Customer Queries Hit an All-time High during Covid-19

When lockdown began, business and service provider customer support teams anticipated query loads would lessen, as businesses closed or operated at reduced capacity.  However, customer queries hit an all-time high during Covid-19. With teams Working From Home (WFH) during lockdown, IT and admin resources were not as readily available as at the office. Though reachable via digital tools, if support was delayed or lacking for any reason, the end-user logged a query with their support partner, like SYSPRO. If you are still experiencing an influx of customer queries, consider these recommendations to better streamline the process:

Simplify processes with technology

During this pandemic, several queries related to upgrading assistance. Customers are looking at their software upgrades, to address issues that they were not able to get to before. Ensuring that your software is up to date will prevent incompatibility issues which can cause unnecessary delay to jobs. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) can assist users in a WFH environment by upping the specifications of their computers so the machine is more responsive, minimizing frustration. Legacy issues do impact efficiency and progress, and while technology can simplify processes, a mind shift is required. By embracing technology, certain ‘old school’ issues are resolved, for instance: printing to PDF circumvents issues with printer drivers and ink cartridges.

There has been a surge in the uptake of solutions enabling work to be stored and accessed off-site, greatly assisting in cases of power cuts and hardware theft or breakage. Support can manage and safeguard their teams’ processes centrally, instead of each machine needing updating and securing. Adopting cloud-based software solutions is one sure way to simplify your processes with technology. Solutions like SYSPRO’s Managed Cloud Services provides immediate value without the upfront investment typically associated with upgrading on-premise IT infrastructure.

Creating support specialists by upskilling users

Time to resolution (TTR) can be greatly expedited if users can diagnose the actual problem and direct it correctly for resolution, within their organization (IT or admin support) or externally (service provider). Several queries originate outside the service provider’s remit of support, for instance, their local printer is not working because it lacks the correct drivers (seeing that a lot of users are working from home using their private machines to connect to VPNs). Not understanding the difference between local issues and software problems, is no fault of the end-user since it is not within their realm of expertise. However, all parties will benefit from upskilling in basic troubleshooting whereby the end-user identifies the issue themselves.

While it is true that support staff are equipped with the experience and training to effectively diagnose issues, the shortage of specialists can create a ‘bottle-neck’ delay in speedy resolutions. Incoming queries are prioritized according to complexity and importance, with tickets requiring 1st, 2nd, or 3rd level support. The reality often is, that each inquiry receives a ticket without the query being further filtered and this does cause a lag in assigned queries. When high priority, complex queries are assigned specialist attention, the reality is, that it then comes down to triage, the most critical cases receive response support first. When the specialists are overloaded, the queries are directed to the generalists, who are not able to solve the problems as fast because it requires complex problem diagnosis. Specialist support during Covid-19 requires the upskilling of more generalists.

Growth is a big part of any business plan, but it is not always easy to know how one should be managing and streamlining all critical business areas. ERP tools provide the processes and tools to manage your data and gain insights into your business by providing a full view of all business activities, including financial, warehouse, manufacturing, and inventory management, across your supply chain and business operations.

Future-proof your business with flexible solutions

WFH, teams may also have to deal with power cuts whilst working remotely, instead of being able to rely on office park generators. Future-proofing your business practically now means considering solutions to ensure consistency in WFH connectively like generators, battery packs, and solar panels. Offering customers more flexibility in their online interactions can create consistency in properly managed expectations. Allowing partners to select an online ticket in order of priority, can also assist admin to streamline their query appropriately. Imputing more specific fields into ticketing can help manage customers’ expectations and create operational efficiencies. Providing a user-friendly dashboard that reflects free capacity available for issue resolution, also helps to allay anxiety during a challenging time in customer’s business eco-systems.

Apart from providing for the hardware and software needs of your team and offering your customers choice and visibility in their interactions with you, you must keep offering solutions specific to the problem. This is difficult when problems are constantly evolving. Utilising Machine Intelligence (MI) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) puts self-help into the hands of the end-user, as a way of upskilling and empowering them. A search engine that effectively maps to previous issues and supplies a user with relevant directives to problem solve, will greatly aid issue resolution at its point of origin, directing complex queries to the top line of support. AI has been developed by SYSPRO (Ken, the bot) that could easily be configured to read into a support database in order to surface existing solutions to current queries it might be asked. This speaks directly to self-help abilities which would lower the load on support desks.

Keeping customers first

25% of the world’s economy will be digital by 2020, if not more in the face of Covid-19’s forced technological acceleration. Yet, the age-old premise of support queries has not changed: each customer still believes that their query is the most important, expecting it to be timeously logged and specifically attended to. Thus, to best streamline the influx of customer queries during Covid-19, simplify processes with technology; support specialists by upskilling users, and future-proof your business with flexible solutions. Applying these recommendations to the flood of customer queries during Covid-19 will ensure that your support team is equipped at the frontlines and that your customer continues to always come first.

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