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Mayday, Mayday, Help Needed!

We’ve all dealt with them in some shape or form. Customer support desks, help desks, service support desks – whatever they are called, this is often our point of contact into a company that has or is providing us with a product or service.

customer service desk, customer supportThe people who are working in these places are, for the most part, genuinely trying to provide us with the best customer service that they possibly can. From their perspective, this can be improved by;

  1. Correct training in both phone technique/manner as well as the products or services that they are there to support.
  2. Pushing as much on-line to a support page as possible i.e. to reduce the amount of inbound calls for those smaller items that the caller could sort out themselves. The driver for pushing support knowledge on-line is usually cost reduction i.e. less people required, but it also frees up the knowledgeable people in support to work on the trickier problems without being swamped by unnecessary calls.
  3. A properly considered and supportive working environment. Working in support is stressful at the best of times – people usually only ring when they have a problem and tempers can fray!

But what about behind the support desk?

What about the rest of the company and its attitude towards customer service and support?

Customer support services go well beyond the abilities of the support desks in order for it to be a successful and note-worthy addition to a business. The entire business needs to be geared and trained to understand that customer support is not just about the folks on the front-line. It is about doing all that it is necessary to ensure that they, the customer, receive the type of support that expect.

At a simple level, a support desk will never know everything. They will know most things, but sometimes they rely on support from those in other areas. Often, this expertise is not forth-coming – the other teams are working on new and exciting things, they really don’t want to be bothered with covering old ground with questions on previous products/services that they created in the past.


Every member of the business has this responsibility. To make sure that this happens and to drive the customer service mentality into the mindset of every person, add it as a performance measurement and make their salary and/or bonus review partially dependant on their contribution to assisting the support function within your business.

Attitudes will change pretty quickly! Solutions will be found for those problems that keep happening as well – even better. Less support calls, less cost and happier customers!

So remember, if you are serious about delivering great customer support services in your business, it needs to go beyond the support desk. It’s about the entire business signing up to be a part of its success and implementation.

Is your business structured to ensure effective customer support? Does everyone have a responsibility to ensure its success?

Budding entrepeneur working on software product solutions for business. My background is mainly operational and senior management roles in mobile telecoms and software houses. Areas of expertise include professional services, out-sourcing, team management and general operations management. I've made the conscious decision to create my own company having spent the last 20 years learning in the corporate world. In my contributions to this forum, I will share some insights and learnings that I've picked up along the way and hopefully they will be useful to some or all!

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  • Cool post Barney. Makes sense. I worked for organisations that also said “everybody is in sales”. It depends on the focus of the company but the message is the same. I guess it’s all about “knowing your product” and delivering, regardless if it’s a customer support, sales or simple query. At the end of the day… for the customer, any employee talking on behalf of the brand, IS the brand.

  • Thanks Fred. You are quite right in what you say – an employee is the brand and how each responds to a customer will dictate the overall impression of that company.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Barney,

    Great point well made. I worked in tech support in a past life and it can be very difficult to manage if different departments aren’t talking to each other. From a customer perspective it is your company they are dealing with, they don’t care what department is responsble for what element-they want a fix from the company plain and simple. So, you’re bang on, it’s imperative that support is a whole-business focus.

    Thanks for that!

  • Good post, however I completely disagree with your second point, I don’t want to have to go online to get an answer to a problem, I want to TALK to someone, I think far too many companies are reducing the human factor in favour of cutting costs and that to me, is a bad thing.

  • Hello Mairead.
    I would agree that there is no replacement for being able to talk to a person if you need for support. The point I was making though is that by pushing support on-line e.g. knowledge base/self-service help, the customer has the option to help themselves. Many (not all) people will use this and prefer it to waiting in a call queue – especially for “niggly” things that can go wrong. I am not advocating that the customer cannot call if they desire – just to give them an option that works for both parties.

    Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  • The employees are the “Brand” of a company, as they are the first point of contact in most businesses. Don’t invest in them, and your brand can become whatever THEY want it to be…

    Great post!

  • Bob

    Very interesting case study Niall. And a great result for you client.nInteresting question from Beatrice below about smart phones. I weasn’t aware of this–will look out for your reply. I am in the process of launching an online TV station for 15-35 year olds and will be using a variety of online media for this.nFacebook will form the core of the marketing strategy and I would like to get an idea of what a campaign such as you ran for Mykidstime would cost me.

  • Customised tabs it is then 🙂

  • Luke –

    Hi, Niall excellent article and case study. As I’m very shortly turning my attention to our facebook page after the new website( and blog…. Gulp!) completes I am very interested to fond put the answer to the question Beatrice posed as my own usage and experience is broadly similar.

  • Hey Luke, happy to provide any heads up I can?

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