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

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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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Creating Positive Customer Experiences

Creating Positive Customer Experiences

The way we interact with customers directly affects the way they perceive us. When we are responsive, attentive, willing, and able to provide the information or assistance they need, we increase the likelihood of providing a positive experience. When we are difficult to do business with, unable or unwilling to satisfy customers’ needs, indifferent, inept, or rude, chances are the customer will have a bad experience.

Customer Experiences

A satisfying customer experience is critical if we want to positively influence the way customers behave. Anything less — even if it’s just a neutral experience — is not sufficient to compel the behaviors we want. Customers that have a positive experience are three times more likely than customers with a neutral or negative experience to buy a product from the company that delivered the experience; four times more likely to recommend a company or renew an existing relationship (e.g., a service contract); and five times more likely to state that they are satisfied with the outcome of the interaction.

While companies generally agree that a good experience is something to strive for and a bad experience is something to avoid, they find it’s not always easy to provide the experience customers need or expect. The first step to creating a positive customer experience is to understand the critical elements that shape the experience. It is also imperative to recognize the phenomenal impact the web has on shaping customer experiences and the new challenges introduced as we move more customer interactions on-line.

Elements of a Successful Experience

Whether it’s delivered on-line, by phone or in person, the same basic principle should govern the customer experience: Customers have an objective in mind and want to achieve it quickly and efficiently. Their goal may be to purchase a new product or get help with something they already own. Regardless of the objective, there are four basic elements that define the experience customers have in driving towards their desired outcome. These elements are: Exploration, Formulation, Validation, and Action.

Exploration

Exploration is the first step in the customer experience. At this stage, the customer is looking for the tools, resources and information that will help them chart a course to their final objective. In many cases, the customer does not know what the result will be and have only a general idea where to start their journey.

For example, when a customer is researching a product to purchase they may know that they want a wearable health device, but may not know which type, make or model is right for them. They may not know the price range of such products or where to buy one. Their experience begins by exploring the possible options, including available products, features, price, etc.

This exploration phase also applies to services. Customers may know that they have a problem but may have no idea what the underlying cause is or how to get it resolved. They begin their experience by searching for information to help them isolate and resolve the issue.

Formulation

Initial discovery of possible options can often complicate a service or shopping experience. A process that began with a simple objective — to purchase wearable health device — has blossomed into a world of possible choices: customers find they can choose from dozens of manufacturers, all with models offering different features and price points. As the customer experience continues, the effort focuses on the formulation of a desired outcome. In product research and e-commerce scenarios, the customer begins to make decisions about what product features and price are of most interest.

Validation

The quality of a customer experience depends on more than whether the customer chose the right product to buy or figured out which solution would solve a problem. A complete customer experience requires that the course of action selected by the customer – deciding to buy a specific make and model of a wearable health device – is validated by objective evidence. Validation may come in the form of professional reviews, magazine articles, comments from peers, and other trusted sources.

Action

The final stage of the customer experience is the action a customer takes to achieve their desired outcome. This action may take the form of a product purchase or the satisfactory resolution of a service issue.

The Journey vs. Outcome

The four elements described above define the stages of the journey towards a desired outcome. To be successful, a customer experience must have a satisfactory outcome. Moreover, the path to this outcome must be perceived to be productive, efficient, and even enjoyable.

Many factors affect the journey to a positive customer experience. While no two customers are alike, every customer experience shares basic characteristics that help to assure that the flow of the experience is positive, and the elements of the experience are fulfilled.  Basic stages of the experience include:

  • A Starting Point – Customers need to know how to begin their journey. Where should they start, what should they do first, and what information do they need to proceed.
  • A Road Map – As customers navigate their way from exploration to action they need to know how to take each subsequent step in the process. Instructions, guides, and live assistance can all be used to keep the customer on the track to their desired outcome.
  • A Destination – Every experience has a desired outcome. At the beginning of the journey the customer may be unsure of the outcome, but they at least have a direction in which to head. As the journey towards the destination progresses, a positive experience will help to refine the characteristics of the final goal (e.g., select a product to buy or receive an answer to a service issue).

