Support Strategy: Everybody In the Pool

December 6, 2011

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog sharing a support strategy that came out of a quarterly operational review we do with our portfolio companies titled “2012 is Coming: CEO’s, Service Your Customers Like BMW.”

Today I wanted to share another strategy for support that came out of the operations reviews at one of our companies. One of their competitive strategies in their market segment is customer service. To support that strategy they have a goal they measure and track everyday: when a customer calls they get a live person on the phone within 30 seconds. If they achieve the goal for the week, the service team gets a bonus.

Their support team is set up with a traditional level 1, level 2 and level 3 service structure with appropriately defined skill sets. A challenge they faced was that during certain days of the week there are defined peaks in call volume that outstrip the level 1 service team’s ability to respond and pick up the phone in 30 seconds. Unable to staff for peak volume, they needed a different way to solve the challenge and continue to provide above industry service levels for their customers.

Everybody in the Pool / On-Demand Service

To respond they created a process that I call “Everybody in the Pool” and they refer to as “On-Demand Service”:

As the call volume goes up the level 2 service team members start to pick up the phone and answer support calls in the queue to maintain the service level goal, and then as the volume rises beyond that capacity the level 3 service engineers join in picking up calls in the queue.

This allowed the company to maintain a rational, cost-effective tiered service staff and yet meet their peak call volume needs and hit their target of picking up the phone within 30 seconds. In fact, utilizing this approach, they now have cut average call wait time by 17 seconds. They took a competitive advantage and made it even stronger.

So if you have call volume peaks and are trying to solve the challenge, maybe it is time to get Everybody In the Pool!

All the best!


Venture Partner

<strong>George Roberts</strong> is a Venture Partner at OpenView. He enjoys partnering with companies and helping them achieve their goals through strategy, focus and operational execution. From 1990 to 2003, George spent 13 years at Oracle Corporation, most recently having served as Executive Vice President of North American Sales. While at Oracle, George was responsible for over $1 billion in revenue and more than 2,000 employees, reporting directly to the company’s CEO and Chairman, Larry Ellison.