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Weekly Byte: Keeping Priorities Straight and Scaling Support, Part II
In my last post, I talked about the importance of involving everyone in a company in direct customer interaction - one of these ways being customer support. The challenge with this approach is how to do this efficiently and successfully. A few weeks ago, we began trying out a rotation-based approach to customer support around our charge capture, secure messaging, care coordination, and HIE software. Prior to this, we had a much more informal system, which granted us infinite flexibility, but with significant overhead. When everyone is responsible for every support request, you start witnessing something akin to the tragedy of the commons.

The challenge for us was how to implement a rotation-based system that would increase everyone’s efficiency, allow flexibility in our schedules, and still maintain quality customer support. There are three variables that define any support rotation:

• Size of the team and the rotation period
• Skill composition of team
• Duration of the rotation

Each of these is a lever that can change the outcome of a rotation. All three of these rotation attributes directly affects the others. If the teams are too large, individuals will feel more anonymous and less empowered to directly impact support quality. Additionally, if the teams are too small, the rotation periods are overly spread out with large gaps of customer interaction, and you risk not having the correct mix of skill sets in a rotation (development, sales, operations). The challenge for every organization is to discover what the sweet spot is to these attributes.

At pMD, we've been experimenting for the past month with different values for these variables and have learned a great deal. The result has been somewhat astounding. The majority of the company now has dedicated, uninterrupted time to excel at their core tasks in any given week. At the same time, the new scheme brings a significant measure of predictability to one’s exposure to the inherently unpredictable nature of customer support. As we continue to iterate on these three variables, we hope to fine tune and settle on the perfect balance.
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