Why you should work with a company that has well-rounded technical support

Jeff Coco

FAQ pages, online instructional guides, phone support, videos, live chat and call support. What kind of technical support do your partners offer? If they provide some (or even all) of these choices, they’re on the right track to offering well-rounded technical service. However, many are likely not at that point just yet.

These support tools are (or should be) only one piece of a solution provider’s service strategy. The best companies actually offer well-balanced support service. What does this mean?

  1. They offer a number of unique support tools
  2. They understand how these tools play a larger role in their overall customer support strategy
  3. They invest in their TSEs in the form of customer support training and technical education
  4. They have an eye toward the future and study customer support market trends to ensure they’re exceeding customer expectations

Why is it important for companies to approach technical support this way, how do they provide well-balanced support and why should you work with a business that takes this approach? Let me explain.

Technical Support service needs have evolved. Companies must adapt

Today, most people have little to no time (or patience) to sit on hold for a half an hour to reset a password or solve a relatively easy technical problem. Ian Parkes, director and co-founder at Coleman Parkes, a research firm, explained that people want to find answers to straightforward problems online but often can’t locate them on a company’s website.

Research indicates a major shift in customer behavior. “Consumers prefer to seek answers to common questions through online resources,” said Parkes. “However, many end users believe service providers’ online services cannot solve their problems, so they gravitate back to the call center. There is a clear opportunity for service providers to take control of the experience and to reduce costs.”

As evidence of this transition, look no further than a survey commissioned by Amdocs that found 75 percent of people want to use online support tools if they’re reliable.

Companies that fail to offer a comprehensive suite of user-friendly, reliable and valuable online support applications are missing opportunities to engage with customers.

At the same time, investing in online tools doesn’t mean companies shouldn’t devote an equal amount of resources to their technical support engineers. Many people also want the option to talk with knowledgeable, supportive representatives for assistance about complex problems that aren’t addressed on a company’s website. But when people do talk to specialists, they want quick service and accurate answers.

Here’s the problem many enterprises face: They simply don’t know how to divvy up and properly invest their resources across multiple support channels.

For companies to meet the needs of today’s busy customers like yourself, they must enable both service types to not only coexist under one roof but also thrive off each other. Simply offering a seemingly unlimited amount of tools is only one piece of the overall support puzzle.

Enterprises need to develop a well-balanced customer service strategy, and to do so, they must first do a bit of soul searching.

Look inward before developing an outward facing support service strategy

Publishing dozens and dozens of how-to-videos and technical support content won’t necessarily help companies fully meet their customer service goals. In fact, this strategy (if we can even call it that!) can be a waste of time and resources if it’s not done thoughtfully and deliberately.

The best businesses, instead, first look inward at their overall customer service plan before investing in new or upgrading current technical service offerings.

Axis Communications is a prime example of a company that consistently keeps a pulse on its existing operational approaches. Always with the customer top of mind, we frequently evaluate our call center, which we label more appropriately as a solution center, for strengths it must maintain and weaknesses it needs to improve.

To stay ahead of emerging technical support trends, we provide our TSEs and technical support specialists with an endless amount of training and education opportunities. After all, the primary role of our specialists is to deliver accurate answers in an efficient, timely and friendly manner. One way they actually accomplish this is by writing internal-facing documents and uploading them into a department-specific subject matter expert notebook.

These records accomplish two things: They act as a strong knowledge base for other engineers and are great source material for employees to upcycle into customer-facing documents, such as FAQs or even white papers – resources that all customers can benefit from.

Axis’ level of investment is multi-layered. Not only do we produce quality literature for our staff, we also use the material to educate customers and develop in-depth self-serviced support tools.

Our investment in our staff shines through. Many of our employees feel Axis is a great place to work because the company constantly encourages employees to stay updated on market happenings. Take, for example, recent employee feedback that reflects an appreciation for the company’s investment in education and training.

“Axis is a great company to work for,” said Toni Leonard, a technical service representative at Axis. “They support their peers and their employees as much as a company possibly could. They encourage us to become educated. They encourage us to go for certification training, to read materials. They offer all kinds of services for us to be able to enhance our knowledge because they know that we’re going to bring that with us when we service our customers.”

This commitment has been recognized outside of Axis’ four walls. In 2016 our technical support won the 2016 CCW Excellence Award, which distinguishes individuals and teams who offer world class contact center support and CX (customer experience).

With this dedicated and enthusiastic approach, Axis has, in a sense, redefined the word “service.”

By also serving (or providing) its tech support engineers with the necessary educational resources, in the form of internal documents and training, Axis can in turn better assist customers.

