Striking the Efficiency/Experience Balance in Tech Support

Written by Shannon Wenkoff on Oct 03, 2014

Controlling your support costs while maximizing customer satisfaction sounds like a trade-off, but it doesn’t have to be.

As a supplier of premium tech support (PTS) programs to major technology companies, we understand that to keep the quality of the customer experience consistently high, we need the right blend of tools and tactics that keep handling time down, paired with a laser focus on getting problems solved.

THE JOY OF LETTING GO

Customers don’t necessarily need a warm voice on the other end of the line to feel well taken care of. In fact, two thirds of our PTS program users opt for chat-based support – where an agent often takes over their device remotely, while they go about their day. In fact, many customers love to get their time back and not be tied to their computer during an interaction. Meanwhile, our agents are free to handle four or five chat-based sessions simultaneously, instead of that one call.

EFFICIENCY SCRIPTED IN

If agents had all the time in the world to fix problems, customer satisfaction metrics would go through the roof while efficiency, naturally, would go through the floor. The good news is certain technological tools can substantially accelerate an agent’s speed, compressing the effort required to rack up high customer satisfaction scores. Typically these are used to address broader issues that may be underpinning the problem the customer called about.

At AppHelp, we use a combination of best-in-industry, third-party tools that no tech agent likes to live without, such as HitManPro (an anti-malware program) and ADW Cleaner (an anti-adware / anti-junkware utility).

We’ve developed our own robust collection of tools such as a nifty script for rebooting in safe-mode that helps agents get rid of the dreaded FBI virus. We also use various efficiency-boosters that automate the process of fixing all the common and some not-so-common tech support problems, from end-to-end.

This powerful collection of tools is directly integrated into our ticketing system so information about troubleshooting is pulled automatically into the system, allowing agents to focus their time on making customers happy.

CAST FOR EMPATHY

When hiring agents, you naturally look for people who are inherently technical, meaning they possess the instincts and skills to doggedly hunt down solutions to any tech issue. But these staff members are also brand ambassadors, engaged in direct customer contact. They need above average people skills.

When training new recruits, we actually spend less time on technical skills development and more on helping them become “people people”. We cannot overstate how important empathy is to the tech support experience, and how an agent who is genuinely listening to a person’s problem and shows a true interest in helping – is pure gold.

A KINDER, GENTLER AGE IN TECH SUPPORT

Great technical support is not just the science of fixing a particular issue, but also the art of diagnosing the real source of a customer’s frustration.

For this, we need:

Empathy. Our agents don’t just push out canned scripts. They are trained to put themselves in the customers’ shoes, to ask the right questions and to get to the heart of the problem.

Advanced support tools. Maximizing the customer support experience means having tool sets that can solve problems beyond the standard scope of support. For example, our agents use the AppHelp support platform to find the solutions to fix cutting- edge tech problems, that standard support tools do not yet address.

A robust quality assurance process. Customer satisfaction is inextricable from your approach to quality assurance. Traditional QA grids for agents award points for consistently repeating the same steps in a process. Our QA grid however, emphasizes great customer service over following a procedure.

For example, our agents score highly when they apply their own creativity and problem-solving abilities to solve problems that standard tools cannot. Similarly, our grid puts the scoring emphasis on having a conversation that satisfies a customer rather than on completing a transaction and closing a ticket.

WE ARE PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE

Tech support sessions may deploy cold hard facts in the resolution of problems, but they are fundamentally about people helping people. It is a ballet in sensible shoes, a balancing act of customer interactions performed without rushing and without idling. The tools and processes need to be there, but most importantly, agents need a clear sense of what they are here to accomplish. To help the customer.