Customer support is our #1 priority. I know that its sounds like a cliché, but I really do mean it.
Now I will reveal one of my secrets: The support service is what made ICDSoft very successful.
One of the biggest problems of modern society and people is that there is no one to listen to us. Everyone is so busy expressing their thoughts, worries, and problems that they have no eyes and ears to see and hear what others are bothered by. Parents have no time to listen to their kids; even stereotype suggests kids should listen to their parents. Nowadays even lovers fail to communicate properly, and the lifetime of an average relationship is shorter than the life of their smartphones. These smartphones and other gadgets separate “I love you” and “I love you too” by great distance and even greater time. This is not real and even not creating a sense of real. Doctors worldwide observe a hypochondria outbreak and cannot understand that people badly need to be heard and why the age of “affected patients” is dropping dramatically.
When I started selling web hosting services, customers expected that they will get their mails and tickets answered in a day or two. In my experience, once customers find that there is someone who really listens to their problems right after they press “Send”, and that someone responds immediately, using both brain and heart, this creates a very warm feeling of being heard by someone who cares. Soon customers discover that it works all the time. For some people, it may be the only of this kind.
In our lifetime, very few manage to create a safe place for us, but once they succeed, the bond is really tight. Often we get tickets like “Guys, it is not really a problem; just I want to tell you that you are great and I appreciate your work”. Wasting their time and our time also? No, I will tell you that a single “Thank you for your appraisal, we are happy to hear from you. Do not hesitate to contact us whenever you need our help! Have a nice evening and Merry Christmas!”, received within 25 seconds, have the power of saving life.
I believe that each customer request should be answered immediately. When I say “immediately”, I mean: Once we receive the ticket/mail, we should read it immediately, take immediate actions if needed, and answer on the spot. The entire process should take somewhere between two and five minutes for 99% of customer requests, a bit longer with the cases when a number of actions are required, or attention from another team (Account Manager, Sysadmin, etc.). “Same business day” answer sounds like a “Shame business way” to me.
When I was hiring people for the Support team at the beginning, there was a serious kind of “cultural” conflict. Most support wannabe guys were shocked to hear my requirements. I've heard comments such as “Why should I work from office? I can stay at home and check my e-mail every two hours”… “Well, it is a big industry and on track to grow, so there will be lot of competitors, go and join them.”
We’ve been constantly hiring, through the years so far we received about 12,000 CVs, interviewed about a thousand people, hired 93 of them, some stayed for a test period only, but never had more than 20 at the same time. They are still 20 now, including their Team Leader. The average serving time in ICDSoft / SureSupport is nine years. Some colleagues are for 16+ years with us, with over 75,000 Support tickets and emails answered per person on average.
In most companies, Customer Support is the entry level position, and rarely someone stays on it for longer than two years – as is in the non-professional mandatory army. Definitely not this way at ICDSoft: I will always do my best to keep these people as Support. They are well-paid, at the same levels as Developers and System Administrators, they enjoy two months paid annual holiday, 32-hour work per week, and my full respect. As well as the respect of our customers. This is a town of an average size. These twenty guys are the heroes of our community: we can rest assured that everything is and will always be in control, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There is a huge display in our Network Operational Center that shows the current number of active and “in progress” tickets. Background is gray when there are no tickets, yellow when there are tickets in progress, and red when there are active, still not taken by anyone tickets. Should an active ticket get no attention for over 180 seconds, I get and SMS and will demand an immediate explanation. Should I dislike the explanation, someone gets fired. Well, the last time I got such an SMS was in 2003. Imagine how this works during a DOS attack or a large-scale connectivity problem, with thousands customers affected and three or four Support members on shift. Now you know why I would do anything for my colleagues, and why I will never allow any of them to walk away being not satisfied with work conditions.