Customer support software has become more sophisticated over the years. Most are equipped with capabilities that were only available in enterprise software in the past without making the price out of reach of smaller businesses.
But what should it do?
For one thing, it needs a way to record customer information and make it easily retreived later. How much information do you want on your customers? Probably more than just name, address, and phone. You would probably like to record what products the customer orders or owns as well as who the contacts are for that business with all of their information. And if the business has multiple locations, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to connect them to the head office yet have a way to record and retreive customer information for that particular branch?
What other information might you want? Maybe a billing number, sales ID, and accounting ID? How about a customer category, their status, and their standing with your company? To round it out, you might need space to put notes about individual customers in free text. All customer information in one place, easily found with a keystroke or two. Archiving older records is a capability that could save yourself a lot of trouble if you need to prove anything to a regulatory agency and the like.
Voila! One part has been defined. And if you don’t need all that information, the software should allow you to customize the application to fit the way you do business.
- Name, Address Phone, Email
- Contacts with their own information
- Record of products/services/assets with purchase history
- Connect multiple locations
- Billing/SLA information
- Sales ID, accounting ID, category, standing, status, notes
And now, for the rest of the story….
This is the part where the information about the incident is recorded. Maybe you call them tickets, problems, issues, or something else entirely. For this article I will use incidents. What information would be nice to have for the incident itself?
A number, automatically generated, unable to be modified or deleted, would give that incident an individual ID plus an easy way to find it. This prevents duplication of ticket numbers which could cause no end of headaches for you and your customers. The incident is then assigned to the appropriate customer.
For future use in analytics, a way to capture what source the incident information came from is very handy. With so many ways for information to reach you available now, it would be good to know how many from where to help with staffing levels and assignments. Telephone, fax, email, chat, self service, all should be able to be counted.
A most important piece of information needed for your incident is which product is under investigation? How do you identify it? There are product codes, make and model, description, product keys such as serial numbers or software keys.
More needed information: how to bill for the incident, what the problem is, the department the incident is assigned to, the agent the incident is assigned to, when the customer should receive a response, follow up dates, due dates, the severity of the incident, its priority, classification, status, and resolution.
- Incident number assignment, customer assignment, source
- Product identification
- Department assignment
- Agent assignment
- Due times for responses, followups, and completion dates
- Severity level, priority, classification, and status
- A full description of the problem
As before, the software should be customized to your business processes, not the other way around.
With all this information, trend reports, SLA reports, customer reports, many different kinds of reports can be generated to help guide business decisions. Maybe you need to know if a particular product is having a problem in the field. Or conversely, if a customer seems to be having more than his fair share of problems.
Resolutions could be put into a knowledge base to help the agent or customer to fix the same problem later without need of another investigation.
Once last nice-to-have, although by no means the only one, is a way to track time: phone time, recording time, other bits of time that can help with staffing and training.
At a minimum, these are the things I would like to be able to record in a customer support system. You may have different needs. The software should be able to adapt to those needs, both in flexibility and scalability. And then there is affordability.
PhaseWare Tracker can do all this and more. So can other software solutions, but we like to think we do it better and for less cost.