When it comes to what customers will want in 2015, I have news for you: it hasn’t changed. Here’s a brief overview of what we can expect for the future of tech support and my recommendations for streamlining the way you do business in the New Year.
What Customers Really Want
When it comes to the type of support your customers have come to want and expect, it hasn’t changed much over the years. Though some channel evolution is occurring with growing preferences for self-service and social interaction, your customers still require, and deserve, fast, easy, friendly, and smart technical support service.
Fast – Customers want to experience little to no delay in reaching assisted support, and have their issue solved after their first contact.
Easy – An automated support process that allows customers to avoid being dragged through a series of complex recovery procedures.
Friendly – A personalized experience with great customer service skills from well-trained tech support staff.
Smart – Agents who understands the problem, know the products, and are able to educate the customer on how to prevent the problem from happening again.
If your New Year’s resolution is to improve in these areas to better serve your customers, you’re in luck! There is a plethora of automation tools and technology available that can help your business optimize its current process. Whether you’re looking at knowledge bases to help turn your support technicians into experts on every customer issue, or remote support tools that allow your techs take control of the customer environment so they don’t have to type in the strange recovery procedures, there are lots of options to choose from to help you reach your goals.
Doing More With Less
Over the course of this past year, we’ve talked a lot about the current trends in the technology services industry, how businesses are being affected, and how they’ve adjusted to overcome the challenges that resulted from these trends. Between the move to cloud-based business models, product revenues continuing to fall while service revenues rise, and the increase on margin pressure, there are a lot of outside factors that are driving the need for technology services organizations to make a big change.
Despite these mounting pressures, businesses are still being expected to do more with less, and we shouldn’t expect this to change anytime soon. The hard truth is, next year is going to be tough on margins, especially because as product revenues are trending down with the shift to the cloud, technology complexity is going up as products continue to add more sophisticated features and capabilities.
With the increase of product complexity, we’re also going to see a rise in the “How do I?” procedural questions from customers, as they have an even more difficult time understanding and navigating this complex technology.
As technology complexity goes up, product revenues go down.
The only way to meet this challenge head on is to prepare your business by streamlining your operation to solve customer problems more efficiently.
Recommendations for Preparing Your Operation for 2015
While you’ll unfortunately have to continue “doing more with less”, here are some of my recommendations to help you start 2015 on the right foot and get an idea of the key areas where your business could use improvement to address more complex customer needs.
While there have been great advancements made in automating support, the majority of these improvements have focused on scheduling, call routing, and reporting automation. There has been little progress made when it comes to automating how services are delivered. Going forward, I would advise that you continue looking into tools and processes that can help you incorporate more automation into all areas of your workflow.
Optimize Your Process
While many businesses have increased optimization on the front end of their process, such as ensuring all calls are routed to the right agent, a lot of times it’s from this point onward that there is a significant need for improvement. While it’s always a good idea to make your agents more efficient about solving customer problems, they should also be trained in creating a better overall customer experience with improved procedures across the board. Optimize all agent activities, enforce the best workflows, and you’ll ensure the adoption of tools and knowledge capabilities. And remember, keep it fast, easy, friendly, and smart!
Analyze Core vs. Context
If you analyze what creates your company’s competitive differentiation, it likely has a lot to do with your intellectual property, products and development process. Anything not core to differentiation is context, i.e., processes that may be important, but aren’t unique to your company or directly drive your market success. Any processes not directly linked to competitive differentiation should be considered for outsourcing. I encourage you to take a look at your current operation and see if there’s a strategic partner or outsourcer that can help identify some areas where you’re struggling and help you fine-tune them. Strategic partners will not only help you improve the quality of your business process, but can also help improve your margins. Keep this in mind as you’re trying to tackle some of those problem areas moving into 2015.
For more information about my predictions for the future of tech support in 2015, be sure to check out my On-Demand webinar, available to everyone, titled “Conquering the Next Frontier for Tech Support in 2015”, where I go into details about the above mentioned concepts. I’d like to wish you bright and cheery holiday season and a joyous New Year!
About the Author
John Ragsdale is vice president of research, Technology and Social, for TSIA. His area of expertise is in creating strategies for improving the service operations and overall customer experience by leveraging innovative technology. Ragsdale drives TSIA's highly regarded technology research agenda, delivering insightful, thought-leadership research and analysis on the most pressing business issues facing services leaders to enable them to better plan and execute their service strategies. He is also author of the book, Lessons Unlearned, which chronicles his 25-year career inside the customer service industry.