The way that's worded sounds cliche, but it's true nonetheless, and unbelievably important.
Some do's and don'ts:
- Make sure that the people answering the phone have been trained extensively
- Make sure they have the power to fix 90% of problems without "getting in touch with a manager"
- Make the phone# 24/7
- Treat you customer support staff like gold. If they're happy, and feel well taken care of, it comes through in their interactions with customers.
- Determine a cycle whereby senior personnel sit in on (or even answer) the support line for a day every now and then. (For us, we're offering a highly technical service/product - we actually make each of 4 senior engineers spend a day a month on the support line - you'd be amazed how many problems "vanish" never to be seen again, after one of these guys hear about it from a customer).
- Have a support line that's answered by an answering machine.
- Outsource your support line. People know what's up when someone answers the phone sporting a thick East-Indian accent and calling himself "James" - there's a good chance they're just going out hang up, you'll never hear about it, and you've lost the customer for good.
- Outsource your support line (pt. 2) - Outsourced support services get paid for call volume - they have no vested interest in providing long term solution to those "nagging" problems. An internal employee down the hall from you gets tired of getting the same call all the time, and starts pestering people to "fix the damn thing."
I could go on and on... but I'm going to be late getting to work if I do ;)