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Leveraging Customer Support to Understand Customer Needs

I’d gladly highlight Resmed as a medical device company that understands how to use their customer service data to continuously improve their products and services.

Sarah Wright, Resmed Director of Global Customer Support, is really, really good at her job – and as a presenter, which is why she’s returning as part of our faculty in May 2019.

I’ll let her tell the story, below (see video, slides and transcript), but the main point that so few medical device manufacturers fully leverage is this: “Data from support services, if stitched together, provides actionable business insight. It can inform how you market your products. It should inform how you prioritize feature enhancements. And it can reveal which customers you stand to lose.”

Leveraging Customer Support to Understand Customer Needs
Presented by Sarah Wright, Director, Global Customer Support, ResMed
at 10x for Design and Manufacturing – San Diego 2018



PDF Click here for a copy of the slides.
PDF Click here to download the transcript.

Sarah Wright: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

I’m Sarah Wright. I’m Director of Support Services at ResMed. I’m based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. And I’m really excited the conference is here in San Diego obviously because your weather is way better. Great location, Joe.

We Underutilize Customer Support

And I’m really excited to be here to talk to you about something that, throughout my 20 years in support operations, I’ve started to notice – we often underutilize or undervalue what people are saying when they’re calling into our companies. It could be patients, and it could also be different home medical equipment providers and clinicians who need our support.

When I came to ResMed I started to notice there were trends that were emerging after releases. In some cases, it would be as a result of a process change and who wanted to see this information. How can it be helpful? How can we learn from it? How do we aggregate it and, then, really start to turn this information into actionable insights for our customers and really build that trusted partnership?

What I’m talking about is customer support and how that data is collected, where it sent, and what we do with it.

Salesforce.com is our CRM, our ticketing platform, and it’s also our sales tool. So a ton of really great information stored there that, when you start to bring it all together, can tell quite the story.

We started to knock on product development and management teams and say, “Wait a second, everyone. This is not just a one and done. This is not just a siloed experience. This is something that, if we start to look at trends and patterns, is really telling us something important.”

How We Collect and Optimize Information

So, we’ve started to look at how we collect information, how we can optimize the collection of that information.

Probably, you’ve heard garbage in garbage out. If you’re not collecting the right information, and you’re not storing it in a way that makes it easy to pull, then why bother?

You don’t want to be looking for a needle in a haystack. You want these insights bubbling to the surface and telling you what you need to focus on.

Helping Customers Reach Their Desired Outcomes

I oversee support services – our contact centers, our solutions delivery, our customer success management team, and our education services team. I have a team of about 120 people at San Diego, Denver and Halifax.

Helping Customers Reach Their Desired Outcomes

This slide is the power of taking Salesforce data and plugging it into Gainsight, our success platform.

Customer Success typically have conversations about platform adoption, the health of utilization of the different software platforms that our customers are adopting, and really trying to drive more and more adoption.

That’s the conversation. It tends to be very proactive. In some cases, reactive.

But we started to notice that some of our top 10 customers either were very healthy in how they were utilizing our products and services and they believe they were running a great operation. However, their patients were telling us a different story.

My contact center is focused on medical resupply. That is for people on obstructive sleep apnea therapy. They require masks, tubing, and other equipment sent to them at a particular frequency as directed by the manufacturer of their device.

Insurance is complex and plays a role in that. So there are many rules that have to filter into how this platform works.

But we sell a platform to equipment providers to take away the pain of having to be at a storefront and sell masks when, really, you’d rather clinicians focused on sleep tests, on diagnosis, oxygen, ventilation, things that really drive that value add.

Having a clinician sell a mask is really underutilizing a costly resource.

In this case, one of our largest customers had a massive issue with order status checks. That means a patient has agreed to use our resupply service – our platform – and for some reason or another, the patient hangs up happy and, then, never gets their order.

So the idea is we don’t actually fulfill orders. That’s the functionality of our customer. We take the order; we create the platform by which you can capture that order, and we provide the contact center that offers that intervention should the patient need some help.

When we saw a massive number of calls and order status, it changed the conversation with success from “Hey, it looks like you’re using our platform” to “What can we do to help you with fulfillment?”

If you can’t fulfill orders, it’s a terrible patient experience. In many cases, it affects a patient being able to get their full insurance benefit because they may have now kicked into a new resupply cycle.

