New Support Center Tailors Help on IEEE Matters

Faster ways to get questions answered

4 November 2011

Dealing with IEEE products and services can raise questions. How do I subscribe to an IEEE publication? How do I track down an IEEE standard I need in a hurry? I want to change my contact information, but where do I find the form for doing that?

Answers to such questions are easier to find thanks to the new IEEE Support Center website, which offers a variety of ways to get you the information you need. Although you still can call +1 732 981-0060 and talk to an agent at the IEEE Contact Center, through the Support Center you now initiate an online chat with one of these agents, submit a question electronically and wait for an answer, get your information by reviewing frequently asked questions, or search the content by topic.

“These new features are designed to improve our clients’ experience in finding answers to their questions, and support them in a variety of ways,” says Marianne Schmidt, director of the Contact Center, which is in Piscataway, N.J. “We’re using advanced technology to improve service, efficiency, quality, and satisfaction for our members and customers.”

According to Schmidt, the Support Center site relies on an “information knowledge base” about IEEE products, services, and processes from which to draw answers. IEEE customer service groups already using the Support Center to answer queries include the IEEE Computer Society, Customer Operations, Publications, and Standards. That is important, Schmidt says, because the answers given by agents to commonly asked questions are consistent across all service groups, and these answers are stored in the knowledge base, so issues are more likely to be resolved on the first contact.

SEARCHING MADE EASIER

You might think you’re the only one with your specific question, but that’s probably not the case. Therefore, you might want to start by looking through the Most Popular Questions area of the Support Center’s home page. Included with the answers are links to related topics that others found helpful. Answers are updated regularly as answers to new questions or new information becomes available. Or you can search through the Featured Support Topics—also on the page—which includes answers about membership, publications, standards, and the IEEE Xplore digital library.

If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to sift through the questions, click on the Answers (FAQ) tab at the top of the page and type your topic into the box. The results displayed might hold just what you’re after; if not, suggestions have been included for other keywords that might narrow your search. Or try the Search Type button; its drop-down menu gives you search options such as a single word, similar phrases, or complex expressions. The Advanced Search option allows you to limit your query to a specific subject, such as membership.

“These self-managed search options don’t have to replace speaking with one of our support center agents,” Schmidt says, “but many people prefer to try to find answers on their own.”

THAT HUMAN TOUCH
If you’d like to pose a question to an agent, you have two options. For immediate help, initiate a chat. Agents are available from 6 p.m. Eastern time (18:00 GMT) Sunday straight through until 4 p.m. (16:00) Friday. Begin by clicking on the Live Chat icon on the Support Center page. Sign in with your e-mail address, name, and question. For those whose native language is not English, the agents have access to Google’s translation tool, which lets them turn the question into English and supply an answer in the person’s native language.

If you can wait for an answer, use the Submit a Question tab at the top of the Support Center page. Sign in with your IEEE Web account user ID or as a guest. In addition to your question, the form asks for your e-mail address, your name, and the product you are asking about—which can be selected from a drop-down menu. You can attach supporting documents such as purchase orders or invoices.

To save you time, as you’re typing in your question, a so-called Smart Assist recognizes certain terms and displays links to similar topics that might be relevant. You can click on the link or ignore it and finish submitting your question. Questions are answered within two business days, although the average time has been about six hours, Schmidt says.

If you use your Web account, your question is linked to your profile, so if you forget the answer and pose the same query in the future, an agent can quickly pull up the information previously given to you.

“Information is now more readily accessible, and with the new features, our staff is available to service customers during the global business hours,” says Cecelia Jankowski, managing director of IEEE Member and Geographic Activities, the area that oversees the Contact and Support centers.

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