I realised today that I have become far more empathetic to customer support and customer service agents. I was never rude in my dealings with them, but I’d often approach things from a point of frustration which makes for an immediately uncomfortable situation.

I know why I’ve become more empathetic, the answer is two-fold.

Firstly, I manage clients and customer needs on a daily basis. I have my clients who phone and email with queries on various projects be it during a current project or months down the line on a completed one. This is an easy one for me, I’ve built a relationship with the client over months or years, I’m tuned in to their way of thinking and I know how to successfully solve any issues. This is a no-brainer really. Aside from always being polite to people, if you want continued work and recommendations you need to stay on the good side of a client.

Secondly, I manage a support desk for WordPress themes I’ve built. This is where I have learnt the most about people and their problems. Sadly, I have seen the worst of people via this medium. You’d be surprised at how annoyed people can become before they even log a support ticket. By the time they hit the support website they are frustrated, tired and generally just pissed off.

It doesn’t matter on the price point of the product they’ve bought, I’m sure even at $1 they’d still be as angry and indignant.

Solving the problem

All I’d ask is that people follow a simple process when asking for help and support, paid for or otherwise. The following lists will help the person who needs the support and the person providing support to reach a solution more quickly and keep both sides happy and appreciated.

For the person asking for support

  • Don’t spend more than 5 minutes trying to solve the issue yourself, there may be a simple solution – log a ticket or pick up that phone, that is what the support agent is there for
  • Calm down before you pick up the phone or log that ticket
  • Stay calm for everything
  • Be clear and concise
  • Show everything you need to, attach screenshots, share code
  • Watch your language/be professional ie. Don’t be condescending
  • Say thanks as much as possible
  • When the issue is solved, be extra nice – make that persons day. I often sign off with “Thanks so much for your help, I love what your company does and you have been a massive help”

For the person offering the support

  • Stay calm for everything
  • Be clear and concise, but not obtuse, make sure you say “Hi” and “Thanks” and use friendly language
  • Show everything you need to, attach screenshots, share code
  • Watch your language/be professional ie. Don’t be condescending
  • Say thanks as much as possible
  • When the issue is solved, be extra nice – make that persons day. I often sign off with “Thanks so much for your helping me get to the bottom of the issue, it is customers like you that make our business so fulfilling”

We’re all trying to get somewhere

You’ll notice there is a pretty big overlap on those two lists, in summary: respect people and be nice

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