No matter how great a manufacturer’s products may be, the way that a company operates and interacts with its stakeholders can really make a difference in customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Gary St. Arnauld, senior support manager at Milestone Systems, has been instrumental in carrying out changes to the Americas-based teams that he leads. This has resulted in a more nimble, efficient support organization over the years. His efforts are credited with helping the company garner SSI’s 2015 Supplier Stellar Service Platinum Award for Technical Support, an honor voted on by installing dealer and integrator readers of the magazine.
In the following interview, St. Arnauld talks about enacting these changes to meet growing demands, working with different teams across the globe and what’s in store for Milestone’s tech support going forward.
What is your view on the value of tech support, and how the company invests resources to further its growth?
Providing good support is a high priority from upper management. Our software is offered in a full portfolio with very comprehensive functionality at the high end that involves more sophisticated and complex projects, so it’s absolutely necessary for us to provide top-notch support – and we have invested in the people and tools we need to perform at the highest levels.
How is tech support structured?
We take a little different approach than other organizations when it comes to delegating support tasks. We have a tiered-support model and organize our resources into Frontline, Backline and Sustaining Engineering teams. The Frontline support team can handle a wide range of L1/L2 cases, which makes up the vast majority of our total support volume. If it gets to a point where the issue is determined to be in our licensed software [L3], it gets handed off to Backline, which is a more specialized team.
Level 1 cases refer to solutions to issues that can be found in a knowledge-based article available in our online system, or in a manual or guide. Second level issues are where we begin to do some investigation and troubleshooting. We work with the partner or customer to identify if this is an issue in our application or in the environment - a network issue, operating issue or server-side issue that’s contributing to the problem. For level 3 cases we do test setups to ascertain whether it’s a software issue or not. If it’s determined to be something with the software, the case is sent to our engineering team who create a ‘hotfix’.
How do you measure the quality and quantity of the tech support service?
In order to be successful on this front, an organization needs to measure many aspects of how it performs. In terms of tech support, two measures we strive to improve are average handle time [AHT] and average speed of answer [ASA].
AHT is highly dependent on being able to quickly identify the root problem. To help with that, we have been very selective over time about the staff we hire and invest a lot in their training so they can identify issues quickly and accurately. Another goal is reducing call wait time. As volume increased we needed to keep pace with the rate of business growth. And one of the places we had fallen behind was in our speed to answer; we could see it in our metrics and survey results. So Milestone invested in additional resources and newer technologies to help route phone calls, and we were able to reduce our speed-to-answer by 30% from 2014, and that number continues to drop.
Milestone also recently invested in a global communications system for auto-callback. It allows callers to select an option to receive a call back when a tech support representative is ready as opposed to waiting on hold. They don’t lose their place in line and they don’t have to be on the phone the whole time.
Read the full interview with Gary St. Arnould about Milestone Systems' superior tech support service.