Rethinking technical support: Why some companies focus on offering great tech services
People always (or at least should) expect great technical support when they call a company for assistance. Unfortunately, some businesses – despite years of customers yearning for it – still fail to provide consumers with high quality service.
Take, for example, a recent Aspect Consumer survey of 1,000 Americans between the ages of 18-65. The number of people who felt underappreciated by companies they were conducting business with rose 6 percent from 52 to 58 percent between 2015 and 2016. This, however, is no surprise. Researchers from Arizona State University, according to the Consumerist, found that poor service extends back decades.
As you can imagine, bad technical support doesn’t just upset consumers, it can also damage businesses that rely on that support to provide service for their own clientele. For example, being unable to find answers to technical questions while in the field can result in project delays or a complete halt in service.
However, here’s the good news: If you’re tired of working with companies that have poor technical support, you don’t have to settle. A number of renowned businesses have centered their entire business model around treating their customers with respect and answering their concerns quickly and efficiently no matter their situation.
Two of these we’ll describe in further detail are Apple and (of course!) Axis Communications because they’re the perfect case studies into how and why working with customer-oriented businesses can help you better serve your own clients.
Two different tech companies became industry leaders with a customer-centric approach
Apple has provided customers with esteemed support for years. The tech giant, which ranks in the top five of Insider Monkey’s 11 Companies with the Best Customer Service in America, centers its business model on ensuring its customers are happy. However, well before Apple began turning out iPhones and iPods, it didn’t always have (or at least appear to have) its customers top of mind.
Apple was struggling in the mid-1990s, and newly-instated interim CEO Steve Jobs decided it was in the company’s best interest to focus less on defeating its rivals, mainly Microsoft, and more on building and providing better customer-oriented products and services.
Upon announcing Apple’s partnership with Microsoft at the 1997 Macword Expo, Jobs addressed a crowd of likely anxious stakeholders about the company’s novel customer-centric business approach that would “serve the people” who had been buying Apple’s products since it was founded 21 years prior. Since that time period, Apple’s annual revenue has exponentially skyrocketed.
Businesses that first focus on creating a great customer experience and work backwards for the technology – an idea straight from Jobs during Apple’s 1997 Worldwide Developers Conference – have a greater chance of meeting their consumers’ service and support needs.
There may be no better example of another technology company that embodies the same customer-oriented mindset than Axis Communications. We also focus on providing customers with superior products and services, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive. As we have continued to assimilate our core values into our procedures and offerings, we’ve been able to provide our customers with greater levels of technical support.
Take, for example, our Tier 1 level of technical support, which has resolved an astounding 31 percent of technical questions on the first call despite the inquiries’ increasing complexity. This has taken considerable pressure off our Tier 2 level staff, which handles the majority of even more complex inquiries. Clients value their time, and we respect this by continuing to invest in our employees and support tools.
One way we support our employees’ professional development is by providing them with continuing education and training opportunities through advanced in-house instruction and certification courses. Employees also develop internally-facing documents for our subject matter expert notebook. Not only do these records help other colleagues quickly find answers to tech problems, they also act as the bedrock to customer-facing support material such as web content, FAQs, technical notes, support videos and even white papers.
The point is this: Working with forward-looking, well-balanced and customer-oriented companies can benefit your business for decades to come in the following ways:
- Increasing customer retention: Fast, reliable technical support can get you up and running faster, ensuring you can service your customers without interruption. In turn, they’re more likely to work with you on future projects.
- Increasing profits: By quickly reconnecting downed solutions, you can better manage project workloads, work more effeciently and even improve your reputation. As you might expect, this ensures you’re spending less time on fixing technical problems and more time helping customers.
If you feel the need to rethink the type of companies you’re partnering with, the next step is to understand what to look for in remarkable tech support.
Key characteristics of outstanding technical support
The most innovative companies are rethinking what offering technical support means. These businesses don’t just launch an assortment of technical support tools and hope their customers use them. Instead, they constantly evaluate how well they’re connecting with customers, and, in turn, introducing desired solutions.
A balanced technical support strategy includes a range of support concepts and features, such as:
- A collection of appropriate support tools
Have you ever tried to quickly search for an answer to a technical question but couldn’t find it on the company’s website? If it had other source material to choose from, such as a comprehensive FAQ page, support videos, webinars or technical notes, you likely would have found the answer you were looking for.
Companies have offer great technical support offer a suite of service tools that contain answers to countless questions.
- Well-rounded technical support
Businesses with well-rounded technical support not only offer a breadth of support tools, they also understand these are only one part of their overall customer service strategy.
Companies, such as Axis, also invest in their technical support engineers by offering formal support training and technical education. In turn, they can stay updated on technical trends, allowing them to provide more effective service no matter the dilemma.
Well-rounded technical support teams are also forward-looking in that they invest in current technology so they can offer superior support today but also devote resources to solutions that are likely to be popular in the near future. Bridging the gap between the two ensures support remains consistent.
- A customer-centric business philosophy
How many times have you called technical support only to be placed on hold for an insufferable amount of time? And yes, even five minutes can be too long for those who need immediate answers while they’re on a job.
Axis takes seriously its technical support team and service. Our call center, which we recognize more appropriately as a solution center for our unique customer service approach, adheres to the motto, “Staying with you all of the way.” Unlike some companies, which may develop mission statements only to ignore them soon after, our tech support employees approach technical problems with our company’s core values in mind, something we describe in greater detail in another blog post. In fact, it’s difficult not to when the phrase is inscribed in big, bold letters on a wall overlooking staff members.
Recent employee feedback revealed our customer-focused approach is producing the desired outcome.
“I think what makes our solution center unique in terms of Axis is we operate under our company’s core values, which are, “Act as one, Think big and Always open,’” said Brian McLaughlin, technical services manager. “So that provides sort of a family-like structure, if you will, that as long as everybody is taking care of our core values, then taking care of the customer naturally falls into line.”
The next steps to changing how you do business
How will you know if you’re about to work with a customer-centric company? Ask! Don’t be afraid to speak with employees, research customer reviews, inquire about reading case studies and meet with appropriate executives one-on-one. Most (if not all) of today’s most customer-oriented businesses will likely welcome your investigative approach because it’ll help build and strengthen the bonds of what may develop into a fruitful business relationship.
Rethinking tech support starts by reconsidering how you work with and treat your customers and then working alongside other companies that put the customer first.