Customer Service, Handling Time and BPM Software – How They Work Together


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Any businessman worth his salt would tell you that if you want your business to be a success, you should be paying a good amount of attention to customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction drives customer retention, and customer retention assures you that your business can only grow.

Customer-facing personnel – a wise investment

Every good company that produces any product worth buying provides service to the customer post-sale. And at the front lines of these companies, talking directly to the customers, are the customer service and technical support professionals.

CSRs, or customer service representatives, are the people who handle any and practically all concerns of a customer. Else, they can be your gateway to the correct person or department that handles whatever the customer is calling in for, say, the Billing department or technical support.

Average handling time – how important is it?

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a customer service or technical support call, you know what the acronym AHT stands for – average handling time. It’s the number you keep track of, the number driven up by customers who use IP relay, a service put in place to enable people with lack of (or diminished) hearing make a traditional phone call.

Of course, IP relay calls are not the only thing that drives an agent’s AHT metric through the roof, or more correctly down the gutter, since a longer AHT means hell to pay for the representative. There are other factors, which are not limited to the following examples:

  • The customer grew up in a generation where the invention of the television was still the biggest leap in technology. They eat up the AHT, but usually provide the nicest feedback on satisfaction surveys. Customer satisfaction surveys make up a large part of a CSR’s metrics.
  • The already irate customer who needs to rant away at least 10 to 15 minutes to lessen the welling frustration of having been transferred from one department to another, each one taking his information down anew only to be told that this department does not actually handle his concern. This customer will be transferred again, until he gives up, and rants on his blog or Facebook page.
  • And rarely, a true technical challenge.

AHT also makes a reflection on the business’s bottom line. A longer AHT means less customers served and more resources taken up, notwithstanding the negative effects of negative feedback easily published and viewed by a vast pool of potential future customers.

What smart companies have been doing, rather than let the Internet and social media be the easy and effective weapon for a virtual tongue-lashing from a dissatisfied customer, is using all these as tools at their disposal:

  • Through online forums and social media, a technical support representative (TSR) can help resolve not only one person’s concern by posting the instructions for the resolution of a common problem.
  • Companies can post videos with easy-to-follow step-by-step demonstrations and walkthroughs.
  • A customer can send the company a tweet, telling them of his concern. Your company representative can then schedule a phone call, at the convenience of the customer, and the benefit of the CSR or TSR, whichever applies, gaining valuable lead time to prepare the resolution before the actual conversation, leading to a shorter AHT.

All these examples can lead to less frustration and better satisfaction of the customer. Online communications can also help a business predict and prevent future concerns from other customers by, for example, calling for a mass recall of a batch of products proven (or rumored) to be faulty.

Business process management (BPM) in customer service

While most customer relationship management (CRM) systems are well-equipped to address customer-facing functions, other aspects outside of customer transactions constitute good customer service. These aspects include inventory, marketing promotions, and other BPM-generated data that may be essential to foster the best possible customer experience.

That being the case, keep in mind that cross-functionality is the core aspect of any good BPM design. Choosing the appropriate BPMS (business process management software), that which helps businesses enforce the way that a policy or process is actually performed, is critical.

Other than being able to visually depict the flow of work and information from one team to the next, BPMS can also generate forms tools that capture the necessary information which is then routed to the appropriate departments and people. Including social media gateways in your strategy can make your BPMS more powerful, making customer satisfaction easier for you and your frontliners.

For more information on BPM, visit the Comindware website.

Maricel Rivera
Maricel Rivera is a research writer covering small business, technology, and online marketing. She has worked with various software startups including Comindware, Bitrix24, ZipBooks, and SafeSend. Her work can be found on various business and tech blogs such as, Business2Community, Tweak Your Biz, among others.


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