Goals for a support department

I'm struggling a little with goals for a couple of people on my team. Their primary role is technical support, basically answering questions on computer software, helping to teach people how to use the software, and making sure that if users make some kind of mistake that they know how to correct it.

That group is pretty much in maintenance mode right now and I'm not sure what kind of goals I can give them for this year. Pretty much I just need them to keep up the great support they've been providing.

Does anyone have any thoughts?

Goals for a support department

Do you have a performance measure in place? Mark's story about the security gate comes to mind here. If you had to find a proxy for good performance, what would it be?

MT Goals

Tom,

I think I would like to know more information about what your team produces - what's measurable.

You mention technical support like answering questions on software. What about something like:

*Achieve a 95% customer satisfaction rate per by Q2 based on a sample review of conversations recorded for the purpose of quality control.
*Achieve 0 customer complaints for all of Q1. (Reach for the stars!)

As for helping to teach people (or do you mean actually teaching people?) and making sure users know how to correct problems:

*Hold three training sessions per quarter, achieving an average evaluation score of no less than 4.5 out of 5.
*Create by Q3 a searchable database of all user-generated questions (or mistakes) with corresponding answers (or solutions), saving the company an estimated $XXX,XXX by providing customers with a self-service tech support option.

Cheers,
BJ

Re: Goals for a support department

[quote="TomW"]... I just need them to keep up the great support they've been providing.
[/quote]

Hey, John.. I mean Tom, (sorry, couldn't resist) how do you know they are giving "great support?"

Do you get complaints? If so, do you understand what generates those complaints, and can you craft a goal to reduce them (ideally to zero.)

Do you get compliments? If so, what behaviors generate compliments, and can you measure or sample people performing those behaviors?

Can you give us some examples of what makes your guys great?

tc>

Goals for a support department

[quote="rthibode"]Do you have a performance measure in place? Mark's story about the security gate comes to mind here. If you had to find a proxy for good performance, what would it be?[/quote]

that's part of what I'm struggling with, coming up with a proxy that would help measure them.

Re: MT Goals

[quote="wmarsha1"]*Achieve a 95% customer satisfaction rate per by Q2 based on a sample review of conversations recorded for the purpose of quality control.
*Achieve 0 customer complaints for all of Q1. (Reach for the stars!)[/quote]

That's pretty much where we are now. It's harder to beat zero. (ok, we did have one complaint in 3rd Quarter 2007)

[quote]As for helping to teach people (or do you mean actually teaching people?) and making sure users know how to correct problems:[/quote]

sort of. They double as software trainers in many cases,

[quote]*Hold three training sessions per quarter, achieving an average evaluation score of no less than 4.5 out of 5.
*Create by Q3 a searchable database of all user-generated questions (or mistakes) with corresponding answers (or solutions), saving the company an estimated $XXX,XXX by providing customers with a self-service tech support option.[/quote]

Now those two we don't have. I really like those, especially the database part!

Thanks!

Re: Goals for a support department

[quote="tcomeau"]Do you get complaints? If so, do you understand what generates those complaints, and can you craft a goal to reduce them (ideally to zero.)

Do you get compliments? If so, what behaviors generate compliments, and can you measure or sample people performing those behaviors?

Can you give us some examples of what makes your guys great?[/quote]

When I first got there, I got one complaint (about response time), which I nailed immediately.

Both my boss (the CIO) and I get regular feedback on the team and they are routinely highly praised by the users they support. We also get feedback from their managers about how much time is lost (or not lost) to software training issues. We tend to use that a proxy for user ability, since if the project managers notice performance (good or bad) that tells us something about the skill level of the user and the number of problems they have.

While we have a couple "training resistant" people (who have been through training different times with different trainers, they might work slower but they don't really complain), the vast majority of the company is thrilled with my team.

Goals for a support department

Tom,

Would it be possible for your team to provide recommendations or specifications to product development that would improve usability and supportability? The longer term goal would be lowering the percentage of revenue devoted to customer support.

Some software firms formally rely on their support organizations as a "focus group" for improving the software.

John

Goals for a support department

Do youy have Service Level Agreements? If so, what do they measure? Can you base goals on that?

* "Call resolution and closing daily rate, for all call types, average 20% above SLA measured over Q3 and continuously there after. Documented procedures to achieve this inplace by end of Q2."
* "90% of all P1 calls resolved and closed within 2 hours by end of FQ3."

Otherwise go with the customer complaints/compliments proxies:

* "Zero complaints in any month by end of Q3."
* "Zero escalations of incidents through management structure in any month by end of Q3."

or survey your customers. The service desk where I work invites all users to submit any comments on how a call was handled in the meail telling them that the call has been closed. Additionally a random selection of users are invitied to complete a short survey ("Overall how happy were you with the way your call was handled? Very unhappy, Unhappy, Neither happy nor unhappy, Happy, Very happy" &c) and after any major incident (10 or more people impacted for an hour or more), aka a P1, there's a post mortem meeting which the customers can attend where every part of the process is dissected and analysed to decide if the call was handled correctly and what changes might be required to firstly prevent a reoccurance or similar incident and to ensure that in the event of a reoccurance or similar incident it is resolved more quickly. Some people have likened these meetings to a firing squad or witch hunt. Goals could be:

* "No 'Very Unhappy' or 'Unhappy' responses to customer satisfaction surveys in any month by end of Q3."
* "90% of customer satisfaction survey responses classed as 'Happy' or 'Very happy' in any month by end of Q3."

