IT Help Desk: The Customer Satisfaction Method

20170608

Woman answering calls at an IT help desk.

From the many points of contact between companies and clients, the IT help desk is the number one opportunity to inspire long-term loyalty in customers. Customer service representatives have clients on the phone at their most vulnerable moments, when the product has failed to work and they must ask for help. These reps have the power to ease frustration, quickly solve problems, rescue customer data and overall turn a tenuous situation into one of customer relief and happiness. Customers who receive high quality, fast, and friendly technical support will stay forever because they know any problems that occur will be easily solved by company experts. To achieve this ideal standard of service, your help desk team needs to adopt the right attitude, and implement the customer satisfaction method.

Start with Positive Listening

Usually, by the time someone calls for tech-support, there has already been some long frustrating journey. They have gone through the trouble of identifying the issue, have probably tried to fix it themselves, and have finally accepted that they need assistance. Remember that their negative feelings are about the problem and stay positive and friendly as they explain their experience with the technical issue. You will probably need to pick out the relevant technical data from their personal account, so let them finish and consider taking notes when you hear a detail that could aid in the solution.

Understand the Customer’s Point of View

Many people are aware that their mistake caused the problem, and should be reassured that technical mistakes are easy to make. Explain to them why they made the mistake and try telling a few stories about other issues caused by similar mistakes. This assures the customer that they’re not alone in their technical challenges and a few funny accounts of other bugs can do a lot to alleviate tension. While your official duty is to fix the bug, easing customer worries and cheering them up after a challenging technical experience is a valuable service any help desk agent can provide.

Explain the Problem & Teach the Solution

The chance is high that your customer is interested in what went wrong and how it was fixed and in most cases it’s safe to explain it to them. When you understand the problem, lay it out for the customer in a way they can understand. Whether it was a slipped decimal point, missed semicolon or an accidentally mismanaged email, it is interesting information and can help them prevent the same issue in the future. If the solution takes a little bit of time to implement, you can use that phone-time to explain what you’re doing to the customer. You may be surprised at their enthusiasm to learn your methods and repair procedures, and the involvement will make the customer feel more deeply included by the company as a whole, building connection, and loyalty.

Build a Reputation

High-quality customer service is rare enough, but help desk agents that can simultaneously solve problems and cheer up their customers will become legendary. When people share their tech support horror stories, your customers will feel compelled to chime in with their unusual tale of when the tech support agent made them laugh and taught them something cool. When you offer excellent help desk service, your company’s reputation for customer care will skyrocket.

Optimized your help desk methods are an important key to long-term customer retention and loyalty. Any company with a help desk can benefit significantly by training agents to be positive, assuring, and informative with every customer that calls in. If you have a help desk or are preparing to set one up for your company, contact us to speak to one of our IT experts.

The WannaCry Attack & How Webroot Protects You

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The headache of WannaCry ransomware attack

On May 12th, 2017, a ransomware virus known as “WannaCry” rapidly spread through private networks and the Internet. The ransomware soon held data “hostage” in hundreds of thousands of computer systems, disrupting Great Britain’s National Health Service along with other institutions and businesses across more than 150 countries. However, systems with Webroot SecureAnywhere software installed found themselves thankfully protected from the virus.

Initial wave of attacks

The WannaCry ransomware virus uses a worm-like mechanism, or “cryptoworm,” to spread across private networks and the Internet. Once it affects a system, it encrypts the system’s data and holds it for ransom. The ransomware demands that the system owner’s deposit several hundred U.S. dollars’ worth of Bitcoins into a specific account before the ransomware will release their data.

The WannaCry virus works by exploiting a vulnerability in Windows operating systems. The vulnerability has a complex and storied history and may have been known to the U.S government long before it was known to Microsoft. However, soon after learning of their software’s security vulnerability, Microsoft released a security patch on March 14th, 2017 to protect supported systems.

The initial attack took place on May 12th, 2017 and quickly affected more than 300,000 systems whose owners or administrators had not yet installed Microsoft’s patch. Perhaps the cyber attack’s most prominent target was Great Britain’s National Health System. On May 13th, Microsoft took swift action against the attack. Although it had already released a patch for supported versions of Windows, the company now released an emergency update for legacy versions, including Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, despite the fact that Microsoft no longer officially supported these operating systems.

