The trend in customer service over the last 10 to 15 years has been to divide up work, creating multiple support tiers and putting more technology in front of the customer to route customer communications and manage the volume – all to better serve company needs.
A few weeks ago I interviewed a very talented candidate for an open position in my group. After a long session he asked me if our team handles the first level of support. I told him the way we run the show is that the same team does first, second and third levels of support, they do training, they do remote service and they do onsite service. The candidate looked at me, said, “I like everything you said except first level support – not me” and left. So, not only have companies created a convoluted system of communication for customer service, but they have also added a cultural manifesto: The higher level of support that you are a part of, the better you are – the more you get compensated, the better professional you are and even the more well-respected you are. Feudalism at its finest!
Let’s try to imagine a different customer service product, one that actually serves the customer and not the company, with only one level of support that can manage every ticket end to end. A single state of the art level of support can reduce the time to resolve issues, solve more problems per day, create a wow effect, establish trust, build a stronger brand and even make your product better. With just one level of support, your smartest reps solve all problems. They are the experts, providing first, second and third levels of support as well as training for new users of the product.
Traditional support models advocate cost cutting and argue that by adding additional support layers they free up the experts to work on only the harder technical issues (20 percent), while low-level tech support can manage the small tickets (80 percent).
In reality your experts should handle the smaller issues in addition to the larger ones – smart, talented reps hate to answer the same question twice. Instead, they’ll fix the problem by talking to the product manager, write a small app that works around the problem or, better yet, provide R&D with the root cause analysis and save development. As a result, you’ll receive fewer calls about trivial issues, which in turn saves you time and money.
The only true challenge with this model, therefore, is finding the right people to bring on board to your company. This is a very unique position, and when I describe it to recruiters they usually say that this role doesn’t exist in their system. But this is the same problem that every organization faces for every position – it is not an excuse to avoid upgrading your customer service product. Having an awesome team makes it easier to recruit awesome people.
How do I know this system works? I use it myself.
I remember 18 years ago when I got promoted to the second level I was really proud, feeling like I was joining the premier league. It was only when I was promoted to the third level that I realized something was wrong. When I got the head of operation position and had to run this mess, I said: “No more!”
So nowadays, our entire communication process, from downloading the product through opening a ticket, is all part of one line of support. Our customers thank us, our employees are proud to provide this kind of service, and our bottom line reaps the benefit.
Elad Katav is COO of Correlsense (www.correlsense.com).
Edited by Stefania Viscusi