#53 – Are Automated “Ticket Received” Emails Useful?

This week, we’re looking at a great question from Mariah over at Runkeeper. Are automated “ticket received” emails necessary? Are they helpful for customers?

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@supportdriven – I don’t wonder if my request has been received. I wonder if they can help me with a useful response.

@hoonpark – They are useful to me to confirm receipt and if it provides some expectations (time to answer, hours). That said, if I fill out a form on their site, I’d rather see that info and confirmation there, not an email receipt.

@calitalieh – Don’t get me started! I hate them. Sets the wrong tone for the customer experience, AND the resolution.

@TheBrotherBen - I only like them as a confirmation that you got my email. Helps to avoid the “did you get my email” follow up email.

@gtmcknight – I hate them. Why does anybody need a confirmation email though? Are people worried there are fake submit buttons on contact forms?

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#52 – Customer Support as a Career

This week, we’re talking about staying in customer support as a career. Most people tend to think of it as just another job – something to hold them over until they can really get their career going.

But could you have a career in customer support?

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From Phil:

The mentality that you can’t make a career in support – is from the same era as when companies saw customer support as an unwanted but necessary expense.

That is no longer the case. Companies now see the value in providing great customer support and how it is ESSENTIAL. As such they are hiring and compensating more accordingly. At our company we start our support team’s salaries at the upper end of the market range. That’s because we want to attract amazing people who are passionate about customer service. This is the face of your business. You expect big things from them, so it’s important you value them as such.

If you aren’t making it a viable option for your support teams to have a lasting career in support – you aren’t likely going to build world-class team that you want.

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#51 – Is it ever okay to fire a customer?

We’ve all experienced exceptionally rough customers. When a customer is continually abusive or really high-maintenance, most teams look at some sort of way to drop that person as a customer.

Is it ever okay to fire a customer?

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From Wren:

Under the right circumstances, it’s absolutely worth while to fire a customer. Our team was hearing repeatedly from a woman who was unhappy with our product and incredibly rude to any phone support she worked with. If you reach a point with a person where they will never be happy with the product, it’s smart to let them go. In this case, it made our support reps feel validated and cared for to know that negative treatment like that wouldn’t be tolerated and the customer was happier in the end with a new product. We gave her a free month of support and usage of our system to give her time to find a new system and were happy to help with any info transfer she needed. Putting the needs of the customer first sometimes means pushing them towards a different product.

From Chris:

Absolutely, it’s ok to fire a customer. Seth Godin has a dynamite post about this.

Because if you want everybody to like you, nobody does

The firing might rival that of a middle school breakup, but hey, let it happen.

From Mariah:

The hours and resources it will take to change a users opinion and calm them down isn’t worth it to us due to the adverse effect the long-drawn-out conversation has on our team mentality. In the early days of RK Support, we spent a lot of time working with angry users to explain bugs and offer extended assistance until the issue was resolved, to which we were lucky to receive a mere, “thanks.” Catering to abusive users in a way condone’s their behavior, which is bad for all future support interactions with RunKeeper or elsewhere. We found the constant harassment on the end-user’s side would take a huge toll on our support agents. There’s only so much sass and name-calling one agent can take. Actually instead of “agent” I should be saying “person.” It seems a lot of the time users forget we are people too and we do empathize with their situation. Not sure what’s up with that, so we beat on.

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#50 – Saying “No” to Customers

This week, we’re talking about saying “no” to a customer. Ben Vance from Emma wrote in with a great question:

Something I’ve been thinking about recently that I’d love to hear your thoughts on: is it ever OK to say “no” to a customer? I know we all have tricks and tips on ways to say it without saying it, but do you think that there are ever support situations where the word “no” is really the word for the job?”

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How Important Are Job Titles?

Fantastic points from Mathew Patterson on the last episode:

Where would you rank the importance of a job title on that list? Job titles and team names matter, undoubtedly. It can be that extra little recognition of value and culture. They just matter so much less than everything else. If you’re in support and your company is doing all those other things up there, then you won’t care what your title is. You will know deeply how important you are and how important your work is.

I think job titles get too much attention. When you start seeing parodies like this one from Vooza, you know you’ve gone overboard with them.

Are they important? They can be.

Are they at the top of the list of what matters in your support experience? No.

Don’t get wrapped up in what title to give your team members. Instead, focus on making your customer experience the best that you can. With a solid customer experience, you can afford to put the final touches on it like unique titles.