A security researcher who blogs under the name “MalwareTech” effectively halted the initially wave of attacks. Inadvertently, the researcher found that by registering an extremely long domain name found in the code of the WannaCry malware, the attack came to a halt. In short, registration of that domain was the “kill switch” for the virus.

Further attacks and findings

At least two variants of the initial WannaCry virus began to impact still more computer systems on May 14th, 2017. However, Matthieu Suiche, founder of Comae Technologies, found another kill switch in the code of one of the two variants. According to Suiche in a Tweet with an accompanying graph on May 15th, his company halted roughly “10K machines from spreading further.” As a result, the second wave of attacks was not as effective as the first.

After the initial two waves of attacks, further variants of WannaCry have continued to affect systems across the globe. As of May 25th, 2017, the most recent attack making headlines is WannaCry’s apparent penetration of the postal service in Russia.

Webroot’s protection

One indication of the effectiveness of anti-virus and security software such as Webroot may be customer call volume during an attack. One would expect call volume to spike as users suddenly find their systems compromised. However, according to Webroot’s LeVar Battle, responding to a comment on the company’s May 13th update to the Webroot Threat Blog “our call volume has not been impacted at all by this threat.” The post explains that despite the virus’ widespread impact, the basic structure of the malware itself is “similar to what we’ve seen before.” It is the worm-like propagation of the virus that has taken so many systems by surprise. According to the May 13th blog post, “Webroot SecureAnywhere does currently protect you from WannaCry ransomware.” At the same time, Webroot strongly recommends updating to the very latest version of your system software, a best practice that ensures mult-layered security. Moreover, they recommend becoming as educated as you can about ransomware and other common security threats.

Webroot’s latest post, addressing the second wave of attacks, reinforces their earlier reassuring statement and further maintains that Webroot is continuing to develop new solutions to protect their users against WannaCry variants as they arise.Â

Staying secure

The WannaCry ransomware attack is one of the most damaging cyber-attacks in years. The virus’ worm-like method of propagation exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft operating systems. Although Microsoft released a patch for supported systems well ahead of the attack, many companies and institutions did not install the patch in time. As a result, WannaCry’s initial wave of attacks affected more than 300,000 computer systems across more than 150 countries. Although cybersecurity researcher MalwareTech inadvertently halted the inital attack with a kill switch, new variants have continued to arise. Thankfully, users of leading security software Webroot SecureAnywhere found themselves protected from the attack.

Contact us to learn more about how Webroot can help protect you from malicious security threats such as WannaCry.

Hosting your own Microsoft Exchange Server: The Pros and Cons

20170525

Hosting Exchange in-house

Whether or not you should host your company’s Microsoft Exchange Server in-house depends on a number of key considerations. These include your company’s budget; data security concerns; and need for flexibility, just to name a few. With these factors in mind, let’s have a look at the potential pros and cons of hosting Exchange in-house:

 

 

The Pros

Greater control over your data

When you host your own Exchange server, your company’s data is under your company’s control and no one else’s. If you’re uncomfortable with a remote third party potentially having access to, and control over, your company’s data in the cloud, then you may want to host your server in-house.

Flexibility with your configuration

If you host your Exchange server in-house, you can configure it to your precise specifications. However, with a hosted solution, you will probably find yourself limited to the packages and options the host provides. Of course, they may offer a completely customizable solution, but this may come at a substantially higher cost.

Saving money on bandwidth

With an in-house solution, the emails and attachments your employees send one another will bypass the Internet, as long as everyone shares the same LAN. This can translate to significant savings on Internet bandwidth.

Performance

Large attachments, especially those that contain audio or video, may suffer a delay in transmission if your employees are sending them through a hosted Exchange server. In this case, every email attachment essentially becomes an upload or a download to your Internet-based server. Given this constraint, if your company’s communications are especially media-intensive, an in-house solution could save you time and frustration.

Using email attachments to store files

If you are hosting your Exchange server in-house, your staff can easily store files by adding them as attachments to their emails. However, this common practice is much more difficult, impractical and expensive when using a hosted server. After all, you are now sending your file attachments over the Internet, and storing them in the cloud, costing you bandwidth and storage space.

Less exposure to Internet outages

If you have an in-house Exchange server, any employees on your LAN can continue to send emails to one another during an Internet outage.

The Cons

Requires vigilance

A hosted solution will generally have systems in place for handling all the responsibilities, ongoing tasks and potential issues surrounding Exchange server management. These include handling outages; performing scheduled backups; updating your version of Exchange; and any number of other server-management tasks and concerns. On the other hand, when you are hosting your own Exchange server, your in-house or hired networking specialist will need to be vigilant to stay on top of all of these same issues.

