People + Processes + Technology:
Creating a Winning Formula for Customer Support
‐ A SupportIndustry.com White Paper ‐
or develop bulletproof processes. and ultimately. IVR. and directing their interactions based on sound processes. and remote support tools.
People. and escalation. While support organizations should invest in self‐service options to drive users to solve their own issues. play a critical role in delivering support efficiently — and in the process. Whether they operate in B2B or B2C markets. engineer efficient processes. but without blending all three elements and creating a foundation specific to their business. time‐sensitive issues. or run the most sophisticated technologies. but without effectively combining the two. both on the front lines and in higher tiers
. processes. customer satisfaction. contact centers support increasingly demanding customer bases while operating under economic constraints that can tighten budgets. and engineering and automating streamlined processes for such functions as self‐service. technology: These three simple words. particularly. Customer support best practices call for hiring service‐oriented people. and provide self‐service and assisted service through such technologies as knowledgebases. and effectively leverage front‐office technology can result in support‐delivery inefficiencies. develop cross‐channel integration. they won’t deliver a service experience that differentiates them from competitors. As budgets tighten and workforces become more global and mobile. These tools: •Increase the speed of desktop and server fixes •Ensure uptime and end‐user productivity •Reduce economic losses associated with downtime •Reduce or eliminate travel costs •Improve customer satisfaction with drastically higher first contact resolution rates •Improve employee satisfaction. reduced trade and lost revenues. arming them with proven customer‐facing technologies. or run best‐in‐class technology. but positively impact employees and business processes as well. increase employee satisfaction. used in combination. dissatisfied customers. email. traditional telephony systems. Failure to shore‐up hiring and retention practices. and delay technology purchases. Service desks can seat the most‐qualified people. particularly for complex. assisted service. not only improve customer service delivery. reduce staffing. Service and support executives know they must invest in key resources and apply best practices in all three areas to provide a superior customer service experience. many have remote support tools at the ready for an escalated session. automated ticketing. To meet their specific user demands most efficiently. contact centers devise multichannel strategies. they won’t deliver service and support that differentiates. remote support tools.People + Processes + Technology: Creating a Winning Formula for Customer Support
Executive summary: Service desks can employ the best agents in the world. Some service transformation tools. and breadth and depth of support delivery. high employee turnover. have long been a mantra in IT circles. such as remote support.
Hire Them. This perception has changed somewhat in recent years. that they’re unable to offer agents sufficient salary packages or career‐pathing. Keep Them Coming Back
Support center executives have long labored under the impression that they face immutable hurdles when managing employees. and assisted‐service technologies — remote support tools. organizations are reexamining their emphasis on hiring the cheapest labor sources and simply replacing them with more cheap labor when they eventually burn out. president of Point of Contact Group. Conventional wisdom holds that contact centers continually deal with repetitive. Best practices in employee retention call for providing contact center professionals with career‐path options where available. [To review one company’s experience with remote support tool deployment. some best practices include: Hiring Qualified People With a Propensity for Support Businesses that want to impact customer satisfaction have to abandon the belief system that their service arms are merely low‐value cost centers. as products commoditize. managers should look for those with technical aptitude. Here. front‐line personnel leave their positions because their entire job function is to deal with angry customers. inevitably leads to high levels of burnout and turnover. knowledgebases. They’re given no leeway to offer concessions or perqs if the customer is a valued asset. With a more strategic focus placed on service delivery. Retaining the Best Employees With Career‐Pathing.” pg. and that traditional support tasks won’t challenge their best workers. the thinking goes. see “Blackbaud: Helping Those Who Help Others. All this. incentives for developing quality knowledgebase content. and train them on the specific products and services they’ll be supporting. margins shrink. chat — that enable team collaboration and high first‐contact resolution rates. When hiring staff for technical functions. process and technology best practices for customer support organizations. and are often merely stepping stones for moving the customer to a higher‐level tech. low‐value contact with customers.This white paper will review people. “Organizations should hire for aptitude rather than just skills. and that cost considerations should be the primary hiring consideration for front‐ line personnel. and support steps up as a differentiating factor.
