The Experts Weigh In: Getting Your Knowledge Transformation off the Ground, Part 2

In our recent webinar, Build a Knowledge Management Transformation Plan that Wins Executive Support, our expert panel shared quite a few stories of how to get a successful KM program off the ground.

In this series of posts, Jennifer MacIntosh, VP of Customer Success at Coveo, is joined by Irrevo’s Knowledge Strategists, Melissa Burch and Laurel Poertner to address the incredibly insightful questions shared by our audience.

Q:  What is more important the technology or the process? Where do I start with the technology or the process?

Jennifer MacIntosh: I think it really depends on where you are on the journey, what your business outcomes are and what you’re really trying to drive at. So, it’s not a straightforward answer to say it’s one or the other. For me it’s always a combination of both. I’ve never done a knowledge management transformational project that didn’t require both technology and process. I don’t think it’s a matter of what’s first, it’s a matter of how do we ensure that we have both of these things working together and that we understand what changes need to be made on both sides of that equation.
Laurel Poertner: In my experience what I’ve done is look at the processes and gathered the requirements from that to try and understand if the current processes that are in place are meeting expectations, are they allowing us to get the business outcomes and objectives that we want moving forward, then look at the technology. I think a lot of times at the executive level they start and say “We’re going to change the technology” and so stepping back and taking a look at what does this technology really give us, and what are we doing today and what do we need to do to move forward. A lot of times you’ll find this technology can handle a lot of this and we need a change of technology but it can be quite expensive. So try not to jump to conclusions  or decisions that might impact something that big and take a look at what you’re doing with processes too.

Q: What kind of content do you suggest creating?

Melissa Burch: There are three ways you can start with that. The first one is to look at the content you already have available to your customers.
Identify what your end users or target audience are using today as a clue to indicate what you should do more of and also to identify what you should do less of. The second recommendation is to analyze your customer search behavior to understand what it is that they are searching for and then to extrapolate back what is valuable to your customers. The third would be analyzing your inbound customer inquiries or cases, what are customers asking for help on and let that also drive you to provide your customers exactly what they need related to those particular questions.

Jennifer MacIntosh: A couple things I’d like to add to that. If we start to look at cases, we have to remember that the cases coming into your support center represent a small fraction of the interactions that our customers are having, most customers are engaging with our content so I would tend to lean more toward what Melissa said and focusing in on what interactions are happening with the content you have available today. if you’re not publishing any content, we recommend that you start publishing some content to your customers whatever way you can. There are great tools available, I’ll throw a plug in here for Coveo, this is one of the areas that we do a really great job at, we can analyze and capture all the interactions of your website and help you understand what content is the most popular, which is the most valuable in your organization,  it can help you understand what search content people are using that will really help you design the type of knowledge your customers are looking for. Finally, if you don’t have any of those things available to you, there’s an easy way, ask them. Ask your customers what they’re looking for. It’s probably the most basic way you can do this. I think sometimes we shy  away from actually engaging with them, even if you have your support analysts, ask them at the end of a phone call, send a survey, post a survey on your website, there’s lots of different ways to get feedback and input from your customers and I’ve always found that they’re very willing to help us with those types of questions and give us lots of feedback that will set us in the right direction.

Laurel Poertner: To add to what Melissa said, what I have done in the past is to categorize your cases.  If you’ve got a ticketing system that has some reason codes use that information and if you don’t, analyze a sampling to understand what types of inquiries you’re getting. If it’s a lot of “how to”, if it’s a lot of installation problems, Knowing the kind of things your customers are asking can really help get you going in a particular direction and then you can expand on that.

Q: How do I start a KM program from scratch without an executive sponsor?

Jennifer MacIntosh: What’s the biggest pain point in your organization? Why all of a sudden do we need to have a knowledge manager? So is it that our support analysts are overwhelmed? That we have too much turnover, what’s the driving factor, the biggest pain in your organization that is causing you now to think that we ought to do this. So I would focus in on that and start to see how new tools and process around Knowledge Management could really help alleviate some of that pain and help to move that pain. Identify what’s you’re biggest pain point and do the research on how new Knowledge Management tools and processes help alleviate that pain.

