It’s a common situation: you’re a developer of an awesome app. It all started with a great idea and you, either alone or with a small team, and it turned out to be clever enough to actually work… kudos to you! But there’s one thing. You’ve gotten too used to those rare e-mails from your customers, messages which would turn into nice little private conversations. You would like to talk with every single customer face to face for a while, which would, of course, leave them more than satisfied – loyal. Looks like you might need some support tips.
However, now that your app is growing you’ve got more users with various questions or problems, and you find yourself not being able to keep up with yet another conversation. That’s when you need to treat an e-mail not as a conversation starter, but as a support ticket. The one that must be closed – quickly and effectively, so you can go on improving your product.
Don’t be this developer
That’s when you need some support guidelines, which would cover everything, from the general support policy to certain phrases that you use. This article suggests useful tips on how to organize your support so it can be both quick and effective.
Time to take some notes! (or just read it)
In this article, we'll cover:
1. Make it simple to contact you.
Having a large knowledge-base (FAQ) on your website is useful & it saves alot of your time, but remember that not everyone will go there. There’s plenty of “is there a person I could talk to” customers. This is when you need to place a direct support e-mail somewhere visible on your site.
So don’t hide behind a bunch of FAQs and additional forms to fill out, otherwise some of the potential customers will just delete you app rather than struggle to reach you. Let them know you’re open and available.
2. Quality is more important than speed.
When you receive a long e-mail, it’s not a good idea to scan keywords from the e-mail and throw a couple of templates at the customer’s face. Read it all, reproduce their issue if possible, and give an appropriate, fulfilling answer. Let the customer wait a little, but get his problem solved.
If the issue is urgent and yet you need time to figure it out, you may follow him up with a short notice that you’re looking into it ASAP, and then proceed with investigation.
3. Great English is essential.
If you’re not a native speaker, of course it’s next to impossible to overcome a language barrier, but I assume you’ve already covered that. Well, it’s not enough. Customers shouldn’t stumble upon mistakes when reading your reply, otherwise, you will look like an amateur. Furthermore, no one knows when you will come across a grammar nazi, rite?
So.. please work on your English, it certainly won’t be a waste of time for you. And finally… a small, but a very (!) important rule: re-read your reply before sending it! I’ve heard about a case when a customer asked for a service cancellation and then received a reply which was supposed to start with “We are sorry to see you go”. Well, the rule above wasn’t applied, which resulted in the e-mail starting with “We are sorry to see you” : )
4. Be very polite.
This is something you should’ve been practicing since childhood, but if you are just learning this skill, that’s okay too 🙂 Politeness will give you an even more professional look, and it will also let the customers know that you fully respect them & are glad to assist. This will in turn, convert them into returning customers.
5. But not too polite!
Saying “thank you” or “I’m sorry” more than #2 times throughout your reply is irritating to begin with. It also distracts the customer from an actual solution or an answer to his or her question. In most cases, #1 “I apologize for the inconvenience”, or #1 “Thank you for your feedback”, etc. should be completely enough, and sometimes none of it is needed at all.
You should find a balance. A balance that will make you come off polite and yet sound natural. Sometimes you can even use a smiley if you feel like the customer will like it 🙂
6. Be transparent.
Let’s say a customer asks about a feature that you’re not sure about. Maybe you’ll implement it, maybe not. But for this user, it’s a deal breaker which defines if they will purchase your product.
Well, it’s always better to say the truth rather than give a promise you might not keep. Losing just a few customers because of a missing feature is not as bad as having an awful feedback going around on the net.
7. Follow a strict company and support policy.
It looks weird when you, for instance, give discounts to some customers but to others you don’t just because you don’t like the way they talk to you, even though they are not quite different from the other ones – it’s unfair to say the least. The same rule applies to just about everything – treat people equally. You should have a strict policy of who can and cannot do and follow those rules explicitly. Make exceptions as rarely as possible.
You can’t keep getting distracted from your work by customers’ e-mails all the day. That will break your attention and you won’t do a good job on either. Dedicate a few hours a day to answering e-mails. Also, try to reply in the order the messages came – leaving difficult cases for later might just make you feel too lazy to solve them the same day.
Unfortunately, this will result in a lack of speed, but as mentioned before, quality is what matters in the first place.
9. Keep track of the recurring issues.
You must not forget about issues that take a lot of time to be resolved. If you promised a solution and postponed investigation for some reason, go back to it before too long! No one is there to remind you – except the annoyed customer, of course, whose reminder might not be very inspiring.
These recurring issues will also give you important insight on the improvements that you need to make for your company.
10. Give customers more than they ask for.
Solving a problem leaves customers satisfied, but extra service is what makes them loyal. There’s no guarantee that a satisfied customer will become a returning one. Loyalty is achieved by impressing the customer. Give a piece of additional information, ask if they need this or that, make a special offer, follow up in a couple of days to find out if the problem is solved and so on. When a customer sees extra effort, they want to keep coming back to you.
So it’s time to make the big decison… is your customer support going to stand out… or not?
What do you think of our tips? Did we leave anything out? Please let us know 🙂
Andriy – SupportYourApp