A local business contact of mine is using a nifty-sounding CRM solution with not-so-nifty results. The system was inexpensive and it did not take them too long to start using it. The problem is, the system just does not seem to work all that well when it comes to email marketing blasts. The words in the body of the e-mail are all grouped together without spaces.

The first time this happened, the business owner thought “no problem, I’ll just call tech support and install a patch.” “Not so fast” says tech support. “We don’t have a fix for that problem. It just does that.” What was the recommended workaround? “Just manually insert spaces between the words for now. You’ll get good at it in no time.”

So this got me thinking. While most of us would recognize this story as an example of bad technical support (and bad CRM software), what are the components of good support for your CRM system, your financial accounting system, your HR solution or any other parts of your information management system?

Why should you worry about support?
Believe it or not, software contains bugs. Another interesting fact – software is almost always released with a list of known issues. If the issues are deemed minor the software gets shipped and the developers work on a solution. Often the software developer has suggested workarounds for those issues.
You might be the lucky one that discovers a bug or stumble upon a known issue and it can kill your productivity, cause problems in your organization and stop you in your tracks. A good support network is important to get you over those hurdles so you can move forward. A bad support team can leave you hanging costing you time and money.

Components of a good support partner:

  1. Timeliness
    You should be able to get support in a timely manner. Not many of us expect instant responses to problems but you should not be kept waiting for days or even hours for urgent issues. When considering a business management software purchase, ask your vendor or consultant what their support policies are. Finding out that the response time is within five days, and you need help immediately is way too late.
  2. A ticketing system
    It can be annoying to be told that your support issue has a number. This can sometimes make the experience less personal and make you feel like a number. Get over this. If your support team gives you a case number or a support ticket number, that’s a good thing! Choosing a somewhat impersonal ticketing system over a really friendly guy named Spike who will call you back if he remembers after his Zumba class should not be a difficult decision.
  3. Access to the developer
    Your consultant or support firm should be connected to the actual developers of the software. Sometimes you may be getting support directly from the software developer but, more often, the support comes from a reseller or consultant who represents the software developer. That company should have “an in” – a direct way of getting the developer involved for difficult support issues. Without the ability to get to the front of the line with developers, the consulting firm is really only doing what you could do on your own– contacting the vendor and waiting.
  4. Experience in the field
    When someone understands your concern, your panic, your need to get this fixed ASAP, you breathe an overwhelming sigh of relief. Ask your consulting firm if they have had experience using the software, if they’ve been on your side as a user rather than just dishing out advice. A good support consultant knows how you’re feeling when these issues come up. They can provide some needed peace, love and understanding and perhaps some extra effort to help if they have direct experience in the field.
  5. Passion and caring
    There are no substitutes for passion. We’ve all had bad experiences with support people like the one mentioned above. We’ve also had those experiences with people who went the extra mile for us. Most of us remember the positive experiences more than the negative ones. How do you reward passionate people? It’s so simple we often forget – thank them and tell someone about the experience. Tip: telling their boss might be a good idea!

If you have a tech support relationship with a firm that provides timely advice, has a way of tracking and resolving your issues, has a back door to the developer, has people who have worked in the field and have passion for what they do, you have found support nirvana. Enjoy it.

If you picked None of the Above, get fast with that space bar or look for a better support firm.

technical support team