Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Understanding Queues in Parature from Microsoft

Parature is Microsoft's leading customer service tool in the Dynamics family. It supports multiple channels for customer service, including online self-service, social, phone, chat and more. 

Queues are one of the fundamental concepts of Parature and other customer service products.  They define a structure for presenting tickets to customer service representatives so they can be handled by the right person at the right time. This blog post expands on the material in the Parature knowledge base.  Here is an article with instructions on the steps to create and modify queues.

The most fundamental queue is the customer service representative (CSR) queue.  The queue is a holding place for tickets before they are grabbed by a CSR to work on the issue.   Once they are grabbed, the queue has served its purpose and the ticket will disappear from the queue.  Multiple CSRs could use the same queue, or queues could be personalized for a single CSR, depending on how your CSRs map to the issues and tickets. 

To determine how many queues are needed, you must map out the skills required to resolve a ticket and availability of CSR resources.  For instance, if all CSRs can solve all tickets (a desirable but uncommon state), then one queue would be sufficient for all CSRs. In this case, tickets will be pulled from the queue by each CSR as they are available. 

More commonly, tickets are divided into multiple queues based on the type of issue.  The result is that a CSR specializing in a particular issue would only see tickets for that issue. You want to avoid presenting CSRs with tickets in a queue on which they cannot act.  

Availability of CSRs at different times and service level agreements (SLA) present additional layers of complexity. You may need queues that allow you to map to which CSRs are on duty. For this reason, Parature offers special types of queues:
  • Escalation Queue: for only escalated tickets so critical issues that require special attention can be handled in a timely fashion.
  • Business Hours Queue: You can set up business hours, after hours, or always queues, and assign the appropriate CSRs each queue based on their work schedules.
  • Un-routed Tickets Queue: In the event of a routing rule error make sure you never miss a Ticket with an un-routed Tickets queue.
  • Urgent Queue: For emergency cases or issues to create high visibility for CSRs and managers.  
Parature queues may be used in additional ways that combine features of these queue types to meet your needs.  You set up intelligent workflows to ensure that tickets are assigned to the correct queues.

As you roll out Parature, you may end up refining queues to optimize the performance of your support staff.  Self-service capabilities can change the pattern of trouble tickets over time and affect the workload of CSRs, so you may want to consider revisiting your service desk design from time to time.



Tuesday, February 2, 2016

CRM Leadership Starts at the Top

Customer relationship management (CRM) doesn't help a company if it is not adopted by users, and that adoption starts with the commitment of senior leadership.  For sales, the top management is often a vice president for sales, followed by managers for specific lines of products or services and, ultimately, account teams.

Without CRM in place, sales leaders often rely on spreadsheets as the basis of forecasts and pipeline meetings.  With CRM, the first step is to throw away the spreadsheet, and make CRM the authoritative source for all sales pipeline information.  Sales leaders must convey that if the opportunity is not in CRM, it doesn't exist for sales discussions or eventually for commission payments.

Using CRM as the system of record for sales doesn't mean you have to give up the functionality of spreadsheets.  Dynamics CRM can export views such as open opportunities to Excel, allowing further manipulation and analysis in a spreadsheet.  The spreadsheet may also be forwarded to people who may not be familiar with CRM.  Dynamics CRM even allows a spreadsheet to be linked to underlying CRM data so that it may be refreshed with the latest data rather than regenerated.

If managers don't commit fully to CRM, sales professionals will notice and follow their lead, setting up the implementation for failure. Don't be one of those sales leaders. Don't let your CRM project fail because you never gave it the support it needed.