Troubleshooting Customer Service Problems In Real-Time Remotely

Casey Zheng Casey Zheng
Troubleshooting Customer Service Problems In Real-Time Remotely

What’s the most crucial aspect of successfully growing a business? You’ll of course need an outstanding product and a rock-solid marketing strategy to promote it. Also, you’ll likely have to outline a robust sales funnel to nurture and convert qualified leads. And most importantly, you’ll need an effective remote customer support plan in place to keep customers loyal and satisfied.

Your business won’t thrive unless you devise a strategy to win the trust and loyalty of your existing customers. Retention is key. This is because the cost of acquiring a new customer is nearly five times more than that of retaining an existing one. One of the most effective retention techniques is to delight your customers with high quality proactive support, irrespective of it being remote or on-site. The two experiences must be parallel, especially as we enter into a virtual first environment.

Customer support isn’t just about answering your existing or potential customers’ queries. Instead, it’s about guiding them along throughout the sales funnel. You need to provide them with relevant assistance at every stage right from the awareness to the loyalty phase.

But, your role doesn’t end right there. Even after they’ve started using your product, it’s essential to resolve their queries and troubleshoot their problems. Doing so can help in boosting customer retention and loyalty as they’ll feel your brand cares for them. It’s important to develop a personal relationship.

But what exactly is troubleshooting in customer service?

Let’s find out.

What is troubleshooting?

Troubleshooting is, in the context of customer support, simply the technique of identifying and solving customer problems. Typically, it involves the following:

  • Understanding the customer’s problem
  • Diagnosing the root cause
  • Providing and implementing an effective solution

Effective troubleshooting is an indispensable part of onboarding new customers. Also, it can be instrumental in ensuring customer success. You must equip your customer service reps with the right troubleshooting skills to quickly assess and resolve customer problems. Additionally, you need to select the right communication channels that your customers can use to reach out to your team as traditional channels can be limiting.

What are the 7 troubleshooting steps?

Here are 7 essential and repeatable steps to troubleshooting anything (courtesy of Support Driven and Steve Litt), especially within a remote customer service scenario.

1. Be prepared

You can resolve any reproducible problem with the right tools, work space, documentation, and attitude. In today's remote customer service scenarios, the tools may change like replacing screen-sharing for co-browsing, but a can-do, patient and caring attitude remains the same.

2. Understand what's going on

Customer support agents have to sift through emotionally-driven, fragmented and generally unclear initial notifications from customer about something not working. To be successful, the customer service starts to troubleshoot by understanding the problem in these ways:

Gather information

Capture the customer's name, email, phone number (i.e. the personal information that the customer is open to providing) in case you get disconnected. Also, obtain their logs, purchase history, and product usage info to help the technical support or product support see what they see.

Ask good questions

The simpler questions, the more quickly you can hook into the customer's issue and start guiding them to a solution. Consider these questions:

What are you trying to accomplish?
When you do x, what happens?
When did it start?
Can you show me what you see on your screen?
Is this the first time, you experienced this problem? Has it happened before? How did you resolve it before?

3. Reproduce the customer problem

Once you understand the customer problem then try to create the problem for yourself. Following the same steps as the customer will help you see where the problem is and how to fix it (e.g. server side, browser side or the customer). If it's a bug, it's important that you actually see it as you'll have to clearly communicate with the engineers for them to resolve it.

Often times, customer service reps want to join a screen share or a capture a screenshot to see what the customer sees, but this can often slow down the process. New tools are emerging to diagnose and distribute the critical information faster.

This step is critical as it will ultimately determine how to move forward with the customer.

4. Identify the root cause

Don't stop there. Put on your thinking cap and dig into how this problem is happening and where it started from.

The issues often boils down to one of three areas:

  • server side,
  • client side (or browser side), or
  • with the user

Is it a non-technical user problem?

The root cause isn't always a software problem. It could the user, or customer, such as a user's lack of knowledge about the product. Imagine the user forget their password or they can't figure out how to cancel a subscription. Sometimes, a problem of this kind, however, could stem from a design of the software, but there are not any bugs in the software to correct.

Is it a Client side technical problem?

Understanding client side vs. server side software (i.e. front-end programming vs. back-end programming) can come in quite handy when narrowing down the problem. The main difference is the location of the problem.

Client side problems stem from an event occurring on the customer's local computer or local browser. For example, the website isn't loading because the browser is not rendering the javascript for the website to show. A usual cause for this problem is a browser extension.

Client side problems are difficult to reproduce without viewing the screen of the customer and it is not necessarily an issue that your technical support will address by updating their own code.

Is it a Server side technical problem?

If it's server side problem, then the issue stems from back end programming code that executes within a server and can only be fixed within the code managed by technical team. Often times, these bugs are reproducible and sometimes without even a screen share or a co-browsing session.

If you can establish that there is a client or server side problem, try to simplify the problem.

With software-based customer service scenarios, remove the usual barriers immediately. Try to get back to a basic state without any obstructions (i.e. turn off those pesky browser extensions, clear the cookies, reboot the computer, check your internet connection, etc.)

If that doesn't resolve the issue, test, test, test one change at a time until the issue is found.

If that does't help, consider a split screen review of a functioning state of the software vs. the malfunctioning state. Again, a shared co-browsing session usually helps here.

