How to Answer Support Tickets like a Champ

October 21, 2015
Archived, Productivity

Do you often find yourself in the situation where you need to handle dozens of support tickets each day? Experience has taught me it can be a challenge to maintain high service quality for your customers, colleagues or clients.

But there are certainly things you can do to avoid pitfalls, work more efficiently, and please yourself, your boss and your customers.

I’d like to share with you my tips I’ve picked up in handling support tickets.

I hope you find them useful. And I’d really be interested to read your own tips for best practice in handling support tickets in the comments section.

Start out with the right attitude


Before working on any support tickets, I find it’s invaluable to get into the right frame of mind.

For me, this means seeing everything from the customer’s point of view.

I keep in mind that people are different. Some like to check within an FAQ section on a website before submitting a ticket.

Others prefer direct voice contact, and will grab the phone before creating a ticket.

However, every customer wants a quick, respectful answer that is to the point, honest, personal and well formulated.

It’s very important to keep a personal touch and provide high quality answers whilst maintaining a speedy approach to handling tickets, in order to serve all users and customers as promptly as possible.

Answering tickets from unhappy customers


What about when a ticket arrives from a customer who is clearly unhappy with something?

Firstly, don’t take it personally. Try your best to see the situation from the customers’ perspective.

If possible, grab the phone and talk to the customer.

Find out as quickly as possible what pain points they are experiencing. See if there is a mismatch between the customer’s expectation and what actually happened, and how this affected the customer.

This is “the decency of lip service” as one unhappy customer recently wrote.

Quite often, if not always, the source of frustration is a miscommunication.

But once you’ve recognized their valid frustration, it is possible to talk about realistic reciprocal expectations and it is often possible to solve the problem relatively simply. Most interactions with unhappy customers can be quickly turned around into very positive communications.

For example – I once provided a solution to a customer that required a restart of the background service to take effect.

However, through simple miscommunication the customer did not restart, and so continued to experience the problem.

In our next communication I was able to clarify the crossed lines quickly and solve the issue.

Asking customers for their help to solve a problem


Often, to solve an issue a customer is experiencing, we require their time and cooperation.

Whether that’s because we need to ensure they’re running the latest version of the software, or to obtain certain extra information, or simply to follow support procedures to maintain a standard of service.

Customers do understand that not everything can be solved straight away.

It is fine to communicate that a case will take time to be solved. Customers value transparency in how you deal with their case.

But they are also busy with their daily work, and anything we can do to minimize the time impact of their assistance is greatly appreciated.

Asking the right questions


Quite often, Tech Support is a matter of deduction and excluding known issues.

When you’re able to speak on the phone to the customer, it’s a great idea to begin by establishing a rapport.

Ask them about their day. They are a human being. Likely just returned from lunch and a pleasant interaction with you could help make their day.

After establishing rapport, ask just enough questions to understand the problem properly and to be able to provide a diagnosis of the problem.

A proper description of the pattern is indispensable.

By methodical, precise questioning, it is possible to figure out whether the problem lies with the customer who did not understand a piece of the software or if something is broken or missing and the cause is external. Often the customer can be put back on track quickly.

When it is OK to use automation tools


People like to receive well written, clear explanations in answer to their queries.

Often it works to everyone’s favor if effort is spent crafting excellent messages to common issues, questions and queries. And using these messages in your communications with customers when appropriate.

Not doing so runs the risk of sending short, half-baked emails to customers, which helps no-one.

Risks involved with canned answers

Automation tools are very helpful. However customers are sensitive and they notice very quickly when they receive a canned answer that is sent without looking carefully into the issue at hand.

As there are patterns in software problems, there are recurring patterns in the corresponding answers.

But every customer and tech supporter is different and has their own personal style.

And so the magic happens when these pre-written responses can be adjusted to reflect the personality behind the email communication.

No e-mail should be sent out without a personal touch.

Key Takeaways

I hope you’ve found these tips helpful!

I’m constantly learning new ways to improve the way I manage support tickets from our users and customers.

In summary, my advice is:

  1. Start out with the right attitude
  2. Don’t take things personally – see things from the customer’s perspective
  3. Customers understand that sometimes you’ll need their action to solve an issue
  4. Be precise with your questions – ask just as many as you need to get to understand the issue
  5. It can be to everyone’s benefit to use automation tools to help answer tickets, so long as the personal touch remains.

What tips would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!

Interested in improving your service standards?

Try out TeamViewer’s brand new help desk solution, servicecamp. Take part in the beta today!

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