Customer Service Software Key Features/Best Practices

Customer Service Software can empower businesses to improve and enhance their critical post-sales support operations.

+Boost Productivity and Improve Your Customer Service

The ability to rapidly answer inquiries, address issues, and solve problems is crucial to achieving and maintaining the highest levels of customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. Many businesses are turning to customer service software to dramatically enhance their post-sales support operations.

Customer service automation, can significantly improve the productivity and responsiveness of service and support teams by centralizing and streamlining the tasks associated with issue management. Staff members can effectively track and monitor the status of customer problems and related activities every step of the way, from the moment they are reported until they are resolved, to ensure smooth and efficient handling.

With customer service software, support teams can also leverage a comprehensive, yet intuitive knowledge base that provides them with easy access to the thorough and detailed information they need to quickly satisfy customer requirements. This knowledge base not only increases efficiency, it enhances collaboration across product development, quality assurance, field consulting and support, and other departments by allowing them to share timely and accurate information as it becomes available.

+Let Your Customers Help Themselves

One of the most beneficial features of a customer service software solution is its self-service capabilities. With customer service software, customers have convenient, 24 x 7 access to Web-based help, frequently asked questions (FAQs), troubleshooting tips, and product documentation, so they can solve routine problems on their own. If they have more complex issues that require further assistance, they can then report a problem or open a service request or job ticket online.

+Make Better Decisions

Many customer service software packages also include powerful business intelligence capabilities. Supervisors can use reports and analytics to instantly identify and understand the positive and negative trends that impact both help desk operations, and the business as a whole. For example:

  • Do certain products have above average defect or breakdown rates?
  • Are customers having difficulty understanding assembly instructions, operating manuals, or user guides?
  • What new features or functions have clients been asking for?

+Customized for Your Business

Customer needs, common issues, and support processes and related work flows vary greatly from industry to industry and from company to company. Businesses must have a flexible solution that can be tailored to effectively meet their unique and specific requirements. But, as important as this capability is, not all customer service software solutions on the market today are fully customizable.

+A Few More Common Customer Service Software Features

Other common customer service software features include:

  • Support for multiple communication channels, including phone, Web, email, live chat, and co-browsing.
  • Dynamic resource allocation that automatically assigns staff members to specific customer issues, based on their current workload, as well as their skills, education, and experience.
  • Dynamic real-time alerts that instantly notify managers of any potential breakdowns in critical support processes. For example, a supervisor can receive an immediate alert when an unusual or highly-complex problem is reported, or when a customer issue goes unresolved for an extended period of time.

Here is a great White Paper on the topic:

Reduce Costs with SaaS/Cloud IT Help Desk

The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) revolution allows companies to subscribe to software applications and outsource operating the back-end infrastructure to the SaaS vendor. In most cases, the SaaS vendor can do this much more cost effective; providing overall cost savings for the company. As a result, companies can spread their IT budget across many more applications to support and grow their business operations which will in turn contribute to the bottom line.


Here is a great White Paper on Saving Money with SaaS. See

Save Money-Cloud IT Help Desk and Customer Service Software

As budgets are being set for 2009, your company is looking to save money. Due to budget constraints, the help desk and customer service software markets are really moving rapidly toward Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) to save a lot of money.

The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) approach can significantly lower your annual costs and provide a better product.  SaaS can significantly decrease capital, deployment, labor, operations, network, training, support and intangible costs.

According to Gartner Group, a global IT research firm, the annual cost to own and manage software applications can be up to four times the cost of the initial purchase. As a result, companies end up spending more than 75% of their total IT budget just on maintaining and running existing systems and software infrastructure.1 The number of software applications that a company may need are infinite. The resources to operate these applications however are finite.


1 Timothy Chou, The End of Software, SAMS Publishing, 2005, page 6


Here is a great White Paper on Saving Money with SaaS. See

Calculate ROI-Knowledge Bases

Now let’s examine how we might calculate a monthly return. You may want to modify these to focus on quarterly or annual impacts. When doing so, it is recommended that you adjust your forecasted improvements based on your expectations of the adoption rate and implementation plans.

Reducing the Average Call Time on first contact.
Forecasted improvement: 1 minute
Savings = (Cases per month * Cost per case) * (Improvement / Talk Time for first contact)
Savings = (5000 * $40) * (1/12)
Savings = $16,667 per month

Increasing the First Call Resolution Rate.
Forecasted improvement: 20%
Savings = (Cases per month * Improvement) * ((Escalated Talk Time – Talk Time for first contact) / Talk Time for first contact) * Cost per call
Savings = (5000 * 20%) * ((18 – 12) / 12) * $40
Savings = $20,000 per month

Reducing the Escalation Rate.
Forecasted improvement: 5%
Savings = (Cases per month * Improvement) * (Cost per escalated case – Cost per case)
Savings = (5000 * 5%) * ($150.00 - $40)
Savings = $27,500 per month

Reducing the time required for a new support professional to become productive.
Forecasted improvement: 3 weeks
Savings = ((Improvement * Number of new hirers per year) * (Average burdened cost of a support professional / weeks per year)) / months per year
Savings = ((3 * 8) *($70,000 / 52)) / 12
Savings = $2,692 per month

Redirecting repeat calls to Self-Service.
Forecasted improvement: 10% of current cases redirected to self-service
Savings = (Improvement * Cases per month) * Cost per case
Savings = (10% * 5000) * $40
Savings = $20,000 per month

Developing an ROI for Knowledge Management in your support center depends on your current state, your implementation plans, your team, and your customers. The need for a formal ROI depends heavily on the senior management responsible for the support center. Some companies have minimized this focus because of an existing strong support from senior managers for Knowledge Management. Industry research groups such as Gartner, Forrester, Yankee, and others have well documented the value of Knowledge Management in the support center.


