Technology

Why aligning customer service and IT is the key to happier customers

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All functioning enterprises organize operations into departments with unique responsibilities and goals. IT teams focus on continuous software improvement and system reliability, while customer service teams across the aisle are working hard to keep up with evolving customer expectations and remediating user-facing issues as efficiently as possible.

While it may not be obvious on the surface, these departments share a common goal — to reduce downtime. The roles and responsibilities are different, but the shared goal remains. 

Still, at most enterprises, IT and customer service teams seldom intersect, much less collaborate. In the era of digital transformation, both teams have undergone massive technological changes in recent years, but too frequently, they continue to operate in silos. This division is exacerbated by the very tools and systems meant to help.

Siloes hurt both customer service and IT

Picture this: A customer experiences a glitch with the self-service portal on their insurance company’s website and submits a customer service ticket. An agent receives the ticket within their helpdesk system and, once they realize the issue appears to be rooted in back-end technology, navigates to a separate internal helpdesk system to create a ticket with the proper IT team. The ticket then enters a queue of incidents.

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Once the incident is resolved on the back end, a developer updates the customer service agent over a separate internal communications platform. The agent then must simultaneously access their helpdesk ticketing system and communication platform to gather information and relay it back to the customer. The multi-step process creates unnecessary friction to resolve the issue, while slowing both the substantive response and the communication back to the customer.

Even with all the tools at an agent’s disposal, they often find themselves navigating through disparate systems and duplicating information across platforms. Still, key details such as whether the customer’s issue is a known incident and how long the issue will take to be resolved are not immediately available. This lack of fluid communication causes a chain reaction of delays ultimately resulting in unhappy customers.

It’s imperative that customer service agents have a streamlined method to escalate customer-impacting disruptions to IT while maintaining full visibility of the customer ticket. Organizations already acknowledge 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 empower customer service teams with the visibility and information they need to answer customer inquiries quickly and escalate technology issues from the front lines when the back-office team isn’t aware of a customer-impacting disruption?

The customer is key

It’s time to recognize customers as another, and sometimes the most important, signal of system function. While customer service teams already do this, technical teams stand to benefit too. If IT is able to look to data from customer inquiries as a real-time reflection of the health of their digital assets, they will be able to better understand an issue’s blast radius, prioritize it accordingly, and intervene before the impact is felt more widely. Accomplishing this requires an integrated approach.

Both customer service and engineering teams have a strong desire to break down silos to enhance the customer experience. Once both sides of the aisle can rally 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 resolve issues faster. Breaking down the walls between customer service and technical teams will unlock new levels of collaboration, benefitting not just CS and IT but the end-users and the wider organization as well.

Justin Shie is CS at PagerDuty

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