Support Team Spotlight: Monarch Teaching

July 1, 2010

Part of an ongoing series about how you do support.

Based in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Monarch Teaching Technologies, Inc. creates technology-enhanced solutions that provide effective and cost-efficient support for children with special learning needs. We recently spoke with John Haprian, Vice President of Operations at Monarch, about how support works at their organization.

Describe how your customer support team works.

We have a single individual who provides technical support primarily via email for both our internal and external customers. Our entire workflow is centralized on Zendesk. We support approximately 1,000 paying and trial customers. Our hours are 8:30am – 5:30pm Mon – Fri. Our one person spends approximately 20% of her time on support-related issues. So far we’ve been able to comfortably handle the volume with current staffing through the efficiencies gained using tools like Zendesk.

What are typical support questions that the team handles?

For our core product mostly new account requests and installation issues.

What channels do you currently offer for support?

We emphasize email as the primary channel but also offer phone and IM.

What is your organization’s philosophy on support?

Excellent support is one of the most cost-effective ways to differentiate ourself from our competition. It’s a mission-critical fuction we take very seriously.

What other tools do you use besides Zendesk?

Jira for development and Basecamp for project management. Google Apps for email, calendaring, and IM.

Any big projects you are working on?

Externally, we are working to improve the breadth and depth of our knowledgebase. We are also experimenting with providing chat support during normal business hours. Internally we are working on tightening the integration between Zendesk and our bug tracking system (Jira).

How do you measure success of customer support at your organization?

Time to resolution of issue. We strive for 24-hour turnaround.

What is the best advice you have for a new customer support manager?

Respond to issues quickly and never solve the same problem more than once. If we encounter an issue often we try to create a knowledgebase article and then communicate the existence of that article to our customers via a variety of channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). If it’s a bug, we funnel the issue to our developers via Jira for a fix.

What has been the biggest surprise to you in your current role?

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much impact on customer satisfaction a really good support experience can have. Even the best product will fail if customers don’t feel like they are being backed up by the company.

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