Problem Resolution and Online Chat
Quote: "I'll do everything possible not to talk on the phone." -Dean, User Testing Feedback 2012
As DIRECTV products and services have become more complex, executive leadership identified a need to better understand the customer experience as it relates to support and care when problems arise (technical, billing, programming, etc.). At the end of our initial phase, online chat was identified as an opportunity that would have immediate, positive impact on the customer experience; then, the problem became more focused. Online chat had been traditionally viewed as a single channel and text based tool for customer support, focused on acquisition, rather than support for current customers. additionally, we found that the burden of problem resolution relied on the customer, creating an inconvenient and frustrating experience.
In the initial phase, the goal was to understand and define the customers’ problem resolution processes holistically and across touchpoints. This would serve to A) help build customer empathy across the enterprise B) provide a framework and vocabulary to be used for future work and C) identify opportunities for new products and services. After identifying online chat as a top priority, the goal was to concept, prototype and test a solution that went beyond customer expectation. The solution needed to provide a convenient and easy way to help customers solve their problems, speaking to the pain points and guiding principles identified in the first phase of the project.
For the initial phase, we conducted a variety of activities to understand the problem space. We conducted a diary study and follow up in-home sessions with new customers and remote interviews with 1 year+ customers to understand their process. We also went on ride-alongs with technicians and listened to customer support calls, which helped the team experience what happens during these touchpoints first-hand, and gain a point of view from both the customer and frontline staff. Through a variety of synthesis activities, we developed customer journeys, guiding principles, and an updated set of personas. For the prototyping phase, we developed a set of scenarios and storyboards that outlined key chat experiences, after which our process was twofold: customer and operational. For the customer experience, we prototyped and tested our solution, iterating as we received feedback. Understanding the operational aspects of implementing chat and its impact on the customer experience was also crucial. We conducted a variety of brainstorming and feedback sessions with frontline staff customer care teams, to understand their process and help us validate/invalidate our concepts.
We delivered a cross channel online chat strategy, with a set of detailed customer focused and operational recommendations, which our stakeholders used to guide requirements, implementation and future initiatives for customer support. Online chat has successfully launched and the company has seen increases in customer satisfaction as a result. From a process and tools perspective, this was the first time we developed storyboards, which were an extremely effective tool that we continue to use, and that others throughout the company have since adopted. We also initiated a working relationship with frontline staff, helping us gain a more holistic view of the customer experience, and we continue to collaborate with them on other projects.