Requires IT expertise

Hosting and managing your own Exchange server requires either in-house or hired networking expertise. If you don’t have the trained expertise in-house, be sure to hire a highly-qualified networking specialist or team in your area. However, only hire networking professionals that are specifically trained in setting up and managing Exchange servers. You will also want reassurance that your hired specialists will make themselves readily available to respond to any outages; answer any questions or concerns; and take the time to properly train any members of your staff that will work with your Exchange server.

Potentially higher cost

Hosting your server in-house will require an investment in equipment, setup, expertise, and maintenance. Depending on the size of your company, your chosen server configuration, and a number of other factors, an in-house solution could potentially cost more than a hosted solution. However, if you are saving money on bandwidth by hosting your server in-house, you might find that your savings can more than offset any potentially higher costs of in-house hosting.

Making your decision

Whether or not to host your own Exchange server is an important decision that depends on a number of key trade-offs. Before making your decision, be sure to carefully consider your need for control over your data; your budget; your access to in-house or local networking expertise; your employees’ use of large file attachments; your need for flexibility; and any other concerns you may have. Contact us to help you decide whether hosting your Exchange server in-house is right for you.

How ACT! Contact Management Software Can Build Your Business Credibility

20170518

Customizing Your Messaging Through Personalization and Segmentation

What helps your business attract customers? Chances are that based on your industry, your company has a very specific value proposition. But ultimately, that value proposition is worth little without a degree of credibility for your brand in the eyes of your audience.

In other words, your brand messaging needs to be both believable and authentic. When your potential customers comes across as less credible than one of your similar competitors, their choice will be easy. To prevent that from happening, you need to make sure your messages are relevant. It’s UnMarketing in action: promote your business subtly, not obviously.

Fortunately, building your credibility is far from impossible. To make it happen, though, you need a software that allows you to gather and organize enough customer and lead data to build more relevant messaging. In other words, you need ACT! Contact Management Software.

The Benefits of a CRM

At its core, ACT! is a CRM – short for customer relationship management system. The benefits of CRMs for businesses across industries range widely, but tend to come back to organization. Put simply, a platform like ACT! allows you to gather as much information as you can about potential customers in a centralized space.

The results, in many cases, are increased productivity and better marketing-sales symbiosis through a singular system. But at the same time, don’t underestimate the potential for increasing your credibility through the same functionality, as well.

Building a Reliable Lead Database

Through ACT!, you can build your lead database. You might have heard about inbound marketing, a promotional philosophy that has taken the internet by storm. It emphases organic lead generation by offering valuable content in exchange for signing up, rather than purchasing or sourcing leads for money.

Of course, you need a place in which to store your new leads. Given that only a quarter of the leads entering your database are actually sales ready, your CRM acts as more than just a pool for new leads. It’s the system through which you can slowly nurture them to become customers.

Customizing Your Messaging Through Personalization and Segmentation

At the core of ACT!, much like many other CRM platforms, is email marketing. You can easily send beautiful emails to every contact in your database. For the sake of your credibility, though, you shouldn’t. Instead, use the features available for you to maximize the relevancy of your messaging. You can increase your messaging relevance in two ways:

  • Personalize your emails. Use the software’s integrated personalization tool to substitute individual details about your leads into each message. From first name to company size, personalization will maximize your engagement rates.
  • Segment your audience lists. Instead of treating every potential customer the same way, consider segmenting them into relatively homogenous lists based on common characteristics. Now, you can build more relevant messages targeted specifically toward that segment’s needs and pain points.

Through this type of customization, your credibility will maximize. Put simply, a potential customers who signs up on your website expects messages that are not promotional, but relevant to their individual needs. A company who can deliver on that expectations quickly and effectively will incur significant goodwill.

Get Started in Implementing ACT!

To build your credibility, especially among new leads, you need to increase your relevance. The authenticity and quality of your messages also matters, but personalization and segmentation are vital first steps.

That, in turn, requires a CRM platform specifically optimize to accomplish your credibility goals. And as it turns out, that’s exactly where ACT! enters the equation. Through its contact management and email tools, you can build a marketing strategy designed to increase your credibility and grow your business. To learn more about implementing the software and optimizing your marketing efforts, contact us.