The responsibilities of a call center can broadly be divided into two categories – customer service and technical support .
While both of these practices focus on the customer and are usually directed at helping the customer with their queries, there is a subtle difference in the manner of working between customer service and technical support.
While customer service is inclined towards the non-technical aspect of business such as ticketing, querying, billing, etc. tech support delves deeper into issues, figuring out why something is not working and then coming up with a feasible solution.
Both customer service and technical support are essential components of a call center.
There are specialized call center software tools dedicated to facilitate both of these aspects.
Typically, a call center will have dedicated agents for tech support, as well as there are the different set of agents providing direct customer service.
This is because the requisite skill sets are slightly different in each of these practices.
In this article, we will explore the differences between customer service and technical support, see how they work simultaneously to help customers and keep them satisfied by providing better call center solutions, and realize the basic necessities that either of these jobs entails.
First up, let us take a look at the features of customer service and how agents should go about it.
1. Front-line for interaction
Customer service agents are the ones who interact with the customers who dial on the daily basis.
Only after their interactions do other agents such as tech support agents come into the picture.
As the front-line for interaction, customer service agents are expected to have good communication skills, good understanding of the problem and ability to be patient with the customers.
These qualities are essential for a customer service agent to be successful.
2. Answering queries
Customers dial in for various reasons – clearing doubts, asking queries, raising complaints, providing feedback, etc.
The most common form of interaction is when customers have queries regarding a product or service your company provides.
It is the duty of the customer service agent to answer their queries comprehensively and positively.
For this, they need to have thorough knowledge about the products and services provided by the company.
3. Direct customer engagement
A good customer service agent will be able to dictate the flow of interactions and lead customers to the point where he wants them to be.
Not only is this a useful skill for the company to find more business, it also helps customers find what they require and keeps them loyal to the brand.
Direct customer engagement is majorly a requisite for customer service agents, since tech support is usually concerned with solutions to specific problems.
4. Process payments
Customer service handles billing and all inflow of monetary transactions.
They keep a tab on the incomes and expenses of the company and produce reports of the same to the managers at the firm, so that the monetary health of the call center can be taken into account when drawing up future plans and budgets.
Even if a problem has been solved by tech support, it is the responsibility of the customer service executive to stay in touch with the customer and bill them.
5. Delegate agents to fix a problem
Very often, the queries an executive receives will not have an immediate solution.
There are instances where the workload needs to be divided amongst the different agents, sometimes bringing in different departments to take the help of their expertise in various fields.
Customer service agents needs to delegate the work within the team and figure out a solution by working together.
6. Keep customers satisfied
The gold standard of evaluation for any customer service agent is the satisfaction level of the customers he or she has served.
If your customers are happy with the level of customer service you have been providing, you have been doing a good job.
On the other hand, customers reporting unsatisfactory results raise concerns about the strategies being followed and warrant an internal recheck to figure out the lapses and rectify them.
7. Keep customers loyal
The relationship between a customer and the company does not end with making a sale.
Customer service agents then have to take the initiative to stay in touch with the client, offer maintenance support and keep reminding them of new products and offers, so that the next time they require a purchase, they choose your brand.
This leads to far better revenue generation in the long run and strengthens your base of core customers who contribute to sales regularly.
8. Process feedback
Customer feedback is the most direct and helpful form of suggestions that customer service executives can use to improve their operations.
They are entrusted the responsibility to seek feedback for clients after having served them, work on the feedback provided and have the ability to adapt to the situations in the future so that similar customers can be served nicely.
This also keeps a cycle of going continuous improvement and helps the organization grow.
9. Customer-centric service
Good customer service is all about noticing things from the customer’s point of view.
As an agent, you have to realize the circumstances and the conditions under which they are asking their queries, in order to provide sufficient good solutions.
Again, the solutions that are formulated have to be made keeping the customer in mind, and gauging on how they would perceive it.
10. KPIs determined by happy customers
The metric of evaluating a customer service executive is how happy he can keep his customers.
Of course, there are technical performance indicators that are taken into account, but the main crux of their performance is determined by their ability to keep the customers satisfied, Thus, agents need to prioritize the demands of the customer above all else, and look from the viewpoint of a customer to do their job well.
We now have an idea about the basic features of the customer service industry.
Let us take a look at the same binding features of technical support, to understand how it is shaped differently and performs a different role in the organization.
