It’s still a common practice in customer support today to offer “tiers” of service depending on a customer’s needs. The simplest of customer calls are routed to the newest agents or help desk workers. The slightly more complex calls are sent to more experienced agents, and the really complicated interactions are reserved for the superstar agents or help desk workers. The thought behind it was that it would offer the customer precisely the level of help he or she needed, without having to waste the time of experts on simple questions.
In a recent blog post, TeamSupport noted the tiered method of customer support is actually highly flawed. For starters, getting the call routing right can be a hassle, and when mistakes are made, they completely undermine the point of tiered service. Next, one of customers’ biggest pet peeves is the need to repeat their problem to multiple staff members.
“The idea seems theoretically sound, but tiered support models are cumbersome for everyone when put into practice,” according to TeamSupport. “First and foremost, they extend the amount of time it takes to solve a complex problem. Customers with intricate dilemmas are passed along from agent to agent until they reach the one whose experience matches their concern.”
Smart companies are instead building a collaborative approach to customer support or help desk operations. A tiered approach generally revolves around the needs of the customer support organization. Collaboration can be built around the needs of the customer.
“If the initial rep doesn't know a suitable solution to an issue, their interaction with the customer doesn't end,” wrote TeamSupport bloggers. “The two remain in contact, and the agent consults the rest of the support team or other departments, asking for insight and gaining new knowledge and skills along the way.”
A collaborative approach, of course, requires that team members have an easy way to communicate and share knowledge during the customer support session. It required that the contact center or help desk be adequately staffed by properly trained agents (this will depend a lot on the success of the organization’s workforce management and scheduling solutions, as well). The result will be not only happy customers, but more knowledgeable agents who can benefit from one another’s skills and experience.
“With the right solution, representatives can seamlessly communicate directly with each other and the rest of their team,” wrote TeamSupport. “This ability to discuss topics on a broad scale resolves tickets faster and distributes information among the entire help desk so that every agent is supported and able to learn more about the product they provide. Instead of remaining stagnant within their associated level, reps master new challenges and develop stronger careers.”
First-contact resolution is boosted with the collaborative approach, and the need to transfer calls is reduced or eliminated. Callbacks can be minimized, and the support organization can build a broad and deep well of knowledge that can be used and shared for future calls. The knowledge passed to the customer, in the end, is far more comprehensive and more likely to turn today’s customer into tomorrow’s customer.
Edited by Maurice Nagle