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Customer Service Topics

Customer Support (Call Center) Consulting Services
Quality Metrics  


Customer Support (Call Center)

The focal point of quality customer services is often the customer support team. This is the group of people customers want to contact to solve problems with the products they buy. Although we live in the age of technology, and are moving more in that direction every day, the human touch remains essential. A good call center is surrounded with technology add-ons -- Knowledge Base, FAQ documents, user discussion forums, white papers, guides, etc. The biggest challenge is in serving a global market place, something companies are facing earlier in their history than ever before. When do you provide 24x7 support, how much can you charge for it, is it centralized or regionalized, do partners provide front-line handling? Many questions to examine. One of the most valuable things a reference account will look for, is quality customer support. We'll explore the more common ones. More

Consulting Services

An opportunity for additional revenues -- not really. An opportunity to generate more product sales, for sure. Unless you are in the services business, consulting around your product family tends to be a necessary evil to secure key customers, especially when just starting out. Over time you should see an ecosystem of service partners develop that are more than happy to provide the consulting services for your product family -- let it happen. If it does not happen, you should question the size of your market. Few product companies successfully build large and meaningful service practices to go with it (of course, it may be something that your product needs and only you can do it, so it can happen). It's still a services business and it should generate revenue if you dabble in this area at all - nothing for free. Let's examine how to get started and some of the basic principals that should be set up to establish excellence in this area. More

Quality Metrics

The customer service functions tend to be the main source of direct input as to what is going on with customers and prospects. Putting in place a metric gathering system, whether formalized or not, is one of the best ways of gathering requirements for future versions of a product. In fact, the customer service group itself tends to be an often overlooked area to obtain valuable product feedback from (this is covered in other sections, including Product Management) so most companies miss a chance to fine tune their product investments in ways that would directly impact the success of new sales sitiations (pre-sales) and the satisfaction of existing customers (post-sales).

Tracking the number of calls that come in, the time taken to close them, which area of the product is most called about, etc are just a few of the valuable sources of input the Company should pick up on when planning next releases. This information is centered in the customer service functions and is usually easily mined for data.

As a business leader, you should be aware of the overall quality status of your Company's products, You should not have any hesitance engaging a customer in a direct discussion about overall product quality. Few customers ever get a chance to speak to the business leader (CEO), most would be very willing to work with the team to help solve even the most critical problems if they knew the CEO was overlooking the Company's commitment to getting issues resolved. Let's look in more detail at a variety of quality metrics and how they can be fed back into the business to create continual improvement. More