Ed Shepherdson
SVP, Enterprise Solutions

Computer_Customer_SupportThe United States has held a public debt since 1789. While your accumulation of unresolved customer cases hasn’t been around quite that long, it probably feels that way.  An industry consultant even once compared the two, noting that a backlog “will never get reduced to zero, only grow and shrink over time.”

In my experience helping customer service organizations deal with backlog issues on complex products, there are three main reasons that cases go into backlog in the first place:

1.  The problem is very unique and difficult to triage and solve
2. The agent doesn’t have enough time to find the relevant content to help close the case
3.  The agent doesn’t know what to look for to triage the case

Regardless of the reason, each of these situations leaves the case unsolved and in a backlog queue. And once the accumulation starts growing, it becomes difficult to reduce. Organizations may already house the knowledge and experience that could help solve these cases, but accessibility to this relevant content is not always easy. It’s very possible that the case stuck in the queue could have been resolved as soon as it came in, but this lack of access to relevant content leads to a gradually growing backlog.

There is a new movement within knowledge management that connects content to experts, which can help close a high percentage of these complex cases. For example, using an Insight Solution, the first or second level support person can be connected to a more experienced person who can provide instantaneous guidance on the direction to take in solving the specific problem.

In addition to utilizing an Insight Solution for expertise finding, there are a couple more best practices I suggest for managing backlog:

1.  When a case is closed with a solution, there should be a subsequent search to identify similar cases that are not yet closed.
2. Any time an agent or manager views cases that are in backlog status, execute a search to identify new solutions that have been provided since the last time they were looked at.

These two steps aim to provide content to others as quickly as possible for reuse, which will have a direct impact on customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and the organization’s bottom line.

Is your organization reusing existing knowledge to help resolve customer cases? Are you tapping experts within the company to advise other employees on how to best approach a case? If not, then it’s time to take a look at your knowledge management.  While politicians cannot agree on how to best alleviate national debt, I think we can agree that the key to reducing customer case backlog lies within an organization’s existing collective knowledge.

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About Ed Shepherdson

As the Senior Vice President of Enterprise Solutions, Ed Shepherdson oversees Coveo’s Knowledge 360 Solutions, with a strong focus on the company’s Knowledge 360 Solutions for Customer Service. Mr. Shepherdson brings 30 years of experience in the technology industry to his role with Coveo. Prior to joining Coveo, he spent 18 years at Cognos, now an IBM company, where he most recently served as Vice President of Global Customer Support. While at Cognos, Mr. Shepherdson also held a variety of senior positions in the company’s Research and Development and Applications Development teams. Mr. Shepherdson has also served as an Advisory Board member in several industry associations, including the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) and Service Strategies Corporation, which sets the standards for the Technology Services and Support Industry. Mr. Shepherdson holds a Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership and completed the Ivey Executive Program at the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University. Outside of work, he is an avid golfer, enjoys watching Jr. hockey and spending time with his wife, son and daughter.

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