Resolutions are the main goal for any support team. Adding different layers to your tier one support, like SME’s, floorwalkers, and QA’s can be a gamechanger!
A handful of support crew may suffice at startup. In fact, many companies will farm out support tickets to anyone who has time in the beginning stages. All the way up to the founder and CEO. However, as the support team grows, demands increase, and the level of care needed for an exceptional customer experience reaches beyond those capabilities, it’s time to start building a solid support foundation.
Customer Support and the Different Layers
There are several layers it takes for a not only functional, but relevant, proactive, and effective support team. Obviously, you’ll need a support manager to oversee the entire operation and report to the suits upstairs. Then, of course, the agents who handle the incoming calls/emails/chats and see-through cases to the end.
Tier one support is one of the most crucial functions a company can have. These agents are the frontliners, the ones who face the customers daily. When there is an issue, the support crew becomes the representative of the brand, the company, the sales team, the CEO, the investors, and every employee or staff member. Everything that goes wrong rests on the shoulders of the support agent. Those who may have never worked the phone lines won’t know that split second of apprehension every time the phone rings.
For more technical companies, even a second layer (tier 2) of technical support is needed. Or even a third (tier 3 —which may actually be engineers). Tiers 2 and 3 most likely won’t have direct contact with the customer, unless absolutely necessary. There should just be a one-point contact. The tier 1 agent and the customer.
Instant Resolution Gets Put on Hold
But here’s one of the issues, and it’s a major issue, that is faced when you have the different tiers. Seemingly more complex cases that may not be understood at tier 1 can many times be falsely escalated to tier 2. Then tier 2 comes along and kicks it back and says this is not something that we do, it can be taken care of on your level. Then the tier one agent begins to furiously go through documents and whatever resources are available to them to find the resolution.
All of this takes time. Valuable time that belongs to the customer. One of the biggest complaints that customers have is either waiting too long for a resolution or being transferred a million times to different people and having to re-explain the entire case or issue all over again.
Also, it causes the agent more stress and they may feel that they don’t have the tools available to them to do their job correctly. They won’t feel supported, and then as the low-scoring CSAT’s roll in, not knowing how to improve, they’ll begin to feel their position in the company is unstable. Which makes for a poor environment for them to perform.
So, what can be done to abate issues like the one described above?
When we are focusing on the first call, or instant resolutions, the agent needs to have as much at their disposal as possible. Making sure also that throughout the course of their employment they have access to continuing education and training. More on that shortly.
Knowledge Bases for Instant Resolutions
One of the most powerful tools that any support agent could have right at their fingertips is an updated knowledge base. A knowledge base is a reference guide that can be accessed, and keywords are used to search different issues or other cases that may have encountered the same issue that their customer is facing at that very moment. Sadly, this remains one of the most overlooked and unattended areas as the agents become more knowledgeable.
Then when the new agents come on board, they have a difficult time accessing current resolutions and information from an outdated knowledge base. A lot of the processes may have changed, the walkthroughs may be different. Also, if you’re using templates or macros, they too may have lost their zeal. It’s important that each case, especially the more complex issues for tier one, are documented thoroughly. This way when the agent is on the phone with the customer, they simply have to just hop on over to the knowledge base, enter a few keywords and see what past agents have done in past cases to resolve the issue. That being said, the first time the issue was resolved, it may have taken hours or even days. This time it will just take a matter of minutes.
Also, having the more experienced agents write articles and walkthroughs during slower periods is an effective way to ensure the knowledge base stays up-to-date. It’s also a valuable use of downtime.
Honestly, I don’t think much needs to be said here. However, I will stress the point that as the team gets larger and larger, the support manager or support director will not be able to handle everything that goes along with having a large team. This is especially true for support or customer service departments that are available 24/7.
It will be up to the support director to establish a healthy ratio of a team leader to agents. It all really depends on the complexity of the cases being handled on the tier 1 level. Some companies may feel a 1 is to 30 ratio is effective, whereas others would opt for a lower number such as 1 is to 15. Whatever the case, team leaders are crucial to breaking up the team into bite-sized bits so that information, new processes, or other updates can get cascaded to every level effectively.
