How to handle Q&A from customers that do not have a CSM

  • 30 October 2023
  • 6 replies
  • 79 views

Hi Gainsight community - first post for me.

I would like to ask a generic question on Customer Success (are more genetically on Customer Experience).

Any software company receives questions of different types in its support channel - in our case at OutSystems e receive lots of “How To” questions that are not product issues. These are questions relate with best practices of how to use the product or simply “request for help” to understand why the customer implementation is not working as expected (troubleshooting).

 

My question is - how do you deal with these Q&A coming via the support channel in your companies?

I see a few options:

  • have the support team answering these HowTo questions (it’s included in Support)
  • Have the CS team answering these questions in a pooled capacity(handover from CS to Support)
  • Have a professional services and digital offer to cover for this Q&A - only paying customers will get answers to HowTo questions

What do your teams do to deal with this constant stream of questions?

Thank you for the inspiration.

 

Daniel Lourenço

OutSystems


6 replies

Userlevel 7
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Hello @DanielLourenco. Welcome to the community and thanks for your first post!

I’d say Community fills in that exact gap.

If you have an active Community with a few defined forums where users could log and ask a question, any of these teams you mention could come in and answer and that usecase is solved in the open serving so many more people who could benefit from that solution.

So even if the Support case is resolved over the 1:1 process, it makes sense to share a post/article summarizing the issue and resolution back in the Community (after masking specific details). 

Now, Community discussions wouldn’t have the same SLAs as your Support process but it often has a more diverse and richer discussion, where anyone with an answer or an angle can jump in, so you have this peer-peer angle opened up now where other users add to the discussion from their experience as well. That’s how we’ve been fortunate to have going with our Discuss Product Features categories on this Community.

Userlevel 3
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Hi @DanielLourenco 

 

Welcome 👋🏻

Here what we are narrowing on is self service. Self-service is a part of any community in which a user can resolve a repetitive issue by just searching about it and pulling from available resources.

In the absence of a CSM, a user would be best encouraged to utilise a centralised hub, including community for peer support to find such answers.

Should the questions get through to your support Team, they would then be best educated on turning such interactions into content for the users to find in the self service step of resolution. I am not a fan of handing over writing of an article from one team to the other. IT would be best written by whomever the questions first s arrives at, and answers.

 

 “How to” type questions are often the most useful pieces of content that can be found in a knowledge base. By creating a library of articles you can prevent your Support Team from having to repeat themselves, thus freeing up time to work on higher value support tasks. A shameless self plug on a webinar where I spoke about Knowledge Centered Service (trademark of the Consortium for Service Innovation) a couple of years back. 

 

Very happy to discuss further (invite open to all)

 

Alistair

 

Hi Anirban and Alistair, thank you for your insights! It is very much appreciated. I totally agree that promoting self-service and a good community experience is the key to reduce such requests.

With that said, when you have thousands of customes submitting thousands of support tickets per month, there will always be a significant number of these tickets that translate into complex, context-dependent “how to” type discussions with the customer - i.e. in many cases it is not trivial to even open these conversations to a community (due to internal information in them) and we’d have to ask the customer to either “self-serve” or open the conversation in the community himself.

This is the boundary that I am finding hard to cross without breaking the customer’s experience - looking into many vendors that OutSystems uses what I realize is that “how to” questions are in fact included in their Standard support agreement - i.e. support will not push back on answering these questions, even if with a lower priority when compared with a Product Issue.

What do you think? Again - I believe Community and Documentation definitely reduce the problem, but when volume is hight these Q&A will still translate to hundreds of requests per month in the long-tail that somehow have to be managed.

Kind Regards,

Daniel Lourenço

OutSystems

Userlevel 7
Badge +2

Hi Daniel,

@Alistair FIeld did a Survey that told us how we have managed to deflect a chunk of the “Support-overload” you are currently facing, using this very Community.

This is the boundary that I am finding hard to cross without breaking the customer’s experience 

I totally second you that an end user SSO would alleviate this pain, and we’d love to be able to prioritize this for ourselves, but again it is worth creating that additional login, a bit of an effort where Customers come for the Support but stay for much more.

We are not saying Support push back on answering, that is Incident Management.

Problem Management for this is, we take out 10 min to anonymize the fix > Summarize in public.

We start investing in the the long-tail value where after a few months Customers can just Google up a usecase based on an article or How-to discussion from the Community and maybe even does not need to login on the Community.

Moreover by starting off these KB articles or even quick Discussions on the Community, you enable a band of volunteers, way beyond the Support team to join in. Peer to Peer support, basically anyone with Product or usecase experience steps in to field queries...

Other options could be having Product SMEs hosting an Office Hours cadence to address common themes or even live problem solutioning. Your options with a Community are many, and collectively that is how we start reducing some of that Support overload over time.

In Summary, not an immediate relief but surely a proven way to climb up from this trench.

 

 

Userlevel 7
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Oh… Btw our standard automated Support notification has this footer

Check the SUPPORT & DOCUMENTATION page from the top header to see how we present this Community-first Support approach.

Userlevel 3
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@DanielLourenco 

I worked as a support engineer running Fluid Dynamics analysis of combustion engines and complex phase transfer systems. I know how tough it can be when a product / service is complex and often a phone call is best.

It is during that experience that I got into Knowledge Management and self service. I found that the example simulations I would create could be of non proprietary geometry, often simplified, but demonstrate the complex physical interactions. Out of this a DEMO article category was born to show How to do certain types of analysis. Often it was NOT the final answer the user needed, but was a template and a jump start in the write direction. 

 

I have a similar vision for zapier automations and the Customer Community here. Examples of what can be done to inspire and get brain cells firing in other users.

  • Do you have categorisation of your support tickets?
  • Is there a specific category or two that stick out as having high case load?
  • Is there a champion who could create a few examples to kick of in your KB?

Often that is what is needed. A few agents to start creating and reusing content and see the value.

Even if it is internal content only to begin with (i personally do not like to keep things from users if it is at all avoidable), the agent will not have to repeat tasks in creating an example, but can reference the document and share immediately, reduce response time and then work on the higher value product issues. 

 

Out of interest, what do you use for case management?

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