Melissa Burch: I will echo that. Star with your pain points. Where you see opportunity to improve your Customer Experience . Many times the need around that Customer Experience  improvement almost always integrate with Knowledge Management. It might not be the only initiative that you embark on but it’s certainly one of the most common ones that we’ve seen. Mapping that problem to the solution. Out in the world there’s a  ton of information about Knowledge Management, impacts that it’s had, how people have implemented it. There are many case studies, there’s lots of organizations that are talking about this and have published information. Many times software vendors who are in the Knowledge Management space are putting out information that is of course highlighting how their particular technology solutions had an impact on Customer Experience , but it is Ok to look at those case studies and extrapolate that. If you were to make a change that is similar to one described the the case study, even if you don’t necessarily utilize the technology solutions that that particular vendor is offering. It’s still a scenario that you’ll have a positive customer impact. There’s a lot of evidence in the world. Identify what improvements you want to make and then take the information and see how a Knowledge Management program can make a positive impact there.

Laurel Poertner: I’ll also make a plug for Irrevo, we can also help you get that started with engaging with a Knowledge Management expert, talk through some of those things that Jennifer and Melissa just talked about. I think it’s great way to start that conversation. The other thing I was thinking of was the people part of that question. Who would I have in my organization to take something like this on, and I would ask for volunteers because this is something that I think you’ll find that there are people in your organization that have a passion for this whether they realize it or not you’ll get some of those people coming out of the woodwork, especially if you have an expert that comes in and starts those conversations you’ll start to see that this person or that person was really involved with these conversations and that will give you some of those answers.

Q: How do Customer Communities fit into the overall KM strategy? Are they integrated or distinct? I’m thinking of how knowledge gets data mined from a community and “promoted” into the KB (and whether or not this is even appropriate).

Laurel Poertner:  My personal experience is that there is huge value in the knowledge that comes from a community and it should always be leveraged in a self-service environment.  It is also extremely cost effective to companies because it takes very few resources to maintain once it is up and running.

I have seen examples of certain sites where customers can click a button to request that a particular thread be considered for inclusion in the knowledge base.  This would then need to be reviewed and converted into an authored document.  A more common approach is to offer a search filter on a community page.  This allows users to choose whether or not to search the community data along with other knowledge sources.  There are different schools of thought on whether to mine data from communities but I have seen it be very successful.

Learn MoreKnowledge Program Guidebook

If you missed the live broadcast, you can watch a recording of this webinar. Stay tuned to the Irrevo blog for more Q&A from this session, and follow us on Twitter to be the first to know when we share new answers.

Ready to implement a new Knowledge Strategy? Check out our latest white paper to learn more about getting executive buy-in for your knowledge transformation.

The Experts Weigh In: Getting Your Knowledge Transformation off the Ground

In our recent webinar, Build a Knowledge Management Transformation Plan that Wins Executive Support, our expert panel shared quite a few stories of how to get a successful KM program off the ground.

In this series of posts, Jennifer MacIntosh, VP of Customer Success at Coveo, is joined by Irrevo’s Knowledge Strategists, Melissa Burch and Laurel Poertner to address the incredibly insightful questions shared by our audience.

Q: What kinds of skills should we look for when engaging a knowledge management expert to help?

Melissa Burch: To be most valuable for you, the experts that you engage should fill the gaps in experiences that you and your team lack.  So for instance, if your knowledge management transformation involves a website redesign and the presentation of your support knowledge base from the website, you need expertise in at least 3 domains.  The first is website design.  The second is expertise in KM tool functionality requirements and third is expertise in knowledge program implementation to ensure that the content you present is maintained.  Or perhaps you aren’t really sure how to get started.  Then you should look for an expert who has expertise in designing effective solutions and can help build the roadmap to get there.

Q: What metrics would be good to report to the Executive Sponsor and how frequently?

Laurel Poertner: I would focus on the higher level metrics and trends that align with the strategic framework.  Something that I have done in the past is to present a Quarterly Business Review for the Knowledge Program.  This allows you to note monthly or quarterly trends in traditional metrics such as Time to Publish, Average Handle Time, Knowledge Reuse, Linking Rates, etc.  It also allows you to give project updates with completed milestones, potential risks and challenges, and finally an assessment of the progress towards the outcomes you identified within the strategic framework.  Don’t forget to add new goals and/or risks to head them off before they happen so the Executive Sponsor is not blindsided by any sudden changes.

