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Marketing Your New, More Effective Technical Support Team Print


By Randy Miller, Director of Services, Journyx

In the second article in this series, I discussed the importance of hiring and managing high quality staff in technical support.  In this final installment, I am going to illustrate how you can win over both other departments within the company and external customers when you rollout your new team.


A Hard Sell

What generally happens when you tell someone to do something?  It depends on your relationship with the person.  A complete stranger will probably ignore you.  An acquaintance might tell you no before they ignore you.  A friend will explain why they are ignoring you.  Your kids will pretend to obey while they do the exact opposite behind your back.  

This also extends to colleagues who do not work for you, which means that you need to develop some internal marketing to convince them before you can go public.  The good news is that once you do, they will be able to help you reach the customers with the right message about the new and improved technical support team.  

1.    Sales

Salespeople are mainly concerned with - you guessed it - sales, so you need to explain the support team's improvements in these terms.  For example, you can tell them that now that support is up to par, they will be able to call existing customers and ask for more business without encountering problems.  They will also be spending less time on the phone troubleshooting and more time selling.  

You will also need to put a process in place for salespeople to turn support cases over to you.  My recommendation would be to keep it simple.  A quick phone call will allow you to take down all the information in a matter of minutes.  The salespeople might even be willing to send an email to your helpdesk with the customer's name and problem.

2.    Marketing


The marketing team will be overjoyed when you start servicing happy customers, because they will be able to get reference quotes and success stories.  This is extremely useful in generating future sales, so you should do all you can to help them.  For example, you can find a way to set up automated customer satisfaction surveys after every support case is finished.

3.    Accounting

Your new way of doing technical support will also provide cost data that can be allocated to each specific customer.  If you can provide your accountants with data on how much technical support time each customer actually uses, they will be able to account those costs accurately.  This level of understanding costs per customer is a tremendously powerful profit-maximizing tool that can be used by those in charge of product planning (targeting products to more profitable segments) as well as your department (arguing for raising the support billings on the least profitable segments).  

Not only that, but providing your accountants with this data helps them make their collections.  Customers who are using a lot of support time are clearly using the service, so if they do not pay on time, a collection call that threatens to cut off their support should do the trick.  Conversely, customers who are not using much support time might need additional marketing or discounts to keep them on maintenance.  

Spreading the Word

Sales and Marketing can be a big help in reaching out to customers and sharing the good news about technical support improvements.  First, give the salespeople a new script to use with customers who need help: "I understand that this issue is important to you.  We have just revamped our technical support system, and the team is much faster at figuring out solutions to problems than I am.  They really care about fixing problems for you, so I will put them right on it."  That personal recommendation is worth more than all of the rest of this marketing combined.  You won't get it very often though, and certainly not to all of the contacts at every customer, so you will need to make some other announcements as well.

Does your company have a newsletter?  How about automated emails for website visitors and cover letters to go with your invoices?  Ask your marketing team to include a recommendation of the new technical support system in those communications.  They will be able to find the right messaging and location.  

Success

When you find that you are making your customers truly happy, they will begin giving your team compliments.  This is a good thing because it helps maintain morale.  In addition, saying something nice about you will reinforce the customer's good feelings about you.  They are more likely to repeat it to someone else if they have already said it once, and that is the best kind of marketing there is.    

Good luck in redesigning, staffing and marketing your technical support team.  Feel free to email me and share your success stories.

 

Randy Miller (c) 2008

About the Author:

Randy Miller has 11 years of customer-focused experience in sales and services delivery. Prior to joining Journyx in 1999 as the first Timesheet-specific sales rep, Randy spent five years in the Corporate Sales and Retail Management divisions of leading electronics retailer CompUSA. Since then Randy has held many different positions at Journyx, including Sales Engineer, Trainer, Consultant, Product Manager, Support Team Manager, and Implementation Manager for Enterprise Accounts. Randy has personally managed development and implementation efforts for many of the company's largest customers and is a co-holder of several Journyx patents. Randy was named Director of Services in 2005. Randy can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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