Last week I shared with you some of what I discovered from my week on the e-clinic support desk. As I said, 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. This week I’d like to share my top tips on getting the most from our support service.
Most of our support requests are easily resolved from the first contact. But we think with your help we can do better, so I see this as an opportunity to help clients to get the best out of our support service by giving you all a greater insight into the process. To that end, I’ve written my top 10 tips for getting the most out of e-clinic support. We want our technical support service to remain the best in our sector and to rise even higher than 700% better than average. Here’s how we think you can help us to achieve that.
1) Reporting your request by email is almost always better than by phone
I know that it’s tempting to call and ‘ask for Robin’, especially for clients who have been with us for a long time, but we’re twice the size we were just a few years ago, the world and the technology we use has moved on and the chances of Robin, or anyone, being able to take a call immediately are slim. Sending an email to email@example.com instantly generates a new support ticket which goes immediately into our support queue. If you call it usually takes longer for your ticket to be generated and all requests, however submitted, are handled strictly in order of ticket id.
It’s also far more efficient for you to send one email to support: there’s no benefit in also copying in other staff members whose personal email address you have. ZenDesk forwarding can quickly result in 1 email becoming 10 if you do this and this just creates unnecessary work which in turn leads to unnecessary delays.
So email is quicker unless…
2) The whole clinic has no access at all to e-clinic, in which please DO call
The one time we prefer a call is when you have no access at all to e-clinic especially if you are locally installed. By this, we mean that the entire clinic has no access, not just one person. A complete outage is generally an indication that your server has crashed. This is usually due to an overnight power cut or the notorious ‘cleaner accidentally unplugging the server’ syndrome, quite a common Monday morning problem. The only support request we ever prioritise out of ticket order is a complete outage. However, if you are cloud hosted, before you call us…
3) Do check your internet connection first
The vast majority of the calls we get about not being able to access our cloud servers turn out to be due to the client’s internet connection being down. Please check that you can do a Google search and try to send and receive email before you call. If you can’t do these things then you need to call your internet service provider not us, since we can’t do anything to help. When you do contact us always…
4) Make sure your support request tells us about the problem you’re having
If you send a vague email, such as, ‘Call me, I have a problem’ this will result in an exchange of emails whilst we try to ascertain what your problem is.
Out of fairness to all clients, we have a policy of responding by email until we have some clarity. Getting to the point sooner helps us to get to the root of your problem quicker. We’re not averse to calling you, in fact, we like talking to clients, but we’re often busy and rarely actually need to talk to you so we need to know what the problem is. So email support and…
5) Be clear and provide as much detail as possible
‘I’ve completed an appointment when I shouldn’t have. Please help!’ is a very common type of request.
Please tell us the details. In a request like this example, we’d like to see the patient ID along with the appointment date and time included in the request. Also, tell us what you want to be done. So ‘I’ve accidentally completed an appointment on 03/07/2014 at 10:00 for patient id 32 (Jean Smith). Can you reset it to Pending?’ would be ideal and get a fast result.
Even better would be ‘I’ve accidentally completed appointment id 1214 for patient id 32. Can you reset it to Pending?’ I know it looks impersonal, but it really speeds things up if you use ids rather than names wherever it’s not too much trouble to do so. We usually look at the raw data to solve problems and can’t always see names.
We can usually fix issues like this within a few seconds without having to disturb you as long as we have all the salient information. If we end up exchanging emails or playing ‘telephone tennis’ for an hour or two to get those details it causes lengthy delays and takes more of your time. As the header says, be clear and provide as much detail as possible.
6) Include a screenshot
That old cliché ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ may cause those of us of a certain age to have nightmares involving Telly Savalas’s gruesome number 1 hit from 1975 with a cover of the Bread song ‘If’, but it is never truer than on a technical support request. To take a screenshot use Snipping Tool on Windows, Command-Shift-3 (whole screen) or Command-Shift-4 (partial screen) on a Mac. Highlighting the issue with an arrow, a box or a virtual highlight marker helps us focus, especially on a very busy screenshot. Once you’ve sent your detailed request with a screen shot then please….
7) Be patient
We already know that your problem is very important to you. It really does go without saying. And it’s also very important to us. Honestly. But please remember that we have other clients and if we don’t call or email back immediately it doesn’t mean you’re being ignored. Calling us 2 minutes after you sent your request, or 5 times within the first 10 minutes of sending your request, will not bump you up the queue. It just slows down the queue.