Stephen

Goals for a support department

How about an entirely internal support department? (that is, all our customers are internal customers)

And every work order is different. A revision can be one page or 200 pages, or anywhere in between.

We don't get complaints. Not to our face anyway...

Goals for a support department

[quote="jhack"]Tom,

Would it be possible for your team to provide recommendations or specifications to product development that would improve usability and supportability? The longer term goal would be lowering the percentage of revenue devoted to customer support.

Some software firms formally rely on their support organizations as a "focus group" for improving the software. [/quote]

We're an architecture firm, not a software one, so we don't have a product development team. It's an interesting idea that I might be able to adapt, though

Goals for a support department

[quote="terrih"]How about an entirely internal support department? (that is, all our customers are internal customers)

And every work order is different. A revision can be one page or 200 pages, or anywhere in between.

We don't get complaints. Not to our face anyway...[/quote]

that sounds like us. My team is entirely internal to our company. They are only supporting about 100 people, so the larger tracking systems are a bit big for us.

Goals for a support department

I also manage a support department which deals with internal clients. I've considered performing client surveys or periodic interviews as a method of obtaining feedback about my directs performance. However my concern is always that when I begin discussing negative feedback with directs they will ask for specific instances of negative behavior. The only way I've been able to do this is discuss actual examples giving the names of those who provided the feedback. The direct quickly get's defensive and I loose control of the conversation and the point of the feedback is lost. Any ideas?

Re: Goals for a support department

[quote="mapletree"]The direct quickly get's defensive and I loose control of the conversation and the point of the feedback is lost. Any ideas?[/quote]

Your internal clients (likely) are not focusing on behaviors and instead articulate conclusions about your direct based on his behavior. When I am in these situations I ask probing questions about his behavior.

What _behaviors_ do you observe when you are giving feedback to your direct that leads you to believe they are being defensive? (Does he interrupt, cross his arms, roll his eyes, etc.) You may wish to review http://www.manager-tools.com/2007/10/feedback-and-the-shot-across-the-bo...

Keep negative feedback short. Seek wording that lets you deliver it in 15 seconds or less. If you cannot share correcting feedback with a smile then wait until you can.

Goals for a support department

TomW,

Is there any tracking mechanism (i.e. ticketing system) where requests are gathered? If so, that's a gold mine for actual time to completion, initial contact, due dates, etc. If not, does the frequency of requests warrant investigating one? Having one could feed back to the idea about a self-service knowledge base.

Goals for a support department

We do have a ticketing system which unfortunately is used for both trouble support tickets as welll as change requests and projects. Other than a very wide guidline for completion times for projects there are no documented requirements for due dates, completion times or customer satisfaction. We operate on the " well we know who is doing thier work by positive feedback from thier clients.." method rather than hard data. I feel that we badly need more granular guidelines throughout the department (beyond my team) but that I can't re-invent the wheel on my own. I've tried involving other managers but no one seems interested in making our work easier!

Goals for a support department

I'm willing to bet your ticketing system allows you to separate tickets into groups, or, run reports by category.

I have set goals for our support team based on ticket counts. The same ticketing system tracks longer term projects for our ERP environment.

I admit it is sometimes a challenge to develop appropriate metrics. Don't wait for perfect...pick something and move ahead. Refine the metric as needed.

Goals for a support department

Is there a vendor for the ticketing system that might be able to provide some support? If it's an in-house or open source ticketing system, perhaps a contractor can provide some tools to dig out those metrics.

The integration of change requests, support tickets, trouble tickets, etc. makes it a blessing and a curse, but the data is there - it's just a matter of mining it out.

Like Tom said, don't wait for perfect. Our Corporate brothers went with a metric to close 90% of all trouble tickets in less than 5 days. Considering all the other parameters (user expectation, type of request, etc) it isn't perfect, but it's a goal. If they want to refine it later, it can be. With a simple CSV dump of the ticket fields, you should be able to come up with some pretty interesting PivotTables and charts.

Goals for a support department

I have automated our work request system to send out cust sat surveys for 10% of the completed WO's for each staff member. This is the first month. I have given my staff yearly objectives of:

1. 100% of work orders are responded to within 12 hours. (Last years metric...compliance went from 60% -> 100% last year at 24 hours RT) If we can pull this one off that's a 50% response time improvement over last year.
2. Yearly average WO cust sat surveys >3.7 on a scale of 1-5. Next year it goes up.
3. 10% reduction in WO completion times averaged for the whole group. (Last years metric was 5% and they nailed 10%) I'm hoping that they nail another 10% bringing us down to a two year reduction of 20%.

We use an access database for our work order system. I want to add wireless PDA's soon so they can do their work orders while they are out in the labs and not have to go back to their desks to pick up new assignments. I'm writing the Windows mobile app as we speak....FUN FUN FUN. Someday, I may actually have a budget so I can do these things the right way...LOL

Re: Goals for a support department

[quote="mapletree"]I also manage a support department which deals with internal clients. I've considered performing client surveys or periodic interviews as a method of obtaining feedback about my directs performance. However my concern is always that when I begin discussing negative feedback with directs they will ask for specific instances of negative behavior. The only way I've been able to do this is discuss actual examples giving the names of those who provided the feedback. The direct quickly get's defensive and I loose control of the conversation and the point of the feedback is lost. Any ideas?[/quote]

That is a good idee, i will do this as well, thanks.