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"

Five Ways to Automate Service Delivery

Five Ways to Automate Service Delivery

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Five Ways to Automate Service Delivery

Automation plays an increasingly important role in support case deflection and management activities. Let’s explore some ways you can automate service delivery and help scale your Support operation.

Service automation can provide intelligent answers to customer questions or perform simple, repetitive, yet important tasks. The more we can automate service tasks the less time skilled support staff need to be involved in lower value activities.

Use these 5 proven strategies to automate service delivery and free up your skilled support staff for higher value activities:

  1. Introduce conversational chatbots to assist with issue triage and preliminary diagnostics.
  2. Enable chatbots to answer customer questions when possible or route cases to the best qualified resource for resolution.
  3. Match and present available solutions as new cases are created via web or submitted by e-mail.
  4. Use AI-enabled automation to discover “at risk” customers and alert necessary Customer Success or Technical Account Management.
  5. Automate simple and repeatable case management activities.

Learn more about Automation Metrics that gauge the impact of issue prevention initiatives – Download the ServiceXRG whitepaper:
Four Imperatives for Scaling Support.

 

How successful are your efforts to scale Support?

We’re here to help you do better.

Reach out anytime to get answers and insights about proven, measurable ways for your Support function to run at greater scale. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time to talk.

 

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"

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From Tasks To Outcomes – Transforming The Service Organization

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Seven Strategies to Prevent Support Cases

Seven Strategies to Prevent Support Cases

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Seven Strategies to Prevent Support Cases

Identifying and alleviating performance and usability issues can go a long way toward preventing Support cases. That reduces Support demand and enables your teams to focus on higher-value initiatives.

Support must take the lead in identifying product-related root causes of support demand and aggressively advocate for mitigation of these circumstances. Support must also work with Engineering groups to improve product supportability, advocate for fixes to performance issues, and work to identify and address issues related to product usability.

To help lessen Support demand, leverage these 7 strategies for issue prevention:

 

    1. Establish a well-defined escalation path from Support to Product Engineering.
    2. Integrate Support case-tracking and Product Engineering bug-tracking systems for seamless integration and ongoing progress tracking of reported issues.
    3. Establish service level agreements to define the type and frequency of action for Support and Product Engineering cooperation.
    4. Provide performance and security updates and patches on a regular schedule to address top issues.
    5. Automate update and patch management – make it frictionless for customers to access and apply updates.
    6. Use remote system monitoring and alerting to provide early warning of potential issues before they become critical.
    7. Improve the supportability of systems and products with the goal of increasing the rate that products can self-heal.

Learn more about Prevention Metrics that gauge the impact of issue prevention initiatives – Download the ServiceXRG whitepaper:
Four Imperatives for Scaling Support.

 

How successful are your efforts to scale Support?

We’re here to help you do better.

Reach out anytime to get answers and insights about proven, measurable ways for your Support function to run at greater scale. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time to talk.

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"

Related Articles

Five Ways to Automate Service Delivery

Automation plays an increasingly important role in support case deflection and management activities. Leverage these 5 service automation strategies to free up your skilled support staff for higher value activities:

read more

Seven Strategies to Prevent Support Cases

Identifying and alleviating performance and usability issues can go a long way toward preventing demand for Support. Leverage these 7 strategies for issue prevention to help lessen Support demand:

read more

Beyond Self-Service Deflection

The use of Self-Service deflection as a basis to justify investments in Self-Service fosters an expectation that it is only capable of reducing costs. This article explains why Self-Service is vital to a successful service strategy and delivers benefits well-beyond cost reduction.

read more

Maximizing the Return on Your Support Knowledge Base

Maximizing the Return on Your Support Knowledge Base

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Maximizing the Return on Your Support Knowledge Base

At its best, a Support organization holds extensive experience and expertise about how to use and apply products and services. Support also has technical acumen to help customers diagnose and resolve issues. Customers contact Support to access all that knowledge. Now let’s talk about maximizing the return on your Support knowledge base — and it’s importance to scaling Support.

The high cost of assisted support

In traditional assisted support models, representatives provide answers to customer questions on a one-to-one basis.  While it can be effective, this mode of support is costly with the average cost to close a case over a hundred dollars ($105).

A primary way to scale support delivery is to add more support staff. But adding more staff to meet growing support demand is not sustainable.

Scaling Support with your Support knowledge base

The alternative to hiring more staff to scale Support is capturing and sharing Support’s knowledge and organizational expertise. To accomplish this, companies have implemented knowledge management initiatives.

