Best Practices and Metrics for Assisted Support Delivery

Best Practices and Metrics for Assisted Support Delivery

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Best Practices and Metrics for Assisted Support Delivery

Making it easy for customers to get help depends upon the channels available to access support resources and request assistance. Many companies offer assistance by phone but there is a clear shift towards electronic channels.

Assisted Support

The time, effort, and costs required to provide assisted support make it imperative for companies to find ways to expedite issue resolution and bolster efforts to prevent issues.

Companies offer a variety of channels for customers to request assisted support. These include interactive channels like chat and phone, and passive methods such as e-mail, Support communities, and web case submission. Customers have embraced electronic channels and are relying less on assistance by phone.

Key Trends

  • 83.1% of companies offer both phone and electronic channels for support. Only 14.9% offer electronic-only support contact methods.
  • Support case submission by web-based form is the top channel used, followed by phone and e-mail.
  • Phone support use has declined by 8% as electronic channel use grows.
  • The use of chat has grown by 26% while use of e-mail has risen by 24%.
  • The reasons customers request support assistance are equally distributed across three primary categories of “How To,” “Bugs or Performance Issues,” and “Installation, Configuration, Setup.”
  • Most support interactions are reactive, although proactive engagement is on the rise.

Best Practices

From case open to closure, case management and resolution processes must be efficient and effective.

  • Apply structured data collection to assure that submitted cases are complete.
  • Encourage adoption of web-based case submission.
  • Apply intelligent automation to triage and routing of new cases.
  • Deflect as cases are created.
  • Collaborate.
  • Leverage case closure automation.
  • Completely document closed cases.
  • Trigger knowledge process upon case closure.

Key Metrics

It is important to track how your customers engage your Support organization as well as the types of issues they need help with. Consider using the following metrics and measures:

  • Cases by Channel
  • Assisted Issue by Types
  • Support Access Point

What more insights about assisted support best practices and metrics?

For insights about how support is changing and the opportunities and imperative for 2021 please review ServiceXRG’s latest study: Support Transformation: The Guide to Essential Practices and Metrics.  This report examines current trends in Support delivery and offers tangible guidance for Support, Success and Service professionals to meet growing expectations of both customers and company executives.

Download your copy now

Make a Plan to Optimize Assisted Support

ServiceXRG provides coaching and guidance to help companies optimize support performance and apply best practices.

Let’s make a plan to optimize support.

Contact ServiceXRG by chat or e-mail now or click on my calendar to set up an initial assessment of your Support planning needs.

Fresh, authoritative, actionable insights for Support leaders

Exclusive Research Report:

Support Transformation: The Guide to Essential Practices and Metrics

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Beyond NPS: Eight Metrics for Support and Success

Beyond NPS: Eight Metrics for Support and Success

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Beyond NPS: Eight Metrics for Support and Success

High customer satisfaction and Net Promoter Scores as the desired outcome of Support and Customer Success interactions, while positive, is not enough because it does not connect service delivery excellence with tangible business outcomes.

Why NPS is Not Enough for Support and Success

Support and Success must be focused on the attainment of tangible business objectives. For the customer, this implies that Support or Success interactions must help the customer apply a product successfully. For the business, providing these services must contribute to retaining relationships with hopes of expanding their value. This is why organizations must look beyond NPS (Net Promoter Score) when measuring the impact of Support and Success on lifetime customer value.

Attainment of high Net Promoter Scores, while positive, is not enough to indicate that “promoters” will correlate to the positive outcomes the business expects. The measure of Support and Success must be tangible and focused on “end game” results such as:

  • Can the customer use the product?
  • Can customers achieve tangible business outcomes by using the product?
  • Did support or success services help the customer attain their goals?
  • How will the customers’ ability to achieve their desired outcomes influence their ongoing relationship?

Beyond NPS: The Right Metrics for Support and Success

What is the primary reason for offering Support and Success services?  In most cases these organizations are aligned to help customers adopt and apply products successfully. The rationale is if customer can use and apply products successfully, you will increase the likelihood that you can retain and expand these relationships.  A single, simple measure such as NPS cannot provide sufficient insight to indicate that Support and Success efforts are resulting in tangible business benefit.

Consider the following eight metrics for determining the impact of your post sales services.

Metric

Description

1. Onboard

The percent on that new customers have received formal onboarding guidance.

2. Adoption

The rate that customers have met adoption milestones.

3. Success

The percent of customer that have reached established performance goals or milestones on defined journey map.

4. Availability

The rate that customers business operations have not be interrupted due to downtime or outages.

5. Engagement Quality

The percent of all customer engagements that result in positive outcomes.

6. Retention

The percent of active customers that have committed to renew an existing relationship.

7. Health

The relative health of a customer relationship based on the composite rates of adoption, success, retention, and recurring revenue rates.

