There are very few sectors in a business where Agile is ineffective, and tech support is certainly not one of them. If anything, tech support stands to gain a lot from Agile principles, since it can help improve any customer service team’s performance, satisfaction rate, and time-efficiency.
As to how that can be implemented, we will get into the details next.
Identification of the 3 Primary Issues in Tech Support
Every sector or department has its own set of universal issues, and tech support in particular has three of them. There are others as well, of course, but the following three are the most common and troublesome problems without a doubt:
Knowledge Gap – The customers are generally not as knowledgeable about the problem as the techies trying to help them are. This makes it harder to communicate with them and help solve the issue, especially in a time-efficient manner.
Time Management – Performance must almost always take a backseat if efficiency is to take over completely. Also known as the classic debate of quality vs quantity, how is a tech support team supposed to provide quality support to clueless customers, while maintaining optimum numbers within the specified time simultaneously?
Human Asset Management – Unlike in other sections of customer service, soft skills alone are not enough in tech support. More than half of US companies who employ a tech team have reported that finding, recruiting, training and then retaining high quality technical support team members is extremely difficult.
The Role of Agile: What is Agile Project Management?
Before we take a look at how exactly Agile can help in solving these three prime problems in tech support, it is mandatory that we take a brief look at what is it to begin with. Kanbanize defines what is Agile project management by identifying some of the methodology’s key ideologies.
As Kanbanize is one of the leading developers for enterprise-grade Agile and Lean management software solutions in the industry, let’s take a look at the key attributes outlined by them for a better understanding of the concept:
- Agile brings in gradual, but assured improvements through the application of multiple, constantly improving and adapting strategies
- Agile concentrates on the fulfilment of smaller and more immediate goals to get feedback, but at a fast-enough rate to make it all feel like one seamless process
- Visualization, collaboration, and constant feedback for structuring the next step
- Working for and with the customers
How Does It Help in Solving the 3 Primary Problems in Tech Support?
Collaborating with Customers – Collaboration is essential in any Agile program and it goes beyond just collaborating with the co-employees. Not only will your tech team be working to help customers, but they will also be working with them to minimize communication gaps.
The constant feedback provided by the customers will be used immediately to identify the knowledge gaps and address them with a methodical approach.
Forming Cohesive Bonds with Customers – Agile uses practical methods to bring the utopian concept of a company and its customers working together on the same goals.
By providing customers with the opportunity to visualize what the tech support team is doing, what they are trying to achieve, and how they are functioning, it is possible to not just get helpful input from the customers themselves but to also reduce the knowledge gaps which often create issues and a lack of cohesion between the customers and the employees.
Retaining Human Assets – Human assets, or what is often called talent can only be retained if the environment they work in feels comfortable for them.
The ability to work productively and cohesively as a team within a sector that’s infamous for lacking teamwork is an even bigger retaining factor than monetary incentives.
In fact, employees in tech support often return to a company with Agile collaborative methods in place later on, because they were unable to derive the same level of job satisfaction.
Implementation of Agile in Technical Support Teams
Now that we have gone through the basics of how Agile works towards solving issues in technical support departments, let’s get even more specific and discuss a few common steps for attaining the same:
- Pull Scheduling: Employees choose their own tasks, as opposed to auto-assignment
- Swarming: An entire team handles the issue in a collaborative effort, rather than delegating problems to another department/team
- Visualization: A virtual and universally accessible Kanban board is often used so that the entire team can see how the problem is being handled and how far along it is on its way to being solved
Even just a few years ago, if anyone was asked, ‘what is Agile project management used for?’, then it would mostly be described as a productivity-boosting, problem-solving methodology used to streamline software development projects.
Today, however, the core principles of Agile have found a much wider field of use. Customer care, as we discussed, just happens to be one of those many segments.
How Agile techniques are applied in practice is variable and so are the software tools necessary to meet the specific needs of every segment, but at their core, they remain true to the basic principles of Agile all the same.