Customer Support Emergency Checklist

Customer Support Emergency Checklist

emergency checklist

Written by Dave McCall, Service Cloud Director

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to rethink their customer service operations. Many operations had disaster plans in place, but were unprepared for the displacement of all agents from the contact center. Some organizations had plans to implement low-cost channels sometime in the future, but hadn’t prioritized those initiatives yet. Some were caught completely flat-footed.

The good news is that our actions in response to an emergency are no different than what we do to serve customers well at any time, including:

  • Providing complete and correct answers with low-friction
  • Deflecting inquiries toward low-cost channels
  • Simplifying the agent experience

The bad news is that many of the variables have changed–agents are unavailable to work, agents have to work from home on less-than-ideal workstations, and call center volume has increased. Accordingly, you may need to make a number of changes to your technology and processes in order to accommodate these changes. 

To help our customers consider every opportunity to continue to drive great customer service, even when the conditions have changed, PolSource created the following checklist. You have likely already done a number of these things, but we offer this double-check to make sure you leave no stone unturned in helping to manage costs and continue to offer exceptional customer service during hard times.

Update Your IVR greeting
Make sure your greeting lets customers know how long they should expect to wait. Use the longer wait times to drive customers to self-service options–your community, your chatbot, live agent chat, or even email.

Update Email Auto-Responses
Update the response expectations, drive customers to self-service options, and offer answers to FAQs within the email itself.

Offer a Self-Service Community
If you don’t have a self-service community, now might be the time to set one up. It’s easier than you think, and if you do, it would be a good time to optimize. Look for searches that aren’t being deflected and fill in those gaps. Consider whether there are articles that should be newly pinned to the top or highlighted on the community home page.

Offer Low-Cost Channels
Live agent chat offers an agent the ability to multi-task and help several customers at once. Chatbots can sometimes be used to handle complete requests, but can always at least handle some of the pre-chat intake – asking all of the questions an agent might ask up front, or surface knowledge you have already curated.

Allow Self-Service of High Volume Requests
Whether through the community, the IVR, a chat bot or all of the above, consider if there are requests that can be moved to self service. Some inquiries, such as policy inquiries, can be handled by simply extending your knowledge base. Some inquiries, like order status, might be able to be handled via voice prompts or your community with a straight-forward integration to a back end system. You may have been putting this off because it was too large or complicated, but we’d love to help you consider what could be done quickly.

Provide a Framework for At-home Agents
If you haven’t done so already, work out your VPN solution to extend your network to at-home agents. Consider an approach that extends your telephony to the agent’s workstation so that calls route to software rather than physical hardware. Build out your at-home expectations for agents and make them aware of how they will be measured.

Tier Agents Correctly
You may need to rethink agent tiering to meet new demands. Perhaps at-home agents no longer have access to every system or are working on sub-par workstations. If so, make sure that you are directing every issue that they can handle to them, leaving the more enabled agents to handle the others.

Build Your Internal Knowledge Base
Start a policy where no question can be directly answered–instead supervisors must answer with a knowledge article. If one does not exist, the supervisor should create the article and send that to the agent. Iterate on those articles as needed.

Simplify the Agent Desktop
With agents working at home, they might not have the dual monitor setup used within your call center. Luckily, it is relatively easy to create a profile and page layouts for cases, contacts, and accounts that are optimized for smaller screens.

Direct Agents Through Complicated Processes
For the kinds of requests which take several steps and generally prompt agents to ask for help from colleagues or supervisors, consider whether guided flows or agent macros might be used to direct the agent through the right steps, in the right order.

Limit Swivel-Chair by Consolidating Applications
You’ve already done some of this, but may have stopped short because the integrations seemed too complicated or the payback wasn’t there. Perhaps this situation has changed some of the variables. Let us work with you to consider whether there’s a good short-term approach to help consolidate the agent experience and begin the process of iterating to your long-term approach right away.

Review Escalation Processes
Your agents are likely used to face to face interactions with supervisors for challenging questions or approvals.  Now, you must be able to handle the escalations virtually. Consider a change to your escalation process that easily incorporates instant messaging via chat or even 1:1 video with the supervisor. Set clear expectations for how and when an agent “raises their hand” for assistance. 

PolSource has been helping customers do all of the above on the Salesforce platform for over 13 years, and we’re here to help now. We would be happy to talk with you about how we can help you navigate this unprecedented time in the contact center. Our experience and resources  point you in the right direction and provide some hands to help with the load.

Reach out to us today.