Take These Proven Actions to Scale Support Delivery

Take These Proven Actions to Scale Support Delivery

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Take These Proven Actions to Scale Support Delivery

The future success of your Customer Support organization relies on your ability to scale Support delivery. By taking these five actions, you can effectively scale Support delivery to not only meet the expected demand growth, but also fulfill an expanded, Success-focused mission.

When you can scale Support delivery, your team can add more value.

I have blogged previously about my POV regarding Support demand in 2021 and beyond (spoiler alert: Support demand will increase). While increased demand presents an opportunity for Support to take on more high-value customer engagement activities, it first requires increases investment in diversified, targeted actions that will enable Support delivery at scale. Focus on these four action areas that have been proven to drive results.

  1. Prevention – Support must take the lead in identifying the root causes of support demand and aggressively advocate for mitigation of these circumstances. Support must work with Engineering groups to improve product performance and usability issues and work across the company to promote effective customer onboarding and skills development activities. Read more about 7 Strategies to Prevent Support Cases.
  2. Self-Help – Support teams represent a repository of product expertise and must work to make their knowledge available to customers. Many new support cases can be avoided if customers are able to access the knowledge and expertise of Support. Transferring knowledge to customers to help them become more self-sufficient should be high on the list of strategic imperatives for all Support organizations. Read more about 9 Best Practices to Help Customers Help Themselves and Maximizing the Return on Your Support Knowledgebase.
  3. Proficiency – Companies need to look beyond just helping customers help themselves and consider how they can build customers expertise so they can use and apply products more competently. Proficiency will require companies to move beyond a reliance on self-help-focused strategies and invest in building the foundational technical and business skills customers need to apply products successfully. Read more about 10 Strategies to Build Customer Proficiency to speed product adoption and descrease demand on Support.
  4. Automation – Support has always been a labor-intensive function that relies on the skills of product experts. Support cannot scale based solely on human power. Read more about 5 Ways to Automate Service Delivery.

 

 

Want to better understand Support demand trends? Download our research.

Are you ready for the challenges your Support organization will face in the year ahead?  Are you ready to capitalize on new opportunities?  How will you scale and transform Support?

For insights about how Support is changing and the opportunities and imperatives for 2021, download ServiceXRG’s latest study: Support Transformation: The Guide to Essential Practices and Metrics. It 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 your plan to meet the Support demand in your organization—we can help.

ServiceXRG provides coaching and guidance to help companies maximize customer value through better Support performance. Contact us anytime to set up an initial assessment of your Support planning needs. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time.

 

Support demand is on the rise. What’s your response plan?

Download the ServiceXRG Whitepaper:

Four Imperatives for Scaling Support

Download Four Imperatives for Scaling Support and discover:

  • The most effective approaches to scaling support — proven in high-volume support organizations.
  • The 4 top strategies to scale support and reduce demand.
  • The best practices that make these strategies effective.
  • The metrics that enable precise tracking of your efforts to scale support.
Download the ServiceXRG whitepaper, "Ensuring a Successful Journey to Customer Success"

GUEST POST: Service Outsourcing Should Be at the Top of Your 2021 To-Do List

GUEST POST: Service Outsourcing Should Be at the Top of Your 2021 To-Do List

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GUEST POST: Service Outsourcing Should Be at the Top of Your 2021 To-Do List

Today’s customer service leaders are under enormous pressure to deliver high quality service to more customers across a growing number of channels with budgets that are not matching the pace of interaction growth. Facing these constraints, some may find themselves purposely hindering the customer experience (turning off channels, reducing hours of service, or increasing acceptable response time windows) instead of considering an entirely different approach to their costs. Read about why you should really be considering outsourcing right now.

By Amanda Quinn, SVP Finance & Marketing, ArenaCX

Picture this: The new smart watch you ordered online has finally arrived. You successfully turn it on and get it syncing with your phone. For the first week or two everything is going great – you’re loving the health insights, being able to respond to messages on the go, and finding out the weather with a flick of your wrist. 

But then, all of the sudden, your watch stops receiving text messages. You go to the manufacturer’s website and call their support line. The estimated hold is currently 95 minutes. “That’s crazy,” you think.

So you go try to self-serve by visiting the company’s help center to look for articles that might explain what’s going on. You follow the directions to troubleshoot (turn the watch off and back on, turn your phone off and on, unpair your watch from the phone) with no luck. You even call your nephew to see if he knows any tricks you don’t.

Now what? Do you call the manufacturer back and just resign yourself to the long wait? Do you email the general support address and hope you get a timely response?

Let’s paint a new picture of service.

