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Abstract

A Zombie-apocalypse is not something that keeps most support teams paranoid about. After all, it isn’t something that happens every day. But that is exactly what’s so scary about it. Zombie attacks can stem out of pretty much anything, right from a barrel of toxic gas that was accidentally opened, to a Black Friday sale with deep discounts on the latest gadget. And you can be pretty sure that the attack is going to start quick and grow big with very little warning. Unless your support team is ready when it strikes, you might wake up the next morning to find a burnt-up help desk, and a lot fewer customers. So how can you can you get your customer support to be ready for the zombie apocalypse? This guide will walk you through everything you can and should do to make your support team proactive before the zombies rise, effective during the attack, and heroes after.

Why is having zombie-ready support policy so important?

Sometime last year, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) published an article on their blog about how individuals can be prepared for a zombie apocalypse. But just a few humans are no match against a mob of a few hundred zombies. It is at times like this that businesses need to be able to step in, educating scared civilians, giving them the know-how to survive the ordeal.

Which means support teams at these business must be ready to handle the crisis. Most businesses do not have the means, policies or infrastructure in place to take care of even a few dozen hysteric customers reporting a sudden loss of service, requesting sales information, or even having trouble finding their way at the same time.

The problem with customer support is, no matter how trivial an issue seems to your customer, finding out how to reset their password RIGHT NOW could mean the difference between life and death. Quite literally, in fact, if they are being chased by hungry zombies. That means no matter how high the pressure is, giving your customers the right solution to their problem every time is your biggest retention strategy.

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How can your support team for the zombie apocalypse?

Which means support teams at these business must be ready to handle the crisis. Most businesses do not have the means, policies or infrastructure in place to take care of even a few dozen hysteric customers reporting a sudden loss of service, requesting sales information, or even having trouble finding their way at the same time.

Gather your resources

A lot of times your customers would rather go out and try to solve their problem themselves, if only they knew how to. When they are being chased by a 6 foot zombie, it really helps if you can tell them what to do and where to hide, right from your selfservice portal. For the more heroic ones, you might even want to add a few pointers on how to re-kill the undead. Your support team needs to have all these resources ready in your knowledge base before the zombies come crawling out.

Identify what’s critical and what’s not

If you already knew exactly what kind of information your customers look for in your support portals, you can design a self-service experience that will reduce your support load and still save some lives. Do they need more help in “finding the right shelter” and “zombie-proofing their homes”, or do they need tips on how to get rid of them altogether? To give your customers the perfect self-service experience, you need to be able to identify exactly what kind of information they seek, and which articles they engage with the most in your knowledge base and community forums. When it comes to websites, tools like Google Analytics offer an excellent way to track activity. Webmasters know where visitors are coming from, and which pages engage visitors the most. Integrating a similar tool with your support portal can shed deep insights into what your customers really want.

Get your support team zombie-ready, before the full moon

It might be a good idea to have both permanent solutions as well as quick-fixes and workarounds in your knowledge base. Your customer might not have the tools to get rid of a zombie altogether, but the few seconds they get by maiming it could save their lives.

No matter how much knowledge you share in your self-service portal, your support desk is still going to be overloaded with queries from scared and confused customers when the living dead start walking. Having a zombie-management workflow can not only make sure that you handle the apocalypse like a pro, but also give you a little more breathing space while you are at it!

#1 Put the right limb in the right bucket.

Despite zombies being clumsy, and stereotypical (and a bit dirty, with all that blood), unless you know exactly where the trouble is coming from, getting rid of them can be incredibly hard. Followers and hunters have identified more than two dozen kinds of zombies typified through extant literature. But in most cases, the first level of identifying the zombie (and how to get away from it) is knowing whether it is the infectious type, that spreads around from victim to victim, or the more subtle “eat brain and leave” kind.

Within each of these categories, you might have a dozen or more sub-categories. For example, the Viral Zombie, that spreads the virus around with its bite, and the Toxic Gas induced Zombie that releases some creepy cold smoke to turn its victims into zombies are infectious. The ones running around because of a radiation exposure gone wrong usually lack the ability (or charm) to convert their victims.

 

As a third level, you might want to add where the zombies came from. Toxic Gas Zombies, in most cases, rise from marshes and cemeteries, and if you have a Radiation Zombie you can be pretty sure that there is either a military research lab or a defunct weapons testing site nearby.

