Masters of Support: 14 years as a technical support manager

This interview is part of “Masters of Support”, an interview-series by TypeGenie where we speak with experts in customer service.

Rick Hill is a technical support manager at an edtech company, with 14 years of experience in the field. His team of around 40 is based in North Carolina, and they are using Zendesk for managing customer support tickets. We interviewed Rick on his views on leading a support team, with a focus on tips for professionals in the same field.

In this interview you will learn about their team goals, what has recently made the biggest difference for his team, top resources he recommends, and more.

You can listen to the full interview here, and you can read the key highlights below.

How did you get into customer service?

I was actually an end user of an application that we were using in Southern California. And based on that experience, my usage, and working with the software team of the vendor approached me for leading their support team. I knew the application and I took the opportunity, and that’s how I got catapulted into customer service / technical support.

What does your average day look like?

It depends on the time of year, but it’s typically going to start with evaluating key performance for the previous day and week. I send out a daily log summarising our daily performance and any other information that the team should have. After that, it’s going to be helping technicians, with a lot of coaching involved, how to troubleshoot, whether or not cases need to be escalated. And then, I also evaluate based on performance, how we can improve our operations and workloads. We are on Zendesk, so I look at Zendesk and determine whether we can create new automations or triggers so the team would spend less time on manual work and more time focusing on troubleshooting.

In terms of goals, what are you especially looking at?

We look at typical metrics. First Contact Resolution, FCR, would be one, and we also evaluate our customer service CSAT score, which is a big one for us. Fortunately, we have a really high response rate, typically between 28 to 31%. Then we also look at cases which are starting to age out a bit more, especially enterprise-level problems may take a bit longer to resolve.

And what kind of tools do you use typically?

Our ticketing platform is Zendesk where our agents spend most of their time. We also use Slack for team communication, which has been huge for us. We also use some Atlassian products, Confluence for internal wikis as well as Jira for internal tickets. We also use 15Five for a lot of one-on-one tracking.

The biggest difference makers have been Slack from a team communication point of view, and Confluence has been fantastic.

What changes have made the biggest differences for you recently?

In terms of KPIs in the biggest 6 months, the most differences recently have come from automation triggers that we leverage on Zendesk because it gives agents more time for troubleshooting instead of administration of cases.

Some examples include canned responses for customers in certain situations. They make the messaging consistent and accurate and avoids the agents having to copy and paste a lot.

In addition, we have put in place automations that reach out automatically to customers to see if they have any other questions, so that the agents can mark issues as resolved.

How are you finding Zendesk this far?

I really like the flexibility of the platform whether on organisational or ticket level. The power of the triggers and automations has also been fantastic. Also, it’s a very stable platform and the fact that I can build sandboxes.

The biggest missing feature is Round Robin. I really wish they had this, as it would let us automate more.

At the moment we are not using any marketplace apps.

What are today the most challenging bits of your work?

Knowledge Management with the team would be number one. How to capture all the information coming from our product and development teams, and making it easily accessible to our agents. I’d much rather have having easily accessible information than solely rely on someone’s experience.

In terms of personal development, where do you typically go to?

Apart from general search, if I want to check what other companies are doing, a fantastic slack channel is “Support Driven”. It’s an organisation and I’ve found them a great resource.

What would you recommend that a new customer service manager learns?

Join “Support Driven”, and focus on customer experience: “make the customer delighted”. And get familiar with the metrics, whether they are FCR, CSAT, NPS or something else: make sure to measure them and make sure your team hits them.

And finally, what are the areas you would like to learn more about in support?

Probably the biggest one would be how technical support team can work with customer success, and how they can even be proactive so customers wouldn’t need to even reach out in the first place. This could be working with product level or self-help tools.

Another area would be also how teams are leveraging more automations, machine learning, AI and chatbots.

This interview is part of “Interviews with support professionals” -series by TypeGenie. TypeGenie is a productivity tool for customer service agents. It helps agents write faster, typically saving support teams between 5-20% time and improving response times.

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