It’s Time to Remove the Silos of IT Support

By | Small Business

The times have changed in terms of what users expect when consuming information and services. The new consumer expects information quickly and in the manner they want to receive it (Google search, Twitter, Wikipedia, e-mail, etc.). In an age of instant information, what customers expect from support is changing as well. It’s becoming more common today for customers to post an issue on social media or in a forum and find their problem quickly addressed and possibly even resolved within minutes instead of hours or days. At the very least, a speedy response by chat or e-mail is now considered par for the course. On the flip side, if these new expectations aren’t met, a frustrated customer can now share their unsatisfactory support experience with the world without moving from their chair.

These expectations are not just for external facing support organizations. Customer expectations are crossing over into every support interaction they face, which includes internal IT support. So how can support organizations keep up with these rising expectations in both experience as well as resolution time within a scalable model? In short, structure and processes. IT support needs to evolve past the tiered structure and usher in a new approach to how they position support. This new structure is one without silos, where the customer experience is seamless and issues are resolved on the customer’s terms (and during the first contact as much as possible).

The current process maturity within a lot of IT support desks would require multiple evolutions to get to the ideal model of the future. However, there are immediate steps organizations can take to move towards this new support approach.

  • Self-Help: There needs to be a robust self-help experience for the customer so they can find the answer to their question quickly. The best customer service call is the one that the customer did not need to make. Invest in self-help and engage front-end support teams to assist in creating articles and keeping them up-to-date. A successful self-help experience obviously reduces volume into the support team allowing them to focus on the more complex issues. The best self-help models also contain a social element where end-users can assist each other. With this approach, issues that are impacting multiple users will also bubble up quickly so they can be addressed in a timely manner.
  • Intelligent Routing: When customers cannot find a satisfactory resolution within the self help channel, there needs to be an intuitive way for them to seamlessly transition from the web-based experience to the right content or support team the first time.
  • Cross-Skilling: Improving the skill set across support teams will promote quicker resolution, higher first contact resolution, less escalations and less volume. Every escalation into a higher skilled group takes time and money. Moving forward, organizations should look to hire for the changing array of skill sets with the understanding that creating a broader, higher skilled, flexible team will require a higher focus on soft skills and higher salary offers. But it will save money in the long run with efficiency gains, the need for less resources, and reductions in volume.
  • Collaboration: A lot of IT organizations still have desktop support and service desk teams as separate entities. The industry is slowly moving away from this model but still has a ways to go to remove internal barriers that create an inconsistent experience for customers. Removing those barriers helps enable real-time collaboration and allows reps to bring in subject matter experts across the organization to assist in resolving issues while the customer is still present. This replaces the escalation to a queue model and greatly improves both first contact resolution and time to resolve.
  • Seamless Remote Support: Organizations need to consolidate as many tools within a customer experience as possible. For instance, if web-based chat is integrated with remote support there is no need to have the customer switch channels. They can seamlessly go from self-service to chat to remote support, greatly improving the experience and time to resolve.
  • Proactive vs. Reactive: The ability to address issues before the customer even realizes they exist is a must for truly great support organizations. By driving greater transparency into the issue types frequently encountered, as well as advanced monitoring techniques, organizations are poised to be able to proactively address issues before they happen. Does a roll out tend to drive a specific type of volume? Be proactive in reaching out to end users to eliminate the issue moving forward. Have multiple people complained about a similar issue? Have a process in place to immediately investigate and fix the problem instead of fixing every issue at the transactional level.
  • Integration: Tools need to speak to each other. Ideally, the ticketing system should integrate with chat, remote support, asset management and social channels. The system as a whole needs to provide real-time information to the support team so that they can quickly address customer issues as well as notice trends and take proactive measures to create a better user experience.
  • Quality Control: Whenever there is a large-scale change to processes it is important to quality check at the process and agent levels to determine where additional training/coaching and communication is needed. If the organization is limited from a capacity perspective, focus on process level quality as those results will have a positive impact on the most people. Improving one process for the better will make the whole team’s job easier.

True process innovation takes planning, effort and follow-through. But as customer behavior continues to rapidly change, growth is necessary to meet the changing front of support expectations. Taking all or some of the suggestions outlined here will put you well on your way to greater productivity and improved satisfaction all around.

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: It’s Time to Remove the Silos of IT Support

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