And what really matters to those customers is you’ve actually impacted your revenue in a negative way. You’ve likely lost the potential to collect revenue on a full resupply cycle if this is continuing month over month.

Then we had a captive audience when we started to show the bottom line revenue impact of not fulfilling orders. We became even further trusted partners by saying, “Can we help you with your workflows? Do you need help with fulfillment? Do you need some guidance on best practices we’ve seen from other customers?”

If your patients aren’t getting your orders, your patients are very dissatisfied. And why would they continue to resupply? And it can affect their interest in continuing with their therapy.

IVR Outreach VS. Service Level

Internally, as part of Integrated Voice Response (IVR) outreach, we have a platform that has a call out. Faith is her name. And she says, “Hello, it’s time to get your supplies.”

IVR Outreach VS. Service Level

It’s really important our customers set an expectation with their patients that this is not a hoax or any kind of a problem. People are very untrusting of phone calls these days. Lots of scams out there.

So we provide a voice sample to say, “This is what it’ll sound like. This is what you’re going to experience. You just need to validate a few detailed information such as date of birth, and your order will go out to you.

In this case, the trend line of service level has a really interesting impact from the number of IVR outreach attempts we make. So we had a massive disconnect between product development and the folks that own the IVF outreach platform and the contact center that takes the input of those calls.

Multiple attempts at outreach for these medical supplies, as they increased or we have an anomaly, it directly decreases service level delivered. What that means is, if a patient needs our help and they want to order and they come through to our contact centers and they can’t get through, they may abandon their desire to make that order.

And so what we started to do was meet with product development, meet with the people who are pushing these different protocols out and say, “How do we separate them?” because ultimately, by making sure we have the right capacity and staffing in place at the intervals you want to make this outreach happen, we can drive a far more positive customer experience by aligning the two.

We aim to deliver an 80% service level. That is, 80% of any interactions coming into the contact center out of the IVR in 90 seconds or less. And the only time in the past 12 months we did not deliver on that, it was around a 78% service level when we saw a massive IVF outreach increase. And it really triggered another one of those discussions.

So again, having multiple teams understanding how their work negatively impacts the customer experience can directly bring teams together but also drive the most positive customer experience.

I also have another line that can trend over this called abandon. And if you have people waiting too long, they just hang out. They don’t care. They don’t want to do this anymore.

So, as our service level decreases and rates go up, our abandoned rate goes up and directly impacts revenue from our customers.

Collect Customer Feedback – Even Negative Feedback Is Good Validation

I know some people believe very strongly in voice of customer and others don’t.

Collect Customer Feedback

Some people say, “Oh, I know we have room for improvement. I don’t really want to know what people think because what if it’s brutal.”

It’s great to know when it’s brutal. It’s good validation. The worst thing that happens is nobody responds. If nobody responds, you have a real problem because it may be there’s no engage. People may have just really abandoned and given up.

If people are really upset and they share that feedback, they’re still engaged. And if you take that feedback and you do something meaningful with it and you engage with the person who’s taking the time to share with you what they truly think about your products and services, they can turn around and they can be one of your most engaged and most satisfied customers.

They may even be willing to join panels to come and talk as trusted partners. They may be willing to tell their colleagues how they were really unsatisfied and now they’re extremely satisfied because you faced head on a challenge that they just thought wouldn’t be engaged with.

Survey Your Customers to Understand Where You Can Improve

So we dove into doing a Voice of Customer survey through a tool called Gainsight. Gainsight is a success platform. It plugs nicely into Salesforce.

We reached out to our home medical equipment providers to say, “How are we doing?” And we were doing okay.

In 2017, we had a net promoter score of 62 – other responders were willing to recommend our products or services to their friends or family. It’s very specific wording from a net promoter score.

Why Doesn’t Anyone Want to Fill Out Our Survey?

We fell below the benchmark of 10% response rate. And we thought, “What are we doing wrong? Why doesn’t anyone want to fill out our survey?”

I know people have more to do in life than fill out surveys. So we started to think, “What can we do to be creative? How do we take action on this? And how do we engage more customers?”

So we put in a few action plans.

Create an Action Plan from the Feedback Gathered

Action Plan #1 – Gainsight Adoption

We looked at how we drive Gainsight adoption across all of our teams that had that customer interface.

Action Plan #2 – Best Practices

We started to look at what is survey fatigue. We don’t want to put out too many surveys because customers stop responding.

