Real-time operations is a term PagerDuty uses to describe the process in which people can acknowledge, communicate, resolve, and learn from impactful events—all in real...by Ted Nixon
June 13, 2019
The customer support team is the face of your organization. It’s the group that your customers interact with most, and it plays a key role in shaping customer loyalty. Get customer support right, and it becomes a way to easily upsell and cross-sell products to your existing customers, as well as provide ideas to power future versions of your product. Customer support is also the team that holds other teams together and keeps everyone focused on customers.
Considering how important customer support is, it pays to make sure your support teams have the best experience when performing their day-to-day tasks. That’s what we’ll discuss today.
Support teams typically use multiple applications, each specializing at a different task. They may use ServiceNow for service management, Jira for issue tracking, Slack for communication, PagerDuty for incident response and resolution, and a host of other tools for monitoring, communicating with customers, generating reports, and more. It can become overwhelming for an agent to keep switching between these apps. Even worse, if they see conflicting information across these apps, they can find it difficult to provide great customer service.
The better approach is to integrate these apps so agents get a unified experience no matter which app they’re logged into. Most of the leading apps used by support teams provide APIs and integration guides to integrate other top tools. The ability to integrate across the board has become a critical differentiator when choosing a solution.
Integrating these apps allows support teams, for example, to create a PagerDuty incident from within Slack as soon as they discover it, and use Jira to follow up with the engineering team to fix the issue. From there, status can be synced to ServiceNow. The support team can communicate with customers over any preferred medium, such as email or social media. All this happens seamlessly and makes the job of the support staff easier.
Vanity metrics are the bane of support teams. Gone are the days when agents were graded on how many tickets they close per day. Today, metrics are more customer-centric than agent-centric. Metrics like MTTR (mean-time-to-resolution) are more important than merely responding to the customer.
Showing these metrics on a dashboard will motivate the team to move in the right direction, and alert them when things are not going too well. Using color codes like green, yellow, and red to show the status of top-level metrics or individual issues, will help build urgency. Leading tools like PagerDuty and ServiceNow have dashboards and visualizations pre-configured. All they need is to be populated with your data, which ideally can be done easily and quickly, in a flexible and self-service manner.
Your customers use multiple devices and communication channels, and they expect you to be similarly present on many of these channels. Not just through email, but also live chat, telephone hotlines, product forums, and even social media conversations are where support conversations take place. You need to be able to consolidate all these conversations into your support tools and manage them efficiently.
One way to do this is to ensure your communication across channels is integrated. For example, with Live Call Routing you can ensure incidents are received and resolved faster by enabling anyone to reach your on-call teams immediately to report incidents simply by calling a phone number, making it easy for anyone to reach the right responder immediately.
The biggest benefit of multi-touch support is that you can have different SLAs for different customers. For example, it’s common for only premium customers get a 24×7 dedicated extension for support, while other customers get access to a toll-free number. This way, you can create differentiators for all your customers and ensure every customer is happy with the level of service they opt for.
The number of channels customers can use to contact you can lead to an influx of queries, and that’s not your goal for as a customer support team. Ideally, you want to reduce the number of incoming tickets, reduce incidents, and make contacting customer support the last resort for customers. This is where it pays to plan your customer experience ahead of time. The self-service model is what most organizations prefer. But this requires an up-to-date knowledge base or documentation, an active forum, and tips and hints at relevant places across the product. This is a long-term effort and therefore takes time.
The best way to start managing your customer experience is to set up automated rules for when customers can expect an immediate response. For example, only the highest-priority incidents should have a 24×7 phone extension; all other incidents could have a four-hour turnaround time (TAT). Similarly, once incidents hit your queues, you can set up automated rules for how they should be routed within your team. PagerDuty excels at setting up schedules and automating escalations. This ensures your customers get outstanding service without letting your team experience burnout.
It’s important to track the effectiveness of your customer support. For this, you need to ask users immediately after an issue is closed if they were satisfied with the level of support they received. Measuring customer satisfaction (CSAT) gives you a benchmark from which to track your progress over time. By implementing all the above suggestions, you should see your CSAT move in the right direction.
Customer support is an essential part of your customers’ experience with your product and organization. To provide world-class customer service, your support team needs the best tools for the job. But it doesn’t stop there—you need to integrate these tools seamlessly and use their unique features to make the support process simpler, faster, and more effective. Platforms like PagerDuty are leading the way in making this level of customer support possible.