Implementing your technology solution is a major milestone for any business—and if you’re there, you should celebrate. This key step, however, is just the first step in your journey. No doubt, your business is going to evolve, and the technology you rely on to support it must evolve with you.
This can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ve charted a proven process for this evolution that every business can follow: A series of routine check-ins allows you to take a look, assess what you're doing, and ensure that your customer service system is aligned with both your business goals and your customers’ expectations. Read on for a step-by-step map -- and check out the infographic companion to this story.
Step 1: Understand how your business is evolving
When: 3 - 6 months
Terrific news—you’re up and running. And if your company is growing, it’s not the same as it was a few months ago. You had five agents before and now there are 20. Starting out, 50 tickets a day came in. Now? It’s 300. So there's definitely a change and evolution in what your company is trying to achieve and do. It’s not that you have to reinvent the wheel—this is more of a gut check. With growth, you are likely to find that, say, a shared email inbox is not the most efficient way to handle customer requests. Also, do you understand the ways in which your support solution can help you automate and scale?
Nothing is one-size-fits-all. What you need is the ability to take a step back and understand how your business is evolving, who your customers are, how you measure success. Then, map it back. In this first three to six months, certain questions are critical: Does the use of the technology align with the way your customers interact with your brand? Are you providing the right channels? Customers prefer being able to contact customer service over more than one channel: 85% will use a different contact method if they don’t get a response from their initial request, with 44% waiting less than an hour before doing so, according to the
5 Biggest Gaps in Customer Service for Small Businesses, a 2019 report by Zendesk. Does the team understand how macros and automation can help you scale? Do they know the ways in which they can customize what they’ve got?
Step 2: Fine-tune the past few months of changes
When: 6-12 months
The key word now is optimization. It’s time to fine tune the changes you implemented in the last check-in. We have a million triggers—is that necessary? Do you have 15 admins touching your business critical workflows or have you honed in on those talented few to take on this important role? Have you invested in their certification? Admins will be the surgeons in your operating room - you will get equal value out from the investment put in. Now for your agents, on average, 20% of agent time is spent looking for information to either share directly with customers or find the right way to resolve a problem, according to the Zendesk Benchmark. What processes are helping there, which ones are slowing them down, and what could you introduce? What is working in the reporting and measuring of success, and how can it be improved? Dig into your metrics to uncover any bottlenecks that are slowing your team down. For example, if CSAT is declining, look for those leading indicators that may be impacting that score: Have first response times increased, or are agents spending more time on tickets? What do the workflows for those tickets look like? Take a step back. Do your changes still make sense? If you get stuck, the best way to unravel your theory and create an action plan is to shadow your team. You can’t argue facts.
Step 3: Use data to effectively scale
When: 12 - 18 months
That year to year-and-a-half point marks a transformation: You've built a team, trained your admins, adopted new channels, understood your customer needs, made some tweaks to your workflow. Now you're really thinking about grand-scale change as your company starts to push their limits... This whole process almost starts over again, to a certain degree, the work never really finishes. It is best to think about your service strategy as consistently evolving and being driven by mini cycles of self evaluation.
We are going to be pushed to do more with less, those are the cards most of us will be dealt at a point in time. This is when you have to start asking, what is taking the most amount of time for agents to solve a ticket? Have you asked your agents this question, or shadowed them? A lot of executives don't sit and actually shadow their own agents using the tool. Many times the agents actually know the answer. “Yeah, it would be really great if we didn't have to click these three things and these two systems just talked or if I had a window that filled in this information,” your agent might say. “That would really help because we're just trying to chug through tickets and we can't see all the data.”
According to the 5 Biggest Gaps in Customer Service for Midsize Businesses, a 2019 Zendesk report, 87% of leaders say they gauge their team’s effectiveness based on providing a quick response to an initial inquiry. What are the key metrics -- first response time, or full resolution? Sometimes a shockingly simple shift, like improving how quickly an agent IDs a customer, can reduce handle time dramatically.
This is the time to figure out: What do we need to get to the next level? Look at actual data and make data-driven decisions with the goal of impactful changes.
“Admins will be the surgeons in your operating room.”
- Mozhdeh Rastegar-Panah
Step 4: Set and execute annual tune-ups
What are your corporate goals? Is competition hot and services are the ultimate—or only—differentiating factor? For a ride-share company, for instance, how a company manages issues and delivers service may be the only thing that sets one apart from the other.
Or are you more focused on efficiency, cost per ticket? How do you align a service strategy with your goals? Once you’re clear on those answers, then ask: What do you need? Features? A customer to talk to for insights? An event? A partner to engage? Tune your service strategy—but also execute against it.
A lot of these steps could be very simple ways of thinking about ideas that could change your company and the lives of your agents. As simple as—are you creating content in the language of your customer, or are you creating it with the way you think about it? If you don’t know, look at your top search results and see if you are getting the click through rates you need. If not, no biggie, adjust your content.