Tech support workloads are highly unpredictable: sometimes we can go a whole day with only 2 or 3 requests. On other days we’ve been known to have 45 requests before 10am. There is usually no rhyme or reason to this. Sometimes we’ll get back to you in a minute, rarely it may take a few hours. Your contract is either for a 4 or 8 working hour response but over 70% of requests are responded to and resolved in under an hour. That’s a great level of service which I think sometimes goes unappreciated, which brings me to the next tip…
8) Be polite
Please. Always. We appreciate that sometimes, especially in rare and extreme cases such as a server crash, you are under pressure and stressed. Sometimes problems turn out to be very complex and can take a while to resolve. I’m helping a client and our support team to deal with a very complicated and very urgent web integration problem right now from the train, and everyone involved is being very calm and polite which makes it so much easier and less stressful.
9) Please don’t ask us to do your work for you
We don’t mind at all if a client contacts us for help with some of the more involved processes such as diary applications. In fact we expect and encourage this, but it surprises me how many clients consider it reasonable to send an email ordering us to apply their diaries for next year for them over the forthcoming weekend or bank holiday or call at 1:45 pm to demand that we help them with a report that they need to give to their directors by 2 pm. Please plan ahead, and if you still need this level of help with these functions after 2 years then please….
10) Get trained
Or at least read the manual and watch the YouTube videos. But really, get trained. Training isn’t an expense, it’s an investment. A well-trained user is so much more effective and you’ll get so much more out of e-clinic the more you understand it. It’s a myth that software can easily be learned without some expert input, at least for a sophisticated application such as e-clinic. We invest time and money in our own professional training which is why we’re a fully certified FBA Platinum member. We’re not asking you to do anything we don’t do ourselves.
Investment in training will repay itself many times over. We recently had a client over from Dubai for training and she was so happy she provided us with a glowing testimonial for our website despite the expense of flying and staying for three nights. We offer a range of training options including our scheduled courses (from £250 plus VAT) and onsite training (from £800 plus VAT).
I find it utterly perplexing that a company is happy to spend thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of pounds, on a sophisticated piece of software and is then reluctant to invest an additional few hundred pounds in order to maximise the return on such a large investment. It’s a bit like an unlicensed driver buying a shiny, new, expensive car then just jumping in and turning the key. The outcome is rarely good and highly predictable.
I appreciate that having your staff attend training also impacts on your clinic and that there are additional expenses such as travel and accommodation to factor in, but I don’t think I can overstate the value of spending a day learning e-clinic from an e-clinic expert.
We’ll soon be offering more hour-long training webinars with a very specific focus but we’re unsure whether or not to make a small charge. We did, briefly, offer these free of charge but found that some clients booked up all the spaces very quickly and then didn’t attend, leaving those who couldn’t get a place very frustrated. We think that by adding some value, however small, we may eliminate this problem. Webinars are a great way to learn about something very specific such as diary management, treatment group setups and reporting. Keep a look out for all our schedules in our newsletters.
And finally on the subject of training, if you appoint a new member of staff, please plan for their training and don’t assume it can be accommodated as part of your support contract! ‘I’m new and have been told to ring Robin for some training’ is a frequent ‘support request’ and will be met with a polite but firm no. In the last few minutes I’ve received an email telling me a client was expecting one of us onsite to give them a day of one to one training on the basis that they have a support contract and thought it was ‘just what we did’ (at our expense for about £400 travel and accommodation costs). We don’t like having to say no but please think through the economics. Our bronze support service costs just £12.50 per month for each new user (the additional £5 for silver support pays for the FileMaker licence) and this is also roughly the cost of the support portion of the hosting service. Expecting 10 or 20 hours of one-to-one online training, or a day of our time at your clinic, including us paying for a 500-mile round trip, for £12.50 seems more than a tad optimistic and if we acceded to these all too frequent requests we’d soon be out of business. And then we wouldn’t be able to offer you any kind of support.
Support is about fixing problems such as server crashes, data corruption, error correction. Training is training.
Did I say 10? As some of you know I’m a guitarist with a lifetime of playing with loud rock bands behind me. So, in true Spinal Tap style, let’s crank it up to 11…
11) I can’t log on to eBay/Facebook/online banking/get on the internet/clear the paper jam in my printer/get the toaster to work. Would you mind helping?
OK, so I made up that last one about the toaster but the rest are real enough and the short answer is yes, we would mind. Short of talking people through using the toaster, we’ve had pretty much every conceivable type of request over the years that involved something needing to be plugged in. Please remember that the e-clinic support team is there to support e-clinic and is not a general IT and assorted electronics support service.