Support is at the heart of any software business, so it’s important that you don’t lose sight of it. You can offer the best product or service at an excellent price, but it’s nothing without a great support department to back it up.
We recently sat down with some of the team at Vesta Software Group to get their views on what has been important for them when building, growing and maintaining support departments within our family of software companies. Here’s what they told us.
Richard Clancy – Portfolio Manager
“Create an effective support team structure”
A successful support team always starts by establishing your software company’s needs and circumstances. Ask questions such as “how quickly are support tickets currently being closed?” Or “are most tickets down to technical issues?“ Then you can start to identify KPIs that you want to track and benchmark within the team.
Your next step will be to create sub-teams within your support department, so that different types of issues can be resolved in the most efficient way. This will be different for each company but, for example, you may separate teams into customer support (for order and account issues) and technical support (for software or product issues and repairs). This allows all teams to specialise in processes that are unique to the issues they are handling and will help to improve your service levels.
“Implement root cause analysis for consistent/regular support issues”
Root cause analysis (RCA) is an approach used to discover why a problem has occurred, in order to identify an appropriate solution. The process is akin to how medical staff look to diagnose and cure a patient’s illness rather than simply just treating their symptoms.
RCA is a great tool to implement within the support departments at software companies because, when software defects occur – as they inevitably do – underlying reasons must be identified so that proactive steps can be taken to drive improvement. By helping developers to create better quality software, the process also promotes customer satisfaction and protects your company’s reputation.
Peter Redding – Group Leader
“Ensure support staff are trained on new products/features before release”
You should always take the time to fully inform and train your staff before a new product or feature is ever released. Customers are notorious for sticking to systems they know well, so if and when they make a switch, you should expect there to be a few teething issues.
By preparing your support team in advance of any release, you can ensure they are able to provide the superior levels of service expected from your customers, should there be any questions or issues raised.
“Review speed of ticket resolutions to identify new training requirements”
How well trained are your support staff? One of the easiest ways to determine this is by reviewing how quickly tickets are resolved and whether they have to be passed around the team in order to close them. You may find that response times have been particularly poor around a specific product and that resolutions are absorbing a lot more support resources that normal. In this case, training could be hugely beneficial for improving performance amongst support staff and boosting customer satisfaction levels.
Rob Mortimer – Group Leader
“Introduce an NPS for your support department”
Ratings and surveys are great for determining how satisfied your customers are with a product or service, and can apply in exactly the same way for your support department.
There are plenty of software applications that can send automated emails to customers when tickets are closed, with links through to your rating or survey. The results can be analysed and are extremely useful in identifying clear benchmarks to drive improvements. Positive scores can also be harnessed and utilised within the sales process.
“Analyse trends to identify training opportunities for clients”
Trend analysis is hugely important to any support department and can provide vital insight into where training opportunities could be beneficial for clients who are struggling with your products or software.
Start off by measuring how many calls or tickets are due to something having gone wrong or broken, as opposed to general questions like ‘how do I?’. What’s the split and is it what you would expect? For the ‘how do I’s’, you should look to your support team as a means of upselling more training options. Not only can this bring in extra revenue, but it will also help to make the customer more self-sufficient and reduce future impact on your support team.
By putting your customers at the center of everything you do, you will continue to build that brand loyalty and trust that is so important for software businesses today. Be proactive, listen to your customers and leverage the right tools, and you’ll be well on your way to building a hugely successful support department.