When it comes to your accounting solution, how important is customer support?
Customer support should be up there with the ability to send an invoice, according to Colin Hutzan, Manager of Support at FreshBooks. But then, he would say that. He’s as obsessed with customer service as foodies are with gastronomy, Beyhive members are with Beyonce, cat ladies are with … well, you get it. Obsessed.
It’s kind of a defining characteristic of all FreshBooks employees, actually. Everyone spends their first month working in customer support as a Support RockStar (official job title) to learn the product and their customers inside and out.
“The job of a support rockstar is to go above and beyond for all our customers, be empathetic and live and breathe our eight support values on every call,” said Hutzan.
Those eight values, by the way, are:
- Customers first, always
- Be humans, not robots
- Move mountains and pave roads
- Put a cherry on top
- Exude radical positivity
- Be the student and the teacher
- Support [the] support [team]
- Turn up the fun!
We picked Hutzan’s brain to learn what to look for as you research the best cloud accounting solution for your business. Here are the top five.
1. Do They Answer the Phone Quickly – and Offer More Than Just the Standard Response?
We’ve all had those calls to customer support centers. After a handful of rings, you connect to several rounds of recorded options before being placed on hold for 15 minutes “for the next available agent.”
When said agent finally comes on the line, you ask your question, have it repeated back to you and then listen to them type for a minute or two before locating an answer, which they read to you with zero inflection. The response barely addresses your concern but a few follow-up questions confirm that this person will not be able to provide anything more than a canned answer. You reluctantly say, “Okay… thanks” and they cheerfully ask if there’s anything else they can help you with, forcing you to say no, like they helped you with anything in the first place.
That’s not the kind of scenario you want to deal with when you’re faced with an accounting-related question. You need complete answers fast so you can send that invoice promptly, run a financial report or enter vital information into your account. Many cloud accounting software programs pride themselves on their intuitive interfaces, but what happens if you run into an issue and need a human to help you out? You may consider giving their customer support phone numbers a trial run with a simple question. Look for:
- How long did you have to wait?
- Did the representative offer a natural, helpful response – or was it from a script?
- Could they answer additional questions?
- Do their customer support hours match your business hours?
2. Do They Offer Support Tailored to Your Business and Industry?
Many cloud accounting solutions are built for a range of small businesses. For example, FreshBooks caters to creatives like writers and graphic designers, lawyers, small PR firms or agencies, IT consultants and tradespeople/contractors. Although the software is the same, the way customers use it is slightly different. Hutzan says it’s vitally important that customer support representatives tailor their service to the client on the line.
“Our support rockstars are given comprehensive tools and training so they understand each industry FreshBooks caters to. This allows them to answer specific questions from different types of customers and show them how to use the software in a way that suits their business best.”
When researching cloud accounting solutions, be sure your type of small business or industry is represented as a typical customer. If you really want to check their commitment to customer service, call them up and ask them to help you figure out the best way to set up your account, send an invoice, prepare an estimate or perform another function of the software. If they don’t ask you about the type of business you run, you likely won’t get tailored service.
3. Do You Feel Like Your Support Professional Will Stay on the Line as Long as You Need Them To?
When you’re having an accounting-related crisis, the last thing you need is to feel rushed or abandoned by your life line. Many busy call centers have quotas on call handling time to ensure the maximum number of calls are answered. While this is admirable, if a customer support agent feels pressure to take more calls, their quality of service may suffer.
Hutzan says this is one thing FreshBooks actively avoids. “There’s zero urgency for a support rockstar to get off the phone quickly. In fact, we often take the time to look at customers’ accounts while on a call and identify ways they could be using it more efficiently.”
A simple call to a customer service support line will tell you whether you’re being rushed off the line.
4. Do You Get the Same Kind of Service That Higher-Value Businesses Receive?
We’ve all heard about the “white glove” treatment of VIPs in many realms of life. But when it comes to receiving service for a product you pay for, you’d like to think you’re as important as any other customer. Clues that you’re not getting premium customer service include a separate customer service line for VIP customers and alternate options on the phone tree menu for businesses that subscribe to the highest tier of the product. While sometimes higher-volume customers need additional support, basic services should be consistent across the board.
5. Is There a Good Self-Service Option Available?
What happens when you have a question in the middle of the night – or before business hours? A high-quality cloud accounting solution will have a robust online that strives to answer all questions so customers can serve themselves.
“At FreshBooks, we update our page daily based on what customers ask most often, new features that have been recently added and anything else we think will improve self-service,” said Hutzan.
It’s a good idea to browse through a product’s website. See what kind of resources are available to help you save time and solve problems on your own.
Overall, most cloud accounting software strives to design a system that’s easy to use. But customer support is an important feature to help fill in gaps. It can even teach you how to use the software optimally for your business.
“There’s a huge difference between no support, mediocre support and great support. You want answers that are comprehensive and an experience.
about the author
Heather Hudson is an accomplished freelance writer and journalist based in Toronto. She writes for a number of publishing, corporate and agency clients who depend on her to deliver high-quality, on-brand content and journalism with a fresh perspective. Learn more about her work at .