Getting started: Step 1 - Plan
Updated: Mar 4, 2019
Planning is the first important step towards creating a strong support function for your business. Before getting your hands dirty and really starting to set up your support department, you need to have an understanding of the support you want to provide, boundaries and ticket flow.
I always start by developing an understanding of the desired outcome in order to build the support for the client’s needs and resources.
Think about what kind of of support you want to provide and where your clients are based.
Support description / offering
What kind of questions will you most likely receive: product related how-to questions or complex technical questions, or both?
Should support also take care of contract, ordering and invoicing questions?
In case of very technical support, are there any boundaries for how far possible issues are troubleshooted?
Do you have any estimation of amount of contacts?
Do you need to offer multi-language support?
Do you need to provide support in different time zones?
Do you need to provide 24/7 support?
Will you have a dedicated person(s) to do customer support, or will it be a communal effort?
The questions above affect the choice of ticketing system and how to configure it. In order to set up your selected ticketing platform, you need to know which departments are involved with solving the support tickets, how tickets will be escalated/transferred to them, and who will communicate with the client. This will determine which fields to use or create and which integrations to other systems should be established.
Ticket flow - Transferring tickets to other teams:
How to transfer a sales related question from support to sales?
How to transfer customer success questions from support to success?
If a sales person receives a question from the client that they can’t answer, how is that passed to support in the most efficient and customer friendly way?
Do you need to escalate tickets to 3rd parties (e.g. a supplier or a service provider) and how that is done?
How to transfer tickets to other internal technical teams?
Who should own the communication with clients (e.g. should developers talk directly with the client?)
Will they be using a ticketing system as well?
Will they only be notified in Slack or in other group chats?
How do other teams follow up on those requests?
How does the support person see the answer and get notified about it?
Should there be an integration with other tools (like JIRA if developers are using it) to share escalated tickets?
If your service is fully in-house, and you do not need any 3rd parties to offer you a platform or service, and support is provided only with 1 language, that is great! That makes your support much easier to build. All you have to decide is how to handle tickets when other internal teams are needed.
Sometimes the support setup requires more planning, especially when 3rd parties are involved. Or when providing multi-language support and the client needs to receive support in their own language through the ticket handling process. For example, this setup might require that the ticket ownership remains in support where all the different languages are spoken, while the other tiers can have all English speaking agents.
Personally I believe that every client should have the opportunity to discuss with an experienced and knowledgable support agent. The position where people just blindly collect information and follow pre-set processes can be replaced with a chat bot or other self-service options. Save your hardworking team’s time by handling more complex tickets instead.
Also, particularly at the beginning, when the volume of incoming cases is low, you might want to start with an all-hands-in approach. This is a cost efficient solution, and makes everyone involved, while also feeling the “customer’s pain” and appreciating the support department in a totally different way. However, this solution requires that everyone is motivated to do support, they know the product and processes inside out, they have the necessary soft skills to provide exceptional customer service and that information is well documented and communicated between all team members.
Whatever your situation and desired outcome is, it is important to start with some planning, to ensure you offer a great support experience with required internal processes in place.
As you gain more experience with how the established support works and your business grows, existing setup should be evaluated and improved accordingly.