Archive for the ‘Best Practices’ category

Sneak Preview: Case Study Sessions at TSW Santa Clara

April 11, 2014

Sorry I’ve been absent from my blog for a while. My annual technology survey closed on 3/31, and I had 2 weeks to write 10 reports based on the data in order to have them edited and published in time our upcoming Technology Services World Conference in Santa Clara. All the reports are done, and now I’m ready to start working on slides for TSW. Many of the top attended sessions at our conferences come from the case study track, in which TSIA partners and their customers present real-world examples of technologies and services in action. Our conference theme is “Extreme Efficiency,” and the case study sessions will all include a focus on how innovative technology and service providers are driving increased efficiency for service operations.  Here’s a look at the sessions planned so far:

  • Delivering Support thru Technology Skill Groups. Technical Support organizations tend to be characterized by teams with product focus, serial escalation of more difficult problems, and complex workflows. NetApp has embarked on a path to bring the appropriate level of technical assistance as close to the customer as possible while continuing to improve support efficiencies. In this session, PWC and NetApp will share an approach to achieving these goals while servicing a highly demanding, global, extremely heterogeneous customer population. Leaders and practitioners that would like to explore new ways of providing high levels of service in complex technical environments will be interested in this presentation. Speakers: Matt Stone – Director, Customer Success Services, NetApp; and David Yoffie – Customer Impact Consulting Practice, PwC.
  • From C-Suite to Practitioner: Patheon Leverages PSA to Maintain Competitive Edge. In a global climate of outsourcing, services businesses are no longer exclusive to technology organizations. With greater emphasis on speed to market and extension of technical capabilities, one such industry moving more and more towards outsourcing is the pharmaceutical industry. However, there is one characteristic shared by all services organizations – the need to continually improve core KPI’s (revenue and margin) in increasingly competitive environments. Hear how Patheon, a global leader of contract drug development and manufacturing services leverages Changepoint to give it a competitive edge to improve efficiencies in delivery of services and profitability. Temoor Saeed, manager, Global PDS, Business Processes, discusses how Patheon, by strengthening its core operations, has deployed a strategy to drive efficiency improvements throughout its facilities, materials and supporting operations, giving it a broader solution for project delivery within its pharmaceutical development services division. Speakers: Temoor Saeed – Manager, Global PDS, Business Processes, Patheon; and Matt Weick – Director, North American Sales, Changepoint Corporation.
  • Next-Generation B2B Online Community. If you think online communities are just discussion forums, think again. Companies like AppDynamics are stretching the boundaries of a B2B community, encompassing documentation, learning, ideation, app exchange and other elements to create a one-stop shop for sharing and learning. In this session, Steve Levine, Senior Product Manager at AppDynamics, will share the business rationale for creating such a hub and what it took to bring all the right pieces together. Joe Cothrel, Chief Community Officer at Lithium, will set the stage with some observations about B2B trends across Lithium’s global customer base.
  • Power to the People! During an epic 15 year journey, Rackspace® has transformed from an obscure San Antonio start-up into the global leader in hybrid cloud, the founder of OpenStack®, and a constant on Fortune’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For. The home of fanatical support, Rackspace® now operates on four continents and is helping the world through the cloud revolution. Learn how they empowered customers to guide them on this journey by combining trusted disciplines and a fiery culture, with a unique set of tools. Then get a sneak peek into the future as they share their plans for empowering front line employees to drive the next wave of innovation. Speakers: Julian Lopez – Head of Customer Loyalty, Rackspace Hosting, Inc.; and Clayton Sherwood – Business Development Director, Clarabridge.

We are still finalizing abstracts and speakers for a few additional case study sessions, so stay tuned for more updates! Hope to see you in Santa Clara. And as always, thanks for reading!
 

Announcing the 2013 TSIA Social Media Survey: Now Open!!!

December 3, 2013

Earlier this year I took over TSIA’s social media research. In previous years, we did a social support survey that collected information on how technology companies were using various social approaches to interact with customers. What became obvious to me from last year’s survey data, as well as my annual spending and adoption survey, was that while most technology companies (over 80%) now have a customer community in place, less than half of B2B tech firms were doing anything support related via social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). My goal for 2013 was to split TSIA’s social research into 2 streams: one for online communities, where we have a lot of momentum and can begin establishing pacesetter practices; and another for social media support, which is earlier in the adoption curve with many companies still trying to understand the use cases.

