17 Apr 2015 - Digital Strategy // By Productive Edge Team

The 5 P's Of Product Support

Product support is a client-facing role that can sometimes be a bit chaotic, depending on the demands of the client and the extent of the issues that surface. Keeping a positive attitude and a strong work ethic is pertinent to succeeding in the role. There are a few key points to keep in mind and focus on to ensure personal success and a satisfied client:

Positive Communication: Whether your communication with the client is face-to-face, over the phone, or via email, communicating with a positive tone is imperative to maintaining a good relationship with your client. You may find yourself in a position where you have to deliver less than satisfying news. However, if you are able to convey your message in way that adds a positive spin on the otherwise negative message, you can preserve the client’s faith in your abilities to provide exceptional customer service.  If you are letting them know that there is an issue or something major has gone wrong, assure them that you are actively working to find a way to alleviate it.

For example, if there is a server crash or an issue with high impact, be sure to provide your client with all the information you have as soon as you are aware of the issue. Reassure the client that you are actively working towards resolution, and provide hourly updates as you make progress. This way, the news will not appear to be purely negative, and the client will not only have confidence in your ability to resolve an issue, but will also trust that any future issues will be handled effectively.

Patience: Working with a demanding client can sometimes cause a great deal of frustration. It is important to remember that frustration is temporary and if you allow it to show, it can be detrimental to your relationship with the client. Impatience is a display of negativity, which will only result in further issues to irritate you and pull you into a vicious cycle of frustration. Think about your words and actions before you deliver them to guarantee that they will not portray any discontent with those you are working with. It will pay off in the long run.

When you’re working with a client, take some time to understand them by asking questions that will help you understand their expectations. This way, you can anticipate potential demands and set out a plan of how you are going to address them. By setting expectations for both yourself and the client, you will be able to maintain your composure in any high-stress conversation.

Proactivity: By definition, support is typically considered a reactive role. An issue occurs and then you work to resolve it. However, taking a pro-active approach to support will not only prevent future problems but will also show your client that you are taking your efforts above and beyond. Thinking ahead will give you visibility that a reactive attitude will not.

Come up with monitoring and maintenance plans so that you catch a problem before it goes haywire. Whether you are able to set up an automated process or something you will need to do manually, you will be able to eliminate many potential issues falling on your plate and requiring urgent action.  Develop day-to-day checkpoints within a system to catch any gaps that may result in bugs or defects. While it may seem like more effort up front, it will pay off in the long run and will either prepare you for a storm ahead or prevent it altogether.

Process: Support can be a very hectic environment, especially when something unexpected arises. It’s difficult to get to a destination without a map, so having a standard, detailed process outlining the steps you need to take in order to resolve an issue will be beneficial. With this preparation, you will have a clear path to follow when unexpected issues arise and you will avoid the possibility of having to investigate and issue blindly. Make the client aware of this process so that everyone is in the loop. You will keep the client’s mind at ease and instill a confidence in them that you can handle whatever comes your way.

Create a process flow chart that encompasses a detailed, step-by-step process that outlines exactly what you need to do when an issue arises. We are creatures of habit, so creating a process that you can use repeatedly will help you develop habits for success. Use the flow chart as a standard guide for each problem you set out to tackle, and it will become second nature to you. Having clear-cut guidelines set out will make the path to resolution smooth and foreseeable.

Persistence: When things go awry, it is important remain determined to fix what is broken. A resolution is not always within an arm’s reach, but it is there. You want to prove to the client that you have the ability to work through anything they throw your way. Don’t give up on something just because the answer is not clear from the get go.  The client will appreciate your tenacity and “never give up” attitude.

Even experts on a given system can experience the occasional “curve ball.” When this happens, ask yourself a series of questions to evaluate the problem and potential paths to a solution: What resources do I have available? Who can I connect with who may be knowledgeable about this issue? When dealing with a similar issue in the past, what path did I take to find the resolution? Nobody knows everything; the key here is to keep utilizing your resources until you find the answers you are looking for.

Keeping yourself armed with these tools will guarantee not only your success within a support role, but will also create excellent rapport with any client you work with. People respond well to positivity and structure. Create an environment surrounded by these concepts and you are sure to be a product support rock star!

The 5 P's Of Product Support