1:1 support sessions. A quick guide from the start to the end.

A couple of weeks ago I was in Belgrade with some good friends (Davor, Valentina or Oliwia just to mention some). We were there to attend Support Driven Expo Europe a fantastic oportunity to meet very interesting people like Agnes Abel, from Typeform or have cool talks with interesting people… thanks Natalia Jurczuk for that zoom! But we also were there to give some talks. Mine was “Mistakes, Lessons learned and some tricks after 500 video chat & screen sharing support sessions”. Pretty self-descriptive title to talk about 1:1 support sessions. I got some good feedback from SD so it seems it could be useful to share some points from there.

BTW, here it is the complete presentation, just in case you’d like to take a look:

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First, what are 1:1 support sessions?

I mean by this a video session where you devote your complete attention to a customer. Sometimes you share the screen, sometimes you talk face to face, sometimes you do this with the video off, so just audio. And most of the times is a mix of these. For instance, I start with the video off, switch to video on if they do the same, and soon after that we talk with the screen shared. Ah, yes. We are talking about remote support… so we can add these handy pieces of advice.

The key point is the user will be happy by default. They are aware of getting the complete attention from an expert, so it is really reassuring, right? And from the point of view of the support ‘giver’, it is an amazing opportunity to get direct, immediate, unfiltered qualitative feedback from your customers/users. So a win-win, yeah.

Planning your 1:1 support sessions strategy.

Before being able to start with this there are several things you’d like to plan, as they are going to configure the layout and the outcome of your sessions. There are lots of things to ponder, but at least…

  1. You would like to carefully analyze and define how to create the trigger. Where it is the button to get the session? You’ll likely get different kind of users if you put it in the setup page or in the payments/purchase page. Also… is it a button within the application or is there something you give access from an email your customers get… This decision will define the target and topics of the session itself.
  2. Also, it is important to understand the best horizon to book sessions together with their availability and length. Are you allowing to book sessions 1 week in advance, 1 day before the date, or just on-demand sessions, this to avoid no shows? Are you covering 24/7? How many agents you have / which is your availability per hour? (And of course, you’d need to answer some more questions like the estimated length of each session, whether your agents will need extra time or not for follow-ups…). All these parameters can be fine-tuned to find the one working the best for you or to accommodate needs or resources seasonality.

Preparing 1:1 support sessions

Let’s follow the 1:1 session lifecycle. Starting from the beginning:

  1. Check eligibility. What if you could not help that customer with what they need/want? It could be outside of the scope of your service, something about a feature you can’t offer or even… what if it is something you could fix in a heartbeat and it doesn’t make sense to make your customer wait for it? The sooner you see that and inform about, the happier (or less frustrated) your customer will be. Also, if anything is ok and the session can be held… you can start preparing it!
  2. Ok, you have the customer for the session. The first thing to understand: what do they expect from the session. In my case, we help people to create amazing webpages, so we could have people willing to create an online shop, bloggers that need a hand to implement a SEO strategy or a small business that wants to create the online presence for their firm and need help to understand the platform from the beginning… the sooner you understand what they need, the sooner you can start to prepare the session so the better it will be. How to capture user expectations? A form could do the trick… my favourites: , Typeform or Crowdsignal.
  3. Set Reminders for both, you and the customer. I’m sure you don’t want to have a no-show because they forgot about the session. And… you don’t want to forget it yourself, right? There are 1000 ways to set reminders and you’ll need to find your way. Mine: Google calendar reminders.

Let’s have the session!

I had a screenshot… mmm… here it is.

While the session, just remember your user is going to be thrilled to have someone in front of them. Even when dealing with an ugly case, with a potentially frustrated client, they will understand this is an opportunity to fix their problem or to get their answers, so they will be in a positive mood 99% of cases.

There are some tricks as well as mistakes to avoid, that I will cover in next posts, for now, just focus on a handful of facts:

  • Customers are likely to be happy. Even silent users could be glad to be there. (you find this in the feedback)
  • It’s normal to feel a bit nervous the first times. You need a bit of time to find your way and feel comfy.
  • You have a person in front of you. Someone you genuinely want to help. So: be empathetic, but don’t get caught in their stress… in case they have.
  • You are a professional consultant with all the means to help them. This is cool and reassuring. But you are not omniscient. If you cannot help them during the session, you can work on the case check with your team and send them an email later. The priority is to be helpful, being fast is an important but subordinated goal.

The session is over, now what?

Now you need to make explicit -again- the key fact behind a 1:1 support session. The session is not the end of your support relationship. You are still available to help your customers. Neat. How to do that? There is a straightforward but not unique way: an email. I send an email with at least:

  • A recap of all the topics we have been talking about
  • Some handy links to get more information, complement these topics or learn related things, if needed.
  • Next steps. In a clear and supportive way, trying to anticipate their future needs, if this makes sense and it is possible.
  • An invitation to reach out to you if they have issues, doubts, questions or if they stumble upon any difficulty. And this is the key point because this is what is going to build the metaphor: a 1:1 session is not the last word, but the start of a long term relationship you want to build. Make how to join you clear enough: a link, a screenshot, your timetable…

Epilogue.

I mentioned 1:1 support sessions are an amazing source of first hand, unfiltered qualitative feedback. Do not let the opportunity pass. You can build a feedback system to gather all these insights: The way in which your customers use your services, the most important features for them, these they miss, also their activity area and demographics… are just some of the key points you can reflect about to ponder new ways to better serve your customers.

Note: you’ll likely be who fill and format this data, not the customer ;). If you get the customer to fill this for you, you won a gold medal.

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