As 2013 nears its end, I’m happy to say I’ve accomplished this goal. At our recent Technology Services World Conference, I launched a new Community Benchmark program, allowing TSIA members to take a brief 50 question survey and receive an in-depth look at how their online community program compares to their peers. If you’d like more information on the Community Benchmark or want to know how to participate, here’s a link to an OnDemand webcast with all the details.

The 2nd part of the goal was to launch a new annual survey specific to social media. Today that goal is also complete, and I declare the TSIA 2013 Social Media in Support Survey NOW OPEN! Here’s a link to participate: https://survey.vovici.com/se.ashx?s=7E212C5956FF20E3

This short, 20 question survey is open to all customer support personnel in all industries, in all geographies. The survey is also open to all in regards to social media use:  whether you are currently supporting customers via social media, are considering social media support for the future, or have no current plans to introduce social media support, please take the survey.

And here’s the carrot for participating: a free copy of the resulting research report, “The State of Social Media Support: 2014,” to be published in Q1. Normally non-members do not have access to these “state of” reports, but I will personally email a copy of the report when published to everyone who participates in the survey. (Make sure you don’t have TSIA in your ‘spam’ filter!)

So whether you think Twitter is the new customer service channel, or the whole social media topic grates on your nerves, please take 5 minutes and complete my survey. We are still in the early days on this topic and I know I still have a lot to learn. I really appreciate your time and participation!

Happy Holidays, and thanks as always for reading!

Recapping 2013: Hottest Service Technology Trends

November 27, 2013

Is it too early to start recaps for 2013? With the end of the year barely over a month away, I’ve been thinking about what I heard this year that was new and interesting, and trying to put these trends/innovations into useful categories. Based on my member inquiries and partner briefings, here’s a stab at the hottest topics to emerge in service technology over the last year:

Large enterprises embrace cloud applications. Small and medium-sized businesses were early adopters of cloud applications, and as many OnDemand suites are much less sophisticated than their OnPremise counterparts, the lighter-weight tools met the needs of SMBs just fine. But this year I’ve talked to service executives of some the largest tech companies in North America and Europe who were in the midst of a migration from a legacy CRM system to a lower cost cloud suite. As I’ve written about before, large companies moving to cloud tools have to streamline and consolidate processes as the applications don’t support heavy customization. Unfortunately, about 3 months after the move to the cloud, I start getting calls asking about functional gaps they did not anticipate. Your cloud CRM tools probably do not include support for complex entitlement, automating renewals, or knowledge management beyond a list of solutions. With the move to the cloud all but inevitable, there is some heavy lifting that must be done to achieve extreme efficiency with the new technologies.

Knowledge management evolves beyond support. I first published a report back in 2009 about knowledge management being a cross-discipline (support services, field service, education services, professional services, managed services) subject, with convergence needed to leverage existing tools and processes across the enterprise. But it wasn’t until this year that I started receiving numerous KM inquiries outside of support. PS asking for best practices to capture and share lessons learned across project teams. Field service wanting to know how to best leverage mobile tools to access corporate knowledge from the field. Education services interested in how to define KM roles, as demand shifts from teacher to librarian. And, as I heard at our recent Las Vegas conference, support may have their KM practices well-defined, but other groups see support’s approach too slow,  too complicated and too focused on experts instead of collaboration. I think what we consider “KM best practices” is going to radically shift, and I also expect to see more Knowledge as a Service (which I’m going to call KaaS) providers entering the market. Too many companies have re-implemented KM tools and jump-started KM practices every 3-4 years for the last 12 years, maybe it is time to try a new approach?

Professional Services Automation (PSA) is the new MUST HAVE application category. I’ve always joked that professional services teams were too busy implementing technology for their customers to ever use any for themselves. PSA, which includes modules for resource management, project management and project accounting, is still not that highly adopted (according to my 2013 Member Technology Survey, 58% of PS members are using PSA). But, spending is on the rise, with over half of PS members (54%) having budget for new or additional PSA in 2013-2014. And as a proof point, my inquiries on PSA have risen to become my third hottest topic, after CRM and KM. I just published a new report, Five Key Criteria in Making a PSA Decision, based on dozens of these conversations over the last year. If you are still managing your PS operation using spreadsheets, now’s the time to make a change.