Imagine the original scenario, but this time when you go to the manufacturer’s website you see the option to start a chat and the estimated wait time is less than 2 minutes. The agent asks you a few basic security questions, listens to the issue you’re experiencing and offers you a few easy-to-follow troubleshooting tips. Before you know it, your smart watch is back up and running and you can get back to your life.

Now, what if I told you the person you were just chatting with is actually an outsourced customer service representative based in Honduras. Would you be surprised that you could get “good” support from an overseas agent? Most people would be.

Unfortunately, customer service outsourcing has a lingering bad reputation from a time when offshore centers were notorious for treating their customer service agents with little respect. When you hear “offshore call center,” sadly, you probably still picture poorly vetted sweatshop environments with underpaid, mistreated, and miserable workers. While I’d be remiss to say that those types of outsourcing centers have become completely extinct, I can gladly say that that awful scenario is becoming less and less frequent as the number of well-managed contact centers consistently rises. 

Think about outsourced service in a new light.

Over the past few years, the outsourcing industry has made considerable improvements so it’s time to start thinking about outsourcing in a new light. Now there is a plethora of well-managed contact centers with excellent performance records, high ethical standards, sophisticated technology, and a deep appreciation for the modern customer experience.

Today’s modern contact centers are well-prepared to handle the day-to-day operations of assisting the customer at multiple touches and through multiple channels. They also strive to meet the financial, culture, social responsibility, data security, and regulatory compliance requirements of the companies they are representing.

This can be accomplished by a demonstrable shift in the way CSRs are managed: They can now expect fair wages, respect from their employer, and opportunities for career growth and success. As a result, these happier CSRs have a more positive outlook on their work, which reflects in how they treat the customers they’re serving.

This has been widely recognized in the industry, and more and more outsourcing centers are doing what it takes to do right by their employees and by their client’s customers. After all, Happy Customer Service Representatives = Happy Customers = Higher Customer Satisfaction Scores

Ranging from small boutiques to publicly traded companies, contact centers are now present in every geography, helping fill language and time zone gaps for internal teams. Brands can partner with firms that are local (US-based), nearshore (Latin America and the Caribbean), offshore, or even an open-talent firm. 

Better yet, a combination of partnerships is often the best bet, allowing brands to tap into a disparate set of skills and strengths for different aspects of their business. This enables the brand to save money on support costs while maintaining the level of support their customers expect and deserve.

In short, service outsourcing no longer requires a tradeoff of quality for cost.

For those still hesitant to trust these improvements, take comfort knowing that industry watchdogs, news outlets, and social media platforms won’t hesitate to spread the word about bad actors in the outsourcing space. A bit of vetting and getting customer testimonials will help you find the partners who fit with your business.

It’s important to outsource with integrity. 

This obviously includes choosing a reputable partner who treats their employees responsibly and respectfully, but it also means that once you’ve chosen your partner(s), it’s imperative that you treat them as such: trusted partners. You and your outsourcing partners must understand that you are mutually responsible for business outcomes and must manage the relationship collaboratively. Your partners can become huge assets in your quest to deliver high quality support with a constrained budget. 

We view the traditional headcount-based model of engaging with a contact center as an impediment to creating the true spirit of partnership most brands desire. Instead of contracting on a per-agent basis, we recommend engaging your partners on a per-interaction model where they earn more of your business the better they do. We believe aligning incentives for your company and your partners is key to long-term successful partnership.

In short, if you feel your customer service operations are not 100% able to meet your customer needs (channel, hours, languages, etc.) within your budget, you should really consider outsourcing. 

About ArenaCX

ArenaCX is the world’s first marketplace where contact centers compete to better serve your customers. We make it easy to find and trial new contact center partners. If you’re interested in learning more about outsourcing or how ArenaCX can help match you with vetted, ready-to-onboard partners visit ArenaCX.

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

Download the ServiceXRG Support Transformation 2021 research report

The 2 Keys to Preventing Support Issues

The 2 Keys to Preventing Support Issues

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The 2 Keys to Preventing Support Issues

Our research has revealed that nearly a third (32%) of Support demand stems from questions related to either installation, configuration, or setup. This understanding gives companies an immense opportunity to reduce this demand—and we see two major keys to preventing Support issues on an ongoing basis.

Preventing Support issues starts with customer knowledge.

The more that your customers know, the more capable they are with your product, the less they will require Support. Therefore, we see the two keys to Support issue prevention as Onboarding and Training. It then follows that effective customer onboarding and training will require planning and action on the part of your organization.

The opportunity for greater Support issue prevention is very real: Currently, fewer than a third (28%) of companies have proactive engagement efforts in place to help prevent Support issues. What’s working for them?

