Here’s a common challenge for customer service leaders:
You want to give your reps training and support to allow them to do a better job of serving their customers. The challenge is learning what exactly they need to be successful.
You might be sitting on an untapped gold mine.
Phone.com has implemented a program where they search support tickets for training topics. The goal is to give front line customer support agents the tools, resources, and training they need to serve customers more effectively.
If you're unfamiliar with Phone.com, they provide telephone service to small businesses. (Full disclosure: I’m a happy Phone.com customer.)
I first learned about this program from a post written by Jenny Dempsey on the Communicate Better Blog.
Dempsey is Phone.com’s Customer Success Manager. She was kind enough to share with me some additional details.
The Phone.com customer support team is organized into three tiers:
Tier 1 handles most inquiries. They can resolve a wide range of issues including billing, technical support, and account set-up.
Tier 2 is comprised of supervisors and leads. They might get involved with a more complicated issue or a problem that needs to be escalated to a supervisor.
Tier 3 is the advanced engineering team. They work on the really difficult technical problems.
When a Tier 1 agent is unable to solve a problem, they create a support ticket that gets routed to a Tier 2 or Tier 3 agent. The ticket essentially documents the issue and requests assistance.
This is a fairly common process for many technical support teams.
Phone.com’s Tier 3 team noticed they’d occasionally receive tickets for issues that could have or should have been resolved by the Tier 1 agent. The Tier 3 team started bringing these issues to team meetings so they could be discussed.
Bringing these tickets out in the open revealed a number of root causes:
- Product documentation is sometimes out of date.
- Tier 1 agents haven't been trained on some newly discovered solutions.
- Individual Tier 1 agents sometimes need additional reminders, coaching, and feedback.
The initial approach was informal. It came from Tier 3 agents being empowered and engaged enough to share feedback with the rest of the team.
The program has since been formalized a bit. Customer support leaders actively solicit tickets that represent training opportunities. They conduct a root cause analysis, and then implement whatever training, documentation, or coaching is needed.
They’ve even given the program a fun name: Opportunities for Awesome.
The program is still in the early stages, but this is a best practice that promises to deliver a number of benefits:
- Fewer escalations - Tier 1 agents can learn to solve more issues on their own.
- Faster resolutions - Customers won’t have to wait for escalated tickets.
- Happier customers - Less wait time equals happier customers.