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6 second videos, smartphones and social media accounts are driving customer service expectations to never before seen highs. No matter where you choose to get the news this time of year, trend articles are a dime a dozen. But something’s missing. For years, MetricNet has taken a holistic approach to improving performance. Being that trend watching is designed to do just that, it would stand to reason that key correlations between trends and reality would be clear. Instead, the 800-pound gorillas of the industry make lofty claims with no substantial proof to back them up and, be honest here, who really goes back to the articles from years past to analyze the accuracy? In this article, we take a different approach to trend watching for 2014. Read on to discover the top trends to watch, actual examples, and next steps to successful implementation.

Trend: On-Demand Around The Clock Resolutions

Today’s technology has made it possible to connect with anyone – anywhere – anytime. While this is great for personal connections, it has had an unintended consequence for business. Imagine the world filled with Veruca Salt-like customers. You remember her famous line from the classic movie ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ – “I want it and I want it now!” As people grow more impatient, some brands are taking the steps necessary to stay on top.

Take Amazon for example. Not only are they dabbling in flying drones set to bring your purchase quicker than most pizza places, they’re also taking customer service to new heights with the Mayday button. To say that Amazon’s Mayday button raises the bar for IT Service and Support would be an understatement. As a case in point, let’s take a look at their description of Mayday:

“Simply tap the “Mayday” button to be connected for free to an Amazon expert who can co-pilot you through any feature by drawing on your screen, walking you through how to do something yourself, or doing it for you—whatever works best. Mayday is available 24×7, 365 days a year, and it’s free. Throughout the process, you will be able to see your Amazon Tech advisor live on your screen, but they won’t see you. 15 seconds or less is the Mayday response time goal.”

This would strike fear into the hearts of anyone competing with the industry giant. Not only are they offering hands on assistance, but they’ve set a response time goal that even most World-Class organizations would deem unachievable.

There’s no doubt that your customers and/or internal employees rely on the IT department for Service and Support.  The question is, are they able to access help when they need it? To find out, survey your current customer base and/or internal employees. Organizations looking to follow in Amazon’s revolutionary footprints will need to plan & manage customer service channels effectively in order to meet customer expectation.

A survey is the first step in identifying needs and wants.

Trend: Over 10 minutes for a phone agent… 48 hours for an email response!? I need an answer now!

We’ve all been there. The automated system explains that your wait time will be greater than 10 minutes, email autoresponders inform you of the potential 48 hour turn over time and you need an answer right away! Do you wait on hold or just forget it? What if there was a better way? Well, there is. And it’s being implemented in Service and Support organizations at a revolutionary pace. Chat is a relatively simple technology, and one that is becoming the preferred method for customer service.

According to Econsultancy, “Live chat has the highest satisfaction levels for any customer service channel, with 73%, compared with 61% for email and 44% for phone.”. Our benchmarking data shows that adoption rates from both consumers and organizations are growing rapidly year over year. So where’s the proof? BOMGAR recently presented real customer results in a joint webcast with MetricNet. Case study examples show that chat has the ability to increase staff productivity 20-30% and reduce incident handle time 25-50%! A compelling case, wouldn’t you agree?

Are you willing to let an untrained agent troubleshoot a technical issue due to long wait times? How will you explain the lost revenue from high numbers of abandoned calls?  An effective chat channel can significantly reduce the cost per transaction vs. a more traditional live voice support model.

To find out if chat is right for your organization, benchmark your performance against a peer group. Pay close attention to your performance in cost drivers such as inbound contact handle time, average speed of answer, first contact resolution rate and agent utilization. Chances are, you will find that significant room for improvement exists.

Trend: Executive Accountability When and Where it Counts

An obvious disconnect exists between those running the company and those working in the trenches. Fortunately, more executives than ever are stepping out from behind the desk in an attempt to be more accountable. Reality shows like Undercover Boss reveal just how clueless some stakeholders really are.  On the other hand, some don’t need the help of Hollywood to identify opportunities.

Were you lucky enough to catch the T-Mobile & AT&T battle over a customer live on Twitter? TNW has the highlights, but for the purposes of this article, the exchange below is what we’re talking about:

Talk about stepping out from behind the desk! John Legere has set the bar for you Ms. CEO and he’s set it high.  With the advent of social media, lines between customers and brands have blurred beyond recognition. At the very least, opening and monitoring this channel of service and support is a necessity. But we urge you to take it farther than that. Get involved. Be accountable.

As we progress further into the digital age, on demand around the clock service and support will be the norm. We’ll be able to contact companies in whichever way we see fit.- be that phone, email, chat or social. Executives are no longer off limits. Their ability to respond will be critical to success. Those that choose ignorance will be left in the wake while those that choose to innovate are reaping the benefits. Which side will you be on in 2014?

Jeffrey Rumburg

Jeff Rumburg is a co-founder and Managing Partner of MetricNet, where he is responsible for global strategy, product development, and financial operations for the company. As a leading expert in benchmarking and re-engineering, Mr. Rumburg authored a best selling book on benchmarking, and has been retained as a benchmarking expert by such well known companies as American Express, Hewlett-Packard, General Motors, IBM, and Sony. Mr. Rumburg was honored in 2014 by receiving the Ron Muns Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the IT Service and Support industry. Prior to co-founding MetricNet, Mr. Rumburg was president and founder of The Verity Group, an international management consulting firm specializing in IT benchmarking. While at Verity, Mr. Rumburg launched a number of syndicated benchmarking services that provided low cost benchmarks to more than 1,000 corporations worldwide. Mr. Rumburg has also held a number of executive positions at META Group, and Gartner. As a vice president at Gartner, Mr. Rumburg led a project team that reengineered Gartner’s global benchmarking product suite. And as vice president at META Group, Mr. Rumburg’s career was focused on business and product development for IT benchmarking. Mr. Rumburg’s education includes an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School, an M.S. magna cum laude in Operations Research from Stanford University, and a B.S. magna cum laude in Mechanical Engineering. He is author of A Hands-On Guide to Competitive Benchmarking: The Path to Continuous Quality and Productivity Improvement, and has taught graduate-level engineering and business courses.

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