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IT Customer Service Skills: What Customers Want

what customers want

As an IT manager, CIO, or MSP owner, if you frequently have to deal with end-user and customer complaints, it’s time to re-evaluate your IT team’s customer service skills. Studies show that poor customer service will negatively impact your company’s bottom line. Usually, a client’s first interaction with your department or business will involve a type of customer service. 

One way to determine what customers want is by tracking CSAT or Net Promoter Scores, but you first need to determine what customer questions to ask and how to collect the information. After you’ve identified what the challenges are, you can decide what to do with the data. We also encourage you to consider tracking your Customer Effort Score as a barometer of your organization’s performance with customers.

Types of Customer Needs in IT?

IT customer needs vary greatly from the simple to the complex, from routine requests such as password resets to confounding issues that make no sense. The common thread through all IT customer service issues, however, is that they have an impact on people’s lives, both personal and professional. Unlike retail customer service where an issue might be annoying, IT customer service issues can affect someone’s livelihood or even their life. Like other forms of customer service, however, you still want happy customers.

What are IT Customer Expectations?

Customer expectations in IT are different from other types of customer service. In IT, your customer’s livelihood may depend on the systems you support operating as they’re supposed to. A human life may actually depend on the system you support. Your customer may be under tremendous pressure from their team lead to finish a project on time, in public safety the system you support may support critical safety services, or in health care the system you support may assist health care professionals in life or death decisions. In other words, IT customer service is about much more than solving a typical customer service issue. IT customers often expect, actually require a higher level of customer experience than in other fields due to the mission-critical nature of the systems you support.

What are the Types of Customer Service in IT?

A typical breakdown of IT customer service types includes:

  • Tier 0: A self-serve portal and automated processes. This could include documentation, how-to-guides, FAQ pages, instructional videos, and walkthroughs.
  • Tier 1: Front-Line Tech Support. These are often entry-level positions that provide support on common requests such as password resets, printer connections, and browser caching issues.
  • Tier 2: Problem-Solving. This is a more senior-level technical support for issues that couldn’t be resolved by front-line support.
  • Tier 3: Engineering-Level Technical Support. This level is where the most experienced and knowledgeable technicians and engineers work to resolve complex issues.

Remember the Harvard Business Review article that showed how customer satisfaction is tied to customer effort. What customers want is simplicity. The less customer effort required to resolve the issue, the happier they are. In other words, look for ways to resolve as many issues as possible at Tier 0 or Tier 1.

What is an IT Customer’s Preferred Method of Communication?

IT customer communication channels can include:

  • Customer Self-Service
  • Email
  • Chat
  • Text
  • Phone
  • Zoom
  • In-Person
  • Social Media

Your decision about which channel to use will be based on the type of communication, how wide a reach you need, how much interaction will be required, and customer preference. You’ll also consider budget and staffing issues in choosing the communication channel.

If you use Zoom or other video conferencing tools, make sure your background is uncluttered and professional-looking. Also, do a quick check in a mirror for things like spinach in your teeth.

A TalkDesk study showed customer communication preferences as follows:

Phone36%
Live chat33%
Email25%
Online support portal5%
Social media2%

As you might expect, those percentages change, however, based on demographic. Millennials, for example, show a 52% preference for live chat. Older customers prefer phone calls. Know your customers in order to deliver a great customer experience.!

Be careful not to underestimate the importance of customer preference. You may prefer to have tickets opened via, say, a phone call, but what customers want may be a different channel such as text, email, or even social media. If you’re not willing to meet your customer on their preferred channel, your competitor might be.

What Customers Want is Good Basic Service

Build end-user and customer loyalty by understanding the unique IT customer needs while also taking care of the basics. Resist the temptation to fall for catchy phrases and marketing slogans. Instead, focus on reducing customer effort, meeting customers where they are (in other words, using the customer’s preferred communication channel), and taking care of the basics: 

  • Be competent. Stay up to date on the systems you support.
  • Resolve in a single contact. Don’t make them call back again and again for the same issue.
  • Treat them with dignity and respect even really smart people can get flummoxed by computers.
  • Be a good listener. Take notes to ensure you don’t forget something important that they said. This is also often called active listening.
  • Be compassionate and empathetic. Always remember, that’s a human being on the other end of the call. Imagine how you might feel and what you might want if you were in their position.
  • Use positive language. Remain factual in your statements however you want to look for ways to encourage rather than speak negatively about the circumstance.

IT customer service representatives are in a unique position to positively affect people’s lives. When you take time to understand the various types of customer needs and the unique customer requirements in IT, while always remembering you’re dealing with a human being on the other end of the call, you’ll naturally provide an excellent customer service experience that builds loyal customers, whether you’re a service provider or an internal IT department.

Next Level Customer Service Training

Enroll your team now in Compassionate Geek IT customer service training so they can work together, get things done, and take care of customers.

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