When it comes to problem management, many businesses focus on automating repetitive tasks like password resets. But while this can help reduce the overall number of problems, it doesn't address the root cause of the issue.
That's where trend analysis comes in. By looking for patterns and trends, businesses can identify potential problem areas and take steps to improve them. This not only helps to reduce the number of customer service issues but also improves customer satisfaction.
Unfortunately, trend analysis can be a bit of a daunting task. There are a lot of data points to consider, and it can be challenging to know where to start. That is why we brought Brian Skramstad into the mix. He was Matt Beran’s guest on the 17th episode of Ticket Volume (our tech podcast for Service Management professionals) and talked candidly about the main problem in problem management and more.
And he was the right guy for the call: Skramstad is the ITSM Principal at Allianz Technology. He's been in IT support roles for over 20 years in companies such as Medtronic and Thomson Reuters, mainly focusing on problem and incident management.
We put together an article that encapsulates all his insights on implementing problem management for customer satisfaction. So, keep reading.
What is the problem with problem management?
Many organizations focus only on fixing the problem at hand. However, this narrow focus can often lead to more problems down the road. In order to truly improve customer satisfaction, problem management must be approached from a holistic perspective. So, rather than simply reacting to problems as they arise, identify potential issues before they occur and take steps to prevent them. It also means having a well-defined process in place for problem resolution.
It makes sense.
But, apart from the obvious, as anyone in the problem management field will tell you, user experience problems are some of the hardest to solve. Therefore, Skramstad thinks this is the biggest problem with problem management.
"User experience problems (...) that is one of the best ways I think of showing value from a help desk and from a tier two and tier three perspective. (And) one of the things (why) I always wanted to partner with those next level teams. Because they would ask the question, ‘Why am I getting these problem records sent to us?’ These are user experience situations, and these are the number of calls that we are getting. This is the data that I'm seeing. This is the number of calls we're getting about this user experience."
Not only do you have to identify the root cause of the problem, but you also have to find a way to fix it that doesn't negatively impact the user experience. This can be a delicate balancing act, but it's essential for delivering a high-quality product.
For instance, customers should always be kept informed of the status of their problem tickets, and updates should be provided promptly. Resolved problems should be thoroughly documented so that future issues can be prevented.
In that regard, Skramstad suggests one of the best ways to show value from a help desk or next-level team is to partner with them on user experience problems. By collaborating and sharing data, you can better understand the problem and its impact on users. This knowledge can then be used to develop a more targeted solution that meets the needs of both the customer and the business.
Tips for looking for patterns in user experience
When it comes to problem management, it's essential to look for patterns in user experience to improve customer satisfaction. This can help you identify areas that require improvement and make changes when needed. Here are a few tips for looking for patterns in experience:
1. Take advantage of a ticketing system
Having a ticketing system at your company is a significant investment. For Skramstad, it really started with his experience looking through tickets and just spending time thinking about how they could reduce call volume.
This system can respond to these valuable questions about your user experience:
- How do we reduce incident volume?
- Why are we getting all these calls?
- Why do people keep calling about Outlook?
- Is there something more that we can do that we are not doing?
By answering these questions, the team can identify how to better service end-users by getting rid of problems that keep persisting over and over again. Think of it this way: whether positive or negative, customer feedback can often reveal patterns you wouldn't otherwise notice.
2. Get your support team on board
Your team is on the front lines dealing with customers every day. They're bound to have noticed patterns that you may not have seen. So, don't be afraid to ask them for their input.
Skramstad discovered that automating tasks has resulted in IT agents saving a lot of time. They've found that limiting oneself to your organization's demands rather than wasting time on unneeded services may be very productive. This transition was also made because they identified when they got too caught up in providing services for clients rather than taking care of them first.
3. Take a different look at your data
Data can be a great indicator of where problem areas are. By looking at things like customer satisfaction scores, call volume, and incident reports, you can start to see where patterns emerge. But, “don’t boil the ocean,” he says; you will only need to look at a couple of weeks of data. Once you have that set, here is what you can do with it:
- Pivot your data around: This means looking at your data from different angles to see if any hidden patterns emerge.