Video in Service: Here to stay. A couple of years ago I gave a conference presentation about the future of video in service, and received more than a few snarky comments saying it would never happen. Never mind that even then, Salesforce.com was using video chat tools with premiere customers, and the use cases for incorporating video into trouble shooting were many and varied. But video in service suddenly became a very hot topic recently when Amazon released the Kindle Fire HDX, and featured a video chat option, called the “Mayday button“, in print and TV advertising. The ads show a customer linking to a live video chat agent for help, with the agent able to take control of your device and even write on the tablet to illustrate how to do something.  Remote control of mobile devices isn’t new (checkout LogMeIn and Bomgar), but seeing it used along with video chat introduced a whole new user experience. That one commercial is going to convince consumers this is an option they need, so get ready for your closeup, Mr. DeMille.

“Core” is shrinking fast. I’ve written before about how service is constantly re-evaluating core verses context, realizing that less and less of corporate operations really are key to their success. Even outsourcing technical support was a bitter bill for many B2B companies to swallow, though I’ve talked to many who now realize they should have looked to partners for assistance a decade ago. But over the last year, with more companies trying to boost revenues and cut costs in the face of all the realities described in B4B, I’m seeing more and more options on the table for outsourcing. First it was technical support level 1, then level 2/3, field service, and now maintenance renewals, managed services, social media, online community management–there are no more sacred cows. As I alluded to earlier, I’m predicting 2014 is the year Knowledge as a Service emerges as a viable approach for more companies.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be thinking about how these hot topics will drive trends for 2014, and you can expect to see some of these ideas again when I publish my “state of the industry” reports in Q1. Stay tuned. And as always, thanks for reading!

Announcing Finalists for TSIA TechBest in Adoption: Citrix, Compuware, Coveo

October 21, 2013

Each Spring I launch the TSIA Member Technology Survey, which tracks adoption, satisfaction, and planned spending across 24 categories of tools and services common within service operations. The survey reveals which solutions are most popular with TSIA members, and it is interesting to find out which vendors see growing adoption. One thing is certain: When the percent of members using a particular solution sharply rises, it indicates that provider has the right messaging, the right tools, and the right price for technology service organizations. Proven success within the TSIA membership means the solution meets the business needs of users, is delivering value, and doesn’t require extensive implementation or customization to be effective.

Comparing the results from 2012 and 2013, the three TSIA partners that saw the largest increase in member adoption are Citrix, Compuware, and Coveo. These three firms represent the finalists in the 2013 TechBEST Best in Adoption Award and will be interviewed in the TechBEST Showcase that opens Technology Services World today in the EXPO Theater. The partner with the highest year-over-year gain in adoption will be named the winner during the closing Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, October 23.

  • Citrix is transforming how people, businesses, and IT work and collaborate in the cloud era. The Citrix GoTo cloud services portfolio powers mobile workstyles allowing companies to work with anyone from any-where. With GoToAssist, companies are able to deliver amazing support experiences and maintain maximum uptime of people, their devices, and apps. GoToAssist seamlessly integrates web collaboration with technical support and remote monitoring tools to remove support complexities, drive efficiencies, and reduce costs. Using all three capabilities together makes it simple for support professionals to identify, ticket, and quickly resolve issues. Citrix also offers other services purpose-built for collaboration and remote access that include GoToMeeting, GoToTraining, GoToWebinar, GoToMyPC, Podio, and ShareFile. Learn more at www.citrix.com.
  • Compuware Changepoint allows organizations to maximize professional services profitability and maintain a focus on effective product decisions and delivery. Changepoint’s PSA solution includes powerful business analytics and mobility, providing total operational visibility and control over the services portfolio. Services organizations can manage every aspect of their business with Changepoint, from customer acquisition, to services delivery, through to project financial control. Changepoint customers achieve strong margins, manage projects and resources with greater efficiency, deliver a competitive product and services mix, and maintain top-line revenues and bottom-line profitability. Examples of Changepoint customers include Altum, Circle Software, Innovaost, Kana, Patheon, Priocept, Sage, Steria, and Ziggo. Learn more at www.compuware.com.
  • Coveo makes companies more relevant and responsive to their customers by providing technology that delivers, in real time, the most relevant, context-aware information for every employee and every customer. Coveo’s revolutionary Search & Relevance technology takes knowledge management to a new, more relevant level by securely connecting with and harnessing an organization’s big, fragmented data from any combination of cloud, social, and on-premise systems. For example, with Coveo for Salesforce, case-relevant knowledge from anywhere (social, on-premise and cloud-based systems) is presented directly into the agent’s context, related to the case at hand: solutions to similar cases, knowledge articles, relevant communications, even experts who can help. Technology companies including Deltek, EXFO, Tokyo Electron America, and SunGard use Coveo to inject more relevant knowledge into customer service interactions, personalize online experiences, and radically boost knowledge management initiatives. Learn more at www.coveo.com.

