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Suggestion..... employ more staff to answer tickets and phones

Community Veteran
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Registered: ‎06-04-2007

Re: Suggestion..... employ more staff to answer tickets and phones

Quote from: Mark
... but thats not sound operational practice and certainly would not be efficient or indeed cost effective.

There is the intangible cost of 'customer satisfaction at calls being answered in under 5mins', this is not something that can be quantified and so the argument that it is worthwhile based on ROI is a problem.
I have not had to call the CSC recently, I hope I dont have to wait that long.
Another suggestion would be that Home Phone customers get the option to 'Press 5' to get a callback when in a queue.
SW.
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3Mb FTTC
https://portal.plus.net/my.html?action=data_transfer_speed
Community Veteran
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Re: Suggestion..... employ more staff to answer tickets and phones

When I started this thread. I posted the "waiting time" for a response

Current average response time:48 hours 1 minute 23 seconds

That was on 7 November 2009........ Three weeks later, it appears things are getting worse....not only has the response to tickets time lengthened, but there has been no email notification that my current question has been received, or acknowledged...let alone a "polite" warning that it may take some time to get an answer.....
(Note... the colour additions are mine.... to add emphasis to my point.... employ more staff..... )
The quote below is from todays page.....
Quote

Customer Question handling
When a customer raises a query by phone or through the Help Assistant, we raise a 'Question' (also known as a Ticket) on their account. We aim to close all Questions within 4 hours.
Question Handling Statistics
Average closure time                                                  Target closure time
2 days, 4 hours, 51 minutes and 45 seconds                         4 hours
Last updated: November 26, 2009, 8:20 am

alanr1303
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Re: Suggestion..... employ more staff to answer tickets and phones

Quote from: Mark
To be fair the cost doesnt come into it.
We did look at this a couple of years ago and Carol and I looked at options with a number of suppliers, however for good reason we ruled it out as a solution.
A number of reasons for this existed. In a multi skilled support team where agents can and do handle multiple workflows, some of those workflows receive a higher priority than others, such as an ADSL fault or a phone fault. Lets say your calling to report a problem with email, no other higher priority calls in the queues and your number 3 in line to be answered, suddenly 2 adsl faults hit the queue and a home phone fault. Next thing you know you've gone from 3 to six with no understanding why.
The numerous implimentations of this model we looked at simply didnt fit how we and many other tech environments operate. Ideal world scenario would be that we have agents sitting twiddling their thumbs in between calls for each different workflow to ensure that a call queuing system like that would work, but thats not sound operational practice and certainly would not be efficient or indeed cost effective.
We spent a lot of time looking at the options, but the downside way way outstripped the benefit and in fact there was no benefit, for us or our customers, from this solution.


You have told everyone that you have a "multi skilled support team where agents can and do handle multiple workflows", from this I assume all staff can handle the lower priority (simpler) calls, and possibly all staff are capable of handling all calls. It has also been stated that calls are prioritised according to the options selected. It seems to me that knowing this customers will always select the highest priority option to get the fastest possible response.
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Re: Suggestion..... employ more staff to answer tickets and phones

But none of that explains away the extended delay, an additional 4 hours 50 minutes and 22 seconds, added to the response time for tickets since three weeks ago..... see my previous post on the bottom of page 2...
Certain "knowledgable" customers will be able to circumvent the "unfair" queuing system in use at present, by knowing which buttons to press for the "priority" call traffic..... which is "unfair" to everyone else..... from the customer point of view,.... his/her problem is a priority, and a TOP priority in their own case.... regardless of that fact.  a much more fair system of allocating the calls in any queue is needed, so that each customer "feels" just as much a priority as the one before or after him/her in the queue.
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Re: Suggestion..... employ more staff to answer tickets and phones

2 comments.
1st - whilst I appreciate Mark must be very busy, it would be nice if he responded to some of the questions and comments since his last post in this thread.
2nd - I'm coming to the conclusion that the title should have read  ......employ more "fully trained" staff to answer tickets and phones.
Community Veteran
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Re: Suggestion..... employ more staff to answer tickets and phones

