How Refined Troubleshooting Leads to Extraordinary Service

Published by Jeff Medley on

Out With The Old, In With The New

For decades, support organizations have responded to customers’ requests by saying, “Of course we’ll try everything under the sun to fix that problem for you,” no matter the need. That’s why it may come as a surprise that Netfor — a company that constantly enhances its practices and reputation for extraordinary service — draws a clear line when it comes to solving the problems our clients’ customers have with their technology. In simple terms, Netfor’s agents don’t perform traditional troubleshooting to solve unknown, newly discovered problems or requests.

That isn’t an unwillingness to meet a client’s need. It represents a best practice we follow and have helped develop over decades of resolving service desk calls for clients. It’s a best practice that improves the efficiency of what we do for our clients and protects their own people, infrastructure, security and reputation. However, it does warrant some explanation.

Emerging Technologies

Once computers and computer-driven technology began to appear in businesses, troubleshooting arose as a key component of maintaining the uptime of that equipment. Because it was new and unfamiliar to users, someone had to be able to identify and solve problems that occur. Traditionally, it’s been a step-by-step process to narrow down the root cause and attempt a fix. Unfortunately, that kind of troubleshooting can take a substantial amount of time and doesn’t always end up with a satisfying result.  A more sensible process would involve increasing everyone’s level of knowledge to allow more efficient responses to similar requests in the future, reducing what we call the customer’s Total Cost of Ownership.

A Different Approach To Troubleshooting

As Netfor gained experience with more clients and their products through our service desk, we began to recognize patterns that led us to replace traditional troubleshooting with a more efficient process.

Today, when one of our service desk agents receives a call from a user who is reporting an issue, they draw upon a database of primary knowledge articles. Those articles address the most common issues users report, cataloged by the exact language the caller used, and provide step-by-step instructions for guiding the user to the solution. If a particular step fails to accomplish the desired outcome or fix, the article then directs the agent to other articles addressing that specific exception, creating an efficient web of interconnected knowledge that is constantly growing and found using the callers’ exact words.

The Reality

Callers don’t realize they’re speaking with an outsourced service desk, or that the agent is looking at a robust database of knowledge articles. All they know is that the friendly, cooperative voice on the other end is helping them fix their problem.

But what about those situations when the solution to the caller’s problem cannot be found in the knowledge articles? That’s when Netfor collects basic information and immediately escalates the call to experts at the client, informing them that we’ve encountered what we call an “unknown error or request” It’s a step that’s a key component of Netfor’s DNA and one our agents only use when related knowledge has been exhausted.

Better Troubleshooting Means Increased Productivity

After all, what would be the alternative? Our agents would have to troubleshoot the issue without having the client’s own product knowledge. We don’t want them to spend hours on Google trying to track down a questionable solution posted by an unknown user. We don’t want them to recommend that a user install someone’s patch that’s potentially packed with malware. In simple terms, we don’t want to create a bigger problem for our client and their users. That’s why we collect as much relevant information as we can and escalate the issue to the client’s subject matter experts so they can research it and make the right decision about remediation. It’s also why we hire people who are extraordinary at customer service instead of self-proclaimed tech geeks.

We’re still troubleshooting, but we’re doing it through a significantly more efficient and highly refined approach. The user’s problems get solved more quickly, so they’re happy. The call takes less time, so our clients pay less for them. Plus, they don’t have to worry about problems created by half-baked fixes and inconsistent best efforts. By bringing a proven, best practices approach to providing support, we’ve improved the process for all involved — the client, their user, and yes, the Netfor team.

What are your thoughts on Netfor’s methodology?


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