SSPA Research 2007 Editorial Calendar
It occurred to me that I have not published my editorial calendar for 2007; i.e., the list of content subjects for SSPA Research this year. As you SSPA members know, there is a different topic each month, and I publish 2-3 reports a month on that topic. There is input from members on the reports; community members vote each month for a report title they want to see the following month. If you’d like to be a member of the SSPA community, and receive the monthly newsletter (SSPA News) that includes the ballot, please join! Community membership is free.
How did I pick the monthly topics? A lot was based on the findings of the SSPA 2006 Support Technology Survey, which identified the adoption rate of various service and support technologies by our members, as well as what technologies members have budget allocated for additional purchases in 2007. The monthly topic list reflects areas with the highest adoption, for which members are hungry for best practices, as well as areas with a high percentage of members shopping for solutions, for which members are interested in which solutions best fit their needs.
Here are the topics by month:
- February: Consumer In Home Services. The reports this month have focused on the results from the 2006 SSPA Consumer Home Services survey. With the complexity of consumer electronics for home office and home theatre increasing rapidly, in-home installation services are an emerging source of service revenues for retailers and manufacturers (like press darlings the Geek Squad from Best Buy and firedog from Circuit City). This series analyzes findings from the survey, including consumer buying trends, profiles of successful in-home service programs, and hot in-home service options and influencers.
- March: Analytics an Business Intelligence. My biggest takeaway from the last SSPA Chief Service Executive (CSE) offsite was that CSE’s are looking to new analytic tools to bring them business intelligence about the oceans of customer data they have collected. Companies have now spent 10 years creating a “360º view” of the customer with CRM software, yet have little business intelligence to show for it. For support organizations to move toward Value Added Support, they need to demonstrate strategic learnings about customers in order to drive future programs, and analytics can deliver these learnings. Research in March will discuss current analytic capabilities of CRM and eService products, and how analytics can unlock critical business intelligence about customers.
- April: Voice Self-Service. I have recently done a few speeches at sales kickoffs for customer service software vendors, talking to the sales teams about current industry trends and pain points. Sales people, who spend all of their time talking to existing customers and prospects, have great insight into what companies are interested in, and voice self-service kept coming up in the Q&A sessions. Old voice self-service has not been hugely successful and often does little more than infuriate customers. But new technologies will change that perception. Research in April will highlight vendors offering compelling voice self-service products and hopefully offer some examples of companies using voice self-service with great results. (If you don’t want to wait until April for some promising voice technology, check out RightNow Voice from RightNow Technology, and voice self-service specialist Resolvity.)
- May: Knowledgebases. Boy, knowledgebases are always a hot topic with SSPA members, judging from conference session and webcast audience size. Knowledgebases have incredibly high adoption among SSPA members of all sizes, yet members continue to ask lots of questions about best practices for capturing, publishing and managing content in knowledgebases. And, the challenge is only getting bigger with Web 2.0, with useful diagnostic and problem resolution information available in customer and industry forums, and on blogs by industry insiders. Research in May will include some best practices, as well as a look ahead to Knowledge Management 2.0. Also, look for some great content on this topic at our Spring Best Practices Conference (May 6-8 in San Diego), which has a track just on knowledge management.
- June: Email Response Management. I am on record as saying that email response management software (ERMS) is the single most underutilized software in all of eService. Member adoption is high, but few companies are taking advantage of the auto-response and auto-suggest features to help streamline agent activities and deflect live agent interactions. Today’s ERMSs have come a long way since the early products that were totally rule based, firing on word matches to identify auto-response content. Research in June will discuss the latest ERMS products from leaders including eGain, Kana, RightNow and Talisma, and how to get the most out of your ERMS investment.
- July: 360º View. What information belongs in the 360º view? With portal technology and real-time data retrieval, you are no longer limited to the data stored within the CRM database. Research in July will look at how the definition of the 360º view have evolved, key integrations to create the best 360º view possible, and most importantly, how to leverage your 360º view to better serve customers.
- August: Remote Control/Diagnostics. Another perennial hot topic for SSPA members, remote support software is changing the way companies interact with customers, with new features allowing more proactive service options. With many products available attacking various aspects of remote support (including Apparent Networks Inc., Axeda, Bomgar, Citrix, Identify Software, LogMeIn, NTR Global, and Webex), research in August will explore how to select a remote support product and discuss key strengths of the main players.
- September: Right Channeling. Right Channeling means different things to different companies. In telco, it may mean routing a customer likely to churn to an experienced agent with high sat scores. In high tech, it may mean sending a lower value customer to an offshore location. Right Channeling means making an intelligent decision on how to handle each customer interaction, based on customer profile, purchase history, SLA, etc. Research in September will look at various Right Channeling methods, and what technology is used to accomplish them.
- October: OmniChannel Update. In 2006 I published a report introducing the concept of “OmniChannel.” In a nutshell, OmniChannel means providing identical, exceptional customer experiences across every channel….and that means customer interactions with sales and marketing too. For companies trying to differentiate on customer service, delivering excellent service by phone, email, chat, Web, in person, etc., are all critical. Research in October will discuss progress toward the OmniChannel concept in the past year, as well as new trends and technologies to enable this seamless customer experience.
- November: Web Collaboration. According to the Support Technology Survey, 22% of >$1B members have budget in 2007 for Web collaboration. This software, which includes Web chat, page push, screen sharing and joint form fill; is providing a new interaction channel offering the same richness of experience as in-person. Though most companies haven’t gone beyond basic Web chat, with high spending planned, I expect more companies in more industries to find that Web collaboration is a viable support channel, and one increasingly preferred by customers as Gen X and Y age into the target demographic of more companies. Research in November will give an update on available tools and technology, and hopefully highlight some companies taking advantage of Web collab to provide excellent service.
- December: 2007 Year in Review. Analysts love year-end wrap ups, and in December I will publish reports highlighting industry changes in 2007, mergers and acquisitions, emerging new trends and update on predicted trends.
I hope you find lots of things that interest you on this list. If you would like to suggest other topics to put in the hopper, or you have some information to assist me with any of these subjects, please post a comment or shoot me an email. Thanks for your support!