Idle curiosity sent me back to the members page again, to see how things had progressed since my last post 38 hours ago......
WOW !... either someone has binned a lot of tickets. or someone has got their finger out and actually done something about it.......
Quote

Customer Question handling
When a customer raises a query by phone or through the Help Assistant, we raise a 'Question' (also known as a Ticket) on their account. We aim to close all Questions within 4 hours.
Question Handling Statistics

Average closure time 
                                Target closure time
3 hours, 13 minutes and 39 seconds             4 hours
Last updated: November 28, 2009, 9:03 am

I wonder which of the two scenarios it is, . because I am still awaiting a reply to my last ticket, posted yesterday at  15:46 27th November 2009....
Perhaps it is one of those that got binned. Undecided
pierre_pierre
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Re: Suggestion..... employ more staff to answer tickets and phones

or it could be one that requires one of that staff from sections that dont work more that 24/5
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Re: Suggestion..... employ more staff to answer tickets and phones

I'm sorry pierre, I think I agree with Gerry on this one. Considering the previous reported response times, I find it amazing that the closure time has come down to under 4hrs yet his ticket has had no response since his last update. It's possible they've been able to close a lot of tickets because most may have been related to the network issues that are now gradually getting cleared. But Gerry's should have had a response along the lines of -
"[INTERNAL] I'm passing this issue to the ..... team to get this raised as soon as ....."
- (or whatever), if your hypothesis is correct.
I've got a ticket open at the moment and I put a comment in on Monday (just to keep the ticket open as it was with me) - I'll stress it's not an urgent matter and I'm not in a rush with it, however it took 3 days & 5 hrs for a response, so I'm very sceptical about the revised times.
Oh, and my comment Monday was concluded with "I'll respond further shortly". The ticket response was "Thank you for the update. I am passing this ticket back to you to remove it from our workflow. This ticket will remain open with yourself for 14 days without a response to allow you time to get back to us if required." A response which is perfectly acceptable and with which I'm perfectly happy.
Community Veteran
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Re: Suggestion..... employ more staff to answer tickets and phones

Update, on my ticket only....
It was answered two hours after I posted above.....where the "response time" was amended/updated at 09:03...... stating
Average closure time                                    Target closure time

3 hours, 13 minutes and 39 seconds
                  4 hours
making the actual "closure time" 11 hours 13 minutes..... from the amended/updated base line...
Whilst I admit, my ticket is not particularly  "urgent"... it does show up the inconsistencies of "the system". when stating/updating closure times, as my ticket was answered 8 hours after the estimated? "average closure time" ....
I suggest my ticket got responded to, because of this thread..... and also presume the response times were "massaged"  because of this thread....
If tickets are to be "prioritised" for action, then may I suggest a "Table of Priorities" be drawn up and published, together with the projected response/action times so the the customer will know which parts of the PlusNet infrastructure their particular "problem" relates to, and what sort of time factor is involved.....
e.g.
Priority Number                                          subjects                                    estimated time for action
1                                          ADSL, & Home Phone disconnection                    1 hour
2                                        Home phone/ADSL changeover                                3 hour
3                                        Email / Webmail connection problems                    4 hours
4                                        General enquiries                                                          6 hours
The above is "a general idea"... obvioulsy PlusNet staff will have to work out the details.... Now , someone is going to say..... that is what we already do with the phone system.
press 1 for this
2 for that
3 for something else and
4 for a long wait.
the problem is, the customer does not know (usually) which button will give him priority, nor how long he is likely to wait. and even more confusing is the current system, where he may well get pushed back down the queue, without even knowing it is happening.... Also on the telephone system, there are several "options" that can confuse the customer, as to which button to press, and if he finds he has pressed the wrong button, he must go through the system again, a bit of a "pot luck"  system..
If each number produces it`s own queue, then it is still possible to operate the "you are in a queue, your turn is number 6, we will get to you as soon as we can...... your turn is number 5, we will get to you as soon as we can, your turn is now number 4, we will get to you as soon as we can..... etc.... this way the customer is kept informed, (and happier)  as to progress being made.  We all understand how a supermarket queue works, so if a previous caller takes some time with and agent, that is fine.... so long as the customer knows where he stands in the queue... Keeping them in the dark, is tantamout to ignoring them, hoping they will go away, thus reducing the number of "actioned" calls, and consequently the "response times"....which is good for advertising, but not good for customer relations....
A similar situation, or worse, seems to be in state of play with the ticket system, as shown, with my current ticket above, and the published response times..
This thread, seems to be "quietly ignored" by anyone at Plusnet since Mark posted on the 10/11/2009  .... 18 days ago.....
OK. so there have been "other issues" regarding the network...... but there has also been time to respond to  "other" questions, but not, it seems, to join in this debate.

