A customer represents two things: an immediate dollars-and-cents sales opportunity, and a store of valuable data, including buying habits, behaviors and opinions. Technical support company Support.com has some ideas on how to use this data to improve the way your employees influence customer experience.
When a Stranger Calls, Data Answers
We thought it was fitting to take a closer look to see how a tech support company uses data to improve the way their personal technology experts turn data into actions and the impact these actions have on customer experience and satisfaction. We spoke with Paul Vaillancourt, senior vice president of Contact Center Operations at Support.com to learn more.
Support.com provides remote technology services to consumers and small businesses directly via an online portal and channel partners (which include retailers and anti-virus companies). Personal Technology Experts must pass rigorous testing and training before helping customers.
Unlike other companies, everything at Support.com is analyzed. From the moment a call is answered to the moment the case is resolved, calls are recorded, scrutinized and archived on-site. Additionally, because one single system is used, data is instantly available, eliminating time it may take to transfer data from one CRM into another.
Influencing the Behaviors of Others
How tech experts are trained can determine whether companies meet their overall goals and whether customers’ problems get solved. As a result, when Support.com noticed a higher than normal attrition rate, they focused their attention on the training process to better understand how they can improve the effectiveness of tech experts.
First, they listened. Before tech experts get to answer actual customer calls, they undergo rigorous training and then a nesting period, during which they role-play. They listened to what those who decided to leave said in their exit interviews, as well as to feedback they received from others. They learned that experts were overwhelmed by the complexity of their tool set. As a result, Support.com changed how they introduced experts to calls, having them listen more to actual customer calls before they role-played (which they did more of as well).
Then they created a goal. Goals were actual behaviors, rather than a metric. Instead of saying that they wanted to decrease the length of the call by two minutes, they said: we want experts to solve problems quicker. In order to solve problems quicker, it was important to understand how experts could glean better information from callers. They determined that not enough probing questions were being asked. Sure, experts were active listeners, but they weren’t necessarily asking questions that could uncover useful information in a timely matter. Once experts were properly trained to listen for keywords and specific prompts, call times were shortened.
Finally, they give constant feedback. PTE’s are given score cards which contain six weeks' worth of data, including average call length, call disposition, contacts per hour, attendance and a quality score. The score card also compares an expert’s results to other experts as well as company goals, so individuals can see how their behaviors impact overall goals.
Creating a Culture of Intentional Actions (and Outcomes)
What Support.com’s process for listening, analyzing and producing actionable insights really highlights is the impact that a company culture built around data can have on customer experience. Every company says that they are dedicated to ROI — but not every company invests in the actions of their employees to really understand how behaviors translates into outcomes.
Furthermore, Support.com exists solely in a virtual environment. This means that creating a culture that not only supports, but motivates and rewards effective employee actions, is essential to making sure that everyone feels empowered to contribute to company expectations.
We know that great customer experience helps build brand loyalty. But businesses need to examine two things: the way customer behaviors can influence company behavior, and how the actions of employees can influence customer experiences. By working to improve both, companies can begin to develop a culture in which everyone’s actions are meaningful and intentional.
Editor's note: For more on customer analytics and customer experience, check out our recent coverage on how to cut through the data noise, how to use data-driven marketing and how to improve marketing campaigns with data.