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CUSTOMER SERVICE

How to Use Your Help Desk to Create Loyal Fans: 5 Tips

Want to offer warm and fuzzy customer support? Follow this simple advice.
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Think back to the last time you had a problem which necessitated contacting some kind of online support. Personally, nothing vexes me more than receiving an automated reply when I'm hung up. How long will it take the unknown entities on the other side to actually have eyeballs on my problem? When someone finally responds, is it in a detached, go-to-this-URL-and-do-such-and-such manner, or does the person appear to actually care that I'm having trouble?

When it comes to brand loyalty, how a company makes a customer feel during support interactions is paramount. In fact, the times when your customers need help are great opportunities to make them loyal fans--if handled well, that is.

For example, Eventbrite makes its phone number easy to find and takes calls 24/7, typically answering calls by a live person--not an aggravating automated tree--within 30 seconds. Or ShortStack has a 98 percent approval rating from customers who've interacted with its support agents without ever speaking to one of them by phone, instead focusing on things like responding quickly, using an authentic voice and creating a wealth of web content.

Aishwarya Hariharan, marketing analyst at Freshdesk, has another idea: Make your help desk invisible. In a recent blog post she writes about a hallway conversation with a coworker who gushed about a customer service experience she had had with Buffer. While Hariharan also remembered a pleasant support interaction with Amazon, it wasn't delightful enough to mention to anyone.

The difference?

"While my brain told me [Buffer] had to be using some software to handle the volume of support requests, they betrayed no signs of it," she writes. "The whole interaction was like a simple email exchange; there was no mention of tickets or numbers or statuses or priority. There was no hint of automation; it was as if a friend wrote to her."

Here's Hariharan's advice for making your help desk invisible.

Do not include ticket numbers in emails and subject lines.

If you're using customer support software check to see if there's a toggle you can turn off to hide this information. Most help desk solutions offer some kind of feature that lets you do this automatically or manually.

Do not send automatic emails communicating that a problem has been resolved.

You want to appear personable, friendly and human. When's the last time a friend notified you via email that your conversation was over? "You don't have to turn off your agent notifications (your agents still need them to keep on top of tickets) but turning off requester notifications is a must, for maintaining the ruse," she writes. "If removing all of your requester notifications is unavoidable, make sure you customize them within an inch of their life."

Remove the word "helpdesk" from your URL.

Instead of company.helpdesk.com, use something like help.company.com. It's a subtle nuance, but words are remarkably powerful things.

Makeover your support portal.

It needs to appear as if your support portal is part of your website. Fiddling with color palettes and adding your logo isn't enough.

Pay attention to small details.

For example, use the agent's name in the sender's name field instead of "support team." And customize your signature to include something friendly, such as "Have a great day!"

Want more ideas on how you can nail customer support? Check out 10 Ways to Build a World-Class Customer Service Team which takes a look at Eventbrite's unique approach.

Last updated: Jul 17, 2014

CHRISTINA DESMARAIS

Christina DesMarais is an Inc.com contributor who writes about the tech start-up community, covering innovative ideas, news, and trends. On Google+, add her to one of your circles. Have a tip? Email her at christinadesmarais (at) live (dot) com.




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