Support Operations

Rae Ann Bruno
Can Your Support Center Compete with Siri?
Written by Rae Ann Bruno Feb 03, 2012

Your customers’ satisfaction is based on your ability to meet their expectations. I believe that if you put your “customer hat” on and consider your own expectations, you will have a much better idea of what your customers expect. Think about your expectations of your phone, tablet, TV, or cell phone service. Have your expectations changed in the last three years? The last year? The last six months? My guess is, yes, they’ve changed, and they change each time you hear of a new feature or service that makes something faster, easier, more stable, safer, more accurate, or more convenient.

It’s no different for your customers. Their expectations continue to grow as the products and services that they use outside of work change their opinions of what is being provided at work. Yet, it goes beyond features such as bandwidth, size, and quality. It’s more about what those features are allowing the users to accomplish, how they impact their lives.

Let’s take the iPhone 4S as an example. Here is a paragraph about Siri from the Apple website:

It helps you do the things you do every day.

Ask Siri to text your dad, remind you to call the dentist, or find directions, and it figures out which apps to use and who you’re talking about. It finds answers for you from the web through sources like Yelp and WolframAlpha. Using Location Services, it looks up where you live, where you work, and where you are. Then it gives you information and the best options based on your current location. From the details in your contacts, it knows your friends, family, boss, and coworkers. So you can tell Siri things like “Text Ryan I’m on my way” or “Remind me to make a dentist appointment when I get to work” or “Call a taxi” and it knows exactly what you mean and what to do.

Just the first line alone is enough:”It helps you do the things you do every day.” Isn’t that exactly what our customers want from us at work? They just want to have help with things they do every day. However, they want it to be easy to find the easy as asking Siri!

Apple probably had many brainstorming sessions trying to guess what people would ask Siri and determining how she would provide the answer. I’m sure they researched their customers’ expectations as well – they could have analyzed feedback from previous services, looked at comments in the service desk ticket history, considered requests for new features, and evaluated other historical data to make sure they were covering everything. Now that Siri's being used by customers, they are learning even more about their customers' expectations and about future enhancements to the product (continual service improvement).

Understanding expectations isn’t solely the responsibility of the support center. All areas of IT have responsibility in this. I will touch on the other IT areas’ roles for this in subsequent blog posts. However, today, let’s focus on support. How can we meet customer expectations for help with their daily responsibilities, tasks, and deadlines? As a foundation, here are two key elements for success. Remember that:

  • You support business and people, not technology.

Understand that it’s not about the technology and features of your services. It’s about what your customers are trying to accomplish. Most Apple customers who love Siri aren’t raving about the technological features of the device. They’re raving about what Siri is doing for them – how it affects their daily lives. As the examples in the Apple blurb show, they want to be able to do things more easily, more quickly, more conveniently, and without any “hiccups.” We need to make sure we "get it.” We need to understand our organization’s business and what our users are doing on a daily basis. We need to save them time and help them to “do it all,” by making it convenient and easy.

  • You must speak the language of the business.

If I’m calling you about not being able to get something done in my job, I don’t want a lesson on correct technological terminology; I want to get back to work! Please hear what I’m saying and talk to me like Siri – answer my question in terms that I can understand – get me back to work, help me do my job...more easily, faster, and successfully.

Your support center is your company’s Siri. Your responsibility is to prepare Siri (your support center) for the first two goals. I’d like to have two things from you.

First, tell me how you are helping your support team to understand the business and speak the language of the customer with every customer contact (or how you can in the future). We would love to hear your examples.

Next, please add to the list. What else does it take to help our customers with what they do every day at work?

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