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Re: Suggestion..... employ more staff to answer tickets and phones

Quote
This thread, seems to be "quietly ignored" by anyone at Plusnet since Mark posted on the 10/11/2009  .... 18 days ago.....
Well noted!
Community Gaffer
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Re: Suggestion..... employ more staff to answer tickets and phones

That seems strange that the time has dropped that dramatically, let me go do some digging.
Gerry, whilst I appreciate your concerns that some tickets aren't being handled in a timely manner, it's not quite a simple as throwing more staff into the mix. First of all they have to go through a 2 week training period (that's if we get the standard of staff we need), then they have a steep learning curve where they'll need close help from other members of the CSC. Of course adding new staff isn't free either and that extra salary has to come from somewhere.

We haven't intentionally ignored this thread previously, I'm honestly not sure how it hasn't been noticed.
If this post resolved your issue please click the 'This fixed my problem' button
 Chris Parr
 Plusnet Staff
Mand
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Re: Suggestion..... employ more staff to answer tickets and phones

@shutter, we do prioritise tickets internally, with faults and prov getting the highest priority, then tech, then billing etc.
This is discussed at daily resource meetings, and any extra resource needed to clear a certain backlog is assigned.
It's fair to say though that recently we've had separate issues that have affected a couple of workflows massively (namely the network and billing issues), which has meant we can't juggle resource too much without having a negative impact elsewhere.
There's some very hard work being put in to bring the answer time back down. Worth remembering that it is an average though, and not all tickets can be resolved that easily.
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Re: Suggestion..... employ more staff to answer tickets and phones

Chris, thank you for the eventual response.... what a pity I had to post a rant before getting any answer...
It is not just "some" tickets (and phone calls) that are  "not being handled in a timely manner...."  it is the way the system works that needs an overhaul....
I would think the current system worked quite well with the "small" Plusnet, but the system has now shown up massive weaknesses, (probably caused by the growth of the customer base )  that are causing many customers to think that they have made a mistake by joining PlusNet.... There will be "teething troubles" with a few customers, and that is the way things work, BUT, to the customer, it is the most important thing on their minds, regardless of how PlusNet sees the Priority of the problem... Fortunately, I never had problems when I came to plusnet, and on the whole, I have been well satisfied with the service.... Once or twice, I have been frustrated with the system on the phone, but by the same token, I have also been very well respoonded to by the phone staff, too.  So this is not a "personal" vendetta... It pains me, to see so many complaints on the forums, especially when, basically, PlusNet has a good image in the world of ISP`s....
Having been in several "service industry" occupations, I know only too well, the way customers react to "the system"..... or "the policy".... and found out that by being more "customer friendly" they react differently, and even start to appreciate, that even if things do go wrong, you (the company) are doing what you can to rectify the problem as soon as possible....
If the system has "built in" obstacles.... (the unseen queue and priortising of calls/tickets) then no matter how hard the staff work, they will never be able to satisfy the customer`s needs, and consequently, will be at the "rough end" of the customer`s wrath, when eventually "the system" allows them to speak / contact the staff....
In turn this causes staff to feel they are banging their heads against a brick wall, and between the devil and the deep blue sea.  The only thing keeping them in the job at the present time is the current financial climate, given time, the best will leave, and find other employment, with other companies, and PlusNet`s reputation, will suffer, due to the poor customer service,, caused by longer waiting times on the phone, and even longer "closure" times on the tickets....
It may not be "quite as simple as throwing more staff into the mix"... but to seemingly ignore the problem, will not help matters either.... One presumes that PlusNet wants to go on growing, and survive, to do that , they must embrace the necessary infrastructure to deal with customers in the fairest possible way....
To say that what I have suggested "won`t work" and leave it at that is like being an ostrich and sticking your head in the sand... It works for hundreds, if not  thousands of other companies, so why not PlusNet... I am sure that there is no lack of ingenuity and innovation within the company, to seek out a viable system that can cope with "multi-tasking" staff, taking customers in sequence, and dealing with them according to their needs, and not as a "priortising" factor in PlusNet`s scheme of things.
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Re: Suggestion..... employ more staff to answer tickets and phones