 

The goal is to create a situation where customers feel that the journey to their desired outcome is easy and relevant to their needs. If a company can’t meet customers’ needs and provide a reasonably acceptable experience, then they will likely choose an alternative path to their destination.

Conclusion

Positive customer experiences do not happen by chance, they are created.  Provide customers with the guidance they need to achieve the outcomes they want.  This may include intuitive web sites that help guide customers to the information and resource they need; offer clear policies to describe the levels of service they can expect; and provide seamless access to live assistance to help customers when they are unclear of their next step achieve their desired outcomes.

More articles about Customer satisfaction and experience

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Shaping the Customer Experience (CX) with On-Line Support

Shaping the Customer Experience (CX) with On-Line Support

When we are responsive, attentive, willing and able to provide the information or assistance they need, we increase the likelihood of providing a positive experience. When we are difficult to do business with, unable or unwilling to satisfy customers’ needs, indifferent, inept or rude, chances are the customer will have a bad experience. A satisfying customer experience is critical if we want to positively influence the way customers behave.

Positive Customer Experiences = Retention and Recurring Revenue

ServiceXRG finds that there is a direct correlation between a positive service experience and revenue – both direct and indirect.  Providing a satisfying customer experience is critical to positively influencing the way customers behave. Anything less — even if it’s just a neutral experience — is not sufficient to compel positive customer behavior.  Customers that have a positive experience are nearly four times more likely than customers with a neutral or negative experience to buy a product from the company that delivered the experience; five times more likely to recommend a company; and over five times more likely to renew an existing relationship (e.g., a service contract).

Self-Help vs. Personal Interactions

Web-based activities have become a significant factor in shaping customer experience and influencing the perceptions customers have about companies and their products.  The majority of on-line interactions are unassisted, where customers are encouraged to serve themselves.

As self-service transactions replace personal interactions, the ability to shape the customer experience depends on the on-line tools and content provided. Poor content or an unnavigable site quickly undermines a business’s ability to deliver a positive experience.

There is a profound difference between personal interactions and self-service transactions. The factors that influence the customer experience in personal interactions — an agent’s listening skills, empathy, knowledge, etc. — are replaced by an overriding factor: whether the customer is able to quickly find relevant information. In our effort to encourage customers to serve themselves, we have removed the human factor from the on-line experience. The burden for delivering a positive experience now lies with the tools and content we offer and their relevance in helping customers achieve their objectives.

Factors that Affect Customer Satisfaction

High Stakes

On-line services provide a means for companies to continue to engage with their customers in a low-cost manner. However, self-service is not simply a means to save money: Each interaction is an opportunity to reinforce the relationship and sustain customer loyalty. Though there’s a significant temptation to undertake web-based services as a low-cost alternative to customer engagement through interactive channels, it must not come at the expense of delivering an experience that strengthens relationships with customers.

Companies have a lot at stake when they move interactions to the web.  Once on-line, their customers are just one Google search away from a variety of alternative sources of information and resources to help them satisfy their needs. Brand awareness and affinity can be undermined in an instant. Creating a positive customer experience has never been more important.  It’s also never been more challenging.

When customers actively seek assistance technology vendors are presented with an opportunity to satisfy the customer’s needs.  This in turn creates an opportunity to positively influence the customer’s perception of the technology vendor helping to create satisfied and loyal customers.  The alternative is that when a customer that needs help but does not get it, can be left with an issue that inhibits their ability to use the vendor’s product.  This lack of service can potentially diminish customers’ perception of that vendor.

Factors that Affect Customer Satisfaction

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The ability for a service organization to maintain an acceptable level of customer satisfaction and deliver a reasonable customer experience begins with a company’s understanding of what its customers need, want, and expect. When customer expectations are not well known or more importantly not managed – the instances of dissatisfaction will rise.

Availability of Service

Customers’ expect support to be available when they need it. This means that regardless of when the customer needs help they should be able to get it.  This includes both service hours as well as the policies and programs that define entitlement to services.

Satisfiers

  • Robust self-help resources.
  • Free (or included) assisted support.
  • Generous warranty and support policies.
  • 7 x 24 x 365 coverage.

 

Dissatisfiers

  • Restrictive support policies.
  • Limited service hours.
  • Costly service fees.
  • Poor self-help resources.