 

Learn MoreKnowledge Program Guidebook

If you missed the live broadcast, you can watch a recording of this webinar. Stay tuned to the Irrevo blog for more Q&A from this session, and follow us on Twitter to be the first to know when we share new answers.

Ready to implement a new Knowledge Strategy? Check out our latest white paper to learn more about getting executive buy-in for your knowledge transformation.

 

Creating Knowledge Management Transformations that Get Executive Support

This article was originally written for LinkedIn by Brent Kellogg, VP of Business Development at Irrevo. Follow him for industry news and commentary.

Effectively leveraging knowledge, for those that have mastered it, is very powerful. But I think for too many companies it remains a promise where the true value remains somehow out of reach. Blame is often placed on the last KM platform purchased and that it just isn’t delivering advertised results.. In our consulting practice we see this scenario all the time, and in some cases the technology is just the wrong fit. But more often its that the content is inconsistent, incomplete, hard to consume, and cluttered with outdated assets that are long overdue for archival.

The gold at the end of the tunnel is the CONTENT. Even the most expensive and sophisticated platform can’t improve the content itself.. this requires a thoughtfully designed knowledge program that becomes engrained in the culture of the company. Participation in the capture, curation, and use of the resulting knowledge is not an ask (such as “write 3 articles a week”), rather an integral part of how business is done – trusting people to contribute and be active participants in the process, both as authors and consumers.

A common theme we see is this idea of program vs project. Too often there is a surge of activity to address the content, often related to a new product launch, deployment of new technology, etc and there are never enough resources to get all the work done.. inevitably a lot of scope is “left for another day” – a day that never comes. The root problem is a project approach and the lack of a long term program vision, one that is embraced and sponsored from the top down.

We recently held a webinar that took a deeper look at this issue, titled “Build a KM Transformation Plan that Wins Executive Support”. Speakers include Melissa Burch and Laurel Poertner, Irrevo Knowledge Strategists, and Jennifer MacIntosh, VP of Customer Success at Coveo.

You can watch a recording of this session to learn more.

Customer Success, Part 1: Setting the Stage for Customer Success

This guest post by Francoise Tourniaire is the first in a series that takes an in-depth look into creating a successful Customer Success program. The series continues in Part 2, Creating a Scalable Customer Success Program, and Part 3, How segmentation delivers value to customers – and your business

What is Customer Success?

The idea of customer success is that appropriate nurturing yields loyal customers, which in turn yield profits. Customer success aims to:

  • Increase customer adoption, which leads to
  • Increase customer retention, which leads to
  • Reduce customer churn and
  • Increase expansion revenue

Customer success is the brainchild of SaaS vendors, but the approach and techniques can apply to all organizations.

What Does Customer Success Consist Of?

Customer success organizations provide a range of services, which can be organized in five categories:

  • Onboarding to help customers get started with the vendor’s product or service. Onboarding is more than pure training: it also helps customers navigate the setup and customization of the tool. Onboarding occurs at the beginning of the customer lifecycle, but it can continue as customer usage expands, new users are added, and existing users discover more sophisticated uses of the product or service.
  • Customer health monitoring. This includes monitoring the usage of the tool as well as ongoing communications with customers.
  • Retention. If a customer is determined to be at risk, specific initiatives may be deployed to rescue the relationship, from a simple conversation to touch base with the customer to offering additional training or adoption assistance.
  • Lead generation. Customer success organizations diligently cultivate leads from existing customers, usually passing them on to the sales team, but sometimes closing them themselves. Some customer success organizations also own the renewals of subscriptions and maintenance contracts.
  • Customer advocacy. Providing structured feedback from customers to internal teams is an important function of customer success organizations.

Are All Customer Success Organizations Alike?

No! Customer success organizations have a variety of roles. Differences are common in these four areas:

  • Whether they own the onboarding This is usually the case, sometimes through a specialized subgroup. For complex products and services that require a professional services team, onboarding may still exist in the form of encouraging users to engage with the platforms.
  • Whether they are responsible for technical support. Usually not, especially for more complex products: a separate team handles technical questions. But customer success managers are sometimes asked to provide first-level support.
  • Whether they are directly responsible for renewals. Usually, a dedicated renewals team or the sales team itself takes responsibility for renewals (assuming renewals are not automated), although the customer success organization is often measured by the renewals percentage.
  • How much selling they do. Most influence and suggest, but do not have a sales quota, so as to minimize conflicts of interest with customers and channel conflicts with the sales team.