Here are some great White Papers on this topic

Source: Joslin & Associates

ROI-Knowledge Bases for IT Help Desks

Once you understand your current state, you must make reasonable forecasts regarding the impact Knowledge Management will have on your organization. The Knowledge Management vendors may offer to assist you with developing your ROI. Some vendors provide well-tuned and complex models. To simplify things, let’s examine how some of the benefits can actually be converted to dollars. Before we begin, we need to make some assumptions about the support center.

While these numbers may vary in your organization, the assumptions provide an example for this discussion.


  1. Number of cases per month is 5000
  2. Average cost per case is $40.00.
  3. Average cost per escalated case is $150.00
  4. Average burdened cost for a support professional is $70,000.00
  5. Average talk time for first contact is 12 minutes
  6. Average talk time for escalated calls 18 minutes
  7. Time require for a new hire to be productive is 6 weeks
  8. Number of new hires per year 8
  9. First call resolution rate is 40%

Here are some great White Papers on this topic

Source: Joslin & Associates

Knowledgebase ROI for Customer Service

While most support center managers are able to forecast the costs, they struggle to forecast the savings. This is partially because a number of the benefits of Knowledge Management are defined as soft dollars. Companies struggle to put a value on customer satisfaction, job satisfaction, quality service, or even the intellectual capital that is captured into the knowledge base. Another reason companies struggle is because they lack a benchmark. Before you can forecast an improvement, you have to know where you are.


If you would like a white paper on this topic please download it at:

Source: Joslin & Associates

Is this interesting information? Please share your thoughts. Thank you!

What is the ROI of a Knowledgebase?

Knowledge Management is an ongoing process of capturing, optimizing, and delivering information. It is not a one-time purchase of a new support center tool. Therefore to calculate the Return On Investment, you need to evaluate the cost of implementation and the cost of management. The cost of implementation relates to the initial purchase of software, hardware, communications, training, and services required for the knowledge base to be placed into production for daily use. The cost of management relates to the ongoing costs of maintaining the knowledge base and the infrastructure that was implemented.

If you would like a white paper on this topic please download it at:

Source: Joslin & Associates

Is this interesting information? Please share your thoughts. Thank you!

Service Level Management- IT Help Desk/Customer Service

The effort to create a Service Level Management System is very significant. Organizations that have a system in place have higher customer and employee satisfaction ratings. After all, when every case is considered severity level one and every day is a fire drill, it is hard to enjoy your job for very long. That is why the turnover in support organizations where Service Management Systems are in place is lower than organizations where they are not. So, with higher customer and employee satisfaction, lower turnover, greater productivity and reduced cost, why would you not want to have a Service Management System guiding your organization?


Here is a great White Paper on Implementing Service Level Agreements. See

Select Implementing Service Level Agreements: "The Critical Element in Service Delivery"

Customer Satisfaction Surveys-IT Help Desks

Incident Surveys

Incident surveys are surveys sent to the customer after each case is closed. The advantage to this is that you can capture perceptions immediately and you can link the feedback to both the Service Group and to the Assignee. This is extremely valuable information because both rewards and training can be tailor-made based on the results. The disadvantage is that customers will get usually one survey a week and they might not respond with as great regularity. However, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Incident surveys are preferable to periodic surveys.


Here is an example of an Incident Survey:

It is short and to the point. Always ask for feedback in a free form field to encourage customers to openly share their thoughts. Customers will tell you things that you will never hear from anybody else. This unfiltered feedback is extremely valuable to help you improve customer service. Also, always ask if you would like a manager to call you. When you get a survey like this, it tells you the perspective of the customer service organization. When the customer reads this they will think, "Wow, these guys actually would have a manager call me, if I ask them to." Many will not request a call.  Those that request a call will tell you much more then you will ever get from a written survey. Are you ready for these gold nuggets from customer who care enough to want to have a call?  Ask probing questions and "peel the onion". See through any emotion and find the "signal" in all the surrounding "noise" and you are on to becoming a master in learning how to get actionable feedback which can be used to effect change in your organization.



Here is a great White Paper on Implementing Service Level Agreements. See

Select Implementing Service Level Agreements: "The Critical Element in Service Delivery"

How Frequently to Survey IT Users?

Periodic Surveys

Quarterly or annually a survey should be sent to all customers asking them their general opinions of the support they receive. You cannot ask for specific information when you do periodic surveys because customers only remember their last one or two incidents. Periodic surveys are not a good measurement of how your organization did for the year. Another limitation of periodic surveys is that survey responses will not be specific to each Support Group or person assigned the case. Customers do not really know, or care, what group handles their request.

Here is a great White Paper on Implementing Service Level Agreements. See

Select Implementing Service Level Agreements: "The Critical Element in Service Delivery"


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