Knowledge of Service Representative

Customers expect that when they contact you for support the person that provides assistance is knowledgeable and capable of resolving the issue in a timely manner.

There is nothing worse than a situation where the customer feels that they know more than the “expert” providing assistance.

Satisfiers

  • Skilled support reps.
  • Empathetic.
  • Empowered.

Dissatisfiers

  • Unfamiliar with the product.
  • Needs to escalate to someone else.
  • Unable to comprehend problem.

Rapid Response

We live in a world where we expect instant gratification.  Customers expect their problem to be acknowledged quickly and that a response will be provided in a reasonable time.

Satisfiers

  • Immediate acknowledgement of problem submission.
  • Expectations set for the time it will take to get help.
  • Response and follow-up within timeframe established.

 

Dissatisfiers

  • No acknowledgement (e.g. e-mail or web-based cases).
  • Excessive amount of time to receive a response.
  • Failure to set or meet expectations.

Professionalism

Customers want to be treated respectfully.  Most service organizations place a significant emphasis on soft skills, but all it takes is for a customer to feel like they have been slighted for the entire service experience to go downhill.

Satisfiers

  • Acknowledgement that there is an issue.
  • Understanding about the current relationship (e.g. the customer is important).
  • Please, thank you, and apologies when appropriate.

Dissatisfiers

  • Condescending tone.
  • Inability to defuse an escalating situation.
  • Lack of empathy.
  • Not hearing the words “sorry.”

Rapid Resolution

Customers want the fastest resolution they can get and are looking for the commitment and effort to quickly work to resolve their issue.

Satisfiers

  • Expectations for the time to resolve.
  • Meeting or exceeding expectations.
  • A shared sense of urgency.

Dissatisfiers

  • No firm commitment to resolution.
  • Failure to meet expectations.
  • Lack of urgency.

Quality of Product

While not a characteristic of service excellence it is frequently cited as a characteristic of the service experience.  Customers don’t want to have to rely on Support for product quality issues, but are often appreciative of help using the product more effectively.

Satisfiers

  • Little or no need for help with errors and bugs.
  • Help using the product more effectively (how-to / application of product).
  • Proactive notification of issues.

Dissatisfiers

  • Excessive issues with product quality and performance.
  • Little to no resolution through fixes and updates.
  • Too many updates.

Complete Resolution

Customers’ expect that the solution offered is complete and effective.  Customers are seldom happy when told to try something and call back if it does not work.

Satisfiers

  • A solution that works the first time.
  • Commitment to see the issue through to resolution.
  • Ability to by-pass the normal queues to reconnect on an open issue.

Dissatisfiers

  • A sense that the rep has brushed off the issue with a suggestion.
  • Solutions that do not work.
  • The need to contact support repeatedly for the same issue.

Self-Help Resources

Customers want to help themselves on their terms and often do not want to rely on service.

Satisfiers

  • Depth and breadth of self-help resources.
  • Answers to their specific problem.
  • Easy to use (search, navigate, etc.).

Dissatisfiers

  • Limited self-help resources.
  • Difficult to use and navigate.
  • Knowledge articles that are difficult to understand.
  • Outdated resources.

Proactive Updates

Customers want to be made aware of updates with an option for their technology to be proactively updated (don’t force the update).

Satisfiers

  • The ability for products to update themselves (don’t force the update).
  • Flexibility to configure how and when products will update.

Dissatisfiers

  • Inability to configure how and when updates occur.
  • A call to support acknowledging that they know about an issue (but made no effort to communicate it proactively).
  • Updates that cause more problems than they fix.

 

 

Support Metrics, Benchmarks and Reporting

Support performance measurement is challenging. Contact me to learn how ServiceXRG can help you gain better insights into Support performance through the use of enhanced metrics, benchmarking and better support performance reporting.

  • Are you measuring the right support metrics?
  • Do you have access to necessary inputs and insights?
  • How well is your Support organization performing?
  • Can you generate the reports you need?

Contact us now to learn how we can help you gain greater insights and optimize Support performance.

Chat with us (see link on right side of screen), send an e-mail to tsweeny@servicexrg.com, or use our contact form.

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