How Do I Get Started With Customer Success?

If you are starting from scratch, the first step is to identify your main issue: do customers never start to use your products? Do they start, but then lose interest? Do they fail to renew? Fail to expand? Or do you simply not track any metrics?

Focus your initial efforts to resolving your main issue. Perhaps it’s simply starting to measure retention (or its mirror image, churn).  Or it may be putting in place a robust onboarding program so customers can get started in an orderly manner. Or analyzing the reasons why customers fail to renew.

Make sure that the initial efforts are proactive, not just aimed at preventing customer escalations. Escalation management is important, but it is a support function, not a customer success function.

In our follow-up posts, we will show you how to segment customers and how to define reusable processes for onboarding and retention.


Francoise Tourniaire is the founder of FT Works and co-founder of ChurnSquad. Both companies provide consulting, training, and coaching to create and improve customer success initiatives. Her most recent book, The Art of Support: A Blueprint for Customer Success and Support Organizations, is now available on Amazon. Contact Francoise at FT@ftworks.com or 650 559 9826 for more information.

Knowledge-Centered Support℠ (KCS): Expert Answers to Your Implementation Questions, Part 2

Recently, we hosted an expert panel discussion, Re-imagine Your Customer Experience With Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS℠), where industry experts shared some great insights on how a knowledgebase transformation can drive change throughout your business.

Our audience asked some very insightful questions, and we’ll be expanding on our answers in this upcoming series of blog posts.

Today, Melissa Burch and Laurel Poertner, Irrevo Knowledge Strategists, expand on some of the answers shared during yesterday’s webinar.

Once KCS is implemented, how do increase the adoption rate by your customer service team?

Laurel PoertnerStart talking about the KCS Continuum. KCS is a journey and there are so many things you can add to a KCS program that add value. Start by getting volunteers to learn and try out new practices and techniques and then have them present their findings to the rest of the organization. It gives them the opportunity to show what they have learned and you will have more “Champions” around the office that get KCS into more conversations.

Melissa BurchI have seen great success when knowledge sharing participants see the impact they are making. Provide regular communications that show all participants the number of people who are using content and the feedback it has received. It is so validating when the efforts are acknowledged and it is making a difference in the lives of customers.

The biggest challenge in rolling out KCS is getting buy-in. Can you share some thoughts about the initial increase of Average Handle Time and After Call Work (ACW)? 

Laurel PoertnerTypically, we have not seen an increase in AHT at all. People usually worry that it will happen but I have never experienced it. The investment is more around finding time to dedicate to coaching activities. I would definitely set aside some initial training/ramp up time around coaching. Testimonials and case studies may also help get buy in from upper management. No two KCS programs are alike so it is impossible to predict the impact on one organization vs. another but if you can find similar industries and share their successes with some detailed metrics, that usually helps. Finding someone with KCS program management experience to help with the initial assessment is also a great way to increase the chance for success.

Learn MoreKnowledge Program Guidebook

If you missed the live broadcast, you can watch a recording of this webinar. Stay tuned to the Irrevo blog for more Q&A from this session, and follow us on Twitter to be the first to know when we share new answers.

Ready to implement a new Knowledge Strategy? Check out our latest white paper to learn more about getting executive buy-in for your knowledge transformation.

 

 

Cognitive Engagement: The Future of Customer Experience

The future of customer engagement will be run by a machine.  That is what Forrester predicts for the near future.  Kate Leggett of Forrester states that one of the top trends for 2015 will be that “organizations will look at ways to reduce the manual overhead of traditional knowledge management for customer service.  In doing so, they will explore cognitive engagement solutions — interactive computing systems that use artificial intelligence to collect information, automatically build models of understanding and inference, and communicate in natural ways.”

robot_csrEarlier this year, IBM launched the Watson Engagement Advisor.  It is one of the first of its kind to pave the way for a new way to engage customers.  It “via cognitive computing intellect, can proactively engage with a business’ customers, and continuously learn from interactions, anytime and anywhere, providing fast, more accurate and personalized interactions”.  IBM Watson was the computer that beat former grand-champions on the TV quiz show Jeopardy!.

