Bypassing Customer Support Systems

We build customer support systems to take excellent care of our customers, but some clients just want to go around them. Does this sound familiar?

Terry, an owner of a mid-sized MSP wrote: “I’m wondering if you have anything on voicemail, specifically an outbound voicemail message on the owner’s mobile or direct phone to tell customers as nicely as possible to direct their technical question to the helpdesk line.  I have some clients that always want to call me directly. They refuse to call the helpdesk, even though I have explained, for the best response, to call our helpdesk, because I’m not always able to check my messages regularly.  The problem is, of course, they leave me a voicemail on my cell, and it doesn’t get returned immediately they think they are getting poor service, but they didn’t follow our support procedure for reporting a problem. Instead, they try to by-pass the helpdesk.”

I’m sure that sounds familiar. You’ve probably dealt with some users who try to by-pass the help desk and go right to a particular individual or a supervisor. There are times when that’s no big deal, but it can cause delays in solving their problem. That can cause backups in workflow and even frustrate the customer. So, what can you do?

You’re Not Alone

My response to Terry, “You’re not alone in trying to change end-user behavior with regard to ticketing. It’s been an ongoing struggle for as long as I can remember.” 

“What about something like this for an outbound voicemail script: “Hi, this is Terry. If you’re calling for tech support, please call our helpline at 123-456-7890 for immediate assistance. Technicians are available to help you now. Otherwise, please leave a message and I’ll call you back within 24 business hours. Thank you for your business.”

Notice how Terry offers the immediate alternative of calling the helpline, along with their phone number. He also sets expectations by saying when they can expect a callback. Finally, even though it’s a bit cliche, he thanks them.

Route Your Calls Through the Helpline

Another option would be to route your incoming calls through the helpline, so they can intercept support requests. Depending on how your phone system works, you could also give callers an option to be transferred immediately to the helpline.

I’d also consider having a one-on-one conversation with the customers, especially the high-value customers, who try to bypass the customer support systems. Emphasize how important they are to the business and how much you appreciate them. Tell them how bad you feel when you can’t get back to them immediately. I’d tell them I’ve explained to my support team how important their business is, and we want to make sure they’re taken care of right away.

This is a difficult situation because you want to take excellent care of your customers. Sometimes they make it difficult.”

Here’s an article at HubSpot on voicemail etiquette, including both inbound and outbound messages. It’s oriented toward salespeople but is applicable to anyone who uses voicemail.

Think Like a Customer

As you think about your customer support systems, it’s a good time to review The 5 Principles of IT Customer Service Success. You want to ensure you’re thinking like a customer as you design support systems for them.

To summarize, in your outbound message, give them an alternative such as the direct number to the helpline, or an option to press a key to be transferred. Set an expectation for when you’ll call back, and emphasize how much you appreciate their business. With high-value clients, have a one-on-one to let them know how you want to ensure they’re well taken care of.

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