I’ll be intereviewing the finalists today at 11:30 in the Expo. Hope to see you there! And as always, thanks for reading!

Only a third of US workers engaged in their jobs: Tips for Support Managers

June 18, 2013

I was enjoying a pot of English Breakfast tea and working my way through this morning’s newspaper when I found an article that made my blood run cold. According to an article by Ricardo Lopez in the Los Angeles Times, a Gallup poll of 100 million Americans holding full time jobs conducted 2010-2012 found that the majority of workers are not engaged…in fact a surprising percentage hate going to work. Here are the numbers:

Gallup poll of 100 million US workers

  • Only 30% of workers are “actively engaged,” i.e., “were engaged, or involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their workplace.”
  • 50% are “not engaged,” meaning they are just going through the motions at work and are “checked out.”
  • A shocking 30% of workers are “actively disengaged,” i.e, employees who hate going to work, and undermine their companies with their attitude.

As a manager I’ve felt this shift happening, but didn’t realize the numbers were so bad. The days of “lifetime employment”  I experienced early in my career–in which I knew I had a job as long as I worked hard and performed well–have vanished, and job security no longer exists, with companies cutting valuable, long-time employees when one quarter’s financials don’t look good. Companies that treat workers like commodities are now reaping what they sow.

I also think generational differences contribute. Older workers whose parents survived the depression were raised with sometimes severe work ethics, eager to work long hours for job security and hopefully to get promoted a few times along the way. Let’s just say today’s 18 year olds have a different attitude about work/life balance, willingness to work long hours, and willingness to put in years of effort in order to be rewarded.

In my book, Lessons Unlearned, I talk about the importance of loving your employees, and how to work with people who have bad attitudes to help them understand, and be empathetic,  to the plight of the customer.  I realize none of this may be revolutionary, but here are some hints for service management on how to turn around bad attitudes in the workplace.

  • Catch ‘em doing something right. Today’s managers are usually so overworked they rarely have time to do more than react. I’ve fallen into this trap myself a few times, becoming so busy I let my employees fend for themselves, and only step in when someone messes up. This isn’t good, and sends the message that you are only there to complain and punish. It is critical that you actively look for things employees are doing right, and praise them for it. Positive reinforcement costs nothing and is hugely motivating. If you give frequent, sincere compliments to someone who is actively disengaged, you can really start turning their attitude around.
  • Ongoing coaching. I’ve had a lot of jobs in my life, and front line customer service is hard. Even the best employee in the world may have a bad day, and spending the day listening to customer problems–and having customers often taking their frustration out on you–can put anyone in a bad mood. I had a part time job once working at the Atlanta Symphony box office ticket line, and I started using the name Hector because when I told someone the front row seats they wanted weren’t available, it was easier to hear, “Hector, you are a worthless piece of ##$$%!!!” 5o times a day than, “John, you are a worthless piece of ##$$%!!!” (And  yes, my boss knew about my pseudonym in case someone complained about or complimented Hector.)
  • Role play. I’m a big believer in role play, in which you play the angry customers and put your employees through a training scenario. If you can adequately train workers to handle difficult customers, they are able to see past the emotional outburst, and move the interaction forward. I also talk in the book about ways to relieve the stress of angry customers. My favorite is “Magic Slate Therapy” on page 18–check it out!
  • Open, honest assessments. I write about how much trouble managers get into when they sugar coat the truth, not giving an honest assessment–particularly to volatile people–usually to avoid conflict, which never gives them an opportunity to learn, grow and change. These days, I think almost the opposite is happening. I’m so sick of policies like “everyone is a 3″ and “to us, a 3 rating is good!” which sends me one message: stop over achieving because no one cares. If your policy is “everyone is a 3,” I guarantee you have even higher rates of actively disengaged workers than the Gallup poll suggests.