Where to invest and focus

Obviously not all companies will have IBM Watson in their arsenal to interact with customers providing them with immediate answers to their complex purchasing questions and problem resolutions.  However, many have 2015 goals to solve problems faster and improve relationships with their customers.  Adding artificial intelligence to your self-service website or as an internal tool for agents will transform how companies engage with customers.  As products become more and more complex and the amount of information available grows, the need to hone in on an answer quickly proves increasingly difficult through manual means.  A dialog takes up valuable time to try and get to the right response.  Self-searching can be frustrating if you don’t use the right terminology or give up easily.  The effort the customer has to make using artificial intelligence is greatly reduced and answers are available in a fraction of a second.  It is as if they have their own personal assistant there to answer their questions. It will also allow companies to expand this assistance across multiple channels.

Preparing Your Knowledge Data

The effects of using Cognitive Computing is already leading consumers to demand a new level of engagement and interaction from companies.  One way to help prepare systems for this new capability is to make sure new knowledge is coming in.  Without the data (or knowledge), there won’t be anything to cull through to hand off to customers.  Still some human intervention is needed.  New knowledge needs to be created in order for it to be used by customers and agents.  This will be especially important as companies invest in cognitive engagement systems and start to find that the speed and accuracy of the answers correlate directly to the amount of knowledge within the system.

Make sure processes are in place

Finding ways to focus on the new problems should be part of any knowledge program.  Whether it be analyzing which knowledge base articles are used frequently and exposing them, communicating and training customers on how to find articles on the known issues, or making changes to products that remove the issue completely. Make sure your knowledge program has these processes in place to focus resources on creating new knowledge.

Let the system do the work

The way to evolve how you engage with customers is to reduce the effort they must make to interact with your company. Artificial Intelligence allows a cognitive system to cull through big data for relevant responses while taking into account the nuances of human language.  While there will always be a need for the human touch in solving customers’ problems, the key is to focus on the new problems.  Let the computers take on the ones that already have an answer and can find it a whole lot faster.

 

Irrevo: The 20th Fastest Growing Private Company in Washington State

psbj 100Last week, business leaders from across Washington State gathered at the Sheraton in Downtown Seattle to celebrate the Puget Sound Business Journal’s list of Fastest Growing Companies. For the second year in a row, Irrevo was recognized as one of the Fastest Growing Company in Washington, coming in at #20 this time around.

In a brief speech, Irrevo’s President & CEO, Jason Kaufman, credited employee satisfaction (and warmth) with our continued success. “We all work from home in our Irrevo-branded Snuggies and have cupcakes for our birthdays.”

2014 was a positively electric year for our company. We’ve carried on that momentum in 2015, creating new partnerships, adding several great knowledge engineers and strategists to our team, and working with wonderful clients to facilitate the creation of content that improved the lives of millions of their customers. We hope to make it three in a row next year!

 

 

Knowledge-Centered Support℠ (KCS): Expert Answers to Your Implementation Questions

Recently, we hosted an expert panel discussion, Re-imagine Your Customer Experience With Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS℠), where industry experts shared some great insights on how a knowledgebase transformation can drive change throughout your business.

Our audience asked some very insightful questions, and we’ll be expanding on our answers in this upcoming series of blog posts.

Today, Melissa Burch and Laurel Poertner, Irrevo Knowledge Strategists, expand on some of the answers shared during yesterday’s webinar.

Once KCS is implemented, how do increase the adoption rate by your customer service team?

Laurel PoertnerStart talking about the KCS Continuum. KCS is a journey and there are so many things you can add to a KCS program that add value. Start by getting volunteers to learn and try out new practices and techniques and then have them present their findings to the rest of the organization. It gives them the opportunity to show what they have learned and you will have more “Champions” around the office that get KCS into more conversations.

Melissa BurchI have seen great success when knowledge sharing participants see the impact they are making. Provide regular communications that show all participants the number of people who are using content and the feedback it has received. It is so validating when the efforts are acknowledged and it is making a difference in the lives of customers.

The biggest challenge in rolling out KCS is getting buy-in. Can you share some thoughts about the initial increase of Average Handle Time and After Call Work (ACW)? 