“If you're not familiar with pivot tables, YouTube is a wonderful tool to try and figure that stuff out. And I started pivoting around on different attributes on an incident record. There's all these different fields that everybody fills in on an incident record. And it's a mountain of data that can be harvested if used correctly.”
- Try different visualization techniques: Sometimes, the best way to find patterns is to visualize your data differently. This can help you spot trends that you might not have seen otherwise.
- Use clustering algorithms: Clustering algorithms can be a helpful tool for finding patterns in data. This technique can help you group similar items so that you can more easily see patterns.
- Look for outliers: This can help you identify problem areas that need attention.
- Use machine learning: Machine learning can be a valuable tool for finding patterns in data. This technique can help you identify trends and relationships that you might not have seen otherwise.
Tips to improve customer satisfaction from a problem management perspective
Many problem management strategies can be used to improve customer satisfaction. The most popular include root cause analysis, incident management, and problem-solving. But, according to Skramstad, it’s all about small details and changing the focus. Hence, here are some of his principles:
- Make sure your problem management process is user-friendly and efficient. If customers are having difficulty using your system, they're likely to get frustrated and give up.
- Conduct regular user experience audits. By understanding how users interact with your product or service, you can identify potential problem areas and address them before they cause frustration.
- Implement a feedback loop. Make it easy for customers to report issues and provide feedback, and then use that information to continuously improve your process.
- Take a proactive approach to problem management. Don't wait for customers to come to you with problems; proactively seek out issues and address them before they become big problems.
- Keep your problem management process concise and to the point. Customers don't want to wade through a lot of paperwork or red tape; make it easy for them to get the help they need quickly and efficiently.
- Ensure your problem management team is responsive and available when customers need them. If customers feel like they're being ignored or that their concerns are not being taken seriously, they're likely to get disgruntled.
- Provide tools for self-help. You can empower your customers to resolve issues independently without contacting customer support. For that, ensure that the tools, such as knowledge base articles, are relevant and up-to-date and provide clear instructions and easy access.
Adding change management to the mix
Anyone who's been in IT for more than a few days knows that change is inevitable. But many don't realize how you manage change can be just as important as the change itself. That's where change management comes in. Change management identifies, plans, and executes changes to problem-solving strategies and user experience standards. It's a critical component of problem management, and the two are married at the hip.
But when a change doesn't go as planned, it can create an incident. It's serious. Every change that results in an incident represents a problem that needs to be addressed.
If a problem occurs, it's essential to do a root cause analysis to figure out why the incident occurred. This can help prevent similar problems from occurring in the future. It's also vital to involve problem management in the incident resolution process. This ensures that any underlying problems are appropriately identified and addressed.
Ultimately, you should aim to provide a better user experience by ensuring that changes are successfully implemented, and incidents are prevented. And as we mentioned, change management and problem management play an essential role in achieving this goal.
Without change management, problem management would be a lot like herding cats. You might get lucky and solve a problem here or there, but eventually, you'll run into a problem that's too big to solve on your own. Change management provides the structure and discipline that problem management needs to be successful. So if you're looking to improve your problem-solving skills and customer satisfaction, make sure you're also paying attention to change management. It's an essential part of the puzzle.
There's no denying that problem management can be a tough nut to crack. But when it comes to customer satisfaction, it is essential. A proactive approach to problem management can identify and fix issues before they cause significant disruptions.
Sometimes the most valuable insights can be found in the most minor details. In particular, looking at customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) data can help you uncover patterns that can be used to improve overall customer satisfaction.
One tip is to focus on problem management rather than incident management. This means looking at the bigger picture and trying to identify recurring issues rather than simply responding to individual incidents.
Another tip is to make use of pivot tables when analyzing data. They can help you quickly identify trends and patterns that would otherwise be hidden in a mass of data.
Finally, don't forget that problem management is an ongoing process. As your business changes and grows, so will the issues you need to solve. Keep an eye on trends and be prepared to adapt your problem-solving approach as necessary.