News & Updates

Supporting Customers During the Crisis and Beyond

By Ideas @ AppDirect / May 13, 2020

App Help Remote Support Blog Series Part 2 Header

In the first installment of this three-part series, we covered how AppHelp mobilized its disaster plan to get its team working from home and supporting end customers quickly and effectively. This time, Kam Rawal, Vice President of Channel Enablement at AppDirect, shares his insights on how AppHelp adapted its customer support approach to address the new needs of end customers during the pandemic.

What has changed the most about customer support during this crisis?

Kam: I’d say that one of the biggest shifts is the adoption of non-voice channels. End customers are realizing that given all the changes happening right now in how we live and work, customer support is more important than ever. At the same time, record numbers of people needing help puts a strain on traditional channels like voice.

At AppHelp, we communicated early to end customers that non-voice channels could deliver the same satisfaction and quality of support without longer wait times. People who had never used chat before were learning that it can be a very efficient way to get support. Customers that started using email or chat during this time period will probably continue to use these channels in the future. I really don’t see customers who took advantage of email, social media, or chat going back to the voice channel en masse.

How has this shift to other channels impacted AppHelp?

Kam: I talked about this in the first post, but I can’t say it enough: technology is essential for customer support today. Because we had the right technology stack in place already, we were able to quickly deliver new and updated self-service tools, expand support of different channels to deflect voice calls, and get knowledge and information about new issues to our team quickly. Technology enabled us to be there for our customers when they needed us and we’re relying on it more than ever to deliver exceptional customer experiences.

Technology is also crucial in helping other parts of a business pivot during the crisis. For instance, instead of sending out a client’s field technicians to install new equipment for customers, we can use videoconferencing on mobile phones to remotely help customers do the installation themselves. We can walk them through the entire process remotely.

How is AppHelp helping end customers adapt to working from home?

Kam: The needs of end customers have changed quite a bit over the past few months. Many of our call types have changed dramatically in response. We’re getting asked questions such as how to set up technology such as videoconferencing and distance learning, VPN and networking questions, and how to maximize bandwidth to support everyone in the house working and learning at the same time.

To make sure we can help everyone efficiently get answers to these questions and many others, we’re using our knowledge tools to get information to our people so they can quickly get answers to customers directly and via self-service.

For customers, what was the most important part of the AppHelp response?

Kam: That’s easy. It’s communications. Hands down, that’s the most important part of our response. We quickly updated our websites, IVRs, and social media accounts to reflect changes impacting customer support. We let customers know about how to use self-service to get answers. We gave them choices of channels for seeking additional support instead of directing them to call, where wait times were longer than normal. Constantly communicating to customers helped us manage their expectations and reduced their stress because we kept them updated on the situation.

What advice would you give other customer support teams right now?

Kam: Be flexible. Customer needs have changed rapidly during the crisis and will continue to change as we settle into various phases of the next normal. Helping customers through this and maintaining their satisfaction with your brand will require a flexible response from your customer support organization. Now is not the time to stick with rigid organizational structures and processes. Instead, you’ll need to rethink everything you do in terms of the current situation as it evolves and be prepared to try new approaches.

What are you most proud of about how AppHelp is responding during the crisis?

Kam: I think I’m most proud of how quickly we were able to shift our operation to a remote work-from-home while minimizing the impact on our end customers. I know of other companies—those without a plan to work from home and/or those that lacked the technology to support both a remote work model and the surge in call volume—that had to shut down all or part of their customer support function. Some turned off their voice capability altogether because they were so overwhelmed.

Up next:

In the last part of this series, we cover how AppHelp expects the pandemic will change customer support in the future.