. But they should also search for employees with the right attitude for service‐ oriented work — the combination of skills that some call the “servitude/leadership” mentality. 7]
People: Find Quality. Incentives Too often. specifically the role that remote support technology and practices play in helping support organizations deliver a superior support experience. because problem‐solving and flexibility are a lot more important than network credentials.” says Rich Gallagher.
remote support tools are affecting process.Providing Access to Training. Mentoring. These kinds of collaboration capabilities are built into newer generations of remote support tools. Establish Processes for Agent Collaboration Map processes that streamline the ability for agents to collaborate with other workers/higher tiers during support sessions. organizations should: Consider a Process Framework Consider a process framework to standardize on best practices in service delivery. To accomplish this. Agents also benefit from technical collaboration with veteran workers — both for faster on‐boarding and ongoing improvements — which can be facilitated with support tools that allow front‐ line agents to bring more‐experienced workers into sessions. cost controls. Collaboration Support organizations stand a better chance of retaining good employees if they provide them with ongoing training. allowing agents to invite more‐experienced professionals — either openly or behind the scenes — into support sessions to speed or improve the customer experience. It’s a strategy that appeals to employees: More than a quarter of respondents to a new survey from Citrix Online said they’d be willing to take a five percent pay cut in exchange for working at home one to two days a week. and to determine if there are areas to streamline. To allow employees to work remotely. says Jeffrey Tarter. and content development and approval for populating knowledgebases. Allowing Employees to Work Remotely As facility and travel costs rise. Processes should be regularly reviewed to ensure they apply as circumstances and technologies change. and ISO. Define appropriate workflow for session‐capture from each channel. executive director of the Association of Support Professionals. Support
. Knowledge‐Centered Support (KCS). and coaching. Leverage Tools to Drive New Processes Increasingly. whether they pertain to users moving from a knowledgebase search to assisted service. In establishing and testing processes. and revenue generation models within support organizations. executives should schedule regular meetings and enable further collaboration with onsite visits and technology for interacting when offsite. Six Sigma. or from first‐tier agents to higher‐level engineers. managers must ensure they can collaborate with onsite staff so they avoid isolation and ensure they’re up‐to‐speed on developments. Establish Effective Escalation Processes and Workflow Establish effective front‐office escalation processes.
Process: Map and Revitalize
The brightest minds and the most sophisticated technology go wasted when support hasn’t mapped processes for each aspect of service management. more support executives are allowing staff to move from centralized facilities to home offices and satellite locations. mentoring. Many IT organizations choose frameworks such as ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) for Service Management. and pressures to keep good employees increase.
desktop‐sharing. Businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the opportunity. the greater percentage of low‐ hanging fruit that can be addressed by first‐line support agents.”
Technology: Multichannel Support. diagnostics. team collaboration.000 a day to fly somewhere to spend 20 minutes in front of a computer and have the client hate you for it. and everyone’s happier. “They’re thinking about the process and revenue opportunities instead of thinking of everything as a tech support call. They see the opportunity of using these tools as a way to meet customer demand. “What an end user wants when they call for support is someone who can start solving their problem immediately. “The further out you can put remote support tools. improving the entire equation for service delivery across a range of variables. Organizations may integrate these tools with chat for online interaction.” says Tarter.” says Matt Healey. “Instead of getting calls to. an analyst with IDC. support organizations can also start charging flat‐rate fees for professional services — a more palatable solution to many customers than hourly rates. Support organizations can add these remotely performed professional services to their portfolios. thereby reducing costs and improving customer satisfaction. as the majority of end‐user calls are. while providing services that are cost‐effective for customers. Today. charge for a valuable hour of remote time. cobrowsing. Instead of billing $2.groups are seeing the benefit of using these long‐range solutions to layer additional offerings in their support portfolios and drive new revenue streams. they’re selling remote virus‐cleaning services for a flat rate. you can use remote diagnostics. Multifaceted Satisfaction
With the right people and processes in place.” says Tarter. If it’s a simple need. session transfer and strong security. It’s about rethinking your processes.”
. fix viruses all day. With remote support tools. and with front‐ and back‐office applications for data‐sharing and consolidation. These tools allow agents to more quickly assess end‐user issues and speed resolution. Technologies/platforms leveraged by support organizations include: Remote Support and Services Solutions Adopt a remote support tool that includes remote control. best practices typically call for a multichannel approach to support delivery. support executives require the kinds of customer‐facing technologies that automate key processes and can turn their agents — and hence the entire support operation – into star performers. answering user demand and enabling support organizations to realize the benefits of cost structures that vary depending on the level of service needed. for example. They no longer have to send people onsite to fix things and do consulting work. “Companies are using remote support tools and changing the processes in their professional services offerings. they also expect someone to fix it quickly.