Key #1: Onboarding

Proactive Support includes formal efforts to onboard customers with planning resources, as well as guidance and expert resources to assist with installation and configuration. Proactive Support is also triggered by remote monitoring, alerting, and product “call-home” features.

Formal onboarding allows companies to proactively engage customers before they need assisted support. Onboarding practices and resources may consist of digitally available “getting started” checklists, best practice guides, or self-paced training (“tech touch”). Onboarding may also include formalized planning, account management, and coaching with onboarding experts (“high touch”).

Key #2: Training

“How to” questions are another significant source of Support issues. Companies can head off such questions with formal efforts to help customers develop proficiency with their products. These efforts can include (but aren’t limited to) training, knowledge transfer, best practice guides, and coaching.

Be proactive, be early when it comes to preventing Support issues.

Companies that can help customers with formal onboarding and training programs in the early stages of new product adoption are best positioned to mitigate Support demand because:

  • They better equip customers to use the product(s) (and get maximum value) from the start.
  • They connect customers to the resources they need to resolve issues themselves.

Not only do proactive, early onboarding and training prevent more Support issues, they also contribute to Customer Success and increased customer lifetime value.

What more insights about onboarding and practice customer engagement practices? Download the research.

For insights about how support is changing—plus the most urgent opportunities and imperatives—download 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 get proactive

ServiceXRG provides coaching and guidance to help companies maximize customer value through better Support performance.

Contact us anytime to set up an initial assessment of your Support planning needs. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time.

 

Fresh, authoritative, actionable insights for Support leaders

Exclusive Research Report:

Support Transformation: The Guide to Essential Practices and Metrics

Download the ServiceXRG Support Transformation 2021 research report

Poor Support Case Management Practices = Missed Opportunities

Poor Support Case Management Practices = Missed Opportunities

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Poor Support Case Management Practices = Missed Opportunities

The time and effort to capture what is learned during the Support case management and resolution may seem untenable and an added cost that Support cannot afford. But the missed opportunities and long-term costs are far higher when insights from customer interactions are not fully documented and analyzed.

Support case management missed opportunity #1: incomplete case records

According to ServiceXRG’s new study on Support Practices and Metrics more than 90% of the time and effort spent on Support case management and resolution goes into issue determination and formulation of a response to the customer. As a result, this leaves little time for some of the most important actions necessary to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Support: advancing product quality and innovation and retaining and expanding customer relationships.

The study further finds that only two-thirds (67%) of companies formally document the circumstances of each case in their ticket management system. Even then, their compliance to completely fill in Support case record details is lower than 50%.

These incomplete Support case records diminish Support’s ability to identify root causes of support demand and plan mitigation efforts such as enhanced self-help, product improvements, and training.

Support case management missed opportunity #2: knowledge base neglect

Only 42%, of companies indicate that a knowledge base article is updated or created when a case is closed according to ServiceXRG’s research. The fact that a case was submitted by a customer indicates that there may be a need for information to possibly prevent future support cases from being submitted or help expedite resolution of a case by sharing knowledge among Support team members.

Turn around your missed opportunities with these Support case management best practices:

Apply structured data collection to assure that submitted cases are complete.

Leverage processes and tools to assure that new cases submitted include all information required to begin meaningful issue diagnosis and resolution. Use structured data collection tools such as web-based forms and conversational chatbots. Discourage use of unstructured case submission channels such as e-mail.

Encourage adoption of web-based case submission.

Electronic submission of new cases using structured web-based form is more conducive to automation. Create opportunities for customers to submit support cases through web forms and incent customer adoption of this channel by providing enhanced service levels or other incentives.

Completely document closed cases.

When cases are closed, assure that relevant data attributes and circumstances of the case have been captured.

What more insights about Support case management practice and metrics?

For insights about how support is changing—plus the most urgent opportunities and imperatives—download ServiceXRG’s latest study: Support Transformation: The Guide to Essential Practices and Metrics. It 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 your plan to optimize Support case management—we can help.

ServiceXRG provides coaching and guidance to help companies maximize customer value through better Support performance. Contact us anytime to set up an initial assessment of your Support planning needs. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time.

Fresh, authoritative, actionable insights for Support leaders

Exclusive Research Report:

Support Transformation: The Guide to Essential Practices and Metrics

Download the ServiceXRG Support Transformation 2021 research report

Optimizing Multi-Vendor Support Collaboration

Optimizing Multi-Vendor Support Collaboration

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Optimizing Multi-Vendor Support Collaboration

Today’s robust technology is made possible by the interoperability of many disparate technology products and components.  When something goes wrong it can be difficult to sort out which component is at fault and which vendor is needed to assist with the troubleshooting and resolution.

