Technical Support Excellence Defined

Technical Support Excellence is the achievement of the maximum positive impact on profitability and reputation of the company, product or brand being supported through the efficient and effective delivery of support.

Technical Support Excellence Defined

If you ask ten Support executives how they define technical support excellence you will get ten different definitions, similar perhaps, but all with a slightly different themes and performance indicators.  This is not to suggest that every Support organization must embrace the same definition for excellence but there must be a common framework by which we establish standards for support excellence.

Technical Support Excellence does not require that every customer is delighted with every service transaction or that Support achieves a perfect Net Promoter or Customer Satisfaction score.  Excellence means that Support has defined and achieved the optimal level of performance and impact from Support delivery given current investment levels in Support and its dependencies on other organizations within the company.

Support excellence is achieved when the optimal allocation of finite resources yields target performance levels for competing yet important strategic goals. The four elements of Technical Support Excellence include:

  • Profit
  • Reputation
  • Efficiency
  • Effectiveness

These four elements hold Support to account for its impact on strategic business performance indicators including financial (costs and revenue) and customer satisfaction outcomes.  For Support to set and meet both financial and customer satisfaction goals service delivery efforts must be efficient and effective.

Profit

Profit is a primary objective of businesses and Support plays a role in contributing to profitability.  This is not to suggest that the Support organizations must be managed as a profit and loss center – most are not – but it does imply that the Support must be held accountable to the costs of and benefits from support delivery. Accounting for the return on investment made to deliver technical support will rely partly on Support’s financial management model.

Although Support may affect many of the factors that contribute to profitability (e.g. delivery costs and contract renewal rates) it is not fully in control of its own destiny.  Most support organizations provide support for products they do not develop.  An excessively high defect rate for a product, a poor sales process or PS engagement (direct or by partners) can create disruption to the methods by which support operates.

Reputation

Support can affect customer perceptions about products, brands, and companies.  A favorable impact from Support will positively influence customers’ likelihood to purchase a new product, renew and existing relationship and/or recommend a product to someone else.  Failure to provide sufficient peace of mind or deliver adequate support for a product will negatively influence customers’ likelihood to purchase a new product, renew and existing relationship and/or recommend a product to someone else.

Efficiency

The goal of Support is to be as efficient as possible.  Support is labor intensive, so any inefficiencies can be costly.  Support efficiency is directly related to support costs.  More efficient support organizations can do more than inefficient groups.  Efficiency can be measured by the attainment of the amount of support output (e.g. cases handled, knowledge created, contracts sold and renewed, etc.) for the level of effort expended to achieve it.  Inefficient support organizations suffer from low levels of support outcomes due to process, technology, staffing or skills deficiencies.

Effectiveness

Support must be effective.  The ability to provide timely, quality answers to customer issues is the essence of support’s mission and a primary factor in driving customer satisfaction, retention and relationship growth.  Effectiveness of response – speed and quality of answers – must be achieved efficiently.

The Business Impact of Support

The return on the investment companies make in providing technical support is difficult to quantify.  This is because the work product of a technical support organization is difficult to connect to measurable business outcomes.   For example, responding to more customer issues does not necessarily translate to more revenue and satisfying customers with each service interaction does not guarantee that customers will continue to be loyal.

For Support to maximize its contributions to the business it must connect the impact of its efforts to strategic performance indicators such as revenue, profit or the strength of the brand being supported.

Measure support success based on the speed and rate of product adoption, extent of customer success and the ability to sustain long term profitable relationships. Develop goals, practices and measurement techniques to align support activities to business performance outcomes.

Featured: Technical Support Excellence

Technical Support Excellence is the achievement of the maximum positive impact on profitability and reputation of the company, product or brand being supported through the efficient and effective delivery of support. Technical Support Excellence does not require that every customer is delighted with every service transaction or that Support achieves a perfect Net Promoter or Customer Satisfaction score. This Perspective introduces the definition of Technical Support Excellence and outlines the steps to attain it.

