A recent article from the Association of Software Publishers echoes something that we at Hudson have been telling our clients for years: that tiered software support, the way most call centers do it, works very poorly.
Here is what they said:
“For a while now, forward – thinking customer support and call center managers have realized that the traditional ‘tiered’ support model (level 1 staff escalating to level 2 escalating to level 3 staff) is outdated and inefficient. Why? In a traditional support model, your least technically qualified staff are ‘the face of your organization’ to your customers and partners. This does a disservice to the customer, and makes the staff member’s life miserable while they hunt down the information or the right person to resolve your customer’s issue. Is it any wonder that as soon as they are better trained, your team members ‘escape’ to level 2, so that they don’t get interrupted by as many customer issues? This model doesn’t make any business sense to anyone anymore.
What isn’t stated explicitly in the quote above, but what is implied, is what the phrase “least technically qualified staff” really means. After all, technical skills are only part of what is needed to solve problems. What the phrase really means is that the typical Tier I agent is only trained to handle basic problems on the account, and is usually working with a script which the agent is supposed to follow until he either solves the case or gets lost and needs to escalate.
All calls are supposed to follow the script, even when the customer’s problem doesn’t fit the script. This is what wastes time and “does a disservice to the customer.” And as the quote says above, when the best Tier I agents get more training and information, they escape Tier I as soon as they can. Nobody wants to follow the same script all day, every day. So Tier I on the whole never gets better.
So do you really want the “least technically qualified staff” talking to your customers? We didn’t think so. What you really want, and what Hudson provides, is that the person who answer the phone can solve the problem, efficiently and without the customer waiting for escalations and transfers.
How often, you might ask, does the agent solve the problem on the first contact? Leaving aside problems that can’t be solved and must be reported to the client (escalations for “bugs”, website failures, database failures, etc.), the answer is that, on average, less than 2% of all calls requires internal escalation to a more experienced person. 98 calls out of 100 solved on the first phone contact. (We are excluding email here, where first contact is the email from the customer and often doesn’t give us enough information to solve the problem on the first try).
When I call anywhere, I want an agent to listen to what I have to say, understand me, and to solve the problem with me on the phone, without lengthy delays, or having to first go through a Tier I agent who barely understands my problem, and keeps trying to follow a script with me.
That is the value proposition for Hudson Software. Short wait times and agents who can solve your customer’s problems. Making your customers, we believe, happier and more likely to stay your customers.