Laurel PoertnerTypically, we have not seen an increase in AHT at all. People usually worry that it will happen but I have never experienced it. The investment is more around finding time to dedicate to coaching activities. I would definitely set aside some initial training/ramp up time around coaching. Testimonials and case studies may also help get buy in from upper management. No two KCS programs are alike so it is impossible to predict the impact on one organization vs. another but if you can find similar industries and share their successes with some detailed metrics, that usually helps. Finding someone with KCS program management experience to help with the initial assessment is also a great way to increase the chance for success.

Learn MoreKnowledge Program Guidebook

If you missed the live broadcast, you can watch a recording of this webinar. Stay tuned to the Irrevo blog for more Q&A from this session, and follow us on Twitter to be the first to know when we share new answers.

Ready to implement a new Knowledge Strategy? Check out our latest white paper to learn more about getting executive buy-in for your knowledge transformation.

 

 

Don’t Let Your Knowledge Die a Lonely Death: How Knowledge Centered Support Immortalizes Knowledge

I don’t have time to give the customers the quality attention I’d like to…I’m just keeping my head above water as it is!

Have you experienced this?

  • Your tech support staff drowning in a sea of service requests?
  • Your customers complaining about the quality of support they get?
  • Your staff demoralized because even they don’t think they are doing a good job for all their customers?

I have.

KCS and a good website where customers can get the information they need can solve this problem. But when you turn to the business, they say “What? You want us to take time out from working tickets to create knowledge articles too? Didn’t you get the part about us just barely keeping our heads above water as it is?”

The solution to this dilemma resides within a well-implemented KCS system, one in which knowledge articles are created as a by-product of working tickets – not as an additional activity on top of working tickets. In this mode of operation, people are not writing any more information than they currently are – it’s just that instead of writing it in notes in their tickets, where it dies a lonely death after the ticket is closed, they’re writing their notes in a different place. It takes no more time to write the information in a window on the left side of your screen than it does to write it in a window on the right side of your screen. But by using KCS methodologies to capture the data where it can be reused, you’re writing it somewhere where it survives the closing of the ticket, escapes the lonely death, and goes on to be re-used by many others as a knowledge article.

I do oversimplify this a bit, but not much. There will be a bit of extra time as your support staff publishes their information, while they pause to make sure that what they wrote in the heat of the moment of the ticket is worded in the best way for the new knowledge article’s extended public life. But that time is easily recovered from the vast time savings of the self-service that these knowledge articles enable.

The net result is fewer repeat issues stealing time from your support staff, so they can spend more quality time with the customers they are working with. The customers are happier, the employees are happier… and you are happier!

Hear from author Russ Brookes, Director of Knowledge Management and GSS Customer Satisfaction at Avaya, and the rest of our expert panel in our recorded webinar, Re-imagine Your Customer Experience with Knowledge Centered Support. Hear how others are capitalizing on the promise of KCS.

KCS Expert Panel

 

Metrics that Matter: Going Beyond CSAT and NPS

analytics_groupIf you’re behind the Customer Service Operations curtain in any capacity, you’ve got strong feelings about which metrics tell the most comprehensive, actionable story of your customer experience. It’s easy to fall into a routine of looking at only a few of the heavy-hitting metrics, but to get a clear picture of your organization’s performance, it’s important to ask yourself what stories you might be missing out on by overlooking some of the alternatives to perennial favorites like CSAT and NPS.

We asked a few experts in the customer experience industry to tell us a little about their favorite metrics:

 

Melissa Burch, Senior Knowledge Strategist, Irrevo

I am a huge proponent of using a balanced scorecard approach to measurements with a small number of critical data points to monitor.  If you talk to me long enough, you will realize that I don’t recommend narrowing your measurement scope to just one data point.  However, there is one measurement that is often left off a balanced scorecard and this is the one where you measure and calculate your self-service success score.  Our friends at Oracle recently shared their approach to this.  I’ve summarized it here and encourage you to learn and then apply the measurement approach that works for you.

To do this, you need two data points to derive your success score.  The first data point is the number of times customers visit your support site and view at least one piece of information there. Don’t forget to include content, community forums and all other self-service options provided.  These are the total number of times your customers attempted self-service for the time period of your calculation.

The second piece of information is the self-service success rate. This is calculated based on data captured during the customer support site survey which asks users if they were successful at finding the information they were looking for.  The response to this customer survey question will give you your success rate.