“In the heat of the night you can’t afford to waste precious hours trying to figure out what kind of zombie is troubling your customers. Dependent Fields in Freshdesk let you bucket every support ticket into the specific categories, sub-categories and items affected. That way you get to know exactly where the issue is coming from and get to hit the nail right on the zombie’s empty head.”

#2 Keep an eye on every customer and issue.

During the apocalypse, you are going to have more than a few dozen customers hitting your help desk for support. As you are answering their queries, it is really useful to know which customers are trying to flee the scene, which ones are in hiding, and which ones are brawling with five zombies and a baseball bat. If you plan to do this manually, pretty soon you are going to get overwhelmed, and not able to do your best to your customers in distress. Luckily you can mark the status of a customer’s issue, and quickly filter, come back or even automate some tasks based on the status.

Most help desk solutions offer out-of-the-box ticket statuses like “Open”, “Pending”, “Resolved” and “Closed”. While that works out pretty ok in most situations, to really be able to help your customers survive the night you might need to add your own customized ticket statuses. With Freshdesk you can even take it beyond that, and choose when your SLA timers must be running, and when they should be put “onhold”. That way, you don’t run an SLA violation when a customer is waiting for her brave boyfriend to return from the brawl!

Keep your support team in touch, even on-the-go

It’s going to be a long night, and some of your support staff may need to be off their desks and laptops. And it is even more critical for your on-the-field agents to be able to stay in touch with your support desk through the night. Configuring email notifications to alert your agents when a ticket is assigned to them can go a long way in keeping them productive on-the-go. With Freshdesk you can take it even a step further, and let your agents completely “talk” to your help desk without leaving their email. Email Commands let them reassign tickets, categorize them, change the priority or even set the status without having to login to your support desk.

#3 Figure out what’s important and what’s not.

It’s going to be a long night, and some of your support staff may need to be off their desks and laptops. And it is even more critical for your on-the-field agents to be able to stay in touch with your support desk through the night. Configuring email notifications to alert your agents when a ticket is assigned to them can go a long way in keeping them productive on-the-go. With Freshdesk you can take it even a step further, and let your agents completely “talk” to your help desk without leaving their email. Email Commands let them reassign tickets, categorize them, change the priority or even set the status without having to login to your support desk.

Issues Priority
Chased by over 5 zombies Urgent
Brawling with 1-4 zombies High
On the hide, and temporarily safe Medium
Paranoid caller in a non-zombie area Low

In Freshdesk, you can define the kind of service levels that your customers can expect from your support team, based on the priority of issues they raise. For example, you might want to guarantee that high priority issues would get responded to within an hour, and would get resolved in four hours, while a low priority issue might take upto three hours to get a response, and eight to get resolved. You get to decide which kinds of issues constitute a high priority situation, and can even automate the entire prioritization process.

A good way to prioritize incoming issues is by using an “Impact - Urgency” Matrix. In this case, you might define a situation as “high impact” if the customer is faced with 5 or more zombies. Similarly, if the customer is in hiding, and temporarily safe from attack, the urgency is lower than if the customer were currently in a brawl with them.


  ISSUES   PRIORITY
  High Urgency In a brawl, with over 5 zombies Hiding and Surrounded
  Low Urgency Hiding, and it’s ALMOST daylight Miles away from the zombie zone

#4 Let robots fight zombies with intelligent automations.

With limited resources, every help desk agent on your team must be at their peak productivity to manage and support all the distress calls and queries. But a majority of your team’s efforts are spent in reading through every incoming ticket, categorizing, prioritizing and assigning it to the right agent in your support desk. In addition to that, you would have a lot of queries that need some following up with the customer. Your agents could make a mental note to remember each of these issues, go back and manually send your customers a reminder email to get their updates, but that’s going to rob you and your customers of a few precious minutes.

Freshdesk comes with a number of powerful zombie-fighting automations. For example, the Dispatch’r reads through all your incoming emails and performs a variety of actions based on it. Like setting categories, tags and priorities, shooting automated emails to the customer, or to specific agents, and even assigning it to the right person in your team. Or the Supervisor, for instance, lets you automatically send your customers a reminder email requesting their response every few hours, or make sure your support team doesn’t add to their agony by dragging conversations back-and-forth for too long.

