Providing Retailers with Innovative, Award-Winning Technical Services
Oct. 31, 2016: By Hedgie Bartol, Retail Business Development Manager, Axis Communications
Being a leader in the IP surveillance space takes more than superior products. At Axis Communications, it is the team behind the product that makes the difference. So does listening to the voices of our retail customers which has always been central to Axis product development and technical support. We hold annual Axis Retail Leadership Forums where product managers exchange ideas with retailers on product features and functionality that would best meet their needs. Ongoing classes held at our Axis Academy help to educate retailers on the Axis portfolio of network video cameras and other products and how to mix and match the best products to achieve their security goals.
As a result of customer feedback, in June of 2015, Axis Communications completely revamped its technical support organization to better support its customers and increase overall customer satisfaction. While the initiative sought to improve technical team performance, a side benefit of the restructuring was that it led to greater job satisfaction which in turn significantly reduced technical support staff turnover. In 2016, the support organization earned the coveted Outstanding Security Performance Award (OSPA) from ASIS.
Two-tiered response leads to quicker resolution
The award-winning technical support services organization is divided into two tiers. The Tier 1 junior team handles first-line support, addressing many of the most basic customer issues. More experienced and knowledgeable Tier 2 technical support specialists (TSS) handle the most challenging and complex product issues. Directing simpler calls to Tier 1 staff frees Tier 2 staff to spend more time troubleshooting, replicating and resolving more complicated customer issues.
This restructuring has helped Axis reduce the amount of time customers have to wait for a technical support professional to address their questions. Today’s inbound support requests are being handled more efficiently and tickets are closing more quickly. The average wait time to reach a Tier 1 support person is between 30 and 45 seconds and 20 percent of the issues are resolved on the first call.
Maintaining historical data on every call
In addition to instituting a two-tiered support organization, Axis also implemented a comprehensive Zoho ticket management system. The system requires Tier 1 team members to create a ticket for every call that comes in, even those that get resolved on the first call. This data becomes part of the customer record so that whenever a call comes in support engineers have access to the customer’s name, the Axis products they use, as well as a complete history of all prior technical issues. As a result, support professionals can give each customer a more personal and helpful experience.
The Zoho system provides Axis with another important business benefit: training intelligence. Management can review the call logs to uncover shortcomings in staff training or product knowledge. For instance, if a support person has had to repeatedly escalate support calls for a particular product the manager can address that knowledge gap by enrolling that professional in additional training courses at the Axis Academy. Or, a spike in customer calls about a particular firmware update might indicate a potential issue with the firmware and spur the support team to take action such as creating self-help documents or white papers to assist customers in resolving common issues about particular products.
Improving technical support proficiency
Axis established a skills matrix to increase the caliber of support professionals assisting our customers while providing a professional growth path for individual engineers. In addition to regular coaching and evaluations, Axis instituted a “tag in” initiative to enhance knowledge transfer and information sharing among team members. If a support engineer is on a customer call and faces a technical issue that is beyond their knowledge or expertise, they can signal the support team leader to conference in a TSS expert on the subject. The original support engineer remains on the call to learn from the more experienced TSS as they resolve the issue. This not only saves time but also helps improve the technical capabilities of the entire team. More experienced professionals mentor and train less experienced team member by including them in real-life support scenarios.
These new procedures are helping to ensure that we maintain our world class support for current and new products, retain the most talented and experienced engineers, and continually increase the proficiency of less experienced technical staff.