There’s a lot of people talking about the fact that the right frequency is six months, maybe 12 months for a survey.

We engage with our customer insights team, our marketing team, to get some feedback on what really makes sense.

How do we ensure ResMed is not over-surveying customers? Do we cross-pollinate? Do we communicate? Do we let people know “we’ve just sent a survey, so please don’t send another survey for three to six months”?

And now we’re thinking, “If a customer responds, do we offer them the opportunity to fill out another survey?” Really testing the waters first and not just continuing to send surveys out looking for a response.

Action Plan #3 – Program Focus

We’ve also focused on different programs. And we came up with a really interesting idea for this recent survey that we just completed in August 2018.

Research said if we offer a small incentive or chance to win, it would increase the response rate. And it sure did. Our net promoter score went up.

I don’t think that’s because of the gift card. Really, it’s that our products services, our solutions consulting, our success management are becoming more and more streamlined.

We’re leveraging the tools and technology we’ve invested in to deliver a positive experience that’s driven by data. We offer executive summaries that are guided by triggers and calls to action to show us where we need to course correct a customer’s experience.

And we’ve started to really drive internal product training, internal services training, to ensure when someone says, “Hey, but my device does this or my mask is causing a mark on my face or my nose is really dry in the morning,” any of these types of questions or concerns or comments, we’ve really started to drive the creation of playbooks that are validated internally that can be utilized and sent to customers who drive that outcome.

Our response rate in this case was 30%. We not only took an improvement into the industry benchmark, but we actually did a fantastic job.

Customer Effort Score

And what was really a positive indicator for us in all of the change we’ve done over the last year is 87.6% of our customers felt their interaction with us is effortless.

Continue to Survey in Agreed Upon Frequency

You may hear of customer effort score as being an indicator that people look at. Customer effort score is around “how hard is it for you to work with us on things? If you have a problem, did you have to troubleshoot it for multiple hours, wait on hold, talk to us once, call back, check the status of your ticket?”

You may have actually resolved the issue. But if you had to put in four hours of your time and three phone calls, it’s resolved but you’re not happy. It should have been easy.

And that’s another key indicator that we’ve started to really pay attention to.
What we’ve started to do and what we’re in the process of doing is taking these insights and now benchmark against the contact center.

So we’re saying, “Hey, what are our patients saying?” The feedback you saw on the last slide is our home medical equipment providers – how happy they are. They interface directly with success managers.

When we start to look at these results, what’s very interesting is the feedback they’re giving us in some cases is regarding the order flow and what it was like to talk to someone about that order. But more often than not, the information being shared with us is feedback on the health of that patient and their home medical equipment provider relationship.

So this is now being fed back into success to say, “Wait a second, we’re seeing trends.”

If you have patients calling our support center because we answer the phone and when they call their branch, no one answers, that’s a problem.

When they call us and they say, “I’m so frustrated. Every time I order something different, they mix the order up. My order doesn’t come. I’m really getting frustrated. I’m looking somewhere else.”

We can start to indicate there’s potentially a churn risk before a patient leaves. And so, we’re aggregating this feedback, feeding it back into our success teams and ensuring they can put it into that customer conversation.

It shows that we’re not just delivering the adoption rates, the platform use, your typical success conversation. Instead, we want them to be successful. We want our customers to drive maximum revenue potential, and we want to be a partner. We don’t just want to be someone whom they buy equipment problem.

Support Services Provide Actionable Business Insight

Don’t underestimate the power of data collected at any input within the company that you work for.

Oftentimes, people think the data that comes into a support center to a success manager, to a solutions consultant, to a salesperson is siloed and a one-time experience.

Oftentimes there’s a story if you stitch all of those instances together and, then, take those learnings and broadly share them across your company.

Support Services Provide Actionable Business Insight

It can inform how we market products. It should inform how we prioritize feature enhancements. And it should also be a call to action internally when we see a release and it drives up the call to support, it drives down satisfaction.

If you put out a net promoter score survey and it’s bad, it’s a starting point. Don’t see it as a failure. Engage with your detractors.

Have that conversation. You’ll be shocked.

All of our detractors, we always engage with them. Since this is new for us, we also engaged with our neutrals just this time. But our detractors will always be a call to action for us because we want to see what we can do to really change that conversation and ensure that they feel like a satisfied customer.

Thank you.