It’s not all about the SLAs or speed of resolution. When we consider options to improve the customer experience, discussions often lead to complex process improvements or expensive tool enhancements, but there is something we can all do that is relatively easy and almost free. This is to keep our customers well informed during the problem solving progress.

There are three major components to the act of keeping a customer well informed:

  1. Acknowledge that work has begun on their problem.
  2. Share the problem solving activities.
  3. Set and follow through on time frame expectations.

When I receive feedback in customer satisfaction surveys and directly from clients, keeping customers informed during the problem solving progress, is often more important that the total time of resolution.  In other words, frequent and relevant communication can trump speed when done effectively.

Not Just The SLA| Image Courtesy Of Renjith Krishnan
Not Just The SLA – Keep Customers Informed

Here are some specific examples:

1. Acknowledge that work has begun.

  • My name is Marci, one of the Widget A Product Specialists, and I have just begun to work on your ticket.
  • Mr. customer, I received and am working on your ticket about Error Message 123.

2. Share the problem solving activities.

  • I will review the problem logs you sent and attempt to identify the cause of the error.
  • I will consult with one of our senior engineers, who has worked on many similar problems.
  • I will review the technical release notes and see if this change is related to the recent product version change.
  • This issue looks very familiar. I will check our knowledge base articles for a solution.

3. Set and follow through on time frame expectations.

  • I have dealt with similar problems before and I expect this will take about 4 hours to resolve.
  • I will post updates on my progress in our ticketing system and these will be visible in the self-support online portal.
  • I will send you an email in two hours and let you know where I stand in the problem resolution process.

I love this process because anyone can do it, from your brand new employees, to your executives to your very experienced support engineers. In addition, every type of customer will find this valuable: individuals, small businesses or large corporations.

Although the process is relatively simple and somewhat intuitive, I have found that it does not always happen. We often get wrapped up in the technical side of problem solving and forget about the human element. We spend more time talking about SLA achievement than the processes that lead up to the problem resolution.

It’s also important to remember that technology can enable the communication process. If you have an eSupport option and can publish public comments, the act of communicating can become part of the problem solving process, not in addition to. Most CRM systems also have notification options. You can set up  a process by which customers will receive email updates at certain intervals after the case has been opened, and when the case has been resolved. We can address the human side, leveraging our existing technology.

Let’s work together so that we don’t leave opportunity on the table and provide our customers with the best experiences in our collective industries.

© 2012 – 2016, Marci Reynolds. All rights reserved.