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Implementing Customer Logging of Service Requests

Overhead Savings Told by the Volume


For every service request entered by a customer you have the potential to save two minutes and forty-nine
seconds! You say, "OK, but how about when a customer does not enter the correct information or is vague and
we have to call them back". This is a significant problem when they leave a voice mail or they send an email
because of the time lag between when they contact you and when you pick up the message or email. However,
with a Web submission there can be great savings in time. We need to assume that your problem management
system immediately and automatically notifies you of a Web submission and that you have good support
processes in place. My experience has been that when you immediately call the customer to thank them they
will still be at their desk. This is a very good practice to introduce this new process to your customers. They will
be surprised at your response and will gladly give you any clarifying information. It is also a great time for one-on-one training on how to submit the perfect service request.

 

How to Successfully Implement Customer Logging


1. Know your current state. You should first benchmark your current support center workload.
? Numbers of service requests by the various submit methods (by month).
? Length of time that it takes to document a single service request by submit method.
2. Develop a process for providing superior service to Web submissions.
3. Develop a marketing plan to encourage your customers to try out the Web.
4. Dedicate resources to processing Web submissions.
5. Track progress and report at least monthly.

Since we have already discussed methodology for determining current state, we will now discuss the other
requirements.


Develop a process for providing superior service to Web submissions. Ultimately, customers must feel that they are receiving better service when they submit via the web than any other way. I have interviewed hundreds of customers in many companies.


One of the questions that I ask is "what do you want from a support center?" Here are the most frequent
answers in the order of importance:
1. "I want someone to be there when I call."
2. "I want to know that they have heard me and that they understand my request."
3. "I want to be treated with respect."
4. "I want to have a knowledgeable person make sure that my request is resolved."
5. "I want to know when I can expect resolution."
If the support center cannot meet the customers' needs when they submit over the web, then they will not use it and go back to their old ways of wanting to use the phone.


There are two processes that I have witnessed that are critical success factors: (1) program the problem
management system so that it notifies the support center every time a new web submission arrives, (2) who ever takes the request should personally call the customer back immediately. I have seen this become a game for the support center. In the beginning, this is not a great burden. Remember that you are saving almost three minutes per web request. This call back has great success because almost 100% of the time the customer is there.

This addresses the first need the customer has as stated above ("I want someone to be there when I call.").

This will relieve a great fear that they are just submitting into a black hole and that no one will respond. The phone
conversation can go something like: "This is the support center calling and I wanted to thank you for using our
web service. I have your request here. Do you have a moment to go through it with me to make sure that I
understand it?" This addresses the second and third need (I want to be heard and treated with respect.). By
simply asking for clarification the customer is learning how to better document the next time. The support
person then can conclude by stating what is going to be done. On easy requests the customer could be told that
they have already resolved the issue or that they were working on it and it would be done in a few minutes. The
customer still gets a feeling of being taken care of (the need for a knowledgeable person to resolve it) when the
support center says that they have already sent the request off to the appropriate group and that they should
expect it to be resolved in a certain amount of time.

Market your new service to your customers


Your customers do not like to be surprised. When you make any changes in the way that you provide support,
let your customers know well in advance of the change. Three months is an adequate amount of lead time. A
well written email explaining the service and benefits to the customer is all that is required. Send it out three
months before, then two months before and then once a week before the launch date.
When marketing your new web service, make sure you stress that all your old services are still in effect. Make
sure that your customers know that they can still call you any time. In fact, you
want them to call you for all emergency (Severity 1 and 2) issues.


If you don't get this point across, then your customers may feel that this is another way that you are trying to
avoid talking to them. The point to stress is that you are adding a service (another way to submit a service
request) and not taking away a service.


Dedicate resources to web service

When you turn on the new web service, you need to be certain that you are ready for it. Web service requests
must be given priority. After phone calls, make sure that the web requests are quickly addressed. That might
mean that you don't answer your emails as fast. Make sure that the web service is covered throughout your
normal support hours. Several successful implementations have taken their staff that were on phones and
assigned them to handle the web requests when they came in. Since volume at the beginning was not great, this was an easy change. Later when the volume increased, they assigned staff to the web the same way that they assigned to the phones. One company found that they could only have a person on the web service for an hour at a time because of the stress in handling so many requests. Just be ready to dedicate resources in an organized manner.

Track web submission trends


It is important to know where you are spending your time. That is why I suggested that you start with a
benchmark from which to measure. You will probably find that initially those customers that usually sent
emails will switch to the web. Those that use to phone will eventually switch to the Web. Knowing the change
will help you adjust your scheduling of resources. Below is an actual chart of the initial phases of a web
implementation. Note that for the first six months there was a one-to-one correlation between the number of
web submissions and emails. After six months customers began shifting from phoning the support center to
submitting over the web.


Conclusion


The benefits to both the support center and to customers are significant when customers favor web submissions
over other forms of submitting service requests. In order to successfully convince customers to switch the
support center must have strong processes in place. The support center must also market the benefits to their
customers and be dedicated to providing superior service to those customers who submit web requests.

 

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