Achieving Customer Service Success Through Service Resolution Management

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Today's volatile market environment requires companies of all sizes to do more with less--work smarter, faster, and harder, while remaining agile, responsive, and customer-focused. Most organizations recognize that customer satisfaction is essential to retaining customers and staying ahead of the competition. However, enterprise customer service groups are tasked with finding ways to get customers the answers they need more quickly, more accurately, and more consistently, while reducing costs. To meet these challenges organizations must turn to service resolution management. There are three steps of customer service transactions--routing, case tracking, and service resolution. The SSPA "2003 Support Industry Benchmark Study" reported that routing calls was only 5 percent of the cost of providing customer service, 15 percent was the case management portion, and service resolution accounts for 80 percent of the time and cost of providing customer service. This is due to a number of factors that include disparate information, agent turnover and a lack of repeatable guiding processes. The numbers are eye opening--and are causing organizations to take a closer look at the process around the overall customer service experience. The mature segments of the customer service market are routing and case management. Routing is a well-automated process as most companies already having a routing system in place to properly and efficiently route service calls to the right department and/or agent within an organization. Obviously, this is a key component to customer support. However, it is only the first step. The next step is case management, which manages customer contacts or correspondence. Case management tools allow companies to build a record of those contacts and that customer history, so the enterprise can maintain relevance and begin to build a relationship with the customer. A successful framework of service resolution management is built with a knowledge base of customer data and information. Organizations must build a knowledge base for customer service agents with a holistic view into the customer life cycle. However, while these tools are an essential part of the customer service process and are absolutely necessary to automate and manage a call center, they are only the beginning of the process around the customer experience. The goal of customer service is to provide answers to the customer. Call routing automation and case management are not the tools that accomplish that task. The third, most vital step in a customer service transaction is service resolution, the multistep process of resolving customer issues or requests. To resolve a customer issue/request, customer service agents must go through several steps. Included in the service resolution process are five different stages: discovery, research, collaboration, capture, and resolve.
  • Discovery: Understanding the context of the customer issue and the relevant circumstances under which a problem has occurred.
  • Research: The process of searching for a solution to a customer problem, often continued as offline research and testing--if the issue cannot be determined during the first customer contact.
  • Collaboration: Joint communication with known expert resources, such as discussion threads, tier-two support, or formal escalations.
  • Capture: The process of recording the data and knowledge developed during the problem resolution process--to be used for analytical purposes.
  • Resolve: The final stage of the service resolution process is the creation, delivery, and if necessary, installation of the customer solution.
  • An effective service resolution application solves the customer issue by understanding the customer's request and providing the customer service agent with the right tools, information, and guidance. Benefits in implementing a service resolution strategy include reduction in call handling time as agents have quick access to the right information, reduced agent training costs, and significantly reduced agent turnover. As much or even more importantly as the issue of cost reduction, service resolution has the biggest impact on customer satisfaction and customer retention. Through proper service resolution management, organizations improve the quality of customer service with quick, consistent, and accurate answers. About the Author Brian Kelly is executive vice president of marketing and product strategy, KANA. Mr. Kelly brings 15 years of experience in CRM to KANA, including the knowledge and experience of working with the current KANA analytics and enterprise CRM tools in his former role as executive vice president of products at Broadbase Software. He comes to KANA after serving as president and CEO of Proveer, a software and services company that provides analytical applications and business intelligence infrastructure. Prior to Proveer and Broadbase, he held product management and director positions at PeopleSoft. Brian holds a BS in computer science from the University of Cincinnati. He can be reached at Related articles: Web Collaboration Creates a Satisfying Customer Experience Automating Problem Resolution in the Contact Center
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