Customer Support

In Egypt we have a BIG problem in customer support. We do not understand what it means to begin with. It means that “The customer is always right”. Even that customer who does not understand how to use the product and did not read the manual and caused a damage or problem in the product because of misuse. Even that customer who is so angry and calls to yell over the phone. Once the customer starts yelling, we yell back at him or we speak in a tone that shows that we cannot stand his yelling.

Unfortunately, companies in Egypt do not understand that a good customer support service is a more important selling department than your sales department itself. Any company can have the best sales department and customers know that before they purchase anything they are dealt with as kings. Once the sale is closed, and once the customer needs post-sales service all the problems come up. Either the customer cannot reach you by phone or if he does, he finds incompetent and unfriendly people answering the phone.

If you really want to boost your sales and engrave your name in the market, invest in your customer support department. Hire highly qualified people, invest in continuous training programs for them, monitor their performance closely, overhear their calls with customers, provide for them the best working environment to make sure they are happy and in good mood because it reflects in how they deal with their customers.

I worked in a company once that stacked their customer support team in the dirtiest room in the company. They did not have a single working air-conditioner in office. One of the air-conditioners, before it went down, used to leak water which completely damaged the walls and changed its color to black spots. The room was dark; lighting was not enough for the number of people in it. Chairs were in terrible shape (not comfortable, broken backs, employees can not adjust them to their desired position). Add to all the above that the company did not have proper communication channel with their customer support department. They used to launch new services and products without informing the customer support department early enough. Customer support representatives used to receive customer calls asking about the service and how to use before the representatives knew anything about it. Also when the company faced any problems that affected the quality of service they provide to their customers, the support representatives were the last to know. They used to come up with any stories over the phone with customers and try to make the customer believe that there is no problem and it is from his side not the company’s until they knew about the problem. Not to mention of course that the company policy was always to hide the real problem and lie to the customers. The support representatives did not have any form of motivation. No clear career path, No respect from their colleagues in other departments (they were looked down to – seen as the least qualified in the company….after all their job is to answer the phone!!), did not receive any training courses and not enough financial packages.

All the above is a recipe for catastrophe. Your customer support employees should be pampered so that in return they can pamper your customers. At the same time they should be monitored closely and the smallest mistake should be harshly penalized. They should know that the customer is King. They should know that their job is to go beyond pleasing the customer to gaining his loyalty. A loyal customer will never switch to another company, will give a good word about the company everywhere and will recommend the company to everyone he knows.

Companies must continuously collect feedback from their customers about the quality of the service and their support. This can be done by random over the phone calls, customer support questionnaires and surveys to be put online or distributed in outlets or any other appropriate form. This makes customers feel that you care and that you are keen on improving your service to their satisfaction. And it also helps you know your weak points and improve them. Companies also should offer several ways for support. Do not rely only on phone calls. Offer online services. Make a knowledgebase from the cases that you come across on put it online for customers to browse through and resolve their case without having to contact you over the phone and wait on queues. Think of all possible alternatives to make your customers’ lives easier.

You cannot imagine the boost that happened in the service when I tackled and resolved the problems above. The support department used to answer only a maximum of 50% of incoming customer calls, after the changes they answered 90% of incoming calls. The average number of cases that used to be resolved in the same day they were opened did not exceed 50%, after the changes it reached 65% and were still improving. The support department used to resolve 35% only of the received cases without routing them to other techincal departments internally and wait for their feedback. After the changes they used to resolve 57% of the cases without routing. And there are many other factors that showed that once you CARE for your support employees, they will CARE for your customers and in turn customers will be happy and loyal.

The company with the best customer support service is the company that will dominate the market. Customers know that once they buy the service they will suffer whenever they need support. So now they try to buy from the company that offers great post-sales services.

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