Support knowledge bases often contain answers to known issues, descriptions about how to accomplish common activities, and tasks and insights about applying best practices. They can be combined with other repositories of organizational knowledge including:

  • training curricula from learning management systems
  • answers generated within Support communities
  • product documentation, release notes, and other resources.

As organizations build Support knowledge bases, their ability to deliver answers to customers shifts from one-to-one transactions to a highly scalable one-to-many capacity. As the accrued knowledge of Support is captured and cataloged, customers can access it through self-help channels and automation. In addition, this same process assures that knowledge can also be shared across and among Support teams.

The cost of knowledge

The average size of a knowledge management team is 8% of total Support staff.  or companies that employ methodologies such as Knowledge Centered Support (KCS), the total cost of knowledge management may be higher as individuals within the organization invest time and effort to participate in the knowledge creation and refinement process.

To establish your cost of knowledge, calculate the full-time equivalency of all staff members that contribute to knowledge management practices (full or part-time). Multiply the time invested in knowledge management by the average fully burdened salary of Support staff.

COST OF KNOWLEDGE = FTE X FULLY BURDENED SALARY

Alternatively, you can calculate the cost of knowledge by determining the number of hours contributed to knowledge management by each staff member and multiply by their actual fully burdened hourly salary.

The benefits of knowledge

The benefits of sharing knowledge are most easily calculated by measuring the time and effort saved by providing an answer to a customer – or sharing it among Support staff.  The net saving may include:

  • Saving associated with fully answering a customer question without the direct assistance of Support staff.
  • Reducing the total time to resolve an issue by sharing information that partially helps resolve a question.

To calculate the savings from knowledge, determine how many hours of Support staff effort were saved.  Multiply the saved hours by the average hourly cost of fully burdened Support staff.

BENEFITS OF KNOWLEDGE = HOURS SAVED X HOURLY STAFF COST

The return on your Supoort knowledge base

The return on knowledge (KM ROI) is the is the net benefit of knowledge management after you subtract the cost of creating knowledge.  For the KM ROI to be positive, the KM BENEFITS must exceed KM COSTS.

KM ROI = (KM BENEFITS – KM COSTS) / KM COSTS

The return on your Support knowledge base depends on the quality of its content and the ability for customers and Support staff to leverage it to reduce Support delivery costs. Poor-quality content or the inability (or difficulty) to find the right answers within the knowledge base will significantly diminish your return on knowledge.

A Support knowledge base alone is not enough.

In an ideal world, capturing Support knowledge and combining it with other sources of organizational insights should be enough to scale Support and deliver an acceptable return on knowledge.  Unfortunately, knowledge alone is not enough.

Customers need answers to specific issues related to their unique circumstances.  When customers work one-on-one with Support representatives, their specific needs (and the context of those needs) can be discerned.

When customers are left to search through Support knowledge repositories it may be more difficult to align specific articles with the ways that customer are searching for an answer. This mismatch between what customers search for and what exists within a knowledge base significantly diminishes the return on Support knowledge.

Context is key to delivering relevant answers to your customers.

A Support knowledge base may contain answers to many customer questions, but it’s meaningless if customers cannot find what they need. One of the top reasons for the mismatch between what a customer searches for and what is returned is lack of context.

A few keywords entered by a customer are not sufficient to describe the full context of the customer need. The context may include:

  • their configuration
  • product version or model
  • operating environment
  • past issues they have reported
  • any other revealing details.

A simple search has no context to better align a customer’s question with the actual answer.  Further, the customer will not likely know if there is an answer or if they simply searched for the wrong terms.

When a search can expand beyond the terms a customer provides and establish the context for the customer issue, the probability of a quality knowledge base match is higher (provided, of course, that the content exists). If an answer is not available, the customer will seek an answer elsewhere.

Without context, companies cannot maximize the return on their Support knowledge bases. Companies may spend millions to develop their knowledge bases, yet the time and effort spent on knowledge creation and refinement is for naught, or at least significantly diminished, if customers cannot find documented answers.

Conclusion: Maximizing the return on your Support knowledge base

To maximize the return on your Support knowledge base you must make certain that you focus efforts on creating quality content — then ensuring that customers can find it. The quality of your search tools is the most significant ingredient to accelerate Knowledge ROI.

Search must be able to capture customer needs and establish the necessary context to assure that if relevant content exists within the knowledge base. Then it will be found and presented to the customer.

