Customer service and satisfaction is an important topic for many service desk managers. Technical support alone is no longer sufficient enough to fulfil the needs of the business or the expectations of the individuals you support. At Happy Signals, we’re lucky to work with lots of amazing service desks, so here’s are some top tips we have learned from them over the years.
1. Lead by example
If you want your team to act or react in certain way, get out there and show them. Put yourself on the front line of IT, even just for a morning, and demonstrate the sort of questions you’d like them to ask, the body language they should use and the levels of patience you want them to employ. People will learn a lot quicker by being shown instead of told.
2. Share knowledge
Your service desk agents can only adequately answer your customer questions when they actually know the answers! This means knowledge should be shared efficiently and effectively across the whole team, ensuring knowledge and answers are widely known or accessible enough for anyone to find. Knowledge management tools are one step in the right direction. However, you also need to come up with good ideas and practices that nurture a culture of knowledge sharing, collaborating over tickets and learning from one another. Simple activities like buddying up on complex tickets and openly discussing problem management cases across the team will go a long way towards achieving this.
3. Open channels, don’t close them
Customers hate being bounced around the service desk. They phone the service desk and are asked to email in… or they email in and are asked to complete a form. You get the idea. Sometimes this way of working seems very convenient for IT, however in reality it creates more problems than it solves. Commonly, this creates two big issues. Firstly, customers tend to give up trying to log a request because they don’t have the time or energy to follow a non-natural or familiar process, where ultimately the issue will go unreported. Secondly, many issues get logged as first time fixes when in reality they aren’t, it’s just that the customer has tried to contact you 2 or 3 times before successfully having their request logged and resolved. So by looking at your team and your service and understanding where the opportunities are to open up more channels will both benefit the success and happiness of the customer, and give you better visibility of your services.
4. Respond with intent
Whether you are responding to new tickets or updates in person or providing an automated response, a lack of commitment or conviction around the resolution can significantly impair the overall service experience. Customers and employees want to know that you have understood their issue and have registered it with logic and empathy. They also want to know how a quick resolution can be expected. For example; if you’re using automated replies, instead of using language like “We will respond to your request as soon as possible…” using something like “We have read your request and appreciate you’ll want this resolved quickly…” can make you come across more confident and committed in your services.
5. Stop closing ticket prematurely
Here is a quick and easy one. When times are tough and tickets won’t shift, Service Desks can quickly turn to closing tickets with a brief “user didn’t reply’ or “have asked customer to call if still a problem”. To the customer and other people in the business it looks lazy and their experience of working with IT starts to suffer. Instead, develop a triage style process that manages the lifecycle of sticky tickets or non-responsive users.
6. Ask for feedback
The act of going out into your business and asking for feedback on your service does two important things. Firstly, it gives you useful insights into to how to improve your services, and secondly it also starts to build up a perception of IT being an engaged and interested part of the organisation. Having IT more present in peoples day-to-day working lives will overtime build better working relationships, improve the responsiveness between both sides and create much greater service experiences for everyone involved.
7. Open the door
Many IT departments see people popping head round the door to ask for help as a hindrance. However, the best IT teams see it as an opportunity. It is an opportunity to engage, test your reactions and manage an interaction and experience with IT from start to finish. Whether it be the hot swap of a mouse or the beginnings of whole new project. Having a set of pre-designed expectations around how to respond to people as they walk through the door is key to managing service experience, even if it’s just working out how to turn people around in 60 seconds, so that they walk away with a confident next action.
8. Build ‘the brand’
The perception and reputation of IT services trumps your reports and metrics every time. If a customer is ‘unhappy’ with a service, no amount of data or analysis is going to change their mind. So alongside measuring the numbers, you need manage the brand too. Concepts such business relationship management (BRM) and service deliver start to give you the tools to do this. However, to have genuine success in this area, it is important to learn some of the basics of marketing, to actively engage with your customers face-to-face and to empower your service staff to really own the IT brand. The essential first step is get your service team talking regularly about how they believe people around the business view the IT services brand, then to allow them to bring ideas to life for improving that.
9. Focus on experience
Surprisingly, not many teams have a well formed and shared view of what ‘experience’ means to them. It’s a very easy word to throw around, but actually far more difficult to really understand. So before setting off on a big ‘customer experience’ push, create discussion and debate in the team about what that actually looks like. Ask questions such as:
• What does a good experience consist off?
• What skills does a team need to provide a great customer experience?
• When does a service experience start and finish?
10. Go off script
For years, service desks have been debating the need for scripts. There is certainly a time and place where tools such as scripts can be useful, especially when it comes to tasks such as very early stage trouble shooting or repetitive configuration work. However, the most important trick to learn is staff knowing when to follow the best practised laid out for them and when to improvise and create new ways of solving problems on the fly. Service Management hero Ivor MacFarlane, often refers to ‘Intelligent disobedience’ as a technique for coaching staff to know when and when not to go with what is taught as best practise. Essentially it come down to understanding the customer’s need enough to know whether the typical answer is going to get them what they want or if you need to create something bespoke or even counter intuitive to get the right result.
11. Reward team work
When teams work together to share knowledge, skills and experience, they ultimately create better and faster outcomes for their customers and fellow employees. However, traditionally we tend to measure individual performance before and over any form of collaborative performance, this is essentially because it is easier to manage and sometimes we steer away from things that seem difficult to measure! So the best way to do it is just recognise the behaviour that comes as a result of team work, such as discussing complex problems, sharing tickets and offering support pro-actively, then make sure that is celebrated and rewarded. This can be as simple as making a round of tea or coffee, or more elaborate like giving awards to the members of staff who offered the most help that week.
To find out more about how HappySignals can help you on you journey to improving customer and employee satisfaction, try out our software solution today or just check out more helpful content from our blog.