But the layers of tier 1 support for instant resolutions does not end with the team leader and the agents. There’s even more that can be done to ensure faster solutions and a more powerful customer experience.
SME’s and Floorwalkers Help Make Instant Resolutions Happen
As with any department, when your support team begins to become more knowledgeable, you’ll have those certain agents with leadership qualities that will excel. Those that show exemplary knowledge of the product and the processes and exhibit the qualities that are favorable to the customer experience. Although it may seem contraindicated to take them off the phones because they do such a great job handling cases, wouldn’t it be better if they were able to amplify the use of their skills and knowledge?
Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) and Floorwalkers will do just that. SME’s may still be taking cases, but they can be designated as a “go-to” person when an agent encounters an issue.
They Walk The Floor
Floorwalkers on the other hand have a different role. They act as that extra, instant, layer of backing for the agents. They literally walk around the support floor, looking over their shoulders while agents are answering emails and taking calls. They’re there strictly for the agents. And all an agent has to do is raise their hand and indicate they have a question and boom! The floorwalker is there.
If the floorwalker doesn’t know the answer, they can assist in the research and point the agent in the right direction. Or they can handle the escalation to tier 2 while the agent moves on to the next case.
There are two ways to handle having floorwalkers. And that will go back to what’s the ratio of team members the team leader has. For instance, if you’re using a 1 to 15 team leader to agent ratio, then one floorwalker may be able to handle two teams on any given shift. If you see an increase in demand, simply put on another floorwalker.
The other way is to just have floorwalkers dedicated to one team. During downtimes, they can take on other tasks such as following up on escalations, liaise with tier 2 and tier 3, and also make sure that the knowledge base remains updated, and cases are getting documented properly.
It’s a win-win situation.
Support QA’s Can Actually Have Their Place for Faster Resolutions
You may wonder how quality assurance could play a role in faster resolutions. Obviously, QA’s don’t get involved in a case until after it’s closed. But that can play a major role in the continuing education of the agent. Much like watching the reply of a football game to see how the team could have handled certain plays a little better.
The role of a QA is critical in making sure that metrics are met . This will ensure that the customer is getting an excellent experience. They accomplish this by performing a certain amount of agent audits per month. Digging into the cases that earned poor CSAT scores. They are the second set of eyes when the dust has settled and look at things more objectively and in hindsight. The QA team will pull a certain amount, sometimes random, cases per agent. They’ll get a comprehensive overview of the case by reading email responses and/or listening to call recordings after it’s been closed.
They Look For Opportunities
They look for ways to improve the quality of the resolution or information being given to the customer. Now, this is not in any way to get the agent in trouble. However, it’s an added layer to help them become more educated and more informed.
For instance, if a bad or even a mediocre CSAT comes in, the QA can have a look at the entire case. They’ll read the emails or the call logs. Then sit down with the agent and get them involved in their own improvement. They can ask questions like, “what could we have done differently?” Or “what would make this 7 a 10?”. Also, they check to make sure the proper, and the most effective resolution was given.
QA’s are instrumental in the continuing education of the agents. They’ll see what could have been done differently. Or even how could it have been done quicker and the resolution reached in a better manner. They can also point out ways that the agent could be more empathetic when handling the phone calls.
Again, the ratio of a QA to agents and how many audits they’ll do every month needs to be determined. This is based on the complexity of the cases, as well as the size of the support team; however, it is not a step that you would want to overlook.
The Telework PH Connection To Instant Resolutions
At Telework PH, we’ve been focusing on the customer experience and customer support since the beginning. It’s our niche. We source for those agents who have a proven track record of knowledge and skill when it comes to giving exceptional support. Also, our pre-vetting processes are top-notch as we dig deep into the capabilities and qualities of each agent.
In the Philippines, you are going to find career-minded individuals who are simply passionate about one thing (besides basketball). And that is giving your customers a great experience.
Think it may be worth checking out? Need a little more info? Check out more of our blogs, or you can listen to my podcast, TeleCastPH. Then when you’re ready, go ahead and book a free, no-obligation call with me, Jeff Thompson. Find out how your support crew can scale up and focus more on instant resolutions.