6 Things About Support Your Boss Wants To Know
[date-stamp]There is a lot of data available in incoming support requests to your company, but not all of it is critical. Here are the 6 things about support your boss wants to know.
1. At-a-glance reports about the status of incoming support requests
Having a clear overview of the status of all customer support requests is important. In many ways, support requests are the 'thermometer' of your products. If there are many urgent support requests about functional failures, your products have a fever and need medication in the form of bug fixes. If there are few support requests, and they are solved fairly quickly, you're pretty healthy and can focus the attention of your company on expanding your business.
The importance of talking with your customers cannot be understated; it is from your customers you learn if what you have is good enough to solve their needs or if adjustments are needed. One way of analyzing the feedback from customers is to dive into the characteristics of the support requests you receive: How many support requests were received last month compared to the month before, what is the number of urgent requests among those, and so on. Performing data analysis of the support requests gives you a foundation for making decisions about your business, like "do I need to staff up my support department?", "feature X really has a lot of problems, we need the Product Department to focus on fixing that one." Having a good and factual basis for such decisions pays off in the long run.
2. Where to find reports about the status of the support department
Do you rely on Excel to create overviews and graphs about the current state of your customer support department? Relax, you're not alone. Although you can get some pretty graphs out of Excel, it is a normally a manual process to generate these (granted; you can automate Excel, but still). And normally only a couple people know how to generate these graphs in Excel, so if they're on vacation or on a business trip, no new graphs can be made. Not an ideal solution.
Reports about the status of your company's customer support must be readily available and real-time if they're to have any real value. One major goal with reports is to take action based on the information in the report, so the data the report builds on must not be outdated. Which reports to have available are normally graphs that shows the number of new support requests so far this month, the same number for last month, how many unsolved support requests are there right now and the urgency/priority of open support requests.
3. How many urgent support requests are not solved
This is an important indicator of the state of your customer support. Do you have hundreds of urgent support requests waiting to be solved, or none? Most of us have something between those numbers, but the rate at which urgent support tickets are solved, and how long it takes to solve them, is an important indicator of how well the support department functions.
What is an urgent support request? Many support systems allows customers to set the priority of the support request they're sending in, but a review of this priority is required when receiving a new support request. If all your customers tend to set every request as 'urgent', the reports will be skewed and inaccurate. So having correct priorities set on support tickets in the support system is crucial in order for reports to have value.
4. Which customers send in the most support requests
Knowing which of your customers that sends in the most support request might reveal if the number of new and open support requests is artificially inflated or not. If 10% of your customers send in 30-40% of your support tickets, it might be a good idea to start talking with this customer to figure out what's going on. They may have one particular problem or a feature they'd like added that would make them happier.
This highlights that solving support requests is not just about being reactive by responding to incoming support requests, but also being proactive in order to keep the number of support requests down and your customers as happy as possible. Many support requests from a customer may be an early warning sign that they're thinking of leaving you as well, so identifying and working with these customers might help lower the customer churn rate.
5. The status of one particular support ticket and who's handling it. Quickly!
Sometimes a customer expects an immediate response to a support ticket, and when more than 30 minutes goes by without any response, they pick up the phone and call your boss. It's important to be able to give a good response on the fly and be able to say that the support ticket has been received and when someone will be able to take a look at it and respond. If your boss is not able to say this based on data in your support system, this is bad. Very bad. And it gives your customer the impression that you do not have control.
The ability to give immediate answers when a customer contacts you is vital in maintaining a good relationship with this customer. Fail at this and you run the risk of losing this customer. Having a tool which is able to do this and having this tool available all the time is crucial in such situations.
6. Response times
One crucial thing when receiving support requests is answering in a timely fashion. The customer sent a request for help because he needs assistance, and he needs a response relatively quickly, so the customer cannot wait a week for an answer. The important thing here is not necessarily to solve the support request immediately, but let the customer know that you're on it and working on finding a solution. Some support requests are questions that can be resolved immediately, but sometimes it can take some time to find a solution. In the latter case it is important to keep the customer in the loop and let him/her know the current status of the request. Even if you know it will take a week to come up with a solution, respond to the customer before that and inform them of the estimated timeframe for a solution. Keeping the customer up to date about his/her support request and giving an estimated time when a solution will be ready is a sign of quality customer care, and leaves the customer with a good impression of your customer support function.
When choosing a customer support system, or when evaluating the system you already have, taking the things discussed above into account is crucial. Not all support systems have this level of reporting and analytics, so it's important to figure out if the support system has a way to connect to other systems. If the support system has their own app marketplace with integrations to other reporting and data analytics tools, you have what you need; but if you have an 'isolated' support system with no options for connecting to other systems without creating something yourself, you might think about switching support system to a SaaS-based one with its own app marketplace.