In traditional tech support, there’s a virtual pendulum of priority that swings back and forth from “customer experience” to “cost reduction”. While we want to make sure we’re doing everything possible to make our customers happy, we also need to be aware of our need to watch costs and be more efficient in our processes. However, we never want to cut costs so much that we end up negatively affecting the customer experience. Before we can scale support and success services for better revenue generation, we first need to better optimize the organizational capabilities of the people, technology, and processes that make it all happen.
In this webinar, we discuss TSIA’s organizational capabilities model, which will help you better visualize the answer to the question, “Do you have the organizational capabilities to meet the challenge?”
With the advent of customer success, you might wonder how revenue generation fits into the traditional model of support services. In our previous webinar about the key capabilities of customer success, we asked the audience whether or not account renewals are the responsibility of their customer success organization, and if there are any roles that are compensated to expand account revenues. For over half of organizations surveyed, the answer to both questions was “no.”
If this is also your answer, your next step is to find out what your company needs to take in order to make this happen, which comes down to examining your organizational capabilities. Your people, technology, and processes all play an equal part in supporting your ability to scale your business, and by better optimizing them, you will have a better foundation to build upon.
What skills do you really need in your staff? By narrowing down your primary goals when it comes to the collective experience of your employees, you’ll get a better idea of the direction you should take in order to better optimize your workflow. Naturally, you will want the most qualified talent in the roles best suited to them, but this transition won’t happen overnight. It takes time to learn who is the right fit for the job so you can utilize their skills to the fullest.
TSIA offers auditing both on the support services side as well as the professional side of organizations in how to optimize your employees, but the best way to begin this process is to clearly define an inventory of required skills. To do this, we must first assess employees in three ways:
- Employee self-assess
- Manager assess
- Peers assess
By receiving an employee skill set overview through different viewpoints, you can get a well-rounded idea of how to better assign individuals to specific tasks, where they only receive an “expert rating” if skill is demonstrated in a customer engagement scenario.
Many people possess primary major skills, or capabilities they could be considered experts in, and secondary minor skills, those that support the primary skills in a lesser but still useful capacity. After collecting a list of an employee’s abilities, you should then begin managing a skills inventory in the customer database, which should be updated annually at minimum. This way, team members can view an up-to-date list of valuable resources they have within their immediate group of colleagues.
We’ve cultivated a comprehensive list of critical skills and how they relate to each discipline as an example of how you can better optimize your employees.
While we can’t expect people to automatically know every single solution off the top of their heads, we need them to be great at finding solutions. Search engine expertise, for example, can show how your employees go about finding the answer to a particular question. You may even discover that two individuals searching for the same thing can arrive at different conclusions based on their individual process, so paying attention to desired results as well as efficiency plays a key role in optimization.
What technology are you using to scale customer support service and customer success capabilities? We’ve seen success stories come from companies that have put focus on leveraging knowledge management in order to improve their customer support environment.
We have captured the best practices in knowledge management for technology:
- Create an environment for sharing knowledge
- Make it part of the workflow (not an add-on)
- Make it usable for customers
- Make it measurable for you
- Review your process regularly
In order to make this work, you need to first create an ideal environment for sharing the knowledge. People are so used to thinking that they keep a job based on the knowledge they have in their head. As long as they have the information and no one else does, they feel that their job is secure. This is no longer the case as we move more toward developing tribal knowledge, and in order to encourage the sharing of information, we must create a safe environment for these experts to share what they know, both internally and with customers.
The way the industry is moving, your customers can become a valuable part of your support team, not as paid employees, but as people with first-hand experience of what works and what needs improvement.
There’s a dramatic shift happening in the support field by automating, which takes out a significant amount of cost and dramatically enhances the customer experience. With automated support systems in place, you often end up addressing problems the customer didn’t realize they had. Being proactive in your support processes will help you stay on top of improving your workflow.
Key tactics for proactive support:
- Organizational focus on customer experience
- Frame problems; avoid suggesting solutions
- Customer experience/usage reports
- Collaborate regularly
- Product management
It is important to have a good case management methodology in place, because your processes are going to wrap around your technology and your people, impacting overall success in optimization. As you scale your business, you need the company as a whole to be part of that transition with you. By focusing on optimizing the most important areas everything else will fall into place.
About the Author
Judith Platz is vice president of research, Customer Success and Support Services, for TSIA. During her over 25 years of customer support experience, she has been responsible for supervising and coordinating multiple functional, strategic, organizational development and technical work streams, including technical support, account management, business consulting, implementation management, and training. Judith can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.