A few quick tips to take advantage of the powerful automations in Freshdesk:

When the zombies strike, get everyone to pitch in

Through the night, you are going to get a lot of panic-stricken calls from customers fleeing for their brains. To be able to scale up and match the inflow, you are going to need every person you possibly can to jump in and support customers. That’s why it makes sense to keep your entire organization, even the non-support staff, trained to be able to help out during an emergency. In most situations, it does not make sense for you to get an extra full-time agent licence (even if you use a super-affordable monthly-pay-as-you-go support solution like Freshdesk), just to be able to support customers for one night.

With Freshdesk, you can add as many occasional agents as your team needs, and give them all the help desk capabilities that the rest of your support agents enjoy, by getting them a Day Pass. As an occasional agent, pretty much anyone in your company gets to jump in and support customers, add knowledge base articles, and contribute in your forums for the whole day, for as low as a dollar.

#5 Open your support gates, no matter where customers are crying for help.

It’s the zombie apocalypse, remember? Let’s get a little realistic here - you don’t expect every frightened customer to come knocking at your support through email or your web portal, do you? No. Most of them would be live-tweeting their crisis or sharing their story on Facebook. As a proactive customer support team, you need to be able to be there, no matter where they are screaming for help. That’s why you need to have a multichannel help desk solution that lets you support customers when they contact you, through phone, email or your support portal, and even when they aren’t contacting you, but need your help on Facebook and Twitter.

With Freshdesk, you can take your customer support beyond just waiting for customers to complain and firefight issues. When customers aren’t talking to you but are talking about you on their favorite social networks, you can be there, answer their queries, and show the world that you are a company that cares!

#6 Give survivors and Zombie Hunters the platform to engage and learn from each other.

The last few humans need to be able to get together, organize their civilian armies and work on the advice of successful zombie hunters. With community forums, you can provide them with the right platform to engage with each other, ask questions, get tips and tricks, and report zombie sightings. “With the integrated community forums in Freshdesk your customers can talk to each other, suggest ideas, and vote on existing suggestions. That way, your customers get to share best-practices with each other, and fall even more deeply in love with your brand. Or, in the case of a zombie apocalypse, stay alive and coming back to you.” Community rock-stars will be able to share their experiences with other survivors, answer questions and discuss the best ways to get rid of the brain-eating undead. And you can participate in these discussions and get even closer to your customers.

Is your support team apocalypse proof? Here’s a handy checklist

What do the reports say? A few numbers you need to worry about

METRIC PRIORITY
First Response Time   The least customers expect when running from a Zombie, is a response. Try to keep it low.
Resolution Time Your customers need solutions, not comforting. Faster resolution times correlate to happier customers who keep coming back.
Overdue tickets The more engaged customers are in your self service portal, the better they can help themselves during the apocalypse.
Time spent and articles per visit (by customers) in Support Portal   If customers participate in your communities, your brand and zombie survival skills are always top-of-mind.
Tickets/customer   If customers keep coming back to your support they probably like your product and service. But don’t push it too hard. Try and keep it optimal
Forum activity (number of posts and replies)   If customers participate in your communities, your brand and zombie survival skills are always top-of-mind.
Customer satisfaction levels Finally, data shows that happier customers are able to fend off zombies (and dementors) better. Keep your customer satisfaction levels super high.

Ready for non-zombie days too...

With a few simple things that you can make a part of your support culture, your help desk will be ready for pretty much anything. A zombie apocalypse may not be something that comes up every day (or night). But a few other common scenarios could turn apocalyptic real fast too. Perhaps the store announced a new sale, and customers are thronging at your doors, or one of your vendors ran a little glitch and customers now want their refunds. Or, perhaps, just the volume of innocent questions is smothering your team with more tickets than they can handle. If your support team is ready to handle calls during the final standoff between humans and zombies, they can handle anything!

References

http://zombie.wikia.com/wiki/Types_of_Zombies

http://zombie.wikia.com/wiki/Zombie_Killing

http://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2011/05/preparedness-101-zombie-apocalypse/

http://www.gunsandammo.com/2012/04/19/the-ultimate-zombie-gun-red-jacket-zk-22-bullpup-rifle/

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