An Insider's Guide to Avaya's Customer Service Transformation – People, Processes, and Technology

In a previous blog Gail Kibbe touched on the evolution of the Avaya Support Website (ASW), which has been key to improving Avaya customer support. If you are responsible for Customer Support at your company the following may hold some ideas on how to improve the quality of your customer support as well as employee engagement.

In 2012, Avaya Client Services (ACS) embarked on a new management strategy to transform the culture of customer (or as we call them clients) care. It worked! In just one year, we saw the following phenomenal results from our efforts:

  • Customer satisfaction score up 14%
  • Net Promoter Score up 38%
  • Employee engagement up 12%
  • Web utilization climbed above 61% and call volume fell 39%
  • Time to resolution shortened by 17%
  • Issue backlog was cut in half

Avaya accomplished these performance leaps through revolutionary changes that brought together people, processes, and technology in innovative ways.

People and Processes
We have a vision that our ACS employees work on new problems only. What we found over the past year is that our employees are fantastic at solving new customer issues–issues that have no known solutions. In early 2012, a large percentage of customer requests coming to engineers were related to common repetitive issues that are more easily resolved via automation. ACS put a lot of effort into web, automation, and tool development to enable fast collaboration via the web on new customer issues. The vision of working on new problems really caught on with our employee base. Our agents on the web, on chat, on video, on the phone were energized to be working on these new issues vs. rehashing old ones. The corollary is that as soon as we solve issues we publish them immediately to our customer base and our partners. ACS invested in employee training on innovative approaches to resolving issues such as parallel outside-in and bottom-up diagnostic methods, which have proven to be very effective.

Understanding clients is an essential ingredient in providing an all-around excellent support experience. “Capsule teams” let clients interact with the same group of engineers each time. We encourage every employee to feel like they’re a client advocate. The “Adopt a Customer” program enables employees to gain a deep understanding of a client’s business. Promoting this high level of interaction is great for clients. Avaya measures the quality of every contact to minimize inconsistencies. Whenever a client interacts with a support agent, Avaya Speech Analytics is conducting real-time assessments so that Avaya can continuously identify opportunities for improvement in staff knowledge and professionalism.

Total outages are routed to the Avaya Emergency Response Team which has a goal of getting 85% of outages up and running in two hours or less. To accomplish this, Avaya made changes to the way cases were escalated. Now the decision is in a client’s hands – when they click the “Total Service Outage” button on the ASW, the case is immediately escalated to the ER team.

Technology
Avaya dramatically improved the time it takes to resolve client issues by taking full advantage of Avaya Contact Center and Collaboration solutions. The first investment was in Avaya’s knowledgebase to ensure it contained the wealth of solution articles required to solve all the “old” problems. Over 1,500 new solution articles are added monthly. Clients needing help accomplishing a task can tap into the large collection of new Avaya How-To videos and the ASW Product Hub, which brings all relevant resources together in one location.

A big leap forward was Ava the Avaya support avatar based on Avaya Automated Chat. Ava, covered in a previous blog, helps clients find known solutions in the blink of an eye. Ava has been able to instantly answer 40%+ of initial client inquiries and she gets smarter every day. If Ava doesn’t find a known solution, she will bring an agent into the conversation via Web Chat, Web talk or soon Web Video (All based on Avaya collaboration solutions). Clients don’t have to repeat information to an agent — Ava saves a detailed history of the client’s issue and attempted resolutions, giving Avaya technicians a head start in finding answers or creating a support request.

For complex issues agents can use collaboration tools to “swarm” or pull experts into a client conversation, instead of transferring clients between agents. Once an agent resolves an issue they will document the solution and within hours it is available in the Avaya knowledgebase for others to leverage. Clients also have the option for an agent to call them back. They simply ask Ava to submit a pre-populated support request, and Avaya Callback Assist saves their place in queue until an agent can call.

Avaya also invested in a host of tools to accelerate remote troubleshooting. Service Level Agreement Monitor and Secure Access Link eliminate time-consuming investigation by monitoring Avaya systems and providing secure access.

Transforming customer service at Avaya is part of an ongoing effort to redefine world-class service. Customers are reacting positively to the new vision. They’re saying that they can easily find solutions on our website. They see the difference in the attitude of our team. They see the difference in professionalism. They see the difference in knowledge and collaboration.

The results are measurable improvements in business metrics, employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction.

Do you see ways that can enhance your relationship with your customer while improving your business model?

Pat Patterson

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