Published by Calendly - September 1, 2016

How to provide the best customer experience while switching help desk software

Transitioning to new help desk software from a platform you’ve outgrown is tricky. How can you juggle all the tasks and still provide high-quality customer support?

Smart customer success leaders know: as products become more complex over time, adopting more sophisticated support software is crucial to an exemplary customer experience (and high retention rate) for an ever-growing number of clients.

But transitioning to new help desk software from a platform you’ve outgrown is tricky. There’s data to be transferred, team members to ramp up, new processes to test and evaluate. How can you juggle so many priorities and still provide high-quality customer support?

As you evaluate new helpdesk systems, use the strategies below to make a smooth transition and propel your team + your customers to greater heights.

Let team members own the transition

We all know top-down changes don’t stick. A company’s culture isn’t innovative and close-knit just because the CEO orders a ping pong table and beer taps for the office. A salesperson doesn’t suddenly become more effective just because her manager says “we’re changing how we do things, so now you need to make 100 cold calls daily.”

People have to feel a personal connection to a transition.

Convincing your staff to endure a learning curve, to switch from what’s familiar to something unknown — and possibly difficult — requires proof that their lives will improve.

At the previous support department I managed, we needed to redesign our structure from a bunch of general, frontline agents serving all customers to smaller groups of specialists who served specific clients. To engineer motivation, we used the transition as a way to promote our most talented team members. They became the resident “experts” for their roster of clients.

We saw two great results from this:

  1. The team members we promoted became more dedicated now that they had a deeper, more personal connection to the small group of customers they served.
  2. Reps who weren’t immediately promoted now saw an opportunity to move up: once they proved themselves, they too could serve their own client roster. So we began to see a lot more investment and a desire to grow in our Tier I team members.

Show clients that this is an opportunity to grow

Positive, proactive, clear communication is essential to every customer interaction — and preparing clients for a system change is no different.

Depending on your structure, this transition may be a golden opportunity to increase the LTV of certain clients. For example…

  • Are you rolling out any new concierge programs for higher-value clients?
  • Are new reports or services available that they may want to know about?
  • Does client implementation include more 1:1 training than your existing clients received when they purchased?

If so, now is the time for client outreach! Select a group of your best clients to inform of the changes first, and invite them to make use of any new offerings available.

Educating your current clients about this higher level of value — and letting them experience it firsthand — will yield even healthier relationships and greater loyalty.

At my previous company, we used this approach to nurture several mid-value clients up to high-value. Originally users of our most basic plan, they were so impressed with the advanced levels of client services we now provided that they added multiple new offerings to their contract. They remain raving fans to this day.

Of course, Calendly is a great way to manage all this proactive outreach. You can create a few different types of customer calls (maybe highest-tier customers get 1-hour calls, mid-tier get 30 minutes), draft a template outreach email, drop the right Calendly link into your template, and send away.

If lower-value customers will receive less personal support moving forward, be sure to alert them to the self-serve resources available, like…

  • Your knowledge base (“Get answers to your questions 24/7!”)
  • Your blog, if you publish product guides or tutorials
  • Any live service your team will provide (“We’re available for Q&A twice a week on a group webinar”)

In all cases, remember to give customers advance notice of any potential downtime they may experience when you make the switch — via a short email, an in-app message, a few social media posts in the days preceding.

Give reps access to the right resources

Your team needs to understand how to actually use your new system. From a tactical standpoint, this will require certain tools and processes. Consider:

  • Appointing 1–2 of your top reps as “system experts.” They’ll be the ones who know the platform in and out, and who train all future hires on platform use.
  • Setting up all reps’ accounts several weeks before making the switch, so they have ample time to explore the new platform before needing to operate at full capacity
  • Scheduling a team training session with your contact at the new platform (and recording this, so your reps can review as needed!!)
  • Obtaining a list of system best practices / core concepts your team can refer back to
  • Ensuring your team has access to the new platform’s support team, so they can get human assistance without needing to go through you each time

If you’ve been the primary researcher of new help desk software, you may be the resident expert of what each one looks like, what their capabilities are, and how to use them most effectively. So plan to set aside regular hours over the next several weeks to be a resource for your teammates who are just getting started.

Bringing it all together

Positive team motivation, proactive customer outreach and access to the right resources will prepare team members and clients alike for a successful transition to a new platform. Plan your strategy early to maintain the best possible customer experience.