Are you feeling this shift happening? What are you doing in your company to hire motivated workers, and identify disengaged workers so you can turn them around?  Love to hear some insights from the field. And as always, thanks for reading!

 

93% of Service Organizations have a KM initiative in progress: Separating “Big K” and “Little k” KM

June 7, 2013

In the last few weeks something has become very clear to me: I needed a new vocabulary for knowledge management. As I blogged previously, I noticed at our recent Technology Services World conference that the questions around KM seemed to be shifting. I’ve thought more about this, especially in light of a 2 part webcast series we are doing on knowledge management–both webcasts from very different angles. In the first webcast yesterday, we asked a poll question to see how many audience members were in the middle of a KM project, and the results surprised me:

Are you working on a knowledge management initiative currently?

A full 92.7% of the audience said yes. Actually, the follow on poll question, a bit tongue in cheek I admit, asked, “Are you ALWAYS working on a knowledge management initiative?” and 65% of the audience said “Yes, it sure seems like it.” So I went back and reviewed the KM inquiries I’ve received over the past few months, and they seem to logically break down into 2 categories, which I’m calling “Big K KM” and Little k KM.” Here’s what that means:

  • Little k: By little I certainly don’t mean less important or strategic, so let’s get that out of the way up front. Little k knowledge management is the tools and processes around capturing tacit knowledge, as defined by knowledge centered support (KCS). This is how support organizations (and increasingly field service and professional services) are capturing new knowledge gleaned through solving customer problems and sharing them with employees and customers. This has traditionally been the “hot” area of KM with TSIA members, with companies looking for best practices on getting support techs to contribute, how to incent workers to participate, publishing processes, and tools to easily capture the content and make it easy to find later. This is the focus of an upcoming webcast with RightAnswers.
  • Big K: Separate from capturing tacit knowledge is the whole concept of how to easily index and search your explicit knowledge: all the product manuals, release notes, test plans, development notes, case histories, community and social content, etc.  In the past I referred to this part of KM as content management, but I n0 longer think that is accurate, and here’s why: the goal of content management projects from IT is typically to establish a data warehouse where all corporate IP is stored. The problem is, these data warehouses come with basic full text search capabilities, so if you know what you are looking for (project plan for release 3.2.1 in July, 2009) it works great. That is content management. However, if you are trying to mine that data warehouse to solve a customer problem (Error 204 during the create process) you need a concept-based search engine to research content as you don’t necessarily know what you are looking for.

The technology side of Big K KM is about intelligent/faceted search technology that does 4 things: 1) indexes the content to supplement the basic or nonexistent indexing in the data warehouse, 2) add additional layers of meta data around each piece of content to allow concept based searches,  3) automatically prompt the employee/customer with contextual data, eliminating the need to search, rephrase, search, rephrase, search, etc., and 4) provide the user with ‘facets’ so they can drill down into the data based on filters like data, content source, author, related product or release, etc. This was the topic of yesterday’s webcast with Coveo.

The third poll question in yesterday’s webcast asked: “Do you believe your organization is getting the most from all of its knowledge assets, across systems, the web and social media?” Not surprisingly, 87% of the audience said, “Not even close to all of it.” Technology service organizations are increasingly understanding that while they must continue to focus on knowledge fundamentals (Little k), they also need a separate but equal focus on mining the rest of corporate content (Big K). I used to lump all of this together into one big KM category, but no more. The companies I see being highly successful at KM–with reduced talk times, resolve times and higher first contact resolution to prove it–are tackling both Big K and Little k. And moving forward, that is going to be my recommendation for members.

What do you think? Which do you see as the biggest challenge, successful Big K or Little k? Are you tackling these challenges as one big problem, or as separate issues? Feel free to add a comment and let me know your thoughts. And as always, thanks for reading!

Results from the 2013 Member Technology Survey: High Planned Spending for 2nd Year

May 29, 2013

Tomorrow I’ll be leading a webcast to share the results of my 2013 Member Technology Survey. The webcast is open to everyone, and all attendees will receive a copy of my 2013 Technology Heatmap research report, so please register and attend! I wanted to give a sneak preview of some of the survey highlights. The survey covers 24 categories of tools used by service organizations, tracking the adoption, satisfaction, and planned spending for each category. In addition to technology, I also have categories for outsourcing/service providers and business consultants.