Ready to accelerate the return on your support knowledge management initiatives?

We’re here to help you get the answers you need.

Reach out anytime to get answers and insights about the best ways to accelerate the impact of effective support knowledge management. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time to talk.

 

[1] Source: ServiceXRG 2021.  Note that cost per case varies considerably by the type and complexity of product supported.

Reduce your Support delivery costs.
Give your high-value customers the attention they deserve.

Exclusive ServiceXRG White Paper:

Self-Service Deflection — Maximizing the Use and Effectiveness of Self-Help and Automation

Download the ServiceXRG whitepaper, "Ensuring a Successful Journey to Customer Success"

Related Articles

Five Ways to Automate Service Delivery

Automation plays an increasingly important role in support case deflection and management activities. Leverage these 5 service automation strategies to free up your skilled support staff for higher value activities:

read more

Seven Strategies to Prevent Support Cases

Identifying and alleviating performance and usability issues can go a long way toward preventing demand for Support. Leverage these 7 strategies for issue prevention to help lessen Support demand:

read more

Maximizing the Return on Your Support Knowledge Base

The Support organization encompasses extensive experience and expertise about how to use and apply products. Access to this Support knowledge is the primary reason customers contact Support. This article explains how companies can maximize the return on the creation and distribution of Support knowledge.

read more
Exclusive ServiceXRG whitepaper: "Self-Service Deflection"

Beyond Self-Service Deflection

Beyond Self-Service Deflection

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Beyond Self-Service Deflection

The use of deflection as a basis to justify investments in Self-Service fosters an expectation that it is only capable of reducing costs. The fact is that Self-Service delivers more tangible benefits that can strengthen relationships with customers and enhance Support’s ability to fulfill its primary mission to help customers use and apply products.

Beyond Self-Service Deflection

Deflection is a convenient indicator and well aligned to the desire to scale Support and reduce delivery costs. Deflection does not, however, inform about the impact of our Self-Services on strengthening customer relationships.

Why is the technology services industry obsessed with deflection and overly focused on cost reduction as a target benefit?  This is due in part to the legacy of Support and the persistent belief that Support is a necessary evil and a costly burden to the company.

The reality is that Support accounts for the largest single touchpoint with customers and is the cornerstone of any strategy to retain customers.

Deflection does not need to be dropped as a metric. When considering future investments in Support — such as additional staffing or technologies to help scale delivery capacity — look at both the cost reduction and revenue potential.

Making Deflection Savings Real

When 20% of case demand is deflected from assisted support channels, it does not necessarily translate to actual savings until companies take action to reduce the cost of delivering support.

Few companies are likely to reduce Support headcount by 20% due to deflection.  Companies may, however, curtail future Support staff expansion or reallocate some of the hours of existing staff to alternative activities. Deflection of case volume from assisted support channels is real, but the actual savings are seldom reflected in the accounting ledger. Actual savings can only be realized when action is taken to reduce the cost of delivering support.

How to Move Beyond Self-Service Deflection

It is time to move beyond the assumption that avoiding an assisted support interaction is an effective indicator of our ability to scale Support.  We need to know with certainty that the knowledge, self-help, and automation we provide delivers the answers and insights customers need.

To move beyond deflection, we need to reassess the returns we expect from our investments in capturing and sharing knowledge to scale Support.  We should focus on the following tenets of Support performance:

  • Customers receive the information and insights they need to overcome an issue or defect and/or help installing, configuring, using, and applying your products.
  • A quality answer is provided at the lowest possible cost.
  • A quality answer is provided in the fastest possible time.

Scaling Support

Although Self-Service is used widely across the industry, only 20% of companies cite it as a primary factor for reducing support demand. This suggests that even when Self-Service is offered, overall support demand does not decline, although the percent of support demand handled by support staff is likely to be reduced. This is not to suggest that Self-Service is not worthwhile. It cannot, however, be the only investment Support organizations make to reduce demand.

For additional strategies to scale support, get the ServiceXRG whitepaper: Four Imperatives for Scaling Support.

 

Ready to define the strategic role of your self-service initiatives?

We’re here to help you get the answers you need.

Reach out anytime to get answers and insights about the best ways to define and measure the effectiveness of self-service initiatives. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time to talk.

Reduce your Support delivery costs.
Give your high-value customers the attention they deserve.

