Live from the SSPA Best Practices Conference: Monday Highlights
Our 2007 Best Practices Conference, which opened Sunday night, kicked off yesterday morning with over 600 attendees for a full day of main stage keynotes, partner presentations in the Technology Services Expo, and an afternoon of breakout sessions.
Here are some highlights of the keynote presentations:
- Stephen Smith, Executive Director, SSPA. Though Steve joined us just three weeks ago as our new ED, he delivered our vision of Value Added Support with aplomb. I told him afterwards it was the most ‘consumable’ overview of VAS I’d seen. With experience leading huge organizational evolution within IBM Global Services, Steve understands creating and working toward a vision while keeping the daily operational issues under control….which is something our industry needs!
- Jeanne Bliss, CEO, CustomerBLISS. The title of Jeanne’s keynote was “Beyond Herding Cats: Delivering Experiences Customers DESIRE!” I would describe the presentation as Tom Peters, on steroids, for the new millennium. With her background as Chief Customer Officer for a variety of companies (Lands’ End, Allstate, Coldwell Banker, Microsoft, and Mazