Phone support. Mention it to any customer support pro and they’ll probably cringe. They’ll immediately think of long wait times, horrible phone trees, and made automation. I know I did for a long time.
But what if I told you that you could do phone support as well as you do email, live chat, or any other support channel. Yes, this magical land exists (minus the unicorns and fairy dust). We’ve been offering phone support to Basecamp customers for the last few months and it’s been great. Customers love it, we love talking to them, and best of all – the experience itself is 100 times better than most phone support setups.
Here’s how we did it.
Request a Callback
The key is in letting customers request a callback rather than posting a phone number on your support page. In our phone setup at Basecamp, a customer goes to the support page and sees a text box where they can put their phone number in. The customer then clicks a submit button and we get a notification with their name, email address, account number, and phone number. After that, we give them a call as soon as we can. Pretty simple, right?
This type of callback set up gives us a few advantages:
- Customers don’t have to wait on hold with bad elevator music. And they don’t have to navigate a complex phone tree system. That means customers aren’t as mad when they actually talk to a support pro.
- A callback lets you know who you’re calling. You get their name, email address, account URL, phone number, and anything else you ask for. You can go into the call prepared and not spend the first five minutes trying to find out who a person is and where their account is located.
- This keeps calls from interrupting you. You can block off times during your day to work through all the requested calls. It makes for a better day compared to that ringing phone just interrupting you at random times.
- Callbacks let you prioritize who to call first. Just like you can set priorities on email tickets, you can set them on callback requests. Billing problem with a big customer? You can call them first and get to that sales question later.
- You can set open/closed hours. You don’t have to always have it open. We typically have our phone support open when we have multi-person coverage. When we go down to solo support overnight or on the weekends, that person has the option of turning the phone option on/off for customers.
Setting It Up
The easiest way to do this is to have a contact form feed into your email inbox. That’ll let you treat callback tickets in the same way that you do email tickets. It also keeps everything in one central box to work out of.
That flow looks like this:
Callback request form -> Support inbox -> Call the customer
Like with email apps, there’s a few other options for phone support as well. The best I’ve seen to date is Drumbi. It lets you set up the callback setup and gives you the benefit of seeing the customer’s screen.
Don’t Be Afraid
I remember being slightly scared when we first tried offering phone support this way. What if we get overloaded with calls? What if customers stay on the call for more than a few minutes?
In the end, I’m glad we tried it because it’s worked out great. I’ve talked with lots of customers who loved being able to request the call and not have to work through a phone tree. Even though phone support can sound scary, there is a way to do it right.
Are you offering phone support to your customers? How are you doing it?
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