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Tips for driving best practice in product support

2 Sep 2015 by Wayne Humphrey

How QUADROtech continually improves customer experience
Is QUADROtech an organisation that’s genuinely committed to better customer experience, or is it merely a ‘poser’ organisation? Gartner makes a useful distinction. It says in real organisations, leadership communicates and lives the values of the customer; in poser organisations, there is a sign in the lobby, but nothing behind the words.

We’ve all encountered poser organisations. They all claim to put the customer at the centre of everything they do. They all claim to be passionate, open, honest and focused. Dare we say the posers are all too often the biggest businesses. Small organisations, by contrast, may not have such mature processes, but it’s obvious they know their livelihood depends on how well they support customers.


A challenge for growing organisations
I’m one of the founders of QUADROtech, so I’ve seen at first hand how a growing organisation like ours needs to continually evolve and develop its support strategy. The challenge is not only to retain small-company service when you have an expanding worldwide network of customers and partners, but to constantly improve on it.

Our customer experience team (CET) is the eyes and ears of the business. Nobody understands better how our customers use products in the field, what problems they encounter, or what enhancements they’d like. We’re equally valued by customers and the business, which is an enviable position to be in.

Be embedded with the business
The way our CET links in with the rest of QUADROtech makes a major difference to the way we behave. We don’t operate in a silo; behind the scenes we’re actively involved with our products every day.

In QUADROtech’s case, the key is that the same people who deal with your support tickets are responsible for operational management of our cloud products. By working live on these systems and having direct access to the environment, we have a deep understanding that support staff in many other organisations would struggle to achieve.

We work with the business in other ways, too. For example, in the run up to the latest release of AchiveShuttle (7.0) we’ve had most of our team dedicate time to the quality assurance (QA) team. They were responsible for much of the testing, meaning they ended up knowing the product inside out and could feedback valuable product knowledge learnt from live migrations and troubleshooting.

The CET is also responsible for producing and sharing knowledge base articles, documentation and training videos. The interaction between our people and other business units is a two-way education process that builds trust, confidence and authority. Our resulting depth of knowledge helps us resolve issues faster, and we often get feedback that tells us customers feel like they’re dealing with third-line engineers from the outset.

Listen to the customer – and make sure you respond
We’ve learned how to respond to customer demands. One of the most sobering realisations has been that nobody can ensure the quality of support for QUADROtech products as our own CET can, and we responded by moving from a devolved support model to handling all requests ourselves.

As well as achieving better customer satisfaction, this decision made it easier for new partners to sell QUADROtech products. They know that their own customers are always going to get top-notch service that will reflect well on them.

Be sensible about what you measure
Gartner recommends making customer experience data the most-read document in your company. We’d certainly go along with that. But what exactly should you be measuring?

There can be a massive difference in resolution time between low- and high-priority support tickets, not because we’re acting slowly but because customers are not always in a rush. It seems imposing to pester them every few hours if they’d rather not be hurried. In such circumstances it might take a month to close a query, whereas those tickets requiring a more immediate response can be closed in a couple of hours. Reporting the resulting ‘average resolution time’ of 14 days wouldn’t reflect the reality of our work.

Instead, we focus on metrics like first response times and the number of live open tickets. There are never any more than 30 live tickets on the go, which we understand to be particularly low for our industry. That’s a reflection on the quality of the products – and the quality of our support.

Working in customer experience really can be fun!
New challenges every day, close involvement with development of market-leading products, and a clear vision for what we do and why. What could be more rewarding?

Well, in QUADROtech’s CET the key is genuine teamwork in a supportive atmosphere. Our can-do ethos is underpinned by a sense of light-hearted fun. You may not know it, but when you call to speak to one of us you’ll be talking with a ninja. The type of ninja depends on that person’s experience… new starters are only able to meditate, whereas I’m reputed to have magical powers (or so it seems sometimes). So next time you’re on the phone or remote session to one of us, ask if that person has earned their nunchucks yet.

Great customer experience increases customer retention and satisfaction, actively engages influencers, and builds brand loyalty. Most importantly, for QUADROtech, it makes us feel great. That’s why I’m convinced we’re not just posers.

Wayne Humphrey is Head of Customer Experience and Engineering, he is responsible for all aspects of the development of QUADROtech products. For over 15 years Wayne’s track record includes managing development and technical teams that are able to utilize the product management teams in order to design, implement, and create innovative products to meet the needs of clients.