Customer support is something I provide every single day. Whether it is for customers of my themes or my business clients, today I’m going to talk about support for a product or service and not a mention of the new iPhone 7 in sight either!

Use a system

I’ve experimented with a few ways of supporting customers from item comments on ThemeForest to email to finally settling on a dedicated third-party support system. I use Ticksy – it is super cheap, has Envato integration, can be easily branded and is being continually improved. You can’t go wrong with that really!

I’ve heard good things about Help Scout although I’ve not had the need to use it yet.

Stay away from trying to manage support via standard email, it is very easy to lose emails or suddenly find them landing in junk. One of the main advantages of using Ticksy is that open tickets can be seen by anyone, which means that they are likely to find an answer to their questions without the need to even submit a ticket. You can also easily turn solutions into knowledge base articles and write your own articles on specific issues.

Whenever I get communication from Twitter, Facebook, item comments or email I always direct them back to the central hub of support, Ticksy.

Be timely

The single most important part of customer support is speed of response. This will on most occasions squash any immediate panic from customers. I use a two-pronged approach. Firstly, set an expectation for response times from the outset. I prefer not to display a “current response time”, instead I opt for setting a 48 hours response time.

The second part of the approach is to respond to support tickets much faster than that! I typically respond within 1 day even at the weekend and whilst in the office, I’ll reply within seconds or minutes. Yes, I frequently respond within a minute to tickets if I see them pop in!

This should hopefully impress the customer by exceeding their expectations from the first point of contact with you.

Stay calm

More often than you would imagine, a customer will come to you in a overly frustrated and even aggressive state of mind. Don’t read into the tone of their comments. If the contents of their support ticket sounds obtuse, rude or overly brief remember that English may not be their first language and they may have been working away themselves trying to solve this issue for hours getting more and more frustrated. Keep it calm and professional in your response and try to put their minds at rest.

I often use phrases like “Don’t worry we’ll have you back on track” and “you’re in safe hands” its a bit cliché I know but it helps to put people’s mind’s at rest.

Be nice

Whatever the tone of the support ticket, however stupid you think the question is or how confused the explanation of their issue is – be nice in your responses. Never ever add any tone to your replies, keep them to point, address them by name and always sign off with a thanks.

Most of my tickets go something like this:

Hi Jasper,

You should be able to translate the theme via the provided .mo/.po and .pot files.

Relevant Article: How do I translate the theme?

Please let me know if this isn’t clear or if there is anything else I can help with.

Thanks

Chris

Be clear

As I deal with support from all countries, I try not to add too many colloquialisms into my vernacular. In fact, that’s a good example of how not to write something… colloquialisms and vernacular. If that was a support ticket I’d write that sentence as: As I deal with support from all countries, I try to stick to plain English so everything makes sense.

Don’t be too brief and try to explain things concisely but in-depth enough to get your point across. It is a fine balance and it does take some practice.

Avoid duplication and frustration

More often than not a customer will come to you with a multi-faceted issue or a number of questions all in one stream of consciousness.

Split out their questions into a numbered format so you can track responses from that point onwards.

Explain every solution to each of their points with no room for expectations and give the customer options where applicable. For example: If they’ve asked for how to hide the date with CSS, don’t just send them something that will hide the date everywhere. Send them a snippet for hiding the date everywhere, hiding the date on the article and hiding the date on the archive/homepage.

A customer quite often doesn’t always mean what they say or explain things clearly enough. Providing them with a few options will stop the need for them to say “Oh I meant hide the date on the post only”.

Always check logins as soon as they come in, many customers send these and they don’t work. It is very frustrating from a customer’s perspective to wait a day or two between requests, so whatever you can do to expedite things will save you and them time.

Go that extra mile

On about 60% of tickets, even if I’ve solved the issue first time the customer just doesn’t reply. Before I close a ticket down, I’ll usually check the website link from the customer to make sure they’ve implemented the solution to their issue.

If they haven’t I’ll send a polite reminder to check that they are happy and ask if they need more help. If they have I’ll close the ticket down leaving a comment explaining that I’m closing the ticket as it looks like they’ve resolved the issue but to let me know if there is anything else they need.

People just want to be appreciated and cared for and this seemingly simple communication can go a long way. Maybe the customer will buy more of your products because the support was so good, maybe they’ll recommend you to others, maybe they’ll give your item a good rating. If you are really lucky they may even write a blog post about their experience.

Summary

Make people happy and keep them happy, you’re business will be all the better for it. Instil the same level of passion in your product or service from beginning to end including your customer support. You won’t regret it.