8. Net Recurring Revenue

The net growth or contraction of the total recurring revenue relationship value. See How to Measure Net Recurring Revenue

The Tangible Impact of CX and Customer Success

The Tangible Impact of CX and Customer Success

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The Tangible Impact of CX and Customer Success

A well-defined CX strategy combined with an effective Customer Success (CS) operating model can yield significant and tangible benefits including retention and expansion of existing relationships and the strengthening of your product and service reputation.

The Tangible Impact of CX and CS

A CX strategy defines the approach a company will use to influence customers behaviors and perceptions by creating specific customer experiences. A Customer Success operating model promotes practices across the entire customer-lifecycle including landing new accounts; onboarding, success planning; product adoption; health monitoring; retention and expansion.

To learn more about CX and CS please read:

Customer Experience vs. Customer Success – Similarities and Differences

CX Opportunities

A well-defined CX strategy combined with an effective Customer Success (CS) operating model can yield significant and tangible benefits for retention, expansion and reputation.

CS-CX Impact

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Effectively Managing Distributed Support Teams

Effectively Managing Distributed Support Teams

Effectively Managing Distributed Support Teams

Geographically distributed teams are common for many industries and companies, but recent events have created the necessity for more individuals to work from home. For support and service operations that rely on centralized call centers the shift to a distributed workforce introduces new challenges – both technical and administrative. Here are some of the things to consider for effectively managing distributed support and success teams.

From Centralized to Distributed

The chatter of calls centers is distinctive, and the dynamics created by the personal proximity of dozens or even hundreds of service professionals is unique.  Centrally located support teams create opportunities to develop relationships, develop skills and collaborate.

As more companies find that they need to send their workforce home and out of centralized call centers it is important to assure that teams remain focused and effective.  For some, working remotely and being part of a distributed team is new.  Here are some of the things to consider for effectively managing distributed support teams.

Team Objectives

The service mission persists.  While some companies may see a decline in customer demand other sectors will find that they play a critical role in supporting vital operations in health care, logistics, communications, and other industries.   It is imperative that everyone on the team understand the goals and the ways that they will contribute to the attainment of team objectives.

  • Clearly define TEAM GOALS AND OBJECTIVES so that everyone understands the expected level of performance and desired outcomes. Share the big picture to the extent possible so that everyone understands the context for the team’s goals.
  • Set clear INDIVIDUAL EXPECTATIONS with team members so that they know what is expected of them personally.
  • Define the METRICS you will use to measure individual and team performance. Clearly describe to the team and individuals what the metrics are and how they will be used.
  • Expand PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT activities (check-ins, reviews, etc.) to help guide team members to meet their levels of performance. For individual that are new to working remotely there will be some challenges getting adjusted not to mention potential challenges due to infrastructure limitations.
  • Create opportunities to COACH AND MENTOR individuals to help develop skills while working remotely.

Team Dynamics

Members of the team may be separated, but the team persists.  Make certain that you maintain a team dynamic so that all members can work towards common goals. Consider the following:

  • DEFINE THE TEAM by introducing everyone. Although remote, relationships, collaboration and mutual support can persist.  Update team photos in the company directory and if you don’t have one, consider making one.
  • ENGAGE as a team and don’t allow team members to become “out-of-sight-out-of-mind.” Consider a more frequent cadence of team meetings through live meetings – encourage everyone to turn on their video.
  • BUILD TRUST among team members that everyone will do their job and help achieve common objectives. Make certain that each team member knows their role and responsibilities.
  • SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER as the shift from a centralized work environment to a remote location can be challenging for some.

Enablement

The ability for team members to conduct work remotely is important.  Remote teams need access to core systems and tools to communicate and collaborate. Under some circumstances not all team members will be able to perform the same functions they could from within the company’s security infrastructure.  Consider the following:

  • Provide the necessary INFRASTRUCTURE for team members to access key systems.
  • Assure that everyone on the team has the means to COLLABORATE AND COMMUNICATE This may require acquisition of video conferencing technologies and expanded licenses or enabling collaboration features within existing systems.
  • Maintain SECURITY AND CONFIDENTIALITY for regulated industries. The security and confidentiality of data shared during a service interaction is essential. Assure that team members understand this and assure that remote infrastructure can meet required security and confidentiality protocols.
  • Have a PLAN B. If team members cannot gain access to the necessary infrastructure to perform functions previous done within the company infrastructure, consider alternatives. Identify tasks that remote team members can perform with the tools and resources they have (develop new skills, write knowledge base articles, post to social platforms, etc.). 
  • Do what you can to KEEP THE TEAM WORKING.

Customer Expectations

Changes to the way your team works may have implications for customers.  Set realistic expectations with customers if service availability or service levels will be affected.  Consider the following:

  • Let customers know if there will be any changes to SERVICE LEVELS AND AVAILABILITY.
  • Communicate any changes to SERVICES DELIVERY including postponement of onsite engagements, or a request to change from submitting cases by phone to using electronic channels.
  • KEEP CUSTOMERS UP TO DATE and they will be more willing and able to work with you.

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Top Customer Support Trends for 2020

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Top Customer Support Trends for 2020

Core support practices will persist but Support as we know it will evolve.

