Most customer support teams agree: speedy service equals satisfied customers. This is why so many support teams value First Response Time (FRT). Simply put, FRT measures how long a customer waits for a response after contacting a company.
No wonder agents are rewarded for fast FRTs and closed cases! When speed is prioritized agents strive to close cases quickly. As Salesforce notes, KPIs for support teams have traditionally “revolved around how many calls you could close and how quickly you could close them.”
This article will outline the problem facing organizations today, and 3 solutions to drive responsiveness in your service team.
Here’s the problem:
FRT (also known as Initial Response Time or IRT) measures only how quickly agents reply the first time.
- FRT does not measure the quality of the response, the time to follow-up responses, or the resolution.
- Measuring only FRT encourages agents to close cases prematurely–before the issue is resolved.
- Unresolved issues often translate to frustrated customers who open additional cases in additional channels. This creates a new problem: duplicate cases.
- The metrics show a quick FRT, but case volume skyrockets as customer satisfaction plummets.
This is a self-defeating cycle: when the new (duplicate) case arrives a new agent will try to respond quickly. Yet the new agent must read the case history before responding. Agents work harder to close cases. Meanwhile, extra work implies the need to hire more people.
Striving for Responsiveness
So how do you solve this problem? Support teams must strive for responsiveness.
Responsiveness values speed while accounting for quality – the interactions that define the service experience for the customer. True responsiveness, which makes the customer feel valued throughout the case lifecycle, encompasses all interactions until an issue is resolved, not simply the first interaction.
By focusing on responsiveness, support teams can organize workflows by prioritizing the right cases and measuring follow-up.
Support teams who measure only FRT often work from a list view that sorts cases from old to new; an agent may use the “last updated” date/time field, perhaps combined with a status filter. Unfortunately, it is hard to create a list view that allows agents to work cases regardless of whether the case is new, waiting for customer response, or in need of a follow-up.
1) Create “Follow-Up On” Date/Time and “Next Steps” Fields
To prevent stale cases, set a short, reasonable follow-up time based on the next steps. To start you’ll need to create two new fields on the Case object: a “Next Steps” text field and a “Follow-Up On” date/time field. Add the fields both to the appropriate page layouts and case list views.
With the “Next Steps” field, an agent can write a short directive to move the case forward. Pairing these fields with case status offers a comprehensive view of priorities from the list view.
Using automation such as Workflow or Process Builder, Salesforce can check follow-up times and notify agents when that time is reached.
Now when the agent views the case, she/he won’t see any new customer correspondence; instead, she/he will see the notes in the “next steps” field. When responding again, the agent can set a new “follow-up on” value and redefine “next steps.”
2) Measure Time with Support Team and the Customer
Depending on your product or service, you may find that your customers respond quickly to the first interaction, but slowly to subsequent interactions. On the other hand, you may find that agents are quick to respond to cases that can be easily resolved, but not so quick to respond to cases that require investigation, such as fact-gathering or reaching out to other departments or vendors.
Knowing how much time a case is with support versus the customer identifies gaps in the support process. For example, you may notice that customers take several days to respond, implying the need to create better follow-up procedures. You may also find that certain agents or specific products result in bottlenecks, potentially creating a need for training or a shift of resources.
One approach would be to use Entitlements and Milestones for your support process. Configuring Entitlements and Milestones is way beyond the scope of an article here, but there is a good Trailhead module as well as the standard Salesforce documentation to provide the details. When reporting on this, you will be measuring whether you met the promised service level agreement, essentially getting the “support team” side of the metrics.
If you do choose that Entitlements and Milestones are going to fit your needs, Salesforce provides functionality for Recurring Milestones. (Here’s a great post on how to setup Recurring Milestones that Ben wrote.) In short, you can use recurring milestones as a means for your teams to provide recurring follow-up touchpoints during the lifecycle of the case.
While Entitlements and Milestones allow you to specify how your team will serve the customer, my pet peeve is that it doesn’t take into account the twists and turns that happen when your customers respond, the back and forth.
“I will provide an update tomorrow between 1 PM and 2 PM.”
The customer responds back with new information 5 minutes after getting this message. But because the next milestone on the case isn’t until tomorrow starting at 1 PM, the new customer comment isn’t considered but the support team is meeting the service level agreements.
If you are looking for an out-of-the-box solution that provides accurate metrics and a consistent system for prioritizing cases, I suggest evaluating our product Case Flags by Internet Creations.
3) Case Flags
Case Flags promotes responsiveness by prioritizing the next action agents should take to resolve a customer issue. The Lightning Utility Bar displays cases in priority order. Agents can focus on urgent cases or cases waiting for a response until all cases have been resolved: inbox zero! When a customer responds, cases will be flagged in the utility bar in priority order.
Using Case Flags for follow-up ensures a seamless agent experience. When cases are flagged at a follow-up time, the timer starts again in the Utility Bar.
Also, there’s no need to struggle for responsiveness metrics. Case Flags History Tracking makes it easy to measure the time between interactions, measuring both the time with support and time waiting for the customer as well as specifics about each interaction.
Support teams must strive for responsiveness, which values speed while accounting for quality – the interactions that define the service experience for the customer. This post has covered 3 solutions that drive responsiveness for service teams using Salesforce Cases; by focusing on responsiveness, support teams can organize workflows by prioritizing the right cases and measuring follow-up.