Adaptive Customer Service Program – An Evolutionary View

Most IT Support organizations distribute surveys to evaluate their customer’s level of satisfaction but this is not enough to satisfy the ever changing demand of operations. The current industry trend is to improve the overall customer experience and perception of quality of service. By reducing abandonment rate, speed to answer and improving first call closure rate, you will usually see an insignificant corresponding improvement in CSAT scores.   In order to take customer satisfaction to the next level, customers are requiring more than just answers to their questions.  Although you want to give the customers what they want, how do you know what they expect from the IT support organizations, and more specifically the service desk?

As service desks mature, an organic shift towards a valued service needs to emerge. When CSAT score is stuck at a once revered 85% but you are being challenge to improve customer experience what should you do? Welcome to our journey to an ‘Adaptive Quality Program’! The goal of a Quality Management Program is to improve operational quality in order to drive a higher customer satisfaction rating.

1. If you build it they will come

Is your service desk open when the customers need you? The first focus for the service desk from the customer is availability. When customers call the service desk for support, they want to be confident there will be someone available to assist them when the support is needed. The availability has to align with the business hours of the organization. This includes all the communication channels used to contact the service desk; either via phone, email or chat. This availability has a direct correlation with support agent staffing, therefore a staffing model analysis has to be performed in order to determine the appropriate staffing support based on contact volume.

The support availability will increase the CSAT scores but then plateau and possibly slightly decrease due to the customer’s demand shifting from availability to incident resolution. The customers will begin to put pressure on the service desk to resolve their incidents on the first calls.

2.  Raise Your Capability

Is the service desk equipped to answer the questions from the customers? Once the service desk has established a solid level of availability, the focus should shift to support capacity. The service desk needs to provide the right answer at the right time. Knowledge transfer has to be continuous, therefore a knowledge base has to be established, easily searchable and the knowledge has to be documented. The quality of knowledge base articles need to be reviewed regularly.

3. Listen To Your Customers!

Listening to the customers is more than just relying on the ratings from surveys. Every service desk should send out transactional surveys and one of the questions should contain an open-ended question where customers can leave open and honest feedback. At the end of the transactional survey, there should be key questions like “What other value can we provide to your business?” and really act on the feedback.

Another way to gain significant feedback from customers is by sending out event-based surveys and annual surveys. Event-based surveys are consistent activities that happen once or twice a year. For example, the following questions can be used: “How would you describe the support received during the December holidays?” or “How would you rate the quality of the service desk support during the end of the fiscal year”? Target your audience for these event-based surveys and pick your top 3 identified trends in order to improve your service next time around.  If you want actionable feedback, then an annual survey needs to be sent out. Transactional surveys will only provide feedback on one interaction with the service desk but the annual survey will present overall operational feedback. Both the positive and negative feedback can be used to improve service to the customers.

The most impactful feedback rarely comes from the surveys; they usually arrive in the form of an escalation. There needs to be a process to track the feedback received outside of the surveys. The water cooler feedback has some validity to it and needs to be researched.  Everyone in a management role at the service desk from team leads to senior management receives emails and phone calls from satisfied and dissatisfied customers that needs to be tracked.

If you are really listening to your customers, you know their voice and tone… they just appreciate your active listening by raising your CSAT score!

4. Show & Tell and Drive Organizational Improvement

Gaining the continued confidence of your customer who depends on you to improve their IT experience in an ever-changing IT world is monumental. Customers want to be confident their feedback is being heard and acted upon. Actively tell your customer what value the service desk provides through regular open forum meetings to show and tell customers all of the improvement and health of the service desk.

Service desks offer such stellar capability on the status of the IT organization through statistics. These statistics demonstrate how to improve all aspects of IT. For example, an engineer can receive suggestions on how their software should look and function. Release managers rely on the service desk to advertise their product. The service desk is a trusted advisor and a true solution provider who is walking the extra mile on behalf of their customer.

Remember- keep building your case and they will come. Good luck!

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