Three questions to ask when building your technical support strategy

With any organization it is important to have a clear strategy that defines goals and targets for the organization.  For the support organization common areas such as customer satisfaction, operational efficiency and support revenue can easily be benchmarked to define targets and best practices.   To differentiate your support from your competition it is important to ask some industry and product specific questions.   Below are three questions to ask when defining your next technical support strategy.

How does your support strategy align to your company strategy?

The best support organizations take an active role in the creation of the company strategy and provide valuable information on customer trends and product needs.

If your support organization is creating a separate strategy after your company has communicated the company level strategy, you can take a few steps to improve this process:

  1. Invite department heads from engineering, marketing and sales to your strategy sessions.
  2. Align key goals and activities.  For example, if your company is growing number of users on a SaaS product how can the support organization help?

How can your support strategy leverage product features?

Your products’ features and technology capabilities could provide an opportunity to launch a premium service offering.   Many examples of product-based service offerings exist today and reviewing your products unique features and technology could provide some ideas for new services.   Some common places to look for opportunities are listed below:

  1. Diagnostic features including log files:  These can be used as part of a (call home) service offering that provides proactive support
  2. Your products positioning in the IT environment:  For example, security products can provide detailed information on the applications in your network and be used to provide a more complete IT audit
  3. Your products usage data:  If you record information on the usage of your products, this data can provide an opportunity to give valuable information to your customers (Our most successful customers use the following features)

Collaborating with the engineering teams in this area is important as they can provide additional information on what the products could do.

Does your strategy include processes and services for the “Moments of Truth”?

Every product provides opportunities to design a successful outcome for important customer interactions with your company.   Depending on your requirements your processes could be designed to avoid customer interaction or promote it.  A few places to look for improvements are.

  1. Out of box experience:  The first use of your product is a critical point in the customer lifecycle.  For many products automating setup or providing configuration templates or wizards can help.  Your support team has the data on what problems customers experience and can set the strategy for how to improve.    This is also an area that can provide early warning signals for product issues and designing a proactive conversation with the first customers provides valuable information at a time when you have the full attention of the engineering teams.
  2. Upgrade experience:  Similar to the out of box experience product upgrades provide an excellent opportunity to design a great customer experience.  A fault free upgrade process is now expected, but your team can provide input on what other services could be provided as part of this process.
  3. Problem escalation experience:  Products will always experience problems and developing a streamlined escalation process gives your teams the tools they need to manage these customer situations.  Extending this process to include multivendor problem resolution is important with complex IT environments.

Developing your strategy is an important first step in providing exceptional customer service.  Successfully implementing new processes and services can bring significant benefits to your customers and is worth the effort.