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Around-The-Clock Support

Providing timely solutions

With the material handling world becoming an around-the-clock industry, it is increasingly important that companies are able to offer customer support 24/7/365. An industry that never sleeps demands support that never rests. Below are 10 ways to ensure that when a customer calls, your company will be able to answer.

  1. Utilize an answering service with built-in call escalation to ensure all calls are taken. These non-automated answering services man a toll-free number for your company. They take down customer information and a brief description of the problem, making note if the customer’s system is down.
  2. Give the answering service a company call list. They will start by calling the #1 spot, generally a support engineer. If they do not get an answer, they will leave a message and then proceed to the next phone number on the call list, i.e., the direct manager of the support engineer. This continues up the ladder, all the way to the company president, until they reach someone.
  3. An important thing a company can do is publish this toll-free number on all systems and accompanying documentation. Instruct customers to utilize this number instead of calling support personnel directly. This will ensure that all calls are routed through your answering service and are able to receive proper attention.
  4. Keeping logs of each call is extremely important. Use a secondary notification system that sends the call logs to multiple parties. E-mail is a great way to do this. When the answering service finishes the call routing, they send an e-mail with call information, times and status of each call made to team members. This ensures visibility to all support personnel, and allows management to follow up easily.
  5. Rotate the primary phone call responsibility among your support staff. You can call the answering service and change the contact name for the #1 spot on the list. This helps spread out responsibility and keep everyone up to speed.
  6. Set up a virtual private network (VPN) connection with your system. A VPN creates a secure connection between your computers and your network. This will allow you to use your network and call system to facilitate support in a secure and efficient manner.
  7. Provide your support personnel with cellular Internet access. This enables a support engineer to connect with company systems even when normal Internet access is unavailable. If you have installed a VPN, this process will be even safer and simpler.
  8. Good recordkeeping is key to being able to quickly help a customer. I recommend compiling a networked repository of current software programs and accompanying documentation for each customer. This reduces confusion and hastens your ability to respond.
  9. In addition to good recordkeeping, a customer relationship management (CRM) system can help streamline your support process. A CRM creates a two-way connection with customers so a company can efficiently log their purchases, needs and other details. Support personnel can utilize this system to log all support-related calls and useful details.
  10. Detailed records are important, but alone they are not enough. A company should review all support calls, their status and root causes on a weekly basis. Provide this information to the engineering department so they can learn from it.

In material handling, around-the-clock support is moving from luxury to necessity. A streamlined support system can help a company better serve its customer base and keep satisfaction high.

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association
Mike Brinkman Meet the Author
Mike Brinkman is the controls sales manager for Bastian Material Handling in Indianapolis, Indiana. He earned a BS in computer science from Purdue University and an MBA from Indiana University. Mike has worked in the controls and software engineering field for 18 years working with the automotive, governmental, pharmaceutical and material handling industries, the last two years for Bastian.

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