Marcus Ball –
Customer Support Strategies Engineer
Belief: Corporations must focus on creating an environment where as
an organization they present a uniform look and feel to their customers.
Support, Sales, Marketing, PR and Billing departments must adopt a revised
support structure that can better meet both end-user and customer service
requirements by exploiting technology rather than headcount.
In this document I will
attempt to summarize my beliefs, opinions, and qualifications as a Customer
Support Strategies Engineer. It is
my opinion that it is mission critical for companies to reinforce the concept
that “customer service and support are not just done by individual
departments, but the entire organization on a daily basis.”
The way an organization manages the incoming customer requests for
service set the tone for all future interactions. With the creation of a single
department drawing on the resources of the entire company, the organization
simplifies the effort required to maintain image, consistency in information
collection and distribution, and statistically reportable quality of service.
consolidation of support, technology, and customer service resources is quickly
becoming a requirement for Internet companies needing to keep up with the widely
distributed Internet computing communities they service. During my 13 year of
professional development I have focused on gained considerable experience in the
areas of Customer Contact Management.
Defining the various levels of support and customer service in
many diverse environments.
Analyzed methods of implementing and consolidating
Technical and Customer Support Services so organization might best evolve.
- Email Outsource Support
Helpdesk providing telephone and email support services to a 16 language
customer base with a 15 million end user community supported in 4 different
languages. – Commtouch Inc.
- Email and Telephone support
center servicing a Web based and POP3 Business Email and Domain registration
– Commtouch Inc.
- Desktop Support Helpdesk servicing 300+ onsite users and offering
telephone, Email, Interactive remote support services to 1000+ additional remote
users. – Gartner Group
- Customer Contact call center handling or escalating approximately
300 thousand calls annually and servicing internal associates, potential
customers and existing customers with services costing a minimum or $25,000. - Gartner Group/Dataquest
Information Center servicing all internal departments and processing all
operator calls. - Gartner Group/Dataquest
Internet/Telephone Contact Center providing support for web and CD Rom based
software. - Gartner Group/Dataquest
Information Outsource Site providing High Speed Laser Print and MicroFiche
services with a 4 to 48 hour turnaround on approx 10,000 jobs daily.
- First Financial Management
Night Club door security team and processing 350 unique charged entries nightly
while maintaining customer safety and public relations. -
Red Lion Hotels and Inns
star Business Restaurant with a maximum occupancy of 117 seats, the #1 Sunday
Brunch in the Bay Area for 5 years running, and an average turnover of 400
covers daily. - Red Lion Hotels and Inns
and select the proper mix of technical and customer support to maximize service
levels and minimize support costs?
the exploration of electronic data transfer over transportation of data using
tape media. Exploited the early
development of Email and internet technology to improve productivity and
Financial Management Company/FDC
and assisted in the developed and migrated of the entire western region to a
customized PC Contact tracking system.
- First Financial
technical skills by actually working in different support centers to better
understand their daily operations. - All
technical research and study as a requirement of the position held, focused
on providing solutions to actual live contact centers situations. -
created, developed and evolved all customer service strategies for the
bMessaging service. Creating a fully functional Email and telephone contact
center in a 3 month period.
– Commtouch Inc.
technology instead of manpower by spearheading the development of tiering, and
internet based support to reduce cost and allow the addition of telephone
support as a service option. –
Designed ACD and call
handling process for the entire Technical and Customer support services
Developed Internet support
sites and implemented new technologies and planned the implementation of future
technologies to reduce support costs. Emphasized monitoring of statistics over
“feeling”, determined and continually re-evaluated support needs applying
technology when available. –
Group/Dataquest, First Financial Management Company/FDC
databases and web based tools to for Technical support agents to used, removing
the need for paper on the desk. -
tracking to improve customer contact management.
