by Ben Stephens, Service Strategies
Escalations are the bane of all service managers and are often a result of poor communications about unresolved customer cases. Keeping customers informed of what you are doing to resolve their issue is key to driving their ultimate service satisfaction. Unnecessary, low value escalations, often times occur when a customer finally gets fed up with waiting for their issue to be resolved or hearing something from the engineer, and escalates their case. These escalations result in higher per case costs, needless interruptions, lower customer satisfaction and frustrated technical staff. So how can you improve customer “Statusfaction”?
It’s all about managing expectations. When an engineer or support analyst does not solve a case when initially working on it, either directly with the customer (via phone, chat etc.) or independently in the case management system, an action plan and next contact date must be established and communicated to the customer. Setting out an action plan is straight forward… simply share the next steps that will be taken and/or the actions the customer needs to take to move the case to resolution, then establish and confirm a “next contact” date and time to update each other on progress. Document this information in the case record, confirm by email and move on to the next case or phone call.
In support centers where customers actually talk to engineers this is much easier, because when you are working with the customer in conversation, it becomes apparent that the discussion is coming to a close and it is a natural step to outline what is next in the process. However, when working independently on a case without the customer the “discipline of the conversation” is missing and it is easy to become lax in communicating an action plan and next contact date. Often, reminders or scripts are used in the case management system to nudge or force the engineer to enter their action plan and contact date. While these are good tools enhancements, it’s always better to just teach good habits through training and coaching on case management skills.
Another thought, would be to consider sending an email/survey to a case contact when the case has been open for a specified period of time (i.e. X number of weeks) asking them if they are aware of their case status, whether the case severity or priority has changed since their last contact with the engineer and if they are aware of the action plan and next commitment date for their case. Using an open case survey, could avoid future escalations as well as drive the right behaviors among the service staff.
So, does your team do an effective job at maintaining customer statusfaction? How do you ensure that poor statusfaction does not result in needless escalations and lower satisfaction scores?