Customers expect vendors to cooperate to resolve issues. They grow frustrated when they are passed between vendors without a commitment to own, or a plan to address, their issues. This is why you need a strategy to optimize multi-vendor support collaboration.

What is Multi-Vendor Support?

Multi-vendor Support is a formal process involving two or more vendors that collaborate on the resolution of Support issues.  Multi-vendor Support collaboration may occur among original equipment manufacturer, software publishers, communications service providers, as-a-service providers, and others.

Survey Says, Multivendor Collaboration Pays Off

In a study conducted by ServiceXRG and TSANet of 78 technology service providers 7.2% of all support cases required multi-vendor collaboration to resolve an issue.  While this is a relatively small percent of cases overall, it adds up for companies that handle thousands of cases per month.  In the study we find:

Multi-vendor cases:

  • often require more time and effort resulting in higher costs to resolve.
  • are likely to contribute to higher levels of customer dissatisfaction.

Cases resolved through multi-vendor collaboration:

  • are resolved faster.
  • at a lower cost.
  • result in higher customer satisfaction.

Although not all cases will require cross-vendor collaboration, it is important to have a well-defined multi-vendor support strategy.

Challenges to Implementing Successful Multi-Vendor Support

The top challenges to implementing a successful multi-vendor Support capability include:

  • Informal collaboration obstructed by legal and data privacy requirements.
  • Most technology vendors have plenty of support cases to manage on their own without having to take on issues brought to them by other vendors.
  • Customers may not have cross-vendor support entitlements necessary for the level of assisted support required to resolve issues.
  • Limitations of systems and process to collaborate between vendors or track issue escalation and ownership.
  • Support staff may not be incented to seek multi-vendor collaboration – may be easier to refer the problem to another vendor and close the case.
  • The full extent of multi-vendor issues are not tracked, and positive/negative impacts are difficult to quantify.

Key Elements of a Multi-Vendor Support Strategy

To facilitate successful multi-vendor Support collaboration, companies should have:

  • An established legal framework to define the formal relationship between vendors to describe how work will be shared and how customer data will be managed and protected.
  • Formal collaboration paths and processes to describe the service levels for how multi-vendor issues will be identified, managed, and worked on.
  • Systems and tools to manage escalations and identify contributions to and ownership of multi-vendor cases.
  • Training to educate support staff on processes and procedures for handling multi-vendor issues to minimize customer frustration and set realistic customer experiences.
  • Defined metrics to indicate multi-vendor collaboration performance.

TSANet: A Multi-Vendor Technical Support Community

Establishing a formal, unified approach to multi-vendor Support is important for managing cross-vendor processes and assuring optimal customer outcomes. Companies may have partnership programs and cooperative technology agreements that include some provision for support collaboration. These agreements are seldom “owned” by Support and the terms and conditions for collaboration may be difficult to implement, enforce, or keep up to date.

Fortunately for the Support industry more than 750 companies have come together to form a multi-vendor technical support community​ through TSANet.

TSANet is a not-for-profit industry organization founded in 1993 to provide a common legal framework and technology platform to facilitate vendor collaboration.  TSANet is a member run community that offers the following capabilities to streamline multi-vendor support collaboration.

Standard Legal Framework

TSANet offers a standard legal framework to allow members to establish relationships. All TSANet members use this common standard Code of Conduct which contains the required legal language to engage in multi-vendor support collaboration including confidentiality. ​This removes the complexity of negotiation and maintaining separate legal agreements with all your support partners. The framework defines:

  • Support availability
  • Confidentiality
  • Service levels

TSANet Connect

TSANet Connect provides a standard user interface that provides a consistent method for collaborating with other members. The API-enabled architecture enables members to automate inbound ticket creation and to make new outbound requests for multi-vendor collaboration from within their existing ticking systems or from their collaboration platforms.

Multi-Vendor Best Practices and Continuous Improvement

TSANet is a community-led organization. Regional focus group in Europe, India, Australia, North America and Japan allow member organizations to share ideas and best practices and provide input to enhance the TSANet strategy.

Conclusions

Multi-vendor support collaboration is inevitable. Whether you have informal relationships with other vendors and partners or manage multiple one-to-one relationships, multi-vendor support collaboration is important yet can be difficult.

TSANet

If you do not have a multi-vendor strategy or are looking to streamline the way you cooperate with other companies, I encourage you to take a look at TSANet (www.tsanet.org).

Fresh, authoritative, actionable insights for Support leaders

Exclusive Research Report:

Support Transformation: The Guide to Essential Practices and Metrics

Download the ServiceXRG Support Transformation 2021 research report

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