In customer service organizations, collaboration should take place around cases and content, and should involve not only collaboration between customers and customer service agents, but internal collaboration within the enterprise. Internal collaboration has quantifiable benefits as measured by increased organizational productivity and efficiency. For cases, collaboration helps increase first contact resolution, decrease handle times and increase customer satisfaction. For content, collaboration helps evolve content to be more relevant, accurate, complete, and in line with customer demand. Some of the technologies that help foster collaboration around cases and content include:

For cases:

  • Presence indicators, instant messaging, and video chat. These allow customer service agents to connect in real time with subject-matter experts, supervisors, managers, or other agents having the necessary skills to help resolve a question.
  • Collaborative workspaces. These allow agents and subject-matter experts to share documents and logs about the customer issue, the troubleshooting process, and the results in real time.
  • Activity streams. These allow agents and subject-matter experts to subscribe to a case and receive notifications of all changes and additions to a case.
  •  Remote support. This allows customer service agents to invite subject-matter experts and specialty agents to troubleshoot software or hardware with a customer.

For content:

  • Content ratings. These allow poorly rated content to be flagged to be reworked and highly rated content to be promoted.
  • Feedback on content. This flags gaps, inaccuracies, and suggestions to make content more relevant.
  • Collaborative authoring workflows. These allow agents to evolve content in real time, with the customer’s language in mind. This can take the form of collaborative authoring processes like KCS or providing agents with wiki-like access to their content and empoweing agents to make changes as needed.
  • Activity streams. These allow all comments on a piece of content to be easily synthesized so that it can be evolved by an editor with complete visibility into suggestions for improvement.

However, technology is not the only part of the equation to make customer service organizations more collaborative. These organizations are notoriously structured, where issues are captured by tier one agents and formally escalated to higher tiers. And specialized agents act according to pre-established processes conforming to rigid SLAs.

Becoming more collaborative is a hard process and involves organization transformation, where agents are measured and motivated using a different set of metrics than tiered customer service organizations. Collaborative organizations focus on customer satisfaction and first contact resolution (FCR) and the importance of speed of answers and handle times is lessened. Collaboration also means that agents take collective responsibility for the accurate and complete resolution of cases and the health of the content that they use, typically yielding better customer loyalty results.