Whether they turn to Google or other search engines. The clientless structure of new remote support offerings is driving adoption of these tools.” says Healey. A good knowledgebase enriches the experience. quality monitoring and auditing applications are critical. to collaborating on social networks — but support organizations benefit by deploying both lower‐cost self‐service and high‐value assisted support. and push it out to any client device connected to a network without downloading software. as well as cross‐channel
. Healey continues. contact centers should be leveraging workforce management applications. create a significant maintenance issue. or to their providers’ own portals.While placing these tools in the hands of level‐one agents can be a boon to support. though very effective.” says Gallagher. “Vendors that take this capability.” Quality Monitoring and Workforce Management To meet global scheduling needs and other staffing‐related demands. A solid knowledge management strategy changes the culture from break/fix to quality support so that fewer people call in the first place. and where scripts should be modified. he adds. but greatly improve user satisfaction by including self‐help options among their multichannel offerings. “When you push remote support to lower levels. Multichannel Architecture Users not only demand a choice in how they receive support — from helping themselves to knowledgebase content. to reviewing video. “Support agents often value themselves on technical competence — that’s part of the attraction of a good support center job. expand the reach of one of the most powerful end‐user support services tools available. training takes on even greater importance. Further. to third‐party online community forums. control and manage its use. “Remote support tools that require software to be installed on every client device. Organizations are moving to develop SPOC delivery infrastructures that simplify service delivery. Self‐service Knowledgebases The numbers of end users who start their support journey with a self‐service search has grown dramatically in recent years. you have to carefully monitor. to find where strengths and shortfalls lie. where training should be tweaked. Support centers not only realize cost reductions through self‐serve knowledgebases. IDC expects the worldwide clientless remote support tools market to enjoy a CAGR of 22% over the next three years.” says Healey. Have decent help desk and support services processes in place to make sure agents aren’t overstepping their bounds. to reach $336 million by 2012. customers are increasingly comfortable with circumventing assisted support and getting answers themselves. Because these tools are so powerful. to opting for click‐to‐chat. managers must put controls in place to manage their use.
Case Study ‐ Blackbaud: Helping Those Who Help Others
Blackbaud takes care of organizations that take care of others. but it boils down to satisfying and retaining customers. director of core support at the Charleston. the company recently earned an award for their support operations when they were named one of the “Year’s Ten Best Web Support Sites” for 2009 by the Association of Support Professionals. “We create a lot of options for our customers for support because they have ever‐changing needs. so that users can easily move from self‐service sessions to assisted channels without explaining steps they’ve already taken. Blackbaud places a premium on timely service and support. we thrive by putting customers at the heart of everything we do. In support. The flexibility that comes from offering multiple channels is crucial to Blackbaud’s support success. they deliver such products as their flagship Raiser’s Edge fundraising software.
. To help their own customers serve their constituents. To ensure that satisfaction and retention.” says Gallagher.” says Ben Brownlee.integration. “As both a company and a support organization. as it allows them to meet customers’ changing demands for service delivery. we measure our success on several criteria. to remote support tools. which allow customers to interface with donors and improve their ability to raise the contributions that keep them in operation.‐based company. “By giving them options. scalability. “They can deploy SaaS‐based remote support offerings. ready upgrades. for example.” Blackbaud’s Clarify contact management system interfaces with their knowledgebase so they can mine content for solutions and track what issues are generating tickets. To measure their service delivery. says Brownlee. SaaS Application Models Consider a SaaS‐based delivery model for support and service applications to enjoy IT savings. A provider of software and services to non‐profits. Blackbaud has deployed several channels for customers seeking support. from social media and community platforms.C. they can take their jobs with them. and agent access from both centralized and remote locations. Based on their attention to service excellence. they continually seek feedback based on their users’ experience with various channels. “The SaaS model lowers the cost of entry so that smaller support centers can deploy service and support tools as if they had a dedicated IT staff. we help customers meet their mission. to self‐service knowledgebases. S. If they’ve got a key tech support employee who has to move to another city. fast deployment.” says Brownlee.
Instead of adding tiers. phone and.“We monitor what’s generating volume so we can determine where to make product improvements. forums.” says Brownlee. their own product set. in addition to The Raiser’s Edge. “We feel by eliminating tiers we eliminate the frustration that sometimes occurs with multiple transfers. The Education Edge. for some products. includes: Blackbaud NetCommunity and Blackbaud Sphere for Web site and online fundraising and event management. and they already provide 24x7 support to certain customers from the North American service desk. Ultimately. According to Brownlee. These include a self‐service knowledgebase. and to arm them with the best support tools possible to avoid escalating contacts and risking customer frustration. An increasingly valuable channel in Blackbaud’s support portfolio is the remote support option they employ through GoToAssist Corporate from Santa Barbara. and The Patron Edge.
.” says Brownlee “We try to get a 360‐ degree view of the customer based on their contact with us and their feedback. The Financial Edge. their administrative package for K‐12 schools. their financial solutions software. Europe and Australia — supporting customers around the world. chat. with a limited second tier staffed with server and installation experts for problems that require specialized technical knowledge.
