What’s the fastest way to improve your customer service?

Service desks must improve the customer experience they deliver to retain their relevance and deliver value to the business. But what's the fastest way to improve customer service?

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Customer experience has become the most important metric for IT support professionals, service desks, and indeed any internal business function that provides service to IT colleagues. This is quite a dramatic transformation. When service desks were first created, the metrics used to measure the quality of the service desk were invariably about efficiency, e.g. what is the most cost-effective way to fix the problem and return the colleague to a productive state.

What changed? Simply put, the service desk lost its monopoly. When the service desk was first created, staff had no choice but to use it for fixing problems. But now customers can simply Google the question they would ordinarily call up the service desk with. Or they can ask a colleague or watch a YouTube tutorial.  

The challenge is simple to explain: service desks must offer a superior customer experience to the alternatives otherwise they risk becoming irrelevant. At its most extreme, a service desk that provides a poor customer experience may find itself being bypassed so frequently that the business decides to either reduce its funding or outsource it to an MSP which can offer an improved service.

But while the challenge is simple to explain, it’s hard to achieve. It involves moving away from an efficiency-first mindset and creating a culture that is focused on the quality of the customer interaction.

Rapid change
What’s the fastest way to change this culture? Conventional wisdom says that you retrain the service desk staff to concentrate on the new objective. While there’s an element of this when creating a customer experience service desk, the danger is that while the existing process remains in place, nothing really changes.

Therefore, the latest way to drive real change, and therefore shift the focus towards a customer-first mentality, is to alter the process.

Take a look at how you currently capture a ticket. Do you rely on the customer emailing you or picking up the phone to log the incident? Both channels are flawed in terms of customer experience:

The problem with email
When the customer emails to log a ticket,  you invariably have to send them a follow-up email asking for more information about the problem. These emails tend to fly backwards and forwards while you troubleshoot the problem which elongates the process.  This can be very frustrating for customers and negatively impacts the service your provide.

The problem with calling
When a customer calls, your service desk analyst either has to intuitively ask the right questions or run through a dull script asking for the correct information. This is time-consuming for the customer who has already had to stop what they are doing to make a phone call. And if a vital question is not asked at the point of logging the ticket, the process drags on further as the service desk must now reach out to the customer to gather more info.

Neither approach is ideal for offering a good customer experience. For this reason, customer portals are becoming more popular.

What is a customer portal?
A customer portal is a website site or app that all customers are given access to. It’s available 24/7 with no delay. It can offer immediate answers to commonly asked questions. It allows customers to log their own tickets and can inform them of the progress via email (or text). And crucially, a customer portal can capture EXACTLY the right information the service desk analyst needs to action a fast fix.  There’s no need for follow-up emails and calls as everything is recorded first time, every time. This means the customer spends minimal time logging the problem knowing that it will be fixed in due course.

Portal power
If you build an effective customer portal, two things happen. Firstly, you streamline the process for customers, reducing the time they need to spend logging an incident or problem. If this is backed by automation you reassure the customer that the problem is being addressed. In other words, the customer experience improves. Secondly, it frees up your staff. As we’ve explained, capturing ticket information via email and phone is frustrating for customers. But it’s also frustrating and boring for your service desk staff. By eliminating much of this activity, your staff are able to focus more of their attention on the fix and helping the customer. The end result? Yet more improvements to your customer satisfaction figures.

To summarise, customer experience is now the main measure of success that service desks must be striving to improve. Using a customer portal improves the process of logging tickets for staff and customers, meaning that the emphasis immediately moves to improving the service experience.

What next?
If you are going to improve or build your customer portal, the first thing you must do is improve your ticketing data capture. Are you asking the right questions and gathering the right info? If you customer portal is going to work, this process must improve first. Take a look at our guide to capturing the perfect IT support ticket for some proven tips on achieving this. 

Once you’ve established the information you need on your tickets, you can begin building your customer portal. How? You may need to source a new product - but before you do that, see if your current service desk or service management has a portal included. If it’s too costly or too clunky and difficult to use (which many are!), take a look at the Richmond Customer Service Portal. We’ve built this specifically to help busy service desks build a professional and useful portal. It’s a cinch to create support pages and edit the fields and workflow thanks to the drag-and-drop interface and its integration with our core service management product means everything works together beautifully.

If you’d like to see the Richmond Customer Service Portal in action, use the chat box and we’ll get it set up for you right away. Alternatively, use the form below and we’ll contact you right away.

A customer portal is truly the fastest way to improve the service you offer, and with customer experience becoming the most important measure of service desk success, what are you waiting for?   

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