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Secrets to Successful Global Support: Part 3

Serving customers is complicated, and it’s only getting more complicated. According to recent ICMI research, 73% of contact center leaders have noticed an increase in the complexity of customer contacts. Another 62% expect to increase the number of agents supporting multiple channels within the next year. Customers are more empowered than ever and have more unique needs than ever—including the desire to be served in their language, channel, and time of choice.

Earlier this year we spent some time chatting about the challenges of supporting customers in today’s global environment. What’s the best way to serve customers across all time zones? That’s one of the questions we grappled with during an #ICMIchat this summer. It was a lively discussion, and one that left many participants with even more questions (questions that couldn’t be covered in 140 characters or less). So, as we’re looking back on some of the burning questions of 2015, we decided it would be useful to answer those questions and help you prepare for a successful 2016! Over the next several weeks we’ll be highlighting a series of interviews with industry experts.  They’ll share their thoughts on what it takes to provide great global customer service, what to try, what to avoid, and more. 

In the first part of this series we shared our interview with consultant Scott Sachs of SJS Solutions.  Last week, we featured our Training and Development Manager, Elaine Carr. This week we’re bringing you Kevin Hegebarth perspective.

Read the interview below and then tell us what you think! How does your team approach global support? What tips, questions, or advice do you have? Tell us in the comments!

Look for part three in this series on our blog next week!

ICMI: What do you think is more important--prompt service, or accurate service?

Kevin: It’s important to balance the two. Prompt, inaccurate service is often a leading driver of customer dissatisfaction. Accurate service that takes too long isn’t much better.

ICMI: Should every service channel be staffed for 24/7 support? How do expectations vary by channel?

Kevin: No; this is unrealistic and expensive. Even the most demanding customers realize that not every channel is worth staffing 24/7. Since e-mail response, for example, is usually measured in hours if not days, this is one channel that doesn’t necessarily need to be staffed round-the-clock. At least one realtime channel – voice, text, chat – on the other hand, should be.

ICMI: One challenge of global support: a team member in one time zone picks up customer's ticket in another, then drops it when they leave for the day. What’s the best way to coordinate efforts when your teams are in different time zones?

Kevin: Ideally, unresolved tickets should “follow the sun” and be handed off to the next team to the west. This provides uninterrupted service for the customer and helps to ensure that their issue is handled as expeditiously as possible.

ICMI: Do you think customers should be routed to support reps who are in their time zone? How feasible is this for the contact center?

Kevin: Not necessarily. Customers should be routed to the support rep that is best equipped to resolve the customer’s issue, no matter what time zone. That said, what time zone(s) your company operates in is completely irrelevant to the customer. The customer’s perception of how quickly and accurately their issue is resolved is all that matters.

ICMI: If a customer reaches out for support after business hours in their time zone, should a team member in another location pick up the contact?

Kevin: If your company doesn’t offer 24/7 service (and many don’t), your support policy needs to explicitly state what your support hours are. 24/7 service, by definition, means that team members in other time zones will have to pick up the contact.

ICMI: Do customers today expect 24/7 service? When did this expectation shift?

Kevin: Unless stated otherwise, customer expectations will be for 24/7 service and don’t be surprised if they make their purchase decisions partly based on this. We live in a highly connected world in which every event traverses the globe in mere seconds. Customers have elevated themselves to “mission critical” status as a result.