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Tech Service Communication Pitfalls

Heather Grace, Guest post. 26 January 2017, 5:00 am
Tech Service Communication Pitfalls

Customers need help from time to time. Over the telephone, on site, via email, web conference and chat. The most efficient way to get technical help to customers is to have the technical people communicate directly with the customer. Are your tech people well trained in customer communication? Today we look at what can go wrong if your tech service people say the wrong things to a customer while they are trying to give good service.

Most tech service people are great at solving problems. They love to get to the bottom of a difficult issue and work out what is going wrong. They love to make things better! This eagerness to please sounds like a good thing - and it is - but it can also lead to some mis-communication. Here are three common pitfalls to avoid:

  1. Saying Sorry. The customer has a technical problem, and they are upset. If the problem has been caused by you, then you probably do need to say sorry! But at least 9 out of 10 times the issue is not your fault. You may feel sorry for the customer and be genuinely sorry that the customer is upset, but saying "sorry" makes it sound like you have created the problem! Don't say "sorry" when a customer has a problem. If you do, you might find the customer expects you to fix it for free. Which brings me to my next pitfall…
  2. Doing stuff for free. Customers expect good service, and they have every right to expect reliable, prompt and friendly assistance. They should also expect to pay for it. Depending on what sort of service contract your customer has, they may be entitled to support on certain applications for no additional charge. But if they ask for help on how to create a spreadsheet, or a pivot table, or some other gadget that is outside of their support contract, then they must pay extra. Many tech service people love to go the extra mile. But if you are giving away large chunks of your time to your customers you are simply increasing your support load without extra income to pay for it. And you create another problem. The more free stuff you do for customers, the more they expect! For free! When you eventually say no, or start billing them for the extra time - they will get upset with you. But if you stick to policy and always charge fairly for time, your customers will know what to expect and they will respect that. Don't do free stuff! 
  3. Saying yes. In the good old days, customer service training was all about saying "yes" to the customer. It has been ingrained in us, to an extent, to say "yes" and keep the customer happy. But we should not always say "yes"! There are two circumstances where you should say "no" (saying it politely and giving reasons for saying no, of course!). 
    1. Do you have the expertise? If the customer has asked you to help with an application that you do not support and you are not familiar with, you may be wasting your time. Spending hours trying to fix the problem when you don't really know what you are doing may create a large tech service bill - that your customer does not want to pay, especially if you have not fixed the problem. Plus, you risk damaging your reputation with the customer when you clearing don't really know what you are doing. Have a quick look, but be upfront with the customer that this is outside your field of expertise. Try to refer them to someone who can help, rather than just saying no. Be honest.
    2. Do you have the time? Customers have deadlines to meet. So do you. You have several customers, all expecting you to meet deadlines for them. If a customer asks you to do a job for them by a certain time, and you know that you are fully booked - be honest! Saying yes and then letting someone down is a sure way to lose customers and muddy your reputation. Try your best to help out, of course. Have a chat about the timing, have a look at your workload to see if some items can easily be pushed back without creating unhappy customers. Overworked, sleep deprived technical people do not produce or create or resolve anything effectively. Don't do it.

There are hundreds of things that can go wrong when communicating with customers. We have only covered three today. Tackle these three first - it will be a good start to getting happier customers and a better return for your time and effort.

Success With Grace is home of the TechBiz Success Academy, coaching and training to help technology based businesses grow. For information about TechBiz programs go to www.techbizsuccess.com Also check out Business Communication and Customer Communication workshops in www.iitp.nz/courses/


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