If you've ever dealt directly with customers as an employer or employee, it's likely you've fielded a broad range of general questions. Where can I find your product? Is this product in stock? What is your return policy? But what resources can you offer when customers ask technical questions that require a degree of specialization?

Let's say, for example, that you're a software engineer who's developed a product for sale on CD. In addition, you recently made your software available for download. After your recent move, however, you notice an increase in customer service queries concerning download and installation issues. Meanwhile, disgruntled customers with general questions wait in the customer service queue. It soon becomes evident that you require a specialized customer support resource to complement customer service.

Establishing customer support for your business goes beyond customer service. It provides a dedicated technical support link between your clients and specialized agents, providing guidance and troubleshooting services upon request.

Support channels

There are various channels to choose from:

Phone

  • Real-time support
  • Landlines in 79% of households
  • Cell phones in 86% of households

E-mail

  • 24-hour availability
  • 93% of internet users access e-mail

Social networking sites

  • Customers receive images and video
  • Requires quick response time

Message board

  • 24-hour submissions and support
  • Customers can review similar issues

Live chat

  • Real-time support without distance charges
  • Allows for troubleshooting chat groups

In-house client support vs. outsourcing

You may choose to train your employees to provide customer support rather than outsource. Training your employees to answer specialised, technical questions will increase their knowledge base and sense of purpose within your organization.

However, you may feel the need to outsource your customer support. Outsourcing can be useful for small enterprises, especially when customer support requests distract a small workforce from key tasks.

Overall, the key to customer satisfaction is to provide support that is reliable, responsive and empathetic. Educating your workforce and embracing the customer support model can increase brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.