Lessons from Support - When the client is at fault:

Good client support engages your customer.

At Network Associates Inc, the first stop of my tech career, I found myself moved to our premium support department after an internal shakeup. To say I was unqualified would not even begin to be fair and balanced. How little did I know?

Bill Canada, one of the nicest and most patient men I’ve ever known, asked me what I knew of the database SQL, (pronounced sequel), I said….”the second movie?”  After he face-palmed, I began my learning process. Though I was able eventually to navigate out of support and to the dark art of sales, I came away with a few things that have stuck with me my entire career.

I recently had a tremendous experience with Apple accessory company TwelveSouth, which I will share below, that reminded me of some of these.

1. Don’t beat the client over the head with their own mistakes.

Frequently the people I helped support had made backend database customizations and now had a broken system. Today, people often make mistakes using their CUBE control panel that are easily solved with education…..this is not extraordinary, I make mistakes opening the right peanut butter in the morning. 

2. Attitude makes up for more than knowledge.

I was the least qualified person on my team. And really it wasn’t a close battle for who was next. If I could have won awards for knowing the least I would have cleaned house: a veritable Usain Bolt of technical incompetence. Yet, I had the 2nd highest customer satisfaction rating on the team the second quarter I was on the phones. My secret, it turned out, was I didn’t come across as talking down to my clients. How could I? They knew more than I did! I patiently rebuilt my machines to match their environments, stayed in contact with my clients with updates about my progress or lack thereof, until we finally resolved their cases. I could not afford to let clients get angry with a black hole of silence. My technical acumen was not strong enough to overcome that deficit.

3. Do more than you need to.

Delighting customers is as simple as doing more than you need to. The turning point of my short support career came the night one of my largest clients had an outage. I never left the office even though it was clear to the 2nd tier and engineering teams. I was the point person with the client, the food delivery guy for the more capable members of the team, whatever I could do. It was within my rights to say ..well, the case is past me, I’m out. I don’t know what kicked in that day, and I’ve only forgotten it once.  That night helped win the respect of my team, the appreciation of my client, and soon, my merciful exit into the world of sales.    

So that is how Twelve South used a support engagement as an opportunity to engage, educate, and delight a client. Now I am far more likely to buy from them in the future, I am happy to recommend them to others, and I came away impressed enough to write this article.

Is that worth the cost of a 4 dollar part?

If you are interested in exploring some more options for effective customer engagement, visit our Engagement page to read about the digital engagment strategies that CUBE can offer your business.

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