Stephan Hovnanian

Stephan Hovnanian

I own a website development and email marketing company called Shovi Websites. We build, host, manage and market websites for small businesses, non-profits and religious groups. I love a good spy thriller and am one of the only people in my neighborhood who does his own landscaping.

Easier Done than Said: Using Video in your Customer Support

Posted by Stephan Hovnanian
Stephan Hovnanian
I own a website development and email marketing company called Shovi Websites. We build, host, manage and mark...
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 06 June 2012
in Comparz Blog

With web technologies constantly evolving, my job is to stay on top of trends and strategies that can make our clients' websites more effective and competitive, and then filter through that pool of knowledge such that I can explain these trends to our clients in ways they can understand.

"...in ways that they can understand" is the hard part. I write a lot, to the point of it being overwhelming, and it I know it. So this year I started using short video clips using Screencast-o-Matic to explain concepts and offer visual examples of training & troubleshooting, and the feedback we've had has been along the lines of "this is exactly what we needed!"

Example of a Customer Support Video (Screencast)

Below is an example of one I did to show a client (Kate) how to update a section of her website. I've also used video to explain web design concepts such as responsive design, something that can definitely be confusing. 

Benefits to Using Screencasts

There are several benefits to incorporating video into your support mix:

  • Reduced keyboard fatigue
  • Video forces you to parse what you need to convey into a format that lets clients visualize and retain more, without being as overwhelming as a 5 paragraph email.
  • Using video also demonstrates that your company is in-step with the latest trends, and adds credibility which strengthens your clients' reliance on us as a service provider.
  • These short, quick-fix/how-to videos are easier to produce than a series of screenshots and narrative.

How "Produced" Should it Be?

One of the goals here is to streamline your own efforts, so taking hours to produce a 1-minute "quick-fix" clip isn't very practical. However, every piece of content you put out there should carry your company's voice and be representative of your brand. So, you should find a balance that works for you.

In the case of customer support videos, it's important to keep the production quality high enough (which includes the narrative) to be able to use it in your support library with other clients. You should set up some standard editing & production guidelines (titles, title screen/end screen text, video dimensions, zooming & tooltip effects, etc.). If the topic is more complex, consider a series of short tutorials covering each step (so you can send off a single video to someone stuck at a certain spot in the process). Then, spend some more time reproducing the tutorials into an in-depth video with a higher production quality (scripted narrative, overlay effects, possibly support material below the video).

How to Get Great Help Desk Support

Posted by Stephan Hovnanian
Stephan Hovnanian
I own a website development and email marketing company called Shovi Websites. We build, host, manage and mark...
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 31 March 2012
in Comparz Blog

Lets face it, nobody likes calling their help desk (or support team, IT guy, or whatever you call it at your company). You're already in a bad mood because something isn't working right (hence the reason for the call).

These people tend to speak a weird language and expect you to understand it as well. But there's hope...the purpose of a help desk is to, well, help. So here are some tips to work through that geek speak and frustration, and get yourself some Grade A support.

Explain the Situation as Thoroughly as Possible

When you contact support, you're looking for a remedy, which means you need to get a diagnosis. An accurate diagnosis comes from as complete information about the symptoms as possible. Think about it: When was the last time you walked into a doctor's office and got a prescription for your ear infection by only saying "I don't feel well" or took your car to mechanic and got your engine fixed with the phrase, "my car doesn't work." Never, right?  Because the doctor and the mechanic both need more complete information to diagnose and fix the problem. Why should it be any different with a support technician?

Don't Generalize

Consider the following scenario: You try to go to your website and can't pull it up. You then, in a panic, call the help desk with the news that "my website is down, nobody can get to it." Which couldn't be farther from the truth because the reality is you forgot the password to your CMS panel and got locked out. But by generalizing, you put your support people into DEFCON-5 mode, and have them all looking in places to solve the issue of a down website...none of which are necessary because the site is up, just not on your computer because your router is offline. What a waste of time, and possibly money.

Don't Jump to Conclusions

Without a full understanding of the problem, you're in no position to offer a diagnosis. It's much better to lead off the help desk call with "My Outlook keeps asking me for my password" than "Your mail server seems to have taken the day off." Oh, and this is a good time to remind you to keep the sarcasm and Dennis Miller-esque color commentary to yourself.

Learn Some Geek Speak

Being somewhat familiar with your computer and applications (including web-based ones) can cut the time needed to troubleshoot an issue in half, and put you on the technician's "people who make my job easy" list...always a good thing. They will no doubt take your basic knowledge of if/else loops for granted and start spewing their geek-speak the next time you call, but a polite remider that you're still no pro will bring them back to the English-speaking world (this PDF might help).

Don't Lay Blame

People respond better to pleas for help than to accusations. Starting off the call or request with "you broke it" will put the technician's guard up. Who really cares who's at fault anyway (what is this, grade school)? Get the problem fixed and go back to work!

Understand Their Process 

Step 1 of tech support is isolating the problem so it can be replicated on the technician's end. Once you can do that, the problem can be fixed. Let your technician walk through their process so they can help you. Remember, they want to (and are hired to) help you.

Treat Support People with Respect

This should go without saying, but I'm adding the reminder that the people you're contacting for support will be far more helpful if you don't take out your frustrations on them. Read into that a little deeper if you like. I'm not saying that support pricing or performance has an "annoying client multiplier" built in. Nope, not saying that at all.

Follow these guidelines, and you'll be on your support team's "Most Wanted" list, as in "Most wanted to work with!"

Comparz provides user reviews and rankings of software services and tools for small and mid-sized businesses. Click here to view Comparz' help desk software rankings.

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