1. Figure out the technical issues.
As the name suggests, tech support is more concerned with the issues that involves technological process or technical solutions.
It is different from customer service that does not deal with issues such as telemarketing, payments, data collection etc. They are more inclined towards specialized skills which come into use mostly on a digital landscape.
This role needs both on-phone and off-phone skills, as solutions need to be developed as well as implemented.
2. Find software solutions.
The basic responsibility of a tech support team is to find software solutions to a given problem.
These can come in the form of directing the customer exactly on how to go about using their product, implementing changes to reflect better results for an existing product or building a new product entirely to satisfy the customer demands.
Software solutions are almost exclusively the domain of technical support agents.
3. Walk the customer through the solutions.
While it is great to have professionals with thorough knowledge of the underlying software, it is not of much use unless the way to do the same is communicated effectively to the customer.
Tech support agents are entrusted with walking the customer through the step by step process to a solution over the phone, so that their queries may be solved effectively and they can resume full control of the product that they have purchased.
4. A more electronics-inclined role.
Obviously, the role of tech support becomes important in digital environments.
A company who sells digital equipment, business software, analytical tools, etc. will rely heavily on its technical support team to oversee maintenance, solve issues and provide consistent results.
In non-technical spheres of business, tech support takes a backseat because there aren’t so many technical issues that crop up, so customer service executives can handle queries within their own teams and get back to the customer.
Identifying, tracking and analyzing a problem properly are a prerequisite for successfully resolving the issues.
Tech support individuals are expected to analyze and solve problems for the customers as well as for the company.
Therefore, their attention is not just towards the queries that customers bring up; they have to also look at the operational procedures of the company, find out any flaw if it exists and then work towards a viable solution that can take care of that problem.
6. Conflict resolution.
In business, conflict is almost inevitable.
Technical support teams are deployed to use their skill sets to determine if a problem can be serialized and if so, how it can be carried out so that the processes involved can be performed with minimal conflict opportunities.
In case of conflicts that cannot be resolved, tech support also takes on the role to assist them in reversing the decisions being made and get back to a state of functionality.
7. Straightforward assistance.
In customer service, agents are concerned with exposing opportunities to their customer in a bid to gain more business. Tech support does not have the prerogative to take the initiative in such a regard.
It only deals with the problems that are presented to it, that is, it provides more straightforward assistance – direct walkthrough and solutions only when you ask for it.
This helps tech support individuals focus their attention on developing innovative solutions.
8. Part of a larger IT department.
In most of the bigger businesses, there is a dedicated IT department catering to all sorts of requirements that have digital solutions.
In such cases, the technical support team is a subset of the IT department, providing dedicated customer support using the IT tools at their disposal.
The customer service wing, however, remains an independent entity in such cases, since they take on a different job role.
9. More business-centric role.
Tech support is not as much of a customer-centric job as customer service is.
In tech support, your attention is focused on a specific problem at a time.
The best solution to the problem is what you find as a result of your analysis.
You do not necessarily have to take into account how the customer would see that particular solution.
Also, in tech support you are expected to take data-driven decisions, rather than working on the vibes you get from your customer.
10. Ongoing assistance.
Tech support individuals are expected to provide round-the-year assistance for their clients, ensuring their systems are always up and running, reporting the data that comes in, monitoring the consistency of algorithms, mapping results versus expected outcomes and designing the evolving strategies.
This trend of ongoing assistance keeps your customers happy and ensures that your products stay good even after the regular use.
The way of two wings of the operations of the call center software solutions are different in plenty of aspects.
While customer service is concerned more with attracting new business and keeping customers loyal to the brand by providing quality service, tech support takes a more narrow but focused view of developing solutions which are cost-effective, innovative and unique to enhance the USP of the brand.
Tech support makes use of the best call center software they have at their disposal to effectively analyze data and project trends which are factored while developing the new strategy.
Customer service is then asked to implement this strategy and the results of the move are noted.
Based on the favorability, further strategies are developed, and the cycle goes on as the company tries to stay ahead of its competitors.
Thus, we can see how customer service is different in its features from the technical support.
The two things needs to work together as a unit, in order to provide good quality of telemarketing software solutions.
For a call center that is starting out, it is important to focus on both the aspects and build a strong foundation in both customer service and technical support, so that it can then be used as a launching pad when the company is looking to expand or scale up.