The Advantage of In-house Support

- 5 mins

The Advantage of In-house Support

Let’s face reality. Support is often seen as a cost center, and an unpleasant service a business has to provide. Not many thoughts go into the chosen medium via the service is provided. However, support is critical to the day to day running of a business and for ensuring customer satisfaction. In general, we can distinguish between two primary support types:

Today we want to take a closer look at in-house support and how engineering teams can benefit from providing and owning the support service of a business.

Support - The Software Engineer’s angle

Support represents the company’s culture, and it is often the only direct, unfiltered feedback link businesses have established to its customers. Communication is the key part of an excellent support experience. The right choice of communication channels and mediums affects not only the support experience, but it also affects the perceived business image. Questions like “Do we need to provide a live chat or are phone numbers and emails sufficient ways of how the customer can reach out to us?” need careful consideration.

Defining the scope

One thing that often gets underestimate is how the employees’ happiness correlates to the scope of the support tasks. Not everyone wants to do 1st Line support; some prefer live chat and screen sharing over an email. The key to employee engagement and a successful support culture is to define clear boundaries and define ownership and accountability of each task. An example is at what point other teams need to get involved in support and at what scale. All support inquiries should reach a central platform in the first instance. The support engineer on duty is responsible for the right allocation and distribution to other departments, be it because of already established customer relationships or to access the knowledge required to solve the customer needs best. The golden rule is to open only one communication channel per inquiry.

How to provide a delightful support experience - for both customers and employees

Having worked both in a corporate support team and being on a support rota in a small scaling up a startup, support was always representing the primary contact point for inquiries and incident reporting. I’m sharing some of my experiences in the below list.

The right mix

Organizations need to find, define, and align their support with their own company culture to enable the best support experience. The tone as well the channels of communication affect the first impression. Embrace every support ticket as an opportunity to understand your customer better.

Short turnarounds for fixing small bugs, implementing small feature requests, or gaining new insights into the feedback loop can strengthen the customer relationship. A transparent, well-planned support rota helps employees get ahead of knowing when they will be on support duty so that they can also plan work and free-time activities accordingly. Support should not only be represented by certain job-titles or team, but rather a combination of client-facing and technical teams with clearly defined responsibilities. The result is an increase in the support experience for both sides, the customer as well the employees involved.

In the end, support is not only the engineering team’s responsibility. It’s a mindset.

Florian Josef Reheis

Florian Josef Reheis

Business Controller turned Software Engineer & Digital Marketer

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