HiveMQ is the trusted enterprise MQTT platform designed to connect, communicate, and control IoT data. We help our customers build scalable, reliable, and secure IoT applications that connect millions of devices and process billions of messages per day.
To ensure that our customers get the most out of our products and services, we have a dedicated support team that is always ready to assist them with any issue or question that may come up. In this blog post, we share some of the best practices and principles that guide our support team in delivering exceptional customer experience.
Simplicity and Clarity
One of the core values of our support team is to keep things simple and clear. We believe that this helps us to resolve issues faster and more effectively, as well as to communicate better with our customers. Some of the ways we achieve this are:
Treating each ticket with urgency and resolving it as soon as possible.
Providing regular feedback on the ticket status and progress.
Choosing the most suitable communication channel, such as email, phone, or video call, depending on the urgency and complexity of the issue.
Following a four-step process for bug fixes or feature improvement requests:
Understanding the customer’s issue impact and deadlines.
Having an internal sync with relevant stakeholders to come up with a solution.
Getting back to the customer with realistic expectations and timelines.
Involving the account teams in case of disputes or escalations.
While we cannot offer strict resolution SLAs to our customers for a self-hosted middleware solution like HiveMQ, we are measuring our resolution time as well as time to recovery (TTR) in critical production cases, to ensure that the efforts that we are putting into improving team efficiency (namely training, mentorship etc.) are leading to positive changes over time.
Measuring the Quality of the Ticket
Quantifying the quality in which a ticket is handled is not trivial yet very important. For example, you have to weigh the speed of resolution versus customer satisfaction. HiveMQ achieves this as follows:
We recognized seven parameters that affect the quality of the ticket, including:
Whether the support agent was empathetic about the customer's issue.
Whether all responses were timely and relevant.
Whether the ticket fields were filled correctly at the end of the ticket, including a mini RCA (root cause analysis), which eliminates the need to read the whole ticket in the future, if we ever come back to it.
Each parameter is given one point, except positive CSAT. The Customer Satisfaction Score outweighs all other points 3 to 1 as our main focus is always a successful and happy customer.
The fields are integrated directly into our ticketing system. The support manager rates one random ticket each week from every support agent, adds comments on what can be improved, and discusses the ticket in the weekly one-to-one meeting with the agent. This helps keep things in focus and enables tracking trends over time to see if an agent needs additional training or if the process needs to be updated for some reason.
It is important that the inputs for quality are decided after a detailed discussion with our team. If everyone is aligned on why this is needed, and why the parameters are relevant, it leads to a greater adoption from the team and better results.
Going Beyond the Scope of Support
Hiring and mentoring a team of highly technical support professionals (L3) that come from various backgrounds including SRE, DevOps, and development — in addition to support experience — enables HiveMQ in two practical ways:
The team has experience (individual or combined) and training on general customer infrastructure implementation in local and cloud environments; this helps them debug not only HiveMQ-related issues but also infrastructure setup issues to a certain degree — definitely an added advantage. These capabilities, in addition to support from SMEs (subject matter experts) from HiveMQ engineering and other teams, ensure a smoother interaction with customers.
Since the team possesses certain advanced skills such as reading code, developing mini extensions, debugging networking issues, etc., it helps improve the speed of solution delivery to the customer, leading to a better customer experience.
I should add that this is a balancing act: the teams understand that they cannot know everything, and there are always cases where we need to revert customers to reach out to relevant support teams outside HiveMQ.
Data is Key to Success
At HiveMQ, we measure our goals closely to improve our internal processes and practices. Here are some examples of how we use data to enhance our support service:
Support leadership ensures that the KPI targets are discussed and understood by the team, and the data is available as dashboards to everyone in the organization, including agents, so they can own their progress and can take timely actions and help in a timely manner instead of waiting for someone to tell them in a bi-yearly performance discussion.
Data also helps support understanding what areas a customer needs more focus on. For example:
If a customer is low on ticket count or CSAT score, it’s a good early indicator of potential customer churn, helping Customer Success take proactive actions to bring back the customer’s health.
If a customer’s ticket has a large value for resolution time (p75 in our case), dividing the ticket into status(for example, waiting for support, waiting for a customer, waiting for internal teams, etc.) can help determine if your organization is slow in delivering regular feedback and solutions, or if tickets are waiting for a customer and can benefit from the three reminder principle.
More Feedback Please
Feedback is essential for any support team to learn and grow. It helps us to understand what we are doing well and what we can do better. It also helps us to build trust and rapport with our customers, as well as to show appreciation and recognition for their loyalty and cooperation.
However, getting feedback is not always easy. Sometimes, customers may not have the time or the motivation to provide feedback, especially if they are satisfied with the service. It is a known fact that we are more likely to give feedback when it is negative, and mostly skip it when it is positive. At HiveMQ, we understand that regular feedback is the lifeline for improving any support team. This is how we went from 5% of tickets getting a rating to 30% of tickets getting a rating, in the following ways:
We started a reminder campaign: the last comment of each ticket contains a request for the customer to rate their experience with support. This is in addition to the automatic CSAT (customer satisfaction) score reminder done by the ticketing system. We find that it is more likely for a customer to provide feedback when they are still engaged e.g. just after their last ticket comment.
We created a list of customers who create the most amount of tickets but have the lowest response rate. Then we reached out to these customers via our Customer Success Managers to understand why this is the case and how the support team can improve their experience. Based on the feedback, we implemented some individual changes for customers (e.g. Some customers liked more frequent updates while others had a more complex change management cycle that could take months, and they would like the tickets to remain open till then), leading to a better support experience.
We added a Positive CSAT score as the most weighted quality metric, making sure agents are primarily focused on providing exceptional support experience rather than fulfilling some numbers, which are secondary.
Show Empathy and Stay Positive
Support is mostly engaged when something is broken on the customer’s side, and the tickets that are created or the responses that are given by customers sometimes can reflect that frustration. Hence it is highly important for the team to stay positive. At HiveMQ, we tackle this in the following way:
Every agent understands that a negative comment or review is not always a reflection on them or their work but on the team and organization as a whole. Separating yourself from this emotion helps agents focus on solutions, instead of heated arguments or anger issues.
Support management ensures that the team feels supported in every way, especially in case of escalations. If your team feels you will fight for them, they always have your back. We also understand that sometimes, it could be personal challenges that could lead to frustration at work, and we work with individuals on their issues as they require in an official and personal capacity.
In case of negative reviews, we reach out to the individuals to better understand their causes. Then we work on improvement, tracking the changes and reaching out to them, after a few months of implementation, for their feedback. It might be surprising to know how sometimes a negative rating is the result of an automated system trying to identify your email as spam and visiting the first link to check for spam, leading to a negative rating or an innocent mistake on the customer’s side. In such cases, delighted customers are always open to revising the rating.
We hope that this blog post has given you a glimpse into how HiveMQ Support works and what we value. We are always striving to deliver the best possible customer experience and to help our customers succeed with their IoT projects. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com. We would love to hear from you!
Harsh Bansal leads Customer Support at HiveMQ, bringing multiple years of expertise in guiding L2 and L3 support teams across EMEA, APAC, and NAM. He excels in driving customer satisfaction. In his current role, Harsh is dedicated to providing an unparalleled customer support experience at HiveMQ and helping enterprises adopt MQTT, IoT, and IIoT to transform their business.