Written on 21th May 2014
Client support is at the heart of business-to-business relationships and is key to maintaining customers and gaining new ones. A company may offer the perfect product or service, but this is insignificant if that company cannot provide excellent support.
Support is the true ‘bread and butter’ to our business, and it’s the client services team’s duty to make sure our clients are well looked after during every stage of the process, which stretches far beyond the agreed project. The client service team are responsible for ensuring that every interaction is communicated between all necessary parties involved in a project. This may mean feeding back customer comments, responding to change requests or speaking to a prospective client.
For a client services manager and their team, daily tasks involve picking up e-mails, checking progress reports, reading and responding to feedback and dealing with change requests. Each client services employee acts as an intermediary between the client and the developer, so when the client has some feedback or a query, that employee must translate and communicate it to the developers or, in some cases, the project managers.
In some cases, certain low-level development duties can be passed on to the support team. For example, they may test or make minor text and image amendments to a particular project, if the client has required them to do so.
Our clients are either categorised as non-enterprise or enterprise, and the level of support we offer varies depending on what type of client we are dealing with. Non-enterprise clients – of which there are around 300 – tend to have smaller or one-off projects. For one-off projects, we provide the client with a 90 day warranty once our work has gone live. During this time, the client can contact us with any queries and we’ll make sure they’re dealt with as quickly as possible. If the client requires amendments after the 90 days, we’ll evaluate what needs to be changed and see if they need to submit a change request.
Our enterprise clients typically comprise of larger companies that require constant support. These organisations depend on their websites and so one minor fault could have huge consequences. For this reason, we have a dedicated team of developers that are on hand to provide a constant support service, attending to any query as a matter of urgency.
Client support is all the more vital when there is an issue to overcome. In our case, issues can range from something small, like a link not working on a page, to something more serious – like the client’s sever going down. In a typical scenario, a client will call and one of our team members will draft an e-mail that will state all the main facts of the issue. This e-mail will then be sent and communicated to the appropriate person or people. While the issue is being fixed, it’s vital that the client is kept up to date with what is happening.
Once the issue has been dealt with, many clients want to know what went wrong. It’s important to sympathise with the client but to also be diplomatic, especially in instances where the issue was through no fault of our own.
It can be stressful for clients when they overcome an issue, but this stress can be somewhat alleviated through excellent support. This entails listening and empathising with the client, keeping them updated with any developments, explaining things to them in a way they will understand and dealing with the issue as soon as possible.
Everyone knows that no two clients are the same, so taking individual needs and requirements into consideration is vital when offering support. Our client base ranges from one or two-man businesses to worldwide organisations; some of our clients are experts in our field, while some are self-confessed technophobes.
We believe that one way of providing excellent support is by getting to know our clients on a personal level before ‘talking business.’ To fully understand the needs of our clients, we must build a rapport with them, which will allow us to adapt the way we offer support.
Essentially, client support is ensuring our clients receive the highest level of service before, during and after a project. It’s about getting to know your clients, understanding and listening to them, and making sure they are always kept informed.