Let’s face it: technological advancements impact the way we do business and how we connect to people, businesses, data, and content. Wifi, routers, switches, cable, fiber, business devices, personal devices, etc. are all connected. Manufacturers design reliable devices, and people, tools, and processes “manage” these in the background, to avoid service interruptions and other problems.
But what happens when the system no longer works, or its functionality fails to meet your desired outcomes? Who do you call? Is it a positive experience? Well, people are voicing their concerns that the industry over-rotated toward technology and lower-cost options; however, there are some exciting things going on in improving “managed” services.
These trends (and the implementation of the best practices they represent) are really vital to a business. They’re not just ‘nice things to have.’ They really set a firm apart in its ability to thrive and compete.
Here’s just a partial list of the types of problems that these innovations solve – bad IVR, multivendor confusion, unexplained downtime, burdensome technology troubleshooting – and gray hair!
Without preamble, let’s look at six of the best trends and standards that are coming into play in the world of managed services.
1. Offer the Human Touch
One of the best ways to improve managed services, (and many other types of services) is to always strive for a good, direct human connection. We know how hard it can be to reach that human connection with a poor interactive voice response system or one that’s poorly targeted.
One excellent way to improve outcomes is to get right to the point with automation. Don’t interject long messages that leave the caller hanging on the line. Make menus easily intuitive – don’t lose people in an audio maze of options. It’s also important to avoid too much gatekeeping in the form of making people identify themselves in order to solve problems. Again, the automation has to “fit” the caller’s needs. It has to be responsive, not boilerplate, or even deflective.
Another great best practice here is to have someone called an SDM or service delivery manager on board at the managed services level. This individual point person handles a specific client portfolio, and it’s clear to the customer that this is who they talk to if they have a problem. They are the customer advocate.
Without that kind of clarity, when people reach a generic low-tier responder, they may have a lot of issues and come away with unanswered questions. They might not be able to understand the human respondent very well. The respondent might not have the information that they need. It’s ok to uptrain the first-tier people – but the SDM system ensures that there is ballast behind the company’s ability to respond to urgent questions and escalations when it counts.
2. Adequate Focus on “Time to Resolve” (and Other Related Metrics)
In order to really excel in managed services, there has to be a premium put on ‘time to resolve’ as a key metric. Acknowledgment and action have to start as soon as the problem is reported, and the customer needs to be engaged and informed throughout the process until the problem is resolved.
This sounds simple, but think about all of the ways that dormant time can interject into response times. If the ticket is lost – if the baton isn’t passed correctly – if repair or response becomes conditional on some other input – then you have yourself a problem, and your customer does, too! Time to resolve is not just a calculation or a measurement of time. It is what the customer “feels”.
Heading off these problem scenarios involves sound planning, and that planning runs on the metrics mentioned above. Quickly identifying the problem and fixing it is the customer’s desired outcome.
3. Transparent Ticketing
We feel like this should be standard in the industry, but sadly, it isn’t.
Transparent ticketing means sharing the actual ticket items and related information with a greater set of stakeholders. For instance, you can share it with the manufacturers, if escalation is required and with the customer. This keeps everyone in the loop, and it’s a simple way to improve managed services, but it’s something that hardly anyone does.
The transparent system allows for a certain level of “self-service” – if someone at the customer’s firm has unanswered questions, they may be able to get good context by inspecting the tickets themselves, so that while they wait for the ultimate response, they have some “clues” as to what is going on and how it might be resolved. An email that the ticket has been closed, but the issue has not been resolved, is unacceptable.
4. Leverage Human Operations to Achieve Better Benchmarking
So a lot of managed services outcomes, in terms of the general business reputation for service, can be a bit “fuzzy.” How do you know if your managed services provider is “good?”
One valuable data-driven indicator is the Net Promoter Score or NPS, which actually endeavors to track customer feelings about your brand, with “promoters” and “detractors” as well as “passives.”
The use of the SDM and other core innovations will, in effect, build the service company’s NPS, which that company can then offer to the world as a tangible symbol of the fruits of its labors in modernizing its capabilities for clients.
5. Create a Handbook
Here’s another way to solve all sorts of confusion and complexities with managed services.
If somebody has a problem or issue that they’re calling about, they can probably benefit from some clarity around protocols, and how these things are usually handled. It must include how to escalate and who to call. A real person has to be identified!
That’s part of what the handbook does. It’s a proactive roadmap to answer some questions before they are even asked. You can think of it in terms of self-service, or you can say that again, it makes things more transparent for everyone who’s trying to solve a problem together.
6. Don’t Tolerate Mediocrity!
This one goes toward the broader-level operations in the industry, but it’s critically important.
Mediocrity is the weak link in any managed services operation. Again, if people get through to a human, but they don’t get the emotional and active response that they were hoping for, they come away feeling poorly served. They have a sense of urgency, but they feel that sense of urgency wasn’t met by the vendor’s representative.
A lot of this is more intuitive than technical. You want your responders to be able to match the emotional outlook that the customer has when they are initiating the interaction. This is not to say that they have to always solve the technical problem right away (not possible) – they just have to have the social engineering capability to really get the idea through to people that help is on the way.
Another way to say this is that the customer just needs a ‘receipt confirmation.’ He or she has a problem that needs to be solved as soon as possible. But the customer probably understands that solutions don’t happen in the blink of an eye. The problem is when they don’t know if the thing is being addressed or not. The receipt confirmation, in the form of someone reassuring them capably, is worth its weight in gold in this type of customer interaction.
This is, at a certain level, an overview of some of the best trends that we see going on in the industry. We work with our OEMs and other stakeholders to make everything clear all the way down the line and back. We use our managed services with a NOC component to cut through the confusion and chaos that is so often latent in support systems.
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