Exclusive ServiceXRG White Paper:

Self-Service Deflection — Maximizing the Use and Effectiveness of Self-Help and Automation

Download the ServiceXRG whitepaper, "Ensuring a Successful Journey to Customer Success"

Related Articles

Five Ways to Automate Service Delivery

Automation plays an increasingly important role in support case deflection and management activities. Leverage these 5 service automation strategies to free up your skilled support staff for higher value activities:

read more

Seven Strategies to Prevent Support Cases

Identifying and alleviating performance and usability issues can go a long way toward preventing demand for Support. Leverage these 7 strategies for issue prevention to help lessen Support demand:

read more

Maximizing the Return on Your Support Knowledge Base

The Support organization encompasses extensive experience and expertise about how to use and apply products. Access to this Support knowledge is the primary reason customers contact Support. This article explains how companies can maximize the return on the creation and distribution of Support knowledge.

read more

4 Unintended Consequences of Self-Service Deflection

4 Unintended Consequences of Self-Service Deflection

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4 Unintended Consequences of Self-Service Deflection

It’s accepted wisdom among Support and Success leaders that self-service deflection is integral to meeting the increasing customer demand for Support. Along with measurable (and valuable) benefits, there are some unintended consequences of self-service deflection. Let’s unwrap 4 of them.

Let’s start with some key self-service deflection stats.

For the past decade, reported Self-Service deflection has averaged 22.2%. In 2020 Self-Service deflection stood at 19.8%. Deflecting 20% of Support demand is still impressive, particularly for companies with high case volumes and/or high costs per case.

BUT when companies achieve 20% or better deflection rates, Support demand does not necessarily fall by 20%. That’s where our four unintended consequences of self-service deflection come into play.

Unintended Consequence #1:
Support demand seldom declines.

Typically, overall assisted Support demand does not decline by the rate of deflection. We can attribute this quite simply to the facts that a) deflection rates stay steady in that 20% neighborhood and b) support demand is steadily on the rise.

Expect that as Self-Help success and service automation rates increase, assisted support demand is not likely to drop off at the same rate. Create a strategy to scale Support delivery.

Unintended Consequence #2:
Customer content comes at a cost.

Truly helpful content takes time, knowledge, and skill. Delivering a single technical document to answer support issues for dozens or hundreds of customers is cost effective, but not without cost.

Expect to spend more time and effort to create, validate, and digitally promote support content. New staff roles such as writers, editors, bloggers, and technical and production staff will likely be required. (Can this work be outsourced? Yes but further time-and-budget-consuming unintended consequences can result. It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons.)

Unintended Consequence #3:
Effective self-help increases customer engagement.

The additional Support capacity created by Self-Help and automation is often consumed by an increase in user access to and consumption of support resources. In other words, the more that customers adopt Self-Service Support, the more they will reach out to your Support organization.

Expect that as you make available more quality Support resources—Self-Help, automated and assisted—customers will want and expect more support. Overall demand will not likely decrease.

Unintended Consequence #4:
Assisted support cases become more complex and costly.

It makes sense that cases that are not deflected but handled by assisted support are typically more complex and more costly to resolve.

Expect Self-Help and service automation to resolve many of the easier, known, and less complex issues—leaving more complex support cases for your support team. Time to resolution and cost per assisted case may rise on average as the deflection rate increases.

Are you trying to Optimize the Impact of Self-Service Deflection?

We’re here to help you get the answers you need.

Reach out anytime to get answers and insights about the best ways to define and measure the effectiveness of your self-service initiatives. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time to talk.

Reduce your Support delivery costs.
Give your high-value customers the attention they deserve.

Exclusive ServiceXRG White Paper:

Self-Service Deflection — Maximizing the Use and Effectiveness of Self-Help and Automation

Download the ServiceXRG whitepaper, "Ensuring a Successful Journey to Customer Success"

Related Articles

Five Ways to Automate Service Delivery

Automation plays an increasingly important role in support case deflection and management activities. Leverage these 5 service automation strategies to free up your skilled support staff for higher value activities:

read more

Seven Strategies to Prevent Support Cases

Identifying and alleviating performance and usability issues can go a long way toward preventing demand for Support. Leverage these 7 strategies for issue prevention to help lessen Support demand:

read more

Maximizing the Return on Your Support Knowledge Base

The Support organization encompasses extensive experience and expertise about how to use and apply products. Access to this Support knowledge is the primary reason customers contact Support. This article explains how companies can maximize the return on the creation and distribution of Support knowledge.

read more

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