Mand... your post was done whilst I was typing mine.... Yes , I understand about the Prioritising... (and the recent network faults)  but that is the problem that needs addressing, because the system should be able to cope, regardless (almost) of any network disaster.... when more customers will be "on the phone". each with their "personal priority call" as I have described above... The system just falls over, and PlusNet  just say   " sorry for  the incovenience..."
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Re: Suggestion..... employ more staff to answer tickets and phones

Chris... I sent you a PM, which you kindly responded to, asking why my thread had not been answered by any plusnet staff for nearly 3 weeks,  You apologised and said, you could not understand how it had been missed....
It seems to have been "missed again"..
I am now taking you to task in respect of your initial answer....
Quote

Quote from: Mark on 10/11/2009, 22:30
To be fair the cost doesnt come into it.
We did look at this a couple of years ago and Carol and I looked at options with a number of suppliers, however for good reason we ruled it out as a solution.

So what has happened to Plusnet in "a couple of years"  (not specific.... could be 3 or 4 ? ? ?) one would assume that the number of Plusnet Customers has probably doubled....
which means twice as many (minimum) complaints/phone calls/tickets.... yet you are still using the same system now as "way back when".....

when you had finished "looking at this"  ........ a couple of years ago .... you came to the following conclusion
Quote

We spent a lot of time looking at the options, but the downside way way outstripped the benefit and in fact there was no benefit, for us or our customers, from this solution.


Once again, you are recalling something that you "looked at" and discussed  " a couple of years ago".... yet you are applying that criteria, to todays problems, and consider that the subject does not need to be re-appraised.
moving on further down the thread. I drew your (and everyone else) attention to the vast difference in Response times to tickets.... You seemed to be surprised by my revelation, and said
Quote from: Chris
That seems strange that the time has dropped that dramatically, let me go do some digging.

Did you actually go and do some digging?  if so, you never came back to explain what happened. so presume you just "went away"
Quote

Gerry, whilst I appreciate your concerns that some tickets aren't being handled in a timely manner, it's not quite a simple as throwing more staff into the mix. First of all they have to go through a 2 week training period (that's if we get the standard of staff we need), then they have a steep learning curve where they'll need close help from other members of the CSC. Of course adding new staff isn't free either and that extra salary has to come from somewhere.

So, what you are saying, in effect, is that it is a waste of time employing more staff, because they have to be trained, and that takes time, .....and they have to go through a steep learning curve..... well, not quite on a par, but so do Air Traffic Controllers.... and Junior Doctors.... in fact everyone who is newly trained goes through a steep learning curve when they get "on the job" properly... (I did when I left training as a Radio Operator for the Royal Navy) ... I am still alive at 65  !...so why should the "steep learning curve" come into it?  No-one would expect them to be left alone, after training, an initial "help period" from other members of staff, would be part of the job for them too.... then you bring in the subject of cost.....
Now at the very top of this particular posting.... your words are
Quote

To be fair, cost doesn`t come into it.

Therefore, there is no reason why, more staff could not be employed.... "cost doesn`t come into it",...... plusnet customer base has increased since " a couple of years ago" = more income for plusnet ...." Of course adding new staff isn't free either and that extra salary has to come from somewhere."

Quote

We haven't intentionally ignored this thread previously, I'm honestly not sure how it hasn't been noticed.


Having said that last line a little over 30  hours ago, it seems strange that you have not noticed it again......
I notice that you have made three posts in one thread on "Rants & Raves" today ..... at 09:07 ...... 15:04........ and 15:37 
Perhaps this "update" will appear in your  " Viewing unread topics since their last visit."