5. Fix It or Find a Work Around

The test on whether or not you understand the problem doesn't always depend on fixing the problem. Certainly, a software fix to resolve a bug should fix the problem. However, that might take longer than the time of the session. To fix the problem often times means understanding the problem well enough or the customer goals well enough such that you can get unstuck during the call and get the customer back to accomplishing his goal with the tool.

In many cases, a workaround is a satisfactory, sometimes a preferable, solution to a customer problem. A workaround does not alleviate the root cause of the problem, but rather resolves the problem by bypassing (or "working around") it through creativity and wider knowledge of the issue. Picture yourself walking around an exposed manhole. You know the solution is to cover the manhole so you can walk over it, but if you can not find the cover while you're on your way to work, at least you know that its there and can walk around it. This solution at least helps you not be late for work.

6. Test your fix

With any type of fix (e.g. a permanent, temporary or work around), you or your team will need to test that fix.

Patching a problem isn't always as easy as it sounds, and sometimes more problems can be introduced while trying to fix the first one, but with the troubleshooting process isn't over when you come up with a solution; it's over when you know your solution works. Even if everything looks good in theory, it's still worthwhile to try it out, in situ. Try once again to replicate the problem on the new build using the steps that caused the problem in the first place. If you are unable to replicate the problem, then you can have confidence in your solution.

7. Prevent future problems

Preventing future problems isn't just about making sure the problems that have been stumbled on are addressed, it also means trying to find and address problems proactively so customers never have to experience them in the first place.

This often means testing for bugs, but it can also take the form of envisioning the customer experience and trying to imagine what potential non-technical pitfalls a customer may encounter. Sometimes it isn't a matter of code, but simply of clarity.

And don't be afraid to perform more formal tests with actual testers. If it means preventing customer problems before they occur, it's worth it!

Limitations of Traditional Customer Support Channels

remote customer support channels

The days of on-site customer service are long gone. Modern communication technology has made it possible to provide remote customer support using channels, such as:

  • Email
  • Phone
  • Ticketing systems
  • Live chat
  • Video conferencing
  • Social media platforms
  • Knowledge base and FAQs

However, there are various challenges associated with remote customer service and troubleshooting. Traditionally, most businesses have used emails and ticketing systems to troubleshoot customer problems. The biggest drawback associated with these channels is that they don’t have the provision for real-time support. These processes take a lot of time going back and forth between the agent and customer.

For instance, when a new customer encounters a problem with your product, they have to raise a ticket describing the issue. It’s only when you receive the ticket at the back end that you can analyze their problem. Then you’ll reach out to them through email or by phone to gather more information about the problem and suggest possible solutions.

This approach to troubleshooting is both time consuming and ineffective. It’s because the onus of isolating and detecting the root cause of the problem lies with the customer. Likewise, it’s up to the customer to correctly implement the solutions you’ve suggested.

Needless to say, your customers may not have the right technical skills necessary to detect complex problems. Also, it involves constant to and fro communication between your customer and service agents. The customer will likely have to send screenshots of various error messages and the space for miscommunication is enormous.

If you take too long to respond and resolve the problem or wires get crossed, they’ll get annoyed and might never purchase from you again.

Challenges of Real-Time Customer Support

The only way of eliminating the aforementioned issues is to provide real-time customer support. The idea is to help your customers the moment they need you. Some of the real-time support channels you might already be using are phone, video conferencing, and live chat.

Oftentimes there is a wait to talk to a live agent and customers drop out of line frustrated. However, you might end up wasting a lot of time with back and forth communication between the customer and service agents. This could largely be due to communication gaps and differences in understanding. As a result, your calls or chats can go on for a long time.

Not only does this mean that your agents will remain busy with a single customer for long periods, but can also frustrate your customers in need of solutions. Agents get frustrated as well since they are not as efficient as they could be, thus not reaching their service goals. This definitely isn’t a desirable situation.

To avoid all of this, you can use video conferencing software through which you can ask the customers to share their screen with you. But even in this case, you’ll have to go through the lengthy process of guiding the customer while they control the screen, which can lead to the same issues.

You need to find another way of going about real-time customer support, and that’s where Shared Browser technology can help.

Enabling Remote Customer Support Through Shared Browser Technology

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to gain hands-on access to a customer’s device? What if you could use the product on their system, isolate the underlying problem, and implement the solution? This is exactly what Shared Browser technology helps you accomplish.

RemoteHQ’s co-browsing solution lets you turn any website or web-based application into multi-player mode. This means both you and the customer can work to troubleshoot an issue on the same page (literally).

This means that you can directly access the customer’s device through yours. As a result, all the back-and-forth gets cut out of the picture and you can not only communicate with the customer but also get the job done quickly. This also saves your customer from the hassle of implementing the suggested changes and can improve the customer experience. For example, the customer can login to their account on Shared Browser and then the agent can immediately click around and help troubleshoot in the account without having to switch screens.

Another benefit of using a shared browser tool like RemoteHQ is that customers don’t have to download any software or signup for an account. Instead, they can join a session by clicking on the meeting link sent by you. It’s as simple as this:

Additionally, you can share notes, chat history, and other information from the support session with your customer. This type of documentation empowers the customer to better utilize your product and explore its features.


Proactive customer support and troubleshooting are crucial for building a successful business in today’s competitive market. The use of cutting-edge technology, such as cloud-based co-browsing solutions, help you provide remote customer support in real-time. It’s an effective way of onboarding new customers and proactively resolving their queries. RemoteHQ user Pearl Lemon has already seen an increase in customer satisfaction by 33%.