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Effective Software Customer Support, 2nd Edition
by Richard S. Gallagher, softcover, 219 pages, $29.95

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This updated second edition of one of the most popular resources for software support professionals presents a step-by-step approach to providing high quality, cost-effective customer support services for help desk operations of any size.

Gallagher explores the technical, human, and managerial aspects of one of the software industry's hottest growth areas, including software problem diagnosis, hardware and software tools for support, customer relations, support management, and future trends in the industry.  This book also examines the relationship between a software support operation and its surrounding organization, the role of support data in the product development and marketing process, support automation and CRM, and the growing e-support field.

Special features include:

  • Software problem diagnostics that teach "how to think like a support specialist"
  • Coverage of support automation tools to control costs and to provide strategic insight
  • Practical suggestions for running the day-to-day operations of a support center
  • Guidelines for dealing with software customers professionally and productively
  • Support management guidelines, and the role of support within the organization

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 - The software support revolution

  • The best of times and the worst of times
  • The business case of software support

Chapter 2 - Diagnosing and resolving support problems

  • The top five kinds of software support inquires
  • Front line support
  • The algorithmic approach to problem diagnosis
  • Fixing problems on the front line
  • When to call on the back line
  • When management needs to be involved
  • What makes for a happy software user

Chapter 3 - How you really run a support center

  • Providing the right tools
  • Staffing and coverage
  • Handling and returning calls
  • Ergonomics
  • Physical layout and location
  • Plugging in to the organization and the industry

Chapter 4 - Interacting with software users: ten commandments and more

  • Ten commandments for software transactions
  • When someone turns up the heat
  • Handling specific personalities
  • Summing up the basic skills
  • Support skills go beyond personality

Chapter 5 - Managing software customer support

  • Managing your people
  • The prevention and treatment of burnout
  • Support performance appraisal
  • To monitor or not to monitor
  • Hiring good support specialist
  • Your most important job

Chapter 6 - No support operation is an island

  • Managing your internal customer relationships
  • Never stop learning
  • Opening up the internal lines of communication
  • Support: Part of a team effort

Chapter 7 - Tools of the trade

  • Telecommunication capabilities
  • Support automation systems
  • Send me a fax
  • Online knowledgebases: putting the support center in your user’s hand
  • The growth of e-support
  • Outsourcing the support function
  • A little help from your friends
  • A postscript: How to create lousy support through automation

Chapter 8 - Error tracking and performance management

  • Taking your own pulse
  • Call tracking data
  • On-line forums
  • Personal observation
  • Error tracking: Catching the bugs
  • Customer satisfaction measurement
  • So, what do you do with all this data?

Chapter 9 - Support as a profession: some closing thoughts

  • Significant trends in the support field
  • Support as a career
  • Excellence in software support: Some closing thoughts
  • Developing a service-friendly corporate mission
  • Excellent support pays off

The Resource Center for Customer Service Professionals
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Last modified February 27, 2001

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