First of all, a big thank you to everyone who took the time to fill out the survey. We had a stretch goal of 500 responses, and we receive many more than that. It is a great data set and I really appreciate the time involved in completing the survey. We had a good distribution of responses across support, field service, professional services and education services; as well as a good showing–about a third of responses–from Europe.

A number of technology categories saw increases over 2012 adoption numbers, including areas with high planned spending last year which tells me that spending materialized. In particular, we saw big increases in adoption of professional services automation (PSA), analytic platforms, communities for customers and employees, and outsourcing.

Satisfaction levels were low again this year, and I have a theory about this I’m going to test in tomorrow’s webcast. Tune in and find out my hypothesis! The lowest rated category was contract management tools, with an average of 3.29 on a 5 point scale. I’ve discussed this with Julia Stegman, our VP of research for service revenue generation (SRG), and we think this indicates that legacy contract tools may be good for entitlement, but they do a lousy job of automating the renwals process, and a number of specialists are now dominating this side of contract management. I’m considering splitting contract management into 2 categories (entitlement management and renwals management) for the 2014 survey to get more granular information in this area.

Of course I’d like to mention that the satisfaction ratings were not all gloom and doom. A number of our partners received 4.0 ratings or higher, including the finalists in our TechBEST Best in Satisfaction awards presented a couple of weeks ago at TSW Santa Clara: Citrix, DB Kay & Associates, and MARKETii. The winner was DB Kay, with an average satisfaction score of 4.44. Excellent job and big congrats to David Kay and Jennifer Crippen, who do such great work with our members.

I will close the webcast with a look at planned spending for 2013-2014, revealing which areas have the highest planned spending by members. Last year saw record planned spending, and this year’s results are almost as high. Nearly half of the survey categories reported planned spending by 50% or more of survey respondents, and each of these areas has a direct tie to improving productivity and/or generating revenue.

Again, here’s the link to register for tomorrow’s 9am PT webcast. Hope to see you there! And as always, thanks for reading!

Day 2 of TSW: Top Attended Sessions. Technology Case Studies and Business Makeovers Are Hot!

May 8, 2013

Yesterday was Day 2 of Technology Services World Best Practicesin Santa Clara, and I’m back to give you a list of the top attended sessions. We had a lot of variety in the focus of sessions yesterday, including a technology case study track, “business makeover” sessions, and collaborative workout sessions. Here were the top 10 attended sessions yesterday:

  1. Business Makeover Case Studies – Support Services. This was the #1 top attended session yesterday with 169 attendees–a big crowd. Ken O’Reilly, our VP of support services research, hosted, with an expert panel including Chrisophe Bodin, VP and GM, Maintenance and Customer Support, BMC Software; Marco Bill-Peter, VP Global Support Services, Redhat; Randy Wootton, VP, Premier Success Plans, Customers for Life, Salesforce.com; Jim Robbins, Director of Continuous Improvement, Brocade; as well as me! Great questions, good discussion, and the fun part was we didn’t all agree with each other, which always makes for a better conversation.
  2. The Road to Loyalty: Engagement Throughout the Customer Journey. This session was presented by Barry Lamm from LivePerson, and focused on moving interactions to less expensive channels, and the reporting and monitoring required to make it work. I’ve had the pleasure of doing webcasts with Barry and he has a wealth of high volume call center experience and brings great insight into the world of service technology.
  3. Achieving Better Visibility into PS Operations, Project Performance and Financials. This session, presented by Pat Garrett – Director, Project Management Office, Experis; and Tom Donnelly – Regional Sales Director, Compuware Corporation; provided a case study in how Experis benefitted from improved visibility and decision making by implementing a “best of breed” PSA (professional services automation) solution.
  4. Business Makeover Case Studies – Professional Services. This panel discussion was hosted by our VP of research for PS, Bo Di Muccio, but unfortunately I don’t have a list of his panelists. These business makeover sessions are unique to TSIA events because our members “open the kimono” to discuss their challenges and get input from peers–including competitors. A really powerful example of an association at work.
  5. Extracting Meaningful Customer Feedback and Using It. Also a technology case study session, featuring Nicole Allen – Customer Insights Group, Manager, Acer America Corporation; and Ian Wright – Business Development Director, Clarabridge; this session profiled Acer’s voice of the customer (VOC) program, showing how a global PC company extracts meaningful feedback from multiple sources, and leverages it to improve products and the customer experience.
  6. The Building Blocks to Optimize Your Recurring Revenue Business. Our members love case study sessions! This one was presented by Dan Biasotti – Sr. Director, Global Support Renewals, VMware; and Frank Lucier – Director, Customer Success, ServiceSource, Inc., and talked about how to identify the gaps and opportunity areas in your renewals business using an end-to–end business process blueprint.
  7. Business Makeover Case Studies – Service Revenue Generation. This session was hosted by our VP of research for service revenue generation (SRG), Julia Stegman, with a panel of experts (again, sorry I don’t have the list of panelists) discussing challenges with pricing, renewals, contract tools, etc.
  8. Transform Technology Support into a Loyalty-Building Engine: The Power of Advanced Remote Monitoring. This technology case study was presented by Jennifer Kuckelman – Director of Global Support Services, Perceptive Software, LLC; and Michael Cush – CTO, ISOdx Solutions, LLC. Jennifer explained the key financial and performance metrics Perceptive is using to measure success and describe the people, processes and technologies Perceptive is bringing to bear to transform its support team.
  9. Proactive Services: How to Get Started. This session hosted by Ken O’Reilly included some great panelists (Joe Ward – Director of Customer Support & Services, Sage; Lewis Rubinstein – Director, Support Services, Enterprise Portfolio Management, Motorola Solutions; and Sydney Garrett – Director, Global Service Delivery Excellence, Cisco Systems) discussing the capabilities of proactive support tools and how to effectively incorporate them into support operations.
  10. Social Support 2013: Lithium and Symantec Norton. Rounding out the top 10 attended sessions yesterday was this technology case study presented by Tony Weiss – Norton Forums Global Community Manager, Consumer Products & Solutions, Symantec; and Joseph Cothrel – Chief Community Officer, Lithium Technologies; showing how Symantec Norton’s social support effort has served as a model for many companies beginning the social support journey. Initiated as a platform for customers to help customers, Norton’s communities have matured into a key source of customer insight, and as a way for the company to share timely and accurate information.

Thanks to all the great presenters, and thanks to all the attendees who voted with butts in seats! And as always, thanks for reading!

TSW Day One: Top Attended Sessions

May 7, 2013

Yesterday was the official opening of Technology Services World Best Practices in Santa Clara. I haven’t seen the final registration count, but we have around 800 attendees. I kicked off the conference yesterday with our TechFUTURES event and the TechBEST Showcase. The TechFUTURES event was so much fun–we moved the audience forward to 2018 and looked at how support operations had changed, particularly around social media, knowledge management, mobility and customer experience. Great presentations and audience response. Now everyone is teasing me about the slide of me as “Rip Van Ragsdale.”

I just received the session counts from yesterday’s breakout sessions, and I always like to do a blog post showing which topics received the most attendees. Obviously conference attendees vote with their feet, so this is a good way to figure out which topics are “top of mind” for the audience.  The five top attended sessions from Day One of TSW were:

  • Best Practices for Retaining and Upselling Customers. No big surprise, the top attended session with over 100 attendees was focused on revenue generation. Presented by Julia Stegman, TSIA’s VP of research for Service Revenue Generation, this session looked at industry performance with renewal rates and upsell rates for recurring service revenues, based on Julia’s SRG benchmark work.
  • The 2013 TSIA Technology Heatmap: Service Technology Adoption, Spending and Inquiry Trends. I’m tickled that my session was the 2nd top attended session. I hosted this session with Edly Villanueva, one of our member success representatives, who was a great presenter and a lot of fun to work with. I presented findings from my annual Member Technology Survey, and Edly and I talked about top inquiry topics across service disciplines and gave a pitch to the audience to submit more inquiries!
  • Linking Service Business Challenges to Service Optimization. This session was presented by TSIA’s Operational Best Practices (OBP) team of Joanne Weigel, Charles Thomas and Tom Pridham, who shared their global perspectives on known best practices, what they are and why they are important ingredients to a successful Support, Field or Professional service business.
  • How to Transform Your Support Organization into a Knowledge Management Machine! We always have at least 1 KM title in the Top 5! This session, presented by Jeremy Largman, Knowledge Management Program Manager, Atlassian, discussed techniques to get past the common pitfalls with change across the organization. I’m doing a workout session today with Jeremy and looking forward to it!
  • Picasso and Einstein: Best Practices in Content Development. It is great to see an education services session make it into the top attended sessions! Presented by Maria Manning Chapman, TSIA’s Senior Director for ES, this session presented research conducted earlier this year outlining best practices for approaching the content development process, timeliness to market, options for managing the expense of content development, metrics to gauge success and how volume of offerings is a key indicator of the level of science required to produce a work of art.

