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5 steps to transform support services

Michael Runda, Senior Vice President and President, Avaya Client Services | June 8, 2015
Here are five key steps to becoming a higher-performing support organization.

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.

Thousands of customer support agents will go to work today and do the exact same thing they did yesterday: pick up the phone, answer a common question, hang up the phone, pick up the phone, answer the same question, and hang up the phone again. And tomorrow get up and do it all again. It's no wonder the average company loses 27% of its agents each year to attrition.

If you run a customer support center at your company, consider your ultimate goals: faster time-to-resolution, increased customer satisfaction, better employee retention, and higher rates of employee satisfaction and happiness. These are the Holy Grail of our industry — and while daunting, they are attainable. Here are five key steps to becoming a higher-performing support organization:

* Shift live agents from answering known questions to solving new issues.

Support staff who repeatedly provide answers to known questions may boost resolution rates, but technology solutions can handle the job more efficiently. Staff should instead work on new problems and, when they find solutions, submit them for internal review so they can be offered to customers quickly via a knowledge base.

To accomplish this, agents need to improve their writing skills, change how they ask customers questions, and diligently publish their answers. To facilitate this shift, support services leaders should consider new agent incentives, such as rewarding agents when customers are able to resolve their issues using the solutions published on the knowledge base.

* Deploy a comprehensive multimedia knowledge base, with a virtual attendant, to give users easy, intuitive access to known solutions.

The services industry has long assumed that teams of knowledgeable people need to dig through numerous solutions and uncover the few that warrant publishing. This approach is expensive, and publishing answers can take days or weeks. Thus, key answers go unnoticed, leaving agents to reinvent them repeatedly.

Several steps can be taken to avoid these problems. Knowledge capture systems can be structured to automatically prioritize articles, a virtual attendant can mimic a Tier 1 agent, fielding user questions and accessing articles in the system, and multimedia resources can demonstrate how to solve problems.

Agents can be trained and encouraged to search the knowledge base for possible answers, while the knowledge system captures customer questions coming through the support website. And these answers are helpful to customers, with 65% of clients finding answers unassisted.

* Reinvent the support website and drive customer adoption.

Many customers will solve problems themselves, provided they can quickly get to the information and resources they need. Others prefer interaction with support agents. Putting troubleshooting and solution management tools into customers' hands allows them to interact with the company in a way that best fits their needs. Clients can themselves monitor service quality, use built-in sniffers to uncover potential issues, and troubleshoot problems. Agent-based support options include web chat, talk and video, as well as fast, direct escalation.


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