Another New Year is already upon us, and with that comes all those shiny resolutions and ambitious goals.
So, let’s get right to it – if one of your top goals for the year ahead at your Managed Service Provider is to stop the insanity of doing things the same way expecting different results, this article is for you.
Why? It lays out exactly what you can do to improve the Soft Skills of the Support Team you and your customers depend on. Read on, my friend, to find out why this is SO important…
What’s Really Driving Your Customer Experience?
When I first started working in the Managed Service Provider industry, the team I was managing had retail and telemarketing training/experience. But when it came to be providing a consistent experience, it seemed the mood of the Customer drove the conversation more than the Customer Service Representative. On the outside they were cool, calm and in control, but on the inside, their gut was churning as they just did not know how to handle the situation.
A co-worker, whom I admire to this day, suggested checking out HDI (ThinkHDI.com) for the advanced CSR training that I was looking for. I had checked out CompTIA, Vendors and local colleges, but was still unable to locate how to properly engage, respond to, and close out an IT related conversation.
Needless to say, I was very pleased with what I found with HDI. Not only do they have great Customer-Facing interaction training, but they also have vast training on ITIL, Problem Solving, and Knowledge Centered Support (KCS).
P.S. This is not a paid Endorsement nor an Affiliate Link; HDI has not asked me for this, nor are they aware of me expressing my true feelings.
Key HDI CSR Training Highlights
So, what did we learn from the training that we continue to leverage today?
1. The intake phone script, which is also the basis for our Request for Additional Information from the Customer.
- The RFI’s are preformatted notifications, making it easy for the Service Coordinator to request missing information.
2. True communication includes verifying that what was heard is what was said.
- Not that this is a problem at your MSP operation, of course.
3. The trust–building value in providing a consistent Customer experience.
- Trust is needed to quiet the noise, drive Service Delivery optimization, and reduce churn.
4. 80% of MSP Customers leave their Service Provider due to a poor Customer Service experience, not because of the lack of technical expertise.
- This is huge, and the #1 reason you should pay attention to the Soft Skills of IT.
The Phone Script Done Right:
The phone script is broken down into six sections:
- Welcome, identifying who the Customer called, and who they are speaking with.
– For example: “Hello, thank you for calling SDB-Consulting, this is Steve. How can I help you today?”
- Facts needed to properly code the ticket.
– Starting off with: “When was the last time __ was working?”
- Gathering impact and urgency data.
– Even to the point of asking: “Do you know when the license is expiring and how many people are using it?”
- Summarizing the request.
- Letting them know the next steps:
– When they can expect to hear from someone.
– What they can expect the person to do.
- Thanking them for using you as their preferred Service Provider.
– For example: “Thank You for using SDB-Consulting as your Service Delivery improvement partner and have an awesome day!”
A Small Misunderstanding Can Lead to BIG Impacts
My wife and I joke about Hallmark movies where the biggest crisis is a simple misunderstanding; but in IT, even a simple misunderstanding can have major impacts.
For example, we have seen a Customer respond 4-5 times (creating a new ticket each time) to a Service Coordinator who is trying to get ahold of the Tech for an update, only to find out the Tech engaged early in the morning and now has gone on-site and is not available. No Acknowledgement, No Time-Entry or notes in the Ticket, just little communication, lots of noise, and tons of misunderstanding.
According to HDI (and I have seen this for myself), the following builds Trust, Raving Fans, and Net Promoters; as well as meets expectations 95+% of the time:
- Answering the phone with a consistent script.
- Gathering information in the same way.
- Responding with automated and non-automated notifications.
- Engaging/completing requests within the Customer’s expectations (SLA).
We have also seen the shift from 80% phone calls to 80% emails for new requests. Further mining of the data for information that is useful reveals that if the request is Critical, the Customer calls. Otherwise, they are quite content to send an email to a Managed Service Provider they TRUST. This is where converting the phone script to a preformatted RFI notification comes in so handy.
Automation: To use, or not to use?
Another aspect of consistent rhythm is when to use automation and when not to. An automated “We have created a ticket” is not as great a Customer experience as “We have reviewed (the human touch) and assigned (building hope) your request. You can expect Sally (personal touch) to contact you by 12/25/20xx at 10:00 AM EST” (sorry, we haven’t yet figured out a way to take a date/time stamp into a nice warm message – which feels like we are telling the Customer we will get to them by Christmas).
So, what part should not be automated? – The engagement itself. While capturing the request in an Autotask ticket is great for the facts, it lacks the business context. It should have an urgency and impact statement for Incidents, but, understanding the broader business environment is best when communicated voice-to-voice.
Plus, when picking up the phone, you create a personal (sticky) connection with the Customer. This gathering of additional information, and letting the Customer be a part of the engagement process provides a rich Customer experience – as well as adding a level of fun to the job.
We realize that catching up with the Customer and inviting them to the party can be challenging, and at some point, you need to move on without them. But calling before, during (if needed), and prior to disengaging (including leaving a voice message) goes a long way to providing excellent service to the Customer.
Unless, of course, you feel the work has been completed – then leave the voice message and set the status to start the 3-step automated ticket closing process.