Support and Empowerment

Support and Empowerment

support and empowerment at articulate infographic

I work on the support team at Articulate, where we’re dedicated to delivering support that’s just as awesome as our software. And one of the things I love about our team is how we’re constantly working to improve.

We improve by using data to drive changes to our processes. And we can do that because of the autonomy we’re afforded as a core part of Articulate’s culture. Both our culture and our approach to customer support are directed by the idea that people have a natural inclination to learn and to decide how to accomplish their work. On the support team we foster a culture of autonomy for both our employees and our customers.

How Do We Do It?

To boost customer autonomy, we’ve designed our E-Learning Heroes community and our knowledge base to give customers rich resources for course building and technical issues. Nothing makes us feel better than knowing customers can solve a problem quickly by finding what they need.

When customers can’t find what they need on their own, they come to us. The support team responds to various inquiries through cases and community discussions. Our goal is to help every customer quickly and accurately. We allocate time and resources for our team members to become product experts, stay in touch with e-learning trends, and develop effective responses for common issues.

But how can we tell if our strategies are serving customers’ needs? We measure our success through communication and data. And what’s cool about analyzing data at Articulate is how it directs our decision-making. Let me tell you about how we’re using customer surveys to change how we do things and boost our customer satisfaction.

Evolution of Support

As our support team has grown, we’ve adapted our data collection and analysis to make sure that we don’t lose touch with our customers. We’ve always looked at basic metrics such as case volume, which products spark the most conversation, and which issues are most prevalent. But we knew we’d have to look deeper into our relationship with our customers to take our support up a notch.

That’s why we implemented a new customer survey program, with detailed questions about:

  • Customer happiness: On a scale of 1-10, is the customer satisfied after his or her conversation with the Support Team? Would they recommend Articulate products to a friend or colleague?
  • Case resolution time: Did the Support Team solve the case within the first conversation (whether that conversation is email, phone, or other)? How long did it take to resolve the issue?
  • Comments: Does the customer have any other comments to share about his or her experience with Articulate support?

Comments are the juicy part! They really help us understand why customers might be happy—or unhappy!—and help us identify when a case needs more follow-up.

Where does that leave us today? Here’s what our surveys show:

Case Volume: anywhere from 600 to 1000 newly opened cases weekly; Customer Satisfaction Score: high of 8.68 out of 10 in 2015, current 30 day average of 8.45; Cases Solved on First Contact: 69.11% last 30 days

Taking Action

This customer feedback immediately helped us review the way we respond to customers so that we’re providing more targeted and helpful info right up front. We also used this information to implement new case escalation practices between the different specialized groups in the support team. Our entire team handles cases as efficiently as possible because we’re connecting the customer to the group that’s most qualified to solve their challenge.

Each working group within the support team has complete autonomy over how it manages its cases. Of course that’s part of our overall culture of autonomy, but in the support team that specifically means that each team can manage its employees and their work based on its specific needs.

Focal Points

Right now we’re focused on one key metric: First Contact Resolution (FCR), or the percentage of cases we’re able to resolve in our first response to our customers. We care about this metric because we want to be able to help customers the first time, so they can get the answers they need and get back to work. Right now, our FCR rate is around 70% and it’s growing.

How are we improving that number? We’re taking a closer look at cases that weren’t solved on first contact to see where we can improve. This process starts with raw data provided by the customer in a survey response to the question, “How many times did you have to contact us before your support case was resolved?”

We are looking at those cases that weren’t immediately resolved to understand why not, and we’ve identified some angles that are actionable so that we can move the needle on this measurement. For example, we’re exploring whether we should ask better questions in the case submission form, or provide more information in our initial response.

Support is About More than Data

Ultimately, we focus on measuring data so that we can understand the status of our support process. But we don’t just rely on metrics. Our support team takes a holistic approach to support, so we stay in personal touch with our customers through emails, conferences, chats, forum posts and social media. We take the time to listen to what they’re saying and why.

Just last week, I was working with a customer who repeatedly stated how blown away he was by our resources and with getting a person to respond so quickly and carefully to his questions.  When a customer replies to a case and says, “You saved the day!” you know where you stand.  When you end a call and both of you are laughing, you don’t need a survey to know how you did. Sure, the data is important, but it does not rank above the personal interactions we share every day!

I love working at Articulate because of our focus on supporting customer success and because I have the freedom to define the way I contribute to that success. From day one, I’ve had the tools I need to get the job done. I’m happy to be a part of a team that gets people the help they need, no matter what. That truly is empowerment.