There is a lot of industry talk about customer service these days. Whether business-to-business or business-to-consumer, industries are realizing that the customer experience is the key to success.

So, where do you start to please the customer? From the consumer standpoint there are a lot of variables. Having an excellent product is the top priority. But, keep in mind, there are a lot of great products out there. So, what is the next element in a great customer experience? A cool logo? A slick website? Free shipping? (Nope. Chuck Testa. Just kidding.) Customers are looking at how you treat them. Are the cashiers at the store friendly and accurate, or are they looking right through your customers with dead eyes?

I know Telligent has made customer experience excellence a major part of its culture. But how? To find out exactly what is at the heart of great customer service and support, I decided to get insight from a true insider, Telligent Technical Support Manager Michael Kelley (pictured to the right).

Michael has been “on call” for Telligent for more than 7 years and manages a crack team of “support ninjas.” (Between you and me, I think they are actually called customer relationship managers and technical support engineers.) His team coordinates with the product development team to help current and potential customers, as well as Telligent’s partners.

Honestly, he was a bit hard to pin down for an interview. The man is busy. At any given moment he’s typing, talking or walking with a customer to get them the help and advice they need to succeed. So, I was lucky he was able to block out a few minutes of his time for me to interview him.

Michael said his team’s priority is to abide Telligent’s first core value, “Customers come first. Period.”

“We are all very customer-centric…I think we have a great team of problem solvers that love the challenge, but it’s not just about the technology or problem-solving.”

Michael said his team is socially invested in the customers. In some cases he assigns a dedicated team member to customers who have developed a good rapport with that engineer to keep the customer’s experience consistent. 

[The Telligent Customer Support Team: Supporting strong, guys! Wouldn't want to challenge these guys to a support match.]

“When you were a kid and you were in some kind of trouble, who did you call out to? Your mom or your dad, not some stranger on the street,” Michael said. “We try to be that family for our customers….but, please don’t call me ‘Mommy.’”

The support team works with a wide range of customers from the new community manager to the veteran software developer to the CMO. The support page serves as a welcome mat for all of them, providing several avenues in which customers can get help, including the Telligent support community, Telligent’s support contact form and support line phone numbers. But, no matter how a customer reaches out for help, the customer support team is answering with a personal touch.

“Honestly, I think it is important to get the customer on the phone as much as possible. Especially when a customer is having trouble, getting interpersonal information from their voice inflection and ours too is important.”

After Michael said that, it made me realize that there is an even deeper layer to one our founder’s favorite phrases: Social isn't a destination, but instead a set of experiences.

To create the best experience for your customer, you must have the right tools on hand, but you must also know how and when to use them. When it comes to the customer experience, each step they take along your path must be evaluated – is this good for the customer?

Michael, who helped consult on Telligent’s Social Customer Service eBook, noted that his team is lucky to be working in the social industry.

“Social tools, like Telligent’s offerings, are making it easier for customers to get help and get the most out of their purchases. But, for the tools to work, you have to have the right personalities and attitudes to make it the best experience for your customer.”