Financial Management Company/FDC
throughout the world are experiencing a technical-support crisis, especially
with increased product complexity and demands for greater reliability. In my
opinion the primary challenge for Internet organizations continues to be
creating a support structure that channels problems and service requests to the
best resource and maintains effective inquiry management while still satisfied
end users needs. I feel that a consolidated service desk approach (see
Note 1) with a simple tiering structure (see Note 2)
offers many advantages over the separated departmental service structure
typically used in the past.
of a consolidated service desk
single point of contact or consolidation of resources
integration of IT processes (e.g., problem management/resolution, change
management, asset management, user management)
consolidation of management data (e.g., approach of sharing data from asset,
change, and problem management among multiple departments)
My earl experience in
the purely customer service driven Food and Beverage, and Retail industries has
allowed me the focused my ability to quickly evaluate situations and satisfy
customer needs by applying creative but effective solutions. The shock of
initially working as the only site customer/post sales liaison supporting the
outsource and processing of financial information for over 100 of Silicon
Valleys companies effectively transitioned my skills service into the corporate
world. More recently 4 years of applied studies working for the Worlds #1 IT
Consulting firm has developed a need to continue expanding my knowledge of
customer contact center development and a need to further apply my skills to
real life situations. My current
position gives me the challenges of designing, and developing a technical
support team with customer service able to evolve with the continuing transition
from a startup into a Fortune 500 corporation.
Advantages of simple tiering structure.
of help desk's many critical roles is to capture and manage incoming calls,
assign severity levels, attempt resolution and then escalate problem trouble
tickets. By funneling inquiries through a Tier 1, an organization can guarantee
accurate call tracking, status reporting and auditing procedures. For this to
work though; it is critical that the support organization develop a policy
outlining that calls be reported to the help desk first before being passed to
local support and, lastly, to a dispatched resource.
help desk's mission is to provide quality and timely resolution of problems.
Tier 1 agents resolve low-level technical and end-user problems (e.g., password
resets and "how to, how much, why" calls) within a specific time
frame. A target time for problem resolution (e.g., five to ten minutes) should
be assigned depending on the analyzed complexity and volume of incoming emails
and calls. If the inquiry is not closed within the target time, it is
automatically escalated to Tier 2.
The first level of support handles calls or email inquiries from end users
and acts as the primary point of contact to the service desk. The purpose of
dividing the support into tiers is to provide a front line; creating the ability
to move call quickly, to capture incoming call information for later data
mining, to assign appropriate severity levels, to manage availability of help
desk analysts, to minimize the calls going into phone mail, and to eliminate the
frustration of end users.
The Tier 2 level provides support services beyond the Tier 1 help desk's
mission or capabilities by handling either problems requiring a greater depth of
knowledge or services that require "arms and legs," such as
installation, maintenance, moves, adds and changes. Tier 2 resources are located
in various IT groups, such as applications, data center and networking, and can
reside inside or outside the IS organization, or even be a help desk outsourcer.
Enterprises must lobby with business managers and get buy-in to make peer
support part of the formal strategy. Tier 2 personnel should interact with
external vendors on a tactical product basis, such as gathering support
information for existing products and downloading bug fixes and upgrades for
Tier 3 Support is generally a small, dedicated group that provides core
services and VIP problem resolution within the organization. Its most important
role should be strategic planning and design, serving as a key focal point for
both operational and customer development planning. Another role of the Tier 3
organization is the investigation, testing and implementation of new products to
fulfill the strategic plan requirements. Tier 3 should work with other internal
departments and vendors strategically planning, and discussing long-term product
directions and technologies that can be integrated or improved on in new product
releases. After new products are implemented, Tier 3 personnel should also serve
as product trainers for the Tier 1 and 2 support groups, the primary users and
beneficiaries of the new technologies. Additionally, Tier 3 serves as the last
point of escalation and resolution for all "trouble tickets"
unresolved at Tier 1 or 2. Tier 3 should not spend more than 5 percent to 10
percent of their time resolving inquiries. Since their main focus is discovering
the "real cause" of failure, Tier 3 should be dedicated to working
with Tier 2 to take preventative measures and handle root cause analysis.
My experience and training has helped me develop the opinion that consistent
timely information distribution and an organized structure for agents to
escalate issues as is the most critical components of a good support strategy. -
consolidation and cooperation across departmental boundaries is not dependant on
job function but on information management and communication. By implementing IT
technology and simple customer service techniques like proactively, and
individual attention into the service/support formula, the organization
automatically will begin to ensure its role as the provider of choice among its