services usually become necessary.
Focussing On Customer Care
Nowadays, small business IT support should be seamless, efficient and include:
- An innovative and proactive approach, based on building professional relationships
- The ability to understand customers’ needs.
- Transparent, timely communication.
- Round-the-clock availability.
- Helpdesk services.
- Monitoring and maintenance.
- Reporting and auditing.
- System and data backup.
- Effective disaster recovery and contingency plans.
- Compliance with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
- Vendor management.
- Affordable rates.
Building Client Relationships
As well as fair pricing and a perception of value, it is important to build long-lasting business partnerships. Customer service needs to be high on the list of priorities and whenever situations require it, IT support services should be flexible and dynamic. As a result, client loyalty usually grows.
Frequently, support teams are the first point of contact and, therefore, set the tone for the overall experience. Wherever possible, aim to make things simple and straightforward for the reader or listener. Additionally, new team members ought to receive company training to develop and foster their customer-facing skills. Empathy and the ability to perceive things from customers’ points of view are most important.
By providing first class service, solving problems and maintaining ongoing communication, IT support providers should see positive results through up-selling and referrals. According to business experts, customers who decide to change companies are around four times more likely to do so because of poor service than for price or product-related issues. Additionally, a survey by American Express* showed that people are more likely to spend money with companies that are known for providing the best customer care.
When considering how to differentiate themselves from competitors in today’s market conditions, it is not usually possible for support providers to compete significantly on technical features or pricing. Instead, excellent customer service is what sets the best companies apart. Tellingly, customers often remember how a dialogue with support staff felt much more than they recall the details of the original hardware, software or configuration problem that prompted the exchange.
Understanding What Customers Want
When choosing whether to maintain support in-house or to outsource it to a professional provider, business customers typically look for fast response times, technical expertise, good communication, high security and a comprehensive service provision.
Communication should be easy. In addition to telephone and email contact, live chat is also increasing in popularity. In email signatures from the support desk, it is helpful to include a link to the chat page, if there is one. Notably, teams that use live chat or social networks as a support channel should ensure sufficient monitoring to ensure timely responses, through having sufficient staff resources.
Today’s support roles often include extra tasks such as updating company knowledge bases and compiling or extending FAQs (frequently asked questions). Similarly, it is often useful to provide a self-service option for tech-savvy customers so that they can find answers in customer or technical forums, as well as in FAQs. However, it is vital that technicians and consultants are also available when needed.
As well as addressing routine situations, high-quality support becomes a lifebuoy when there are serious system snags. In such cases, as part of a company’s backbone, providers will adhere to established industry standards such as ISO/IEC 20000 while taking responsibility for delivering timely solutions and minimising any downtime.
For clients, efficient technical backup means that employees can concentrate on core business issues and marketing the company product or service. Consequently, benefits include improved revenue, boosted reputation, enhanced brand presence and, hopefully, an expanding community of loyal customers.
Over recent years, customers have come to expect more from IT and, as a result, from support helplines and service providers. Thus, for helpdesk staff, dealing with people and possible complaints is a valuable skill.
In difficult situations, it is best to remain professional and avoid becoming aggressive or angry. Avoid jargon and complicated language. Where possible, set boundaries and seek a compromise. In the end, if these approaches are unsuccessful, it may be worth asking a colleague or a manager to take the call in an attempt to end the deadlocked conversation.
Some of the best support organisations encourage, enable and empower their technicians and engineers, while also making them responsible for customer loyalty.
By following the above principles, IT service providers can assure small to medium-sized businesses of excellent levels of support.
At Onestop IT, customer service and first-class support are foremost. Based in Edinburgh, Onestop is a leading supplier with clients throughout Scotland. Innovative, focused and highly trained, the experienced team of specialists offers access to enterprise technology solutions and best practices at affordable prices.