DPS Telecom Tech Support: Real Live Engineers, not Voice Mail
"In tech support, you don't often talk to happy people," says Chris Hower, head of DPS Telecom Tech Support. "It's my job to take care of them and make sure that they're happy when I'm through."
Hower and his team make people happy at a rate other companies can't even approach. Of the 150 to 200 tech support calls that Hower's department handles each week, 90% are successfully resolved in less than five days.
Hower says that his department's high success rate is due to three factors: a can-do attitude, qualified personnel and systematic procedures.
Standard tech support isn't good enough for DPS Telecom clients
Hower knows full well that most people have a poor opinion of tech support, and he's determined that every client who calls DPS Telecom Tech Support will have an outstanding experience.
"Everybody's had a frustrating experience with tech support, whether it's with consumer electronics or network equipment. Usually the people you talk to don't know much about what you need, or if they do, you have to pay four dollars a minute to talk to them," Hower said.
That simply isn't good enough for DPS Telecom clients, Hower said. Bad tech support is just an annoyance to the average consumer - in mission-critical business applications, bad tech support can be a disaster.
"A lot of times, people come to us with an urgent need. Like, a somebody's going to be fired if this isn't working by Friday kind of urgent need. Well, if it's that urgent for the client, it's that urgent for us. So we listen to the client, and we tell the client, ‘We're going to get you a solution, no matter what it takes,'" said Hower.
"We provide personal tech support. We don't have voice mail. You don't have to navigate menus. There is no waiting on hold. We want to help you, and you'll get a quick answer from a real person," Hower said.
Tech support direct from the engineers who designed your system
And the person you talk to at DPS is not - as it is at so many companies - an untrained intern reading from a script. Every DPS support tech is an engineer with experience working with your system. And if necessary, your tech support issue goes straight to the top of the company.
Hower handles the bulk of tech support calls himself. In his years at DPS Telecom, Hower has worked with every DPS product, and he's helped clients in tech support, installation and sales. Hower is also the senior instructor of DPS Factory and On-Site Training, where he brings a wealth of knowledge to share with clients.
But every so often, a client will have a problem that requires research and testing beyond Hower's broad experience. For those, Hower draws on the entire resources of the company to make sure the client's issues are resolved.
"We're tightly integrated with the Engineering Department, so we always have extra people to help out. If something needs testing, we use all of our engineering resources, including Mark [Carberry, Director of Engineering], Marshall [DenHartog, Vice President of Operations], and [DPS co-founders] Ron [Stover] and Eric [Storm]," Hower said.
"When you call DPS Tech Support, the people you talk to know how to use the system. They've installed it, actually set it up and done the things you're trying to do. Or they've helped design the products you use. It's a big difference from the norm of tech support. At DPS, you talk to people who know how the product works in the real world, and they've made the product work in real-life installations," said Hower.
The close relations between Tech Support and the rest of the company helps identify resolve tech support issues that are detected by other departments. "If somebody returns a product to the Production Department, it's not a big deal for Production to bring it to me and have me talk on the phone with our clients," said Hower. "Because we're close-knit, we can solve clients' problems that much more efficiently."
Systematic procedures ensure clients get solutions
Tech support issues are tracked and documented through a trouble-ticketing system that serves two functions: it ensures all tech support calls are handled effectively, and it creates a database of proven solutions to common problems.
"There's often a lot of two-way conversations and phone calls to handle a trouble ticket. We're exchanging information with the client, telling him to try this solution and call us back with the results. All the phone conversations, all the emails, are kept on the same ticket in the Tech Support database," said Hower.
"This gives us two things. We make sure we're tracking the issue and we're going to fix it. Two, the next time someone else calls with that issue, somebody here, even if they're brand new, can look up the ticket and see how the problem was fixed last time. So they can fix it in 15 minutes instead of five hours," said Hower.
Empowering clients to solve problems
The Tech Support knowledge library is part of Hower's most important goals for his department - get information to the clients faster and enable them to solve their own issues without having to call.
"When clients call Tech Support, they want the quickest way to find a solution. If we can make Tech Support more automatic, so client's can find more of their own answers on the DPS Web site, if we can email them the link to the FAQ page really quick, we can get it so that the clients can spend the least amount of time on the phone," Hower said.
"So we track recurring issues in the Tech Support database. If there's a question that people have been calling about a log, we flag it, we write an FAQ for it, and we post it on the Web site. It's much easier on the client," Hower said.
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