Answers at the Ready
Through their portal. Blackbaud delivers the extensive training program — which includes sessions on customer service skills. the support group is moving toward a follow‐the‐ sun model. and can apply the right tools to solve them. Brownlee says. we choose to empower our staff. Blackbaud’s strategy is to train front‐line hires extensively on their products. which. satisfaction comes from customers believing that agents understand their problems.‐based Citrix Online. and online incident creation that allows users to request help through email. and their support delivery applications — before they place employees on the job. Their service desk largely relies on a single tier of front‐line support. Calif. The company has 300 service employees across three continents — North America. blogs and forums. Blackbaud delivers a full suite of online tools for customers to either help themselves or request assisted support.” Blackbaud uses this data to anticipate common questions with new releases and existing product functionality so they can proactively alert users through their e‐newsletters. They go through a rigorous two‐month training program that allows them to meet the demands of customers at the point of contact instead of transferring sessions. GoToAssist is a key weapon in the arsenal of products Brownlee’s team uses to support the company’s core product set. their admission ticketing management software.
Ultimately. Other vendors Blackbaud reviewed didn’t have features that allowed the customer such control over the session. to close any screens with confidential information.” says Brownlee. and take control so they can enact fixes. our management staff had a greater deal of comfort with using GoToAssist as an option. analysts determine when it makes sense to employ the Citrix product — typically for complex database or application issues — and they request user permission. “Our users have typically done their homework before they reach out to us. have readily taken to GoToAssist and its capabilities. so if they’re calling. he says. During the entire process. Satisfaction on Both Sides of the Screen Customers. “Once we put all those restrictions in place.The Heavy Hammer
GoToAssist allows Blackbaud technicians to remotely view a customer’s end‐user device. They regularly comment through surveys and feedback how impressed they are that someone can ‘see’ time‐critical problems and solve them.” says Brownlee. which allows customers to receive support services via the Web without installing client software. so when they do contact the service desk their issues tend to be complex. serving our customers and protecting the integrity of sensitive information. Representatives from customer accounts tend to be IT professionals.” says Brownlee. as well as informing them they can terminate sessions. If needed. for example. Particularly appealing was the product’s strengths in data security. says Brownlee. diagnose problems. it’s often a situation that can’t just be fixed by looking at screen shots or talking it through over the phone. customers can allow Blackbaud analysts to view their systems to identify problems. When a Blackbaud technician initiates any screen‐sharing session with GoToAssist. Under their own control. well‐ trained on Blackbaud’s applications.” says Brownlee. If Blackbaud can’t solve the problem quickly over the phone. they employ GoToAssist. says Brownlee. “Customers love it. agents can invite higher‐level technicians to join the session and provide valuable input. the product itself automatically informs users to be aware of any sensitive information that may be visible or how to take control should they feel discomfort. they employ a standard script that directs the user. and we’ve definitely seen improvements in first‐contact resolution. That’s where GoToAssist comes in. From the outset of a support session. too. In addition. Brownlee and his team talked to several vendors before deciding GoToAssist was the best choice for Blackbaud. “As a company you have to be very careful with how you access customer data. the customer maintains the ability to terminate the session for any reason. the service desk has to ensure customers feel comfortable with technicians viewing and controlling their screens. “We have non‐profits
including enterprise strategies. More information can be found at http://www.supportindustry. people issues.”
-. She can be reached at kymg@maine. To learn more about GoToAssist Corporate. GoToAssist has increased analyst satisfaction as well.com. Kym has been covering technology sectors for more than 20 years. Members are responsible for the help desk and customer support operation of their company. delivering content for both print and online media. reporting and integration features. “Blackbaud support clearly differentiates us from our competitors.rr.com provides senior‐level service and support professionals direct access to information on the most relevant areas in customer support. GoToAssist empowers them. even if the issues they’re addressing are critical or very sensitive. “Employee satisfaction with GoToAssist has been pretty high.” By improving first‐contact resolution rates.
About SupportIndustry.” he continues. and we need to ensure we’re quick and responsive partners.com. It’s the heavy hammer to get to the bottom of a problem.com.that are trying to reach their donors or help the success of their school. Improve customer satisfaction. Our [non‐tiered] structure means it’s important to arm them with the tools to be sure that they can help a customer right away without having to disengage. technology. to react quickly and immediately to address critical issues.gotoassist. increase first‐time call resolution and streamline operations with advanced administration. This data enables support professionals to benchmark and improve their customer support operation.
About Citrix GoToAssist® Corporate
GoToAssist Corporate provides a comprehensive and secure remote‐support solution for your multi‐agent support organization. trends and research.com
.Written by Kym Gilhooly. “Finding that cutting‐edge technology to wow our customers with the quality of our service is a constant driver — that’s where GoToAssist has been a key component.” says Brownlee. visit www.