Once you have these two data points, you can calculate your customer self-service success score by multiplying the number of self-service attempts by the success rate to determine your overall success score.  So for example, if your customers attempt to self service 1,000 times per month and you know that they are successful 50% of the time, then you have a self-service success score of 500.  This means that your self-service support offerings provided customers what they needed 500 times during that month.

After establishing your baseline self-service success score, identify ways to improve the self-service offerings in ways that drive greater value to your customers.  Use the self-service success score to monitor your impacts.

Tola Begbaaji, Discrete ERP Customer Solutions, Aptean

I don’t know that there is one metric. For me it is a triad – a combination of customer satisfaction, time to resolve, and time to respond. Put another way – customers want Q2R.  Quick, quality, resolution.  If a team is resolving issues quickly with quality, then typically their customers are satisfied. Each element is important.  A resolution is not just an answer to the ticket.  It is something that resolves their problem. It’s not enough to be quick. Speed is irrelevant when the solution is not high quality.  Quality of course speaks for itself, but the term implies completeness and thoroughness.

These three metrics help you to evaluate whether a support team is providing quick, quality resolutions on a regular basis. If the issues are being resolved quickly with quality, then customer satisfaction will tend to be high.  You can review the trends of time of respond and time to resolve to see if they are staying steady or if they are increasing or decreasing. For example, if time to resolve and time to respond are increasing, you will expect to see a corresponding decline in CSat.  If you don’t see this CSat decline, then it is a warning sign that the team may have a huge backlog, and they are only closing primarily the newest tickets.

So, in order to make the triad into one metric, I might call it something like CSaTimeToResolveRespond.  That would make a nice hashtag, don’t you think?  #csatimetoresolverespond

Laurel Poertner, Knowledge Strategist, Irrevo

A tried and true metric that gets a lot of attention from C level executives is Customer Satisfaction.  While I think this metric has its place in the corporate world, I believe it is short sighted and customer loyalty depicts the customer landscape for an organization much more clearly.  Customer loyalty, defined as the customer’s intention to keep doing business with the company, increase the amount they spend, or spread positive word of mouth can be measured by using the Customer Effort Score (CES).  CES asks the question “How much effort did you personally have to put forth to handle your request?” The reason this is such an important metric is the power it has to predict your customers’ intentions.  The more you can see what is coming the more time you have to prepare your organization to head off future issues.  This can also spur companies to implement new systems and processes to use the CES to make improvements that directly impact the customer experience and ultimately drive higher customer loyalty.

Elias Parker, Managing Partner, OneReach

There are a lot of call center metrics out there that measure customer satisfaction—CSAT, Net Promoter Score (NPS), even First Call Resolution (FCR). The way they measure satisfaction is different, but the end result is the same—to make sure the customer is happy. But what if I told you there was a call center metric that could do nothing but measure a customer’s happiness, one that tracked their satisfaction through every interaction? There is, and it’s called the Smiley Face Index (SFI).

The Smiley Face Index isn’t meant to displace other more complex call center metrics.  Rather, it’s just the simpler way of looking at customer satisfaction that we sometimes need. It literally measures the number of smiley faces exchanged by a customer and agent during a web-chat or text message interaction. Simply put, more smiley faces = more happy customers.

Learn more about the Smiley Face Index.

Matt Berger, Content Strategist, MindTouch

The one metric that support teams can’t ignore (but so many do) is organic web traffic – the measure of how many people find your help content through Google. On the surface, this seems to fall into the marketing realm, but organic web traffic will help turn support from a cost center into a revenue generator. Support teams are always looking to lower support costs by reducing customer effort and increasing ticket deflection. Our customers see a distinct correlation between increased organic web traffic and ticket deflection: more web traffic means fewer tickets, which in turn means lower support costs. By analyzing the amount of traffic, as well as the demographic, geographic, and behavioral data around that traffic, support teams can continue to fine-tune the self-service experience.

Our customers have also noticed that opening help content to the online public has the added benefit of bringing buyers to this information. Web traffic analytics can help inform sales and marketing teams about buyer behavior. Those little FAQs you thought you had to produce are the key to understanding how to better serve both buyers and customers. Through online self-service, support teams aren’t just supporting current customers, they’re supporting the buyer’s presale experience as well.

Learn more about how organic web traffic supports your business goals.