Wired-Five Rules of Customer Service by Jennifer L. Scheffer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Five Steps to great customer service
Help Desk can be thought of as a non-profit, service-based business. While we do not charge a retail price for a tangible good, we do offer an invaluable service-technology assistance for the Northgate High School community. Whenever you are in Help Desk, realize the “golden rule” of great customer service is in effect- the customer always comes first! While you may be working on an independent project- your ILE or Help Desk blog post- when a customer comes to Help Desk, you are expected to give him or her your undivided attention. Ultimately, we want visitors to leave Help Desk not only with their technology problems solved, but with a positive impression of the way they were treated. Providing excellent assistance to our customers will ensure return visits and develop customer loyalty. Additionally, integrating these steps into how you deal with customers will improve your communication and interpersonal skills- prerequisite skills needed for any and all jobs listed on the market today.
1: Welcome the customer
Unlike many retail shopping situations, when customers visit Help Desk, they won’t be browsing. Whether the customer is a teacher, student, staff member, administrator, or a NHS visitor, they will need something. Prior to determining the customer’s needs, (step 2) each and every person should be welcomed to the Help Desk. Consider this the first step in the process of developing a long-term, professional relationship. Welcoming a customer immediately as they enter Help Desk will prove that he or she is our priority and we are ready to offer our assistance. There are various ways to welcome, or greet, a customer. In any and all situations, greet customers with a friendly smile and enthusiasm! ☺
A. Greeting approach (informal)- this is the simplest type of greeting and will be used most often. Many of the customers who enter Help Desk are people you already know and have some sort of relationship with. In these instances, a simple and informal, “Hi, how are you?” would be a sufficient and appropriate greeting.
B. Greeting approach (formal)- this too is a simple greeting, but can be reserved for visitors (either from in or outside of the district) whom you’ve never met. In these situations, it would be appropriate to stand, shake hands and introduce yourself. More often than not, visitors to Help Desk want to know what it is that you do for the school community. Presenting yourself in a more formal and professional manner is expected during these types of situations.
2. Investigate the issue
This is the second step in offering great customer service. Immediately after welcoming the customer, you need to investigate the issue. In a retail setting, this is the equivalency of determining needs. There are two major strategies for investigating a customer’s issue:
A. Listening- Asking an open-ended question such as, “What can I help you with?” will encourage the customer to explain his or her problem. It is crucial that you listen carefully as the customer explains the problem. When he or she is finished, a good way to ensure you understand the issue is to paraphrase what was just said. Also, maintain eye contact when the customer is talking. Eye contact indicates you are really listening and customers appreciate that!
B. Ask the right questions- Some customers will be able to clearly articulate their issue and you will easily understand what you need to do to solve their problem. In such cases, there will be no need for follow-up questions. However, in other instances, the issue may not be clear to you. For example, there could be a language barrier and you may not understand what the person is trying to say. Additionally, you may encounter an issue involving an app, web tool, or device you are unfamiliar with and in this case, you would have to “dig deeper” to uncover exactly what the customer needs. You must think critically in these situations and it would be wise to involve one of your Help Desk colleagues to assist you if you are presented with a more complex problem. Finally, some customers (most often teachers) will have an issue you may not be able to solve, such as the need for an administrator password to install a software application or perform an update. In this case, as the instructor, I will handle the the issue. In the event I am not present, you will need to find out from the teacher when he or she is available, in what room, and notify me so that I may assist the teacher as soon as possible. In short, gather as much information as possible and let the customer know that I or another member of he IT staff will handle the issue as quickly as possible.
3. Resolve the issue
After investigating the issue through listening and questioning, the next step is to actually resolve the issue for the customer. In some situations there will be only one “right way” of solving the problem. For example, if a student needs his or her account reset, there is only one way to resolve that issue - that is beyond your contol and should be directed to Mr. Otero. On the other hand, a teacher may come to Help Desk with an issue that has multiple possible solutions. For example, a teacher may want to know about an app his or her students can use to do a presentation. In this scenario, there are several alternatives that could be presented. Likewise, many teachers and department chairs are using Evernote to share documents and there are many ways to resolve Evernote issues. During your consultation with the customer, try to determine his or her comfort level using technology, the time he or she has to spend with you in Help Desk, the urgency of the issue that needs to be resolved, and the ultimate goal in the use of the technology. Understanding these variables will help you make a suggestion on the best way to resolve the issue.
4. Encourage a return visit
At this point in the process, the customer’s issue has (hopefully) been resolved and they are ready to head back to their class, classroom, or school district. This is the point at which you want to make the customer feel as though he/she can make a return visit to Help Desk; whether they have an immediate need (they need an administrator password) or they want to talk with you about the best way to integrate a new app. You want to make our customers feel as though Help Desk is a place where they can come to experiment and “toy” with new apps and web tools that can engage their students and transform their classrooms. A simple, “come back again soon” can go a long way. Chances are, customers will share their positive experience with others and positive word-of-mouth promotion will help us establish a positive image throughout the school.
5. Develop a relationship
While Help Desk is not a retail establishment, like most retail locations, our goal is to develop long-term relationships with our customers. Taking this one step further, we are essentially talking about brand loyalty. Tech giants like Apple, Google, and Microsoft spend millions, if not billions, on building their brands. They do this through developing the best products and services and through creating highly personalized shopping experiences. We want to do the same for our customers when they are “shopping” with us; create a highly personalized experience, leading to Help Desk loyalty. Remember: Help Desk is unlike other classes in the sense that it is not a real-world simulation, it is the real-world. Everyone who comes to Help Desk has a real problem that needs a real solution. Your job is to solve each problem effectively and efficiently. As a member of Help Desk, position yourself as someone whom the school community can rely on. Lastly, remember the issues you resolve should more often than not translate into a Help Desk blog post. These posts will serve as a resource for others with similar issues and will help guide them towards solving their problems independently.