22 January 2014
by: Khaled Tewfik
VoIP service customers, whether they are using SIP trunking or a hosted PBX, tend to expect that, when it comes to customer service, they will get the same quality they expect for reliability and availability. This presupposition may make sense – a service provider that focuses on reliability would naturally emphasize customer service, right? The reality of the industry is actually far from this expectation. Many service providers may emphasize technological availability, but have customer service setups that are not nearly as mature or capable, leaving clients with deflated expectations and plenty of frustration.
Looking at telecom expectations
Telecom customers want their service providers to be the types of companies that will bend over backwards to solve their problems. If a telecom falls short in this area, a customer will often move on to a different vendor. However, companies that want to move out of this cycle of disappointment need to identify telecom providers that are capable of meeting their service expectations.
Generally speaking, there are two types of satisfied telecom customers – organizations that have actually received a high level of support, or companies that have not had serious problems that they've taken to their service provider. The problem is that businesses will eventually experience the kinds of issues that will test their service providers, and organizations need to know that their vendors are up to the task.
Part of the problem is that it can be difficult for customers to gain a clear understanding of how their service provider handles support and service until a serious issue arises. The other concern is that many businesses associate reliability and availability with customer service. While there is a tie between these areas, the availability is technological, while the support side is about interaction, processes and knowledge. It is possible for telecom companies to have a technically proficient setup but still neglect customer service. As such, businesses need to shift their expectations about customer service and take a closer look at how some of the best providers handle this aspect of operations.
What to look for in support excellence
Vendors that emphasize customer service focus on combining technical expertise with quality processes to ensure a customer leaves support conversations not only feeling like their issue was resolved, but that they can have confidence in the vendor when it comes to addressing future problems. A customer-focused approach is also important. This means being able to collaborate with tech-savvy clients who want to know the cause of the problem and how it was resolved or stepping back and just solving issues for customers that don't care about how things get solved and just want the issues dealt with. Either way, all telecom clients share a need for confidence and assurance, and support excellence creates this environment of trust.
To a great extent, leading companies like babyTEL create this trust by introducing Level 4 engineers to the support chain.
Introducing the untouchables
Level 4 engineers are among the most knowledgeable and skilled technology experts within an organization. They are called untouchables because most organizations silo them behind closed doors in a three-tiered support model. In this setup, Level 1 and Level 2 experts handle basic problems and forward more complex issues to Level 3 experts. If these engineers can't solve the issue though, the customer is usually given a rote response like, "This problem is being handled at the manufacturer/engineering level, thank you for your patience."
The untouchables are the experts who can change and build technology to solve large-scale problems facing telecom customers, like IP fax reliability issues. When customers face problems of this sort, babyTEL uses Level 4 engineers to support them, leaving the client confident that babyTEL can make solutions work, even in places where long-held technological barriers have been in place.