Login to Access the Full Report

If you don’t have an account, create a free* membership.

Login

*Membership level determines your access to ServiceXRG research and other member services. Paid memberships include access to research and playbooks. Free memberships include access to some reports and discounts to others. Please visit our membership page for a list of available membership programs.

Related Articles

Top 10 Social Practices for Support

Social media’s ability to empower consumers by giving them the voice to discuss their problems and perceptions publicly has dramatically shifted the business/customer relationship. Companies need a strategy to engage socially with customers. Service and support organizations should view social media as a platform to gain insights about the issues, questions, and perceptions customers have about their products. If you don’t have a Social Media strategy for Support, it’s time. It’s better to start small than not start at all.

read more

Service Excellence Defined

The pursuit of service excellence aligns service activities and outcomes with the attainment of overall corporate KPIs. Have you achieved service excellence? How do your service initiatives contribute to the overall attainment of corporate goals and objectives? Are you on the right path?

read more

Technical Support Excellence Defined

Technical Support Excellence is the achievement of the maximum positive impact on profitability and reputation of the company, product or brand being supported through the efficient and effective delivery of support. Technical Support Excellence does not require that every customer is delighted with every service transaction or that Support achieves a perfect Net Promoter or Customer Satisfaction score.

Excellence means that Support has defined and achieved the optimal level of performance and impact from Support delivery given current investment levels in Support and its dependencies on other organizations within the company.

read more

Have your tried to call your company for support?

As you think of all the wonderful ways you can improve your customers’ experience start by calling for support from your own company.

It should be a simple process and one that many of your customers experience.  Hopefully you will find that connecting to your support team by phone is a simple and streamlined process that is enjoyable (or at least tolerable). 

You may be surprised how bad some experiences are – still to this day!  Hopefully you find that reaching your support team is not one of worst.

 Here are a few things to consider when calling in: 

  • Can you find the number?
  • Can you get through?
  • Are the prompts clear, do you known which option to choose?
  • Do you use an intelligent agent (bot) that tries to help – is it helpful?
  • Once you get through the prompts and bots, how long did you have to wait?
  • While on hold did you get updates about how long you may have to wait (customers like this).
  • Did you hear music? Good music?  Was it clear or garbled, too soft, or too loud?
  • Did you get connected or cut off?

So, how did you do? 

Any one of these elements is enough to negatively affect a customer’s experience.  Connecting with your support team by phone should be simple, quick, and tolerable.  Give your support team a call, a few minor adjustments can have a big impact.

Related Articles

Top 10 Social Practices for Support

Social media’s ability to empower consumers by giving them the voice to discuss their problems and perceptions publicly has dramatically shifted the business/customer relationship. Companies need a strategy to engage socially with customers. Service and support organizations should view social media as a platform to gain insights about the issues, questions, and perceptions customers have about their products. If you don’t have a Social Media strategy for Support, it’s time. It’s better to start small than not start at all.

read more

Technical Support Excellence Defined

Technical Support Excellence is the achievement of the maximum positive impact on profitability and reputation of the company, product or brand being supported through the efficient and effective delivery of support. Technical Support Excellence does not require that every customer is delighted with every service transaction or that Support achieves a perfect Net Promoter or Customer Satisfaction score.

Excellence means that Support has defined and achieved the optimal level of performance and impact from Support delivery given current investment levels in Support and its dependencies on other organizations within the company.

read more

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

Related Articles

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. A satisfying customer experience is critical if we want to positively influence the way customers behave.

read more

How Effective are Your Renewal Practices?

Use ServiceXRG’s Contract Renewal Assessment tool to get an immediate evaluation of your current renewal practices and performance. The assessment takes just a few minutes and will provide you with a customized performance scorecard with recommendations for improving contract renewals.

read more

Stemming Maintenance Contact Attrition

When achieving industry-average renewal performance the percent of customers under contract erodes to 46% of the original relationships at the end of a five-year period. Here are suggestions for moving beyond industry average performance.

read more

Pin It on Pinterest