2

The context

This is for a very large company with offices around the world. They're dealing with a lot of issues when it comes to Customer Support, and so far they have identified some of the effects, and some very common user behaviors (where users are both Customer Support representatives and Clients requesting support), being the main behavior as follows:

  1. client requests support filling a web form
  2. support representative is assigned to the issue
  3. the first reaction of customer representative is to ask again for the same info the client already filled
  4. client sends info again, this time filling a follow up form or by mail (automatically appended to the follow up form)
  5. customer representative gets form then
    1. takes care of the issue or
    2. if customer support representative is unable to provide help, the support request is transferred to another customer support representative. And if 5.2 is true, then the entire process happens again.

While I think the mentioned scenario isn't uncommon at all, and as a matter of fact is probably the norm (no real research here, just my own experience), I find that in this company's case, it's really overboard, and the company itself recognizes it as a problem since they've conducted surveys on people cancelling the service and customer support issues are the main reason. So basically they're having a lot of frustrated customers who are leaving ship, with all the problems that situation causes.

To add up to the problem: they can't just "fire bad customer support" since they have 400+ representatives in 6 different countries and because they know that new people they hire automatically gets into this behavior. So the obvious answer to the problem is the company's culture and management middle/upper layers.

All this leads to the company asking us for a proposal of solution to this problem based on an UX redesign of their current process, with no possibility of human resources changes other than training. Specifically: web tools that "guide" the users

The question

In my mind, I already have manuals re-writing, supervisor's training and some re-write of their current system's logic (for example, letting the representative now the client has submitted the info and double check it, and some improvements on client's side so the question and the problem can be easily spotted), and this last part is where I need some ideas:

  • are there any tested tools or UX procedures to prevent this behavior or at least minimize its impact?

If not,

  • are there any examples I can take a look at where both customers and representatives have an improved experience by means of UX redesign?

(I know better customer support means better businesses, but I want to know specifically in terms of usability, not culture change or company reorganization, basically aiming to tool's development tips, existing research and/or guidance)

1

If there's budget for it, it may make sense for you to shadow a support rep to see their work environment and whether there's something that make them default to this behaviour.

It could be as simple as, the details on the customer ticket is not directly accessible for the rep while they're on the support call. Or it can be the customers aren't providing sufficient detail in the ticket, so the rep ask them again in order to capture the full details.

The latter case happens more often than not. Customers are typically not very good in providing information necessary to diagnose a problem. Our company's Support team have received plenty of bug tickets from customer suggesting one thing, and when they talk to the customer they find out the customer meant something else entirely.

These are 2 very different problems requiring different UX strategies to solve.

If you're dealing with such a large scale project affecting 400+ reps, you really should conduct actual research as oppose to making assumption as to where the problem lies.

  • Thank you nightning :) Just to clarify: Research has been done, as mentioned in the question, and I have seen the details of the whole process and typical flow both from client's as from customer's end. This question is part of the research: to know all available possibilities to come with a solution. However, this is just for a proposal, so I have no much more details for this, nor further access, nor a lot of budget at this instance. Also, this is NOT for phone support, only web support. – Devin Aug 4 '15 at 20:38
  • Okay, so we're pretty much flying blind here. Just to clarify, when you say web support. Is this strictly via an email-based ticketing system or does it also include web chat type "live" support? – nightning Aug 4 '15 at 20:47
  • It's a proposal, for which I have some elements, as explained above. Also, like the question describes, it's an email-based ticketing system, and while I didn't mention, it also includes chat, although this is not necessarily something really important since the problem is identified as starting in the email-based ticketing system, hence why I mention some changes on their current flow of their ticketing system, but I want to know the best practices for this kind of task – Devin Aug 4 '15 at 21:27
  • I see. I'm used to my companies support process in includes both email-based ticketing for initial incoming ticket and if need be gets escalated to tier 2 which may include phone calls (or online screensharing session) with client. In terms of web based system, there's a few companies that offers help desk solutions (zendesk's the one, we use). You may be able to find out more for best practices and general solutions to pain points on their support sites. Here's an article: support.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/community/posts/… – nightning Aug 4 '15 at 22:45

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