Stay tuned for more updates live from TSW! And as always, thanks for reading!

Five Lessons B2B Service Should Learn From the B2C World

September 28, 2012

I had an inquiry call yesterday with a TSIA member, and we were talking about how some of the emerging best practices in the B2B tech support world were already established practices in the B2C contact center world. They suggested I compile a list of the most significant learnings from B2C companies that B2B companies could benefit from, and I thought that was a great idea. With their huge volumes and high churn rates, B2C companies are forced to come to terms with people/process/technololgy challenges with a major sense of urgency, and these best practices can greatly benefit enterprise support.  I’ve given this a bit of thought between conference calls and webcasts, and here’s what I came up with:

  • Upsell/cross-sell. No one should be surprised this is at the top of my list. Consumer telco and financial services came to terms with selling as part of servicing a decade ago, when Do Not Call made it harder to market to customers, and it only makes sense to leverage every inbound interaction as an opportunity to increase wallet share. Campaign management and offer management software automated the process so agents were prompted to extend offers in context of the interaction, and specific to the customer, so the customer doesn’t even perceive the offer as selling. B2B companies know that upsell/cross-sell is coming, and forward looking companies are already embracing it. TSIA members wanting more information should check out this recent piece of research, “Best Practices to Increase Offer Accept Rates,” which includes lots of lessons learned from consumer firms.
  • Customer experience. B2B companies seem to focus a lot on customer satisfaction, while consumer firms focus more on customer experience. Interaction satisfaction is only one part of the customer experience, and I think B2B companies need to get savvier about understanding the total ownership experience, from dealing with sales reps, through the PS and education process, how billing is handled, how releases are delivered, PLUS the entire post-sales support lifecycle. Customers often complain how difficult a certain vendor is to do business with, but the vendors seem blind to the process problems, as they don’t look beyond after-phone satisfaction scores.
  • Many paths to the truth for self-service. I’ve talked about this one again and again, but the best way to boost self-service success is to offer multiple paths to content that meets needs of different users, and B2C companies understand this. While tech savvy users may use the search box, less technical users want an index tree or ‘guided search’ to step through, while novice users prefer FAQ lists. And for simple questions, offering a virtual assistant can have a huge impact. Though we’ve given STAR Awards to companies like Cisco and Avaya who embrace this approach, most enterprise firms still rely on the search box alone. Especially as we move toward more cloud solutions, with less IT involvement and more interaction with end users of the products, embracing the consumer approach to self-service, with more focus on simple questions and procedural “how do I” questions, and providing tools for less technical customers, should be a requirement for every B2B support team.
  • Channel agnosticism. Over the last 2 years we’ve seen B2B companies finally recognize Chat is a valid channel for technical support, with low costs and high satisfaction compared to phone and email. What I’m not seeing, however, is a cross-channel strategy. B2B companies continue to add new customer channels, like chat, as standalone “channel islands” not connected to the CRM system or incident tracking system used for phone. B2C companies know that an order may come in via phone, with a follow up by email, and a shipping question on the order via chat. Having a cross-channel view of the customer, and offering an identical experience regardless of the channel, must be a priority as we expand B2B channel coverage.
  • Adoption speed of new technology/leveraging trends. Let’s face it, consumer firms have to respond faster to consumer trends than enterprise firms. I understand that. But I question the lag time between B2C adoption and B2B adoption on many areas, including mobility and video. While most consumer device firms now offer video libraries of trouble shooting and procedural guides, B2B companies usually have nothing but an aging knowledgebase of text articles. While B2B companies have been fairly aggressive with online communities, other social media channels are ignored…despite success stories showing their potential. Keep in mind that every consumer trend ultimately impacts the enterprise world (how many of you are reading this blog post on a mobile device?), so we should stop waiting for big consumer trends to be “proven” for the enterprise world. They are inevitable.

What is missing? Please add comments if other things occur to you. And next up, I’m going to do a list of B2B practices that B2C companies should learn! I’m open to suggestions! And as always, thanks for reading.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 93 other followers