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The Evolution of Customer Support

Support has been the foundation of post-sales customer engagement for decades. New licensing models and recognition that customer retention is essential has led to enhanced approaches to engage and retain customers. Support must find ways to contribute to the execution of CX and CS strategies and practices. Throughout 2020 we expect to see several key customer support trends play out.

Here are five observations and predictions about the factors that will drive the transformation of support.

Customer Support Trend #1: Support will be asked to take on new customer engagement activities or will relinquish activities to adjacent Customer Success groups.

Support organizations are at a crossroad.  They will either need to fully embrace customer engagement activities such as adoption, success planning, account management, customer retention and expansion or consider divesting from these activities and allow success organizations to take over.

When this occurs, Support can focus the entirety of its efforts on enhancing product usability and quality as an interface to product groups though case management and escalation.

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Customer Support Trend #2: Support will be held to account for the delivery and contribution to CX strategic outcomes.

One way or another Support will be held accountable to help drive the attainment of CX strategic outcomes.  Transactional metrics will continue, but more emphasis on the impact Support activities have on customers relationships will be essential.

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Customer Support Trend #3: Measures of support success will shift from transactional efficiency to retention and growth of account relationships.

First Contact Closure, Time to Resolution, and other transactional metrics will inform about how to increase the efficiency of Support, yet primary Support metrics will increasingly focus on the impact support interactions have on sustaining and expanding customer relationships.

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Customer Support Trend #4: The emphasis on NPS shifts to Net Recurring Revenue.

NPS has never been a good Support metric.  Yes, it is easy to implement and provides an indication about how a customer feels about a Support interaction, but it also misses so much.

The best way to measure the full impact of a Support interaction and the status of overall relationship is to measure the sustained value of the relationship – if a customer keeps paying you, or paying you more, then you must be doing something right.  If you lose a customer, then something is wrong. Chances are that if you lose a customer it is not because of a bad Support interaction.

Each interaction with a customer is an opportunity to reinforce and sustain the relationship. Continue to evaluate customer satisfaction with Support interactions, but do not rely on NPS to tell you that the relationship is okay.

Support must assess its role and be accountable for the impact it has (or can have) on sustaining the value of customer relationships.

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Support must switch its mindset to building and sustaining relationships and not try to deflect customers from accessing support.  If you want to lower Support demand then you are going to need to engage your product teams to find ways to prevent demand by making products more robust, reliable, and easier to use.

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Moving Beyond Industry Average Renewal Performance

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Moving Beyond Industry Average Renewal Performance

Over time, the implication of achieving only industry-average renewal rates will result in significant customer attrition and lost revenue.  Industry-average renewal rates show that nearly one-fifth of customers are lost at renewal time.  As these losses compound over time, the effects are dramatic.

Industry Average Renewal Performance

A steady erosion of the customer base over a five-year period is typical for companies that only achieve industry average support and maintenance contract renewal rates.  The impact of consistently the industry average contract renewal rate (82.4%) illustrates the erosion of the customer base.  This example shows that at the end of a five-year period, the percent of customers under contract erodes to 46% of the original relationships.

This example does not take in to account new contracts added or other growth activities.  It is intended to highlight the impact of achieving only industry average performance.  Increasing support and maintenance contract renewal rates by 5% to 10% can have a dramatic impact on the percent of customers retained and on net revenues.

The Impact of Industry Average Performance

Moving Beyond Industry Average Performance

Industry average performance is not good enough.  To maximize support and maintenance contract revenue you need a clear picture of your current situation or a plan to understand and mitigate attrition. ServiceXRG offers the following recommendations to assess and improve your customer retention capabilities:

  1. Establish an up-to-date and actuate measure of your current support and maintenance contract renewal performance.
  2. Benchmark your current renewal performance – are you at, below or above industry average performance?
  3. Identify the top reasons for contract non-renewal (hint: ask your customers). See also Why Your Customers Don’t Renew Service Contracts and What You Can Do About It.
  4. Develop a mitigation plan to stem contract attrition.
  5. Forecast the impact of increasing contract renewal performance by 5%, 10% or more.
  6. Use the forecasted benefits from increased contract renewal performance to make the case for funding corrective actions (new or better tools, more staff, or changes to business processes).
  7. Continue to refine processes, tools and performance indicators to maximize retention and revenue from the current customer base.

Assessment: How effective are your service contract renewal practices?

Are you leaving money on the table? Do you know why customers cancel service contracts? Use ServiceXRG’s Renewal Assessment tool reveal your Service Contract Renewal Health Score.
You will receive immediate feedback with recommendations to maximize service renewal performance, a copy of the Service Renewal Best Practices playbook and a complimentary coaching session.

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Playbook: Service Renewal Best Practices

The Service Renewal Best Practices playbook introduces the metrics, practices, and activities necessary to optimize service contract renewal performance and grow customer relationship value.

Would you like a free copy of the Service Renewal Best Practices playbook?

Use ServiceXRG’s Renewal Assessment tool and receive your copy.

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