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All functioning companies organize activities into departments with unique responsibilities and goals. IT teams focus on continuous software improvement and system reliability, while customer service teams across the aisle work hard to keep up with changing customer expectations and resolve user issues as efficiently as possible.
While it may not be obvious at first glance, these departments have a common goal: to reduce downtime. The roles and responsibilities are different, but the common goal remains.
Yet, in most enterprises, IT and customer service teams rarely come together, let alone collaborate. In the era of digital transformation, both teams have undergone massive technological changes in recent years, but too often they continue to operate in silos. This division is compounded by the very tools and systems that are meant to help.
Silos hurt both customer service and IT
Picture this: A customer experiences a malfunction with the self-service portal on their insurance company’s website and submits a customer service ticket. An agent receives the ticket in his help desk system and, once he realizes that the problem seems rooted in back-end technology, navigates to a separate internal help desk system to create a ticket with the appropriate IT team. The ticket then ends up in a queue of incidents.
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Once the backend incident is resolved, a developer updates the customer service representative through a separate internal communications platform. The agent must then simultaneously access its help desk ticketing system and communication platform to collect information and send it back to the customer. The multi-step process creates unnecessary friction to solve the problem, while slowing down both the substantive response and communication to the customer.
Even with all the tools an agent has at their disposal, they often have to navigate through different systems and duplicate information across different platforms. Still, important details, such as whether the customer’s issue is a known incident and how long it will take to resolve the issue, aren’t immediately available. This lack of smooth communication causes a chain reaction of delays that ultimately result in dissatisfied customers.
It is imperative that customer service representatives have a streamlined method to escalate customer-impacting disruptions to IT, while maintaining full visibility of the customer ticket. Organizations are already recognizing that broken collaboration processes between customer service and technical teams lead to increased downtime, as well as slower response and resolution times. A different perspective is needed.
How can we give customer service teams the visibility and information they need to quickly answer customer questions? and technology issues escalate from the front lines when the back office team is unaware of a disruption affecting the customer?
The customer is king
It’s time to recognize customers as another, and sometimes the most important, signal of system function. While customer service teams are already doing this, technical teams can also benefit from it. If IT is able to look at customer demand data as a real-time reflection of the health of their digital assets, they will be able to better understand the explosion radius of an issue, prioritize accordingly, and intervene before the impact is felt on a larger scale . To achieve this, an integrated approach is required.
Both customer service and engineering teams have a strong desire to break down silos to improve the customer experience. Once both sides of the aisle can unite around real-time customer data, two-way communication, and a fully integrated tool stack, teams will have what they need to act as a unit and solve problems faster. Breaking down the walls between customer service and technical teams will unlock new levels of collaboration, benefiting not only CS and IT, but also end users and the wider organization.
Justin Shie is CS at PagerDuty
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