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At some companies, customer support seems almost like an afterthought. At Hughes—whether serving businesses, governments, or consumers—customer support is fully focused on the customer experience and built into every customer touch point.
Hughes customer call centers serve companies, government agencies, and organizations of all types and sizes, from global distributed enterprises, to the largest government agency, to the small-to-medium business or franchisee. More than 250 highly trained technicians in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Germantown, Maryland handle a wide range of technical, billing, and administrative inquiries. Technical support calls cover a range of transport technologies, including satellite, DSL, cable, and T1, as well as services such as digital media, guest Wi-Fi, and VoIP. Call center technicians receive specialized training not only in products and services, but also in business, franchisee, and installer support.
Hughes offers several levels of service to meet business customers’ needs, ranging from Basic Enterprise Support for customers that have their own help desks, to Premium Support in which Hughes monitors customer alarms and performs basic triage, to Platinum Support for customers who prefer that Hughes does it all.
On a typical day, the support team tracks multiple queues, monitoring and assessing the progress of open tickets, including both new and pending tickets. While one group is managing calls, another manages Web tickets, and yet another makes outbound calls to network access providers, service technicians, and customer help desks to ensure that all bases are covered.
When a site is under installation or loses service, for example, the support team handles inquiries, troubleshoots issues, and resolves problems, dispatching an onsite repair technician when required. As part of ticket resolution, Hughes also validates the restoral of service. In addition, Hughes hosts a customer care forum and a quarterly WebEx™ session for key members of the call center to work directly with customers.
When customers need service, they have the option to call the Help Desk or use the ticketing system through the Hughes Customer Gateway, a secure Web-based portal that provides a single interface to monitor and manage their landline and satellite broadband technology. Customers use this important tool to keep track of network activity and reduce the time and challenges associated with monitoring multiple systems.
The goal is always to handle each inquiry as professionally, quickly, and efficiently as possible; however, if escalation becomes necessary, multiple communication methods are available—phone, text message, or Web—and management is just a step away from every escalation point.
“We know that the support and services we provide are critical to our customers’ operations,” said Demetric Anamateros, assistant vice president, Customer Service at Hughes. “That’s why Hughes support technicians have such a high level of expertise, constantly learning about new products and services and fully committed to resolving problems.”
In North America, Hughes operates the world’s largest high-speed satellite Internet service, HughesNet—currently serving over 640,000 subscribers. The consumer business, which has earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, is supported by more than 500 agents at call centers in India, the Philippines, and Brownsville, Texas.
As in business customer support, HughesNet consumer support agents are 100 percent dedicated to Hughes, undergoing an extensive training curriculum of up to 12 weeks in order to master products, services, and processes. In addition, agents in call centers based outside the U.S. receive extra training in working with North American customers.
In the past, support agents were trained for specific skill sets, which sometimes resulted in transferring calls to multiple agents depending on the type of problem. Over the past year, Hughes has trained all agents to support multiple call types. Today, universal agents work with customers regarding a host of issues, including account management, billing, technical support, and general customer care. Agents also make value-added outbound calls such as contacting customers to follow up on customer satisfaction survey responses.
The re-engineering has paid off with an 18 percent reduction in call transfers and a 70 percent reduction in transfers for basic support. During the period of January through May 2012, the number of consumers contacting call centers was about 8 percent lower than the same period last year, while success in resolving issues was up 4 percent as measured by customer satisfaction surveys. Technical support calls were down 16 percent from the same period last year.
“Giving the customer the best support, on time, is critical for us,” added Anamateros. “We wanted to optimize the customer experience by providing a skilled, knowledgeable agent who can resolve most of the customer’s problems in one place. We also consolidated partners, initiated new programs, and changed the way we think about training and preparing trainees to help customers.”
Now Hughes is seeing the benefits in lower call rates and faster incident resolution—and customers are seeing the benefits in an optimized customer experience.
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