Best Practices for Providing Virtual Customer Support for IT Clients

providing virtual customer support

As a CIO or MSP owner, you’ve probably struggled with how or if to get your customer support staff back to the office. You may have heard stories from friends and colleagues ranging from successful experiences to downright awful experiences providing virtual customer support. You may have even been through such experiences yourself. Here are some things you need to know as you consider whether to bring your customer service team back to the office, let them continue working from home, or some sort of hybrid model.

When you think about providing virtual customer service, you may consider virtual agents using AI with chatbots, for example. You might also consider the type of virtual support that uses live human agents working through Zoom, Teams, or remote control apps. For the purpose of this post, we’ll focus on live customer service agents working virtually, but still providing human contact.

Recent work by the Gallup organization indicates that employee engagement is “highest for those workers who are hybrid or fully remote and engagement is lowest for fully on-site workers”. Does that mean you should forgo a fully on-site workplace? Not necessarily. Gallup research also indicates that the best workplaces are those that care for their employees and work to increase employee engagement.

Are you asking the right questions?

In conversations with CIOs and MSP owners globally, we frequently hear the question, “Should I require my teams to return to the office?” That’s the wrong question. Instead, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are my desired outcomes?
  • What is the best way to achieve them?
  • How will I measure them?
  • What are my customer preferences?
  • What are the operational costs associated with the various options?
  • How will my decision affect customer satisfaction?
  • What is the best way to drive customer engagement?
  • What will deliver the best customer experience?
  • What will produce the greatest customer satisfaction?

To quote Stephen Covey, “Begin with the end in mind.” In other words, don’t start with the process, start with your desired outcome. The answers will be different for each organization, whether you’re a CIO or IT manager with a corporate IT department, at a university or school district, or an MSP business owner or manager. As you answer these questions, you’ll arrive at an answer to the question about whether or not to bring your teams back to the office.

When you understand the “why” behind your decision, you’ll be able to convey this to your IT team and develop a plan to ensure you retain satisfied customers. A well-trained virtual team does not have to increase your security risks. As you think through the necessary collaboration tools for success,  proactive communications will allow you to provide virtual customer support satisfactorily. Also, consider setting aside time for training staff in emotional intelligence and customer support.

As you think about how to deliver customer satisfaction, you’ll probably be providing virtual customer support at some level in your offerings. Be careful not to get hung up on the methodology. Instead, focus on the outcomes you want to achieve, customer demand, and operating costs.

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