Provide customers with the right service solutions

Some companies might own a library of internal technical documents – similar to Axis – but it must know how to upcycle those materials into customer-facing content. To develop a well-balanced service strategy, the best companies begin by at least asking:

  1. Who is our intended audience?
  2. What does our audience want to know, and what do they need answered?
  3. What kind of support offerings and self-support tools are our customers most likely to use? What does the public generally use?
  4. How much time and money do we have to invest in the solutions we hope to launch?
  5. What is our long term customer service goal, and how can we ensure the tools we launch today will meet tomorrow’s service needs?

Once they’ve answered these questions, they can integrate a number of customer support offerings into their service portfolio. The ones Axis offers includes:

1. Live Chat: A Software Advice survey found that nearly 60 percent of respondents used live chat at least once to solve a problem through the company’s website, and nearly 40 percent said they used it numerous times. Live chat offers technical support engineers the ability to quickly and accurately answer questions.

Keep in mind that live chat isn’t for everyone. The same Software Advice survey found that as a person’s age increased, they were less likely to use the feature. This points to the need for companies to offer a diversified set of technical service solutions to satisfy various audiences.

2. FAQ: FAQ pages have existed since the dawn of websites, but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily easy to construct.

Many companies fail to answer the right questions customers want (and need to know). This essentially isolates portions of their customer base. FAQs should, at minimum:

  • Help customers solve common technical problems
  • Be easily navigable when customers are working in the field
  • Make customers feel more comfortable with products they purchased
  • Set expectations in terms of product value

To begin writing an FAQ, enterprises should jot down the most common questions their customers ask. And yes, “How do I reset my password?” is an appropriate query to include! If executives don’t know what technical problems their customers experience, I recommend surveying them. This will help leaders develop a richer understanding of challenges to address.

3. Support Videos: People love visuals. They inherently process images faster than they do text and even sound. According to Liraz Margalit, Ph.D., writing for Psychology Today, people process videos 60,000 times faster than text. And recent research conducted by the University of Iowa found that we’re much better at remembering what we see than what we hear.

“As it turns out, there is merit to the Chinese proverb, ‘I hear, and I forget; I see, and I remember,’” said James Bigelow, lead author of the study and a graduate student of the University of Iowa.

Why should customer service teams be particularly interested in these statistics?

Simple: Companies that don’t incorporate visually attractive support or educational videos into their customer service offerings are doing themselves and their customers a disservice.

Those who use Axis Communications’ surveillance technology have access to the company’s well-constructed technical support videos and even webinars, which are all posted on its website. Some support videos include:

  • How to set up and use AXIS Companion Line
  • How to use AXIS Camera Management
  • How to configure Axis’ network cameras and encoders
  • How to install cameras

In addition to tracking universal questions via our support videos, people can click onto Axis’ webinar page for proactive learning. After registering for free, they can watch any number of assorted webinars, such as:

  • Hands on with Axis end-to-end solutions
  • SD card recording best practices
  • Installing analytics at the edge: AXIS Digital Autotracking
  • Configuration – AXIS Perimeter Defender
  • Configuring Axis’ Zipstream technology

As you can see, videos and other aesthetically-pleasing graphics should make up a healthy portion of companies’ customer service portfolios.

4. Troubleshooting guides and cheat sheets: Many integrators and installers need technical assistance when they’re in the field installing or fixing surveillance equipment. They don’t, however, always have time to call into a support center or have quality Wi-Fi to watch online support videos. In this case, offering a troubleshooting guide is the perfect way to assist these busy professionals.

A great troubleshooting guide will:

  • Allow installers to quickly find answers to tough technical questions
  • Provide step-by-step instructions
  • Be easy to read and scan
  • Be downloadable or shareable
  • Be easy to locate on a website
  • And more

Photos, large text and clear fonts, and simple language are important elements to a useful guide. As I mentioned, people remember and process visuals more than they do plain text. Placing an image adjacent to step-by-step instructions can help installers quickly figure out how to solve a technical dilemma.

These are only a few of the many technical support offerings that are important to today’s customers and business professionals. Companies that provide the best technical services are constantly staying ahead of the curve, adding tools based on how clients want to interact and where they’re located and retiring outdated ones.

Have an eye toward the future to keep customers happy

People always want the next best thing, and they’re constantly changing how they interact with businesses. A critical part of any company’s success is how it treats customers, and this concept goes well beyond courteous service.

Organizations that invest in their customer service offerings (whether self-support tools or call center support) are demonstrating to their customers that they’re also investing resources into them.

Along with investing in current IT infrastructure and tools, companies must also have an eye toward the future. That means, they should invest in customer support tools that may not be prevalent today but could (based on research) be in popular demand tomorrow.

When searching for a technology company to work with, remember to look beyond the products they offer. Evaluate their technical support. Assess the tools provided and support you’ll receive remotely if working in different situations. Well balanced technical support will go a long way to helping you accomplish your operational goals.