As I write this article I find myself on the 6:36 East Coast Shipley to London train for a meeting. My frequent train journeys to and from London are always a useful time to reflect and plan. Being difficult to contact for a few hours has many advantages when you want to think.
Today I’m focused very much on our support service. Recently I had an interesting week in the e-clinic office. By a quirk of fate or, more accurately, some not very smart management on my part, we found ourselves reduced to just two technical staff that week, with Joe and Robin on holiday and Danielle on a training course (more of which later). This meant that I was directly involved in the tech support process to a degree which I haven’t been for a number of years.
It was an illuminating experience. It was, at times, fun, interesting, frustrating and utterly perplexing. Most of all, it was very useful. I’d like to think that I’m more of a people-person than most IT geeks and so I genuinely enjoyed the opportunity to spend a bit more time interacting with clients. Having said that, front line tech support is a tough job which I certainly would not want to do full time. I just don’t have the skills and I’ll happily admit that. If it’s possible, I appreciate what my team does even more now than I did before.
It was a valuable week in that it cemented my firm view, which I’d been forming for about 18 months, that we needed a better support management system than the one we created for ourselves about 12 years ago. It seems natural in some ways as a software house that we should write all our own in-house software, but the danger is that ‘decorator’s house’ syndrome will set in, and that was very much the case. Our support software, whilst it did the basics of recording and queuing the support requests well enough, didn’t really provide a coherent platform for managing lengthy, complex support threads with a single record for each thread. It also didn’t provide the management information I was really looking for.
So, in the spirit once more of practicing what we preach, after discussing a rewrite we came to the conclusion that we should really focus our development team’s efforts on e-clinic and forget about reinventing the wheel. We’ve been looking at alternatives for a while and having toyed with a few options we decided that ZenDesk was the best one. We’re very happy we took the plunge. I won’t bore you with the benefits and features of ZenDesk other than to say that in a very short time it has made our lives much easier and significantly improved the transparency of our support service.
It has also provided us with some valuable statistics. One of the great advantages of the ZenDesk platform is that you can compare yourself across the whole sector and it was very satisfying to learn that our response and resolution times are 700% better than the sector average. That’s even better than I thought it was and is, I’m sure, one of the primary reasons why we have such client high retention rates.
Back though to my week as a support agent. In addition to making up my mind about ZenDesk, it also taught me a great deal about client behaviour: the good, the bad and, I’m afraid, the ugly. In my next post, I’ll share some of my experiences and my thoughts about them with you and give you my top 10 tips for getting the support you want.