What are your support analysts empowered to do for their customers?
One support analyst helped a customer troubleshoot his web-conferencing software. She quickly helped solve the issue, and everything was working again.
Yet the customer was still nervous. He was about to host an important client webinar and was worried that something else would go wrong. So, the analyst then stayed on the line with him until he launched the webinar, just to give him extra assurance that everything would be fine. The webinar went off without a hitch and the customer was delighted.
Delighting the customer would not have been possible if the analyst did not have the authority to stay on the line with the customer. On many support teams, time pressure and productivity targets would have forced her to move on to the next ticket.
But there's more to the story than just authority. Here's how resources and procedures play an essential role in analyst empowerment.
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What Is Analyst Empowerment?
I researched customer-focused organizations while writing The Service Culture Handbook. Time after time, I discovered elite companies went to great lengths to empower their employees.
The surprise was how customer-focused companies define empowerment. It's more than just authority. Empowered analysts are enabled to provide exceptional service. They are given the ability to do their jobs well and keep customers happy.
There are three things that enable analysts to consistently deliver outstanding customer service:
The analyst who helped the customer with his webinar had the authority to stay on the line as long as necessary, but she also needed resources and procedures to make it happen:
Resource: Other analysts available to cover incoming calls and tickets.
Procedure: A fast way to troubleshoot the web-conferencing software.
How Can Resources and Procedures Empower Analysts?
There are a number of ways that resources and procedures enable analysts to provide outstanding customer service. This includes following best practices and maintaining consistency.
Like the web-conferencing provider, support analysts at an enterprise software company had the authority to spend as much time on the phone as necessary to solve a customer's issue.
For example, a recent problem regularly took about 30 minutes to solve. Analysts were able to help the customer without feeling pressured to end the call quickly.
One analyst discovered another way to solve the issue in just five minutes. She shared the new procedure with the rest of the team in a weekly team meeting. The rest of the team was now empowered to delight busy customers by solving the issue much faster than before:
Authority: Spend as much time with a customer as necessary.
Resource: Team meetings to share best practices.
Procedure: Solve the new issue in just five minutes.
A global company had trouble getting executives to respect the service desk's ticketing system. Senior leaders based at headquarters would call their favorite analyst or walk into the IT department and ask for immediate help. Analysts were then left with a difficult choice. They could prioritize the executive's request at the expense of other tickets they were expected to solve, or they could refuse to help the executive immediately, only to get in trouble later when the executive complained to the CIO.
The service desk improved service by creating a consistent procedure for executives who needed immediate assistance:
- A "concierge team" was formed within the service desk.
- Each analyst on the team was assigned to a group of executives.
- Executives could contact their assigned analyst for immediate assistance. A back-up was designated in case that analyst wasn't available.
The new procedure enabled analysts to create a more consistent service experience for executives:
Authority: Respond immediately to executive requests.
Resource: Back-up analysts assigned to avoid service disruptions.
Procedure: Executives were assigned to a specific analyst, who got to know them and their specific needs.
What Procedures Can You Document?
Take a moment to identify situations where clear procedures can enable your analysts to provide better service. Here are a few examples:
- Inconsistent answers are given to customer questions.
- A supervisor or tier 2 analyst is needed to solve simple issues.
- Analysts are not aware of best practices.
Providing the right resources and documenting clear procedures for these situations will help your analysts do a better job.
Providing the right resources and documenting clear procedures will help your analysts do a better job.
It's a best practice to get analyst input on procedures to make sure they are easy to find and easy to use. Some service desks even have analysts write new procedures, using a standard template to ensure consistency. A supervisor or subject matter expert can review each procedure before it goes live to verify accuracy.
Jeff Toister helps organizations get their employees obsessed with customer service. He is a best-selling author who has written three customer service books, including The Service Culture Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Employees Obsessed with Customer Service. Feedspot has named his Inside Customer Service blog one of the Top 50 customer service blogs on the planet. Jeff has been recognized as a top customer service thought leader by Global Gurus, ICMI, and Comm100. Thousands of people from around the world, including many service desk professionals, subscribe to Jeff's Customer Service Tip of the Week email. More than 140,000 people on six continents have taken his video-based training courses on LinkedIn Learning (a.k.a., Lynda.com). Jeff's training videos include Customer Service Foundations and Leading a Customer-Centric Culture. Follow Jeff on Twitter @toister.