5 best practices to improve CSP call center support

Building a consistently excellent customer experience and receiving high marks for customer satisfaction is no easy task for today's Communication Service Providers (CSPs), most which are supplying a variety of services to business and residential customers, such as high speed Internet, TV, and both wireless and traditional phone services. We all have high expectations for our service providers and very little patience for long waits on the phone to get help with a sluggish Internet connection or cable TV outage.

The old adage, "It takes a village," applies in many of these situations because it truly does require CSPs to adopt an "all hands on deck" mentality to focus on the customer to be successful in the long run. From the CEO, to engineering, to the field technician, to sales, putting the customer first must be job one. Like all highly competitive industries, CSPs must deliver superior customer service and support in order to retain legacy customers and acquire new ones.

A decade ago, it might have been possible to get away with sub-par support and customer service – that was long before Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, among others, made it easy for customers to vent, very publicly, about poor customer service. Some high profile vents, such as the recent Comcast customer service incident, have created a sense of urgency around the important role that customer support plays in all industries, including communications services.

First Call Resolution (FCR) is critical because it directly impacts customer satisfaction. Although some studies report that customers are more willing to stay on the call longer if they can get their problems resolved, it doesn't mean they're happy about it, nor do they leave the call with a warm and fuzzy feeling about the company or the time they wasted while they were on hold.

So how can CSPs deliver superior customer service and drive up FCR? There are actually five best practices that CSPs can implement as part of their incident resolution processes that will allow them to fine tune FCR and decrease the potential for incident escalation:

1) Process guidance capabilities in an incident resolution system should be front and center.

One of the issues that counteract incident resolution efforts happens to be a pretty common industry issue that must be addressed. Level 1 (L1) agents or Customer Service Reps (CSRs), the first in line for problem resolution, tend to be filled by less trained and less technical staff. Because of the lack of training and technical know-how, and minimal tools that provide L1 agents with clear resolution procedures, these L1 agents become escalation points to Level 2 (L2) agents and field engineers because they require an experienced, trusted engineer to carry out the technical diagnostic, assessment and repair tasks the incident requires. This results in a measurable increase in the cost per resolution, as well as lengthy delays in the resolution process. To compound the delays and spike in costs, as CSPs add new services, their operation centers and L1 agents are forced to manage more events and incidents.

2) Process Improvement needs to be perpetual and continuous

It's been proven time and time again that when process improvement efforts are ad-hoc and disconnected from the overall incident resolution processes become unsustainable.

As a result, new services and new more effective ways to resolve incidents are driving CSPs to create more sophisticated support processes. Capturing the details used to troubleshoot and resolve incidents is essential to improving the process – this goes for the actions taken and the results. However, this often does not happen because it is too time consuming or laborious.

CSPs need to adopt a culture of continuous improvement and leverage systems that can help them to capture this information in real-time to continuously improve the process. When these processes and systems are baked into the daily resolution process, processes can be analyzed and improvements can be continuous leading to improved incident resolution and customer satisfaction.