Empower Your Tech Support to Capture Knowledge

Helping Your Agents to Avoid Dell’s Mistakes

October 17, 2013

If it isn’t easy for technical customer support agents to capture and share fixes and customer issues, either they won’t do it, or they will do a lousy job! Information that isn’t captured results in inconsistent help when customers really need it. Provide the training and tools to make adding to your knowledgebase the path of least resistance for your support personnel.


All customer support professionals should capture their knowledge—whether technical fixes or customers’ contexts—in some sort of easily-accessible knowledgebase. But, too often, customer support agents, especially those who are excellent technically, aren’t very good writers, so adding knowledge is a frustrating chore.

But the dangers of not capturing and sharing what they know can result in some pretty bad customer experiences.

Here are some tips for writing (for those who think they can’t write), some advice on how to ensure consistent support based on shared information, and an example of a disaster that can occur when all support agents don’t have the same knowledge.


A Chance Encounter

Last weekend, at a bar mitzvah luncheon, I happened to sit next to a very engaging man with an intriguing accent. His name was Vlad, originally from Belarus, and he was a neighbor of the hosts. He also was a technical support agent for a telecommunications company, so we had lots to talk about!

Vlad loves his job. He likes figuring out problems and helping his customers (yay!). He likes his co-workers and his company. But he is extremely frustrated with one aspect of his job. He hates having to capture his solutions in the company’s knowledgebase. It isn’t because he’s lazy or because he doesn’t see the value in the practice. But, because he still thinks in his native language, he has to translate everything in his head before even starting to write it down. And, he admits, he is a terrible writer in any language! “I like technology, not writing.”

As we continued to discuss this, over the gleeful laughter of musical chairs and a rousing horah, I had the suspicion that his company hasn’t provided Vlad with the training or the right tools with which to most effectively capture the customer fixes he discovered. Yes, there was a knowledgebase and a process for adding a fix to it. But there probably weren’t detailed templates helping him organize his thoughts, nor did he get any training on how to write down these fixes or any incentives for doing so.

I’ve been a writer and editor for over 30 years now, and I gave him some of my tips for how to more easily write down what’s in your head. Here are a couple of them:

  • Write the way you talk. Don’t worry about proper grammar, academic writing styles (which seem to me to encourage talking around the point, never getting exactly to the point), or the perfect words. You can edit later, using a thesaurus, grammar guide, etc.
  • Tape your conversations with customers. You can then transcribe what you said, editing out all the chit chat, asides, and any explanations that didn’t work. You might have had to explain the fix in multiple ways until the customer understood what was happening. Just capture the words that got the message through.

Vlad was very grateful for these suggestions and made me promise that we’d talk again when there were fewer distractions (“Celebrate Good Time, Come On!”) and more time.

But here I am, days later, fixated on that conversation. I was just as frustrated as Vlad because, although his organization recognized the importance of capturing and sharing knowledge and wisely made that a requirement of the customer support role, it didn’t empower Vlad and his fellow support techs with the tools and training to make it easy to do—thus ensuring that it would, indeed, get done, and that the information would be thorough and understandable to his colleagues and his customers.


Training Beyond the Product Being Supported

Providing technical support agents with technical training on the products that they support is expected. But all customer support reps should also be formally trained in...(more)


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