RE: procedures for handling customer calls

Subject: RE: procedures for handling customer calls
From: Tom Johnson <johnsont -at- starcutter -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2000 08:53:29 -0500

Rene asked about setting up procedures for customer service calls. Jeanne
gave the simple answer (below) which may work well in industries where
people call in to find out how to change printer settings or other
simplistic problems. However in other industries there are a lot of things
that could be considered.

Will this require an onsite visit to fix a problem? This is very common in
my industry. What priority will be given to service calls if service people
are tied up? How do you make sure all calls for assistance have been
satisfied? How do you follow up to make sure a repair is performing
satisfactorily? Do you want to track the support calls to find out what the
most common problems are? This is a good source of information for future
development work. If you can change the interface, or the on-line help, or
the manuals to eliminate the most common calls, then you are doing a better
job of satisfying the customer's needs. Unless your company wants to charge
money for support calls (making it a revenue base), it is probably a good
thing to take steps to reduce the number of calls and spend the money on
development instead.

Spend some time working with some flow charts to track the work flow,
especially if calls will not always be handled immediately. Start with the
call coming in. How does the operator know who to direct the call to? If
SME#1 needs to defer to someone else (SME#2), how do you know the call
doesn't just sit in SME#2's voicemail box for two weeks while she is on

Consider every reasonable possibility. For instance, a call comes in late
on a Friday afternoon; how do we make sure someone follows up on Monday
morning. Document the easiest scenarios first and then start trying to
think of everything that could go wrong. This is a good chance to show off
your amazing technical communicator skills by analyzing the situation and
writing procedures that will handle every reasonable scenario.

There are many companies who provide customer service programs that track a
lot of information about customer support calls and help track the
response. Many of them build knowledge bases as you go so that you can type
in the customer's question word for word and it will feed back an answer
for the customer service rep to give to the customer. These programs can
cost up to many thousands of dollars, but may be worth the expense in some
industries. However, I would suggest you get a good feel for what the
support calls are like before you start investigating software. It is a
huge chore to evaluate these programs and the stakes are high. A bad
program is worse than no program in my mind. The better you can understand
your needs, the better you can choose the right program.

Tom Johnson
Marketing Coordinator/Technical Writer
Elk Rapids Engineering Div., Star Cutter Company

johnsont -at- starcutter -dot- com - work
thomasj -at- freeway -dot- net - personal

On Tuesday, March 07, 2000 7:46 PM, Jeanne A. E. DeVoto [SMTP:jaed -at- jaedw] wrote:
> At 12:40 PM -0800 3/7/2000, Rene Stephenson wrote:
> >We are beginning the process of setting up customer service. We are just
> >starting to research the procedures to implement when a customer service
> >representative receives a call from a customer. We would love to see
> >procedures that work(ed) at other companies. The industry is irrelevant.
> 1. Pick up ringing phone.
> 2. Answer customer's question or solve customer's problem.
> Seriously, what kind of procedure are you looking for here? What problem
> you see that you're seeking a procedure to solve? Customer service is not
> an easy job, but it's usually pretty straightforward, at least at the
> of "what to do when a customer service representative receives a call
> a customer".
> --
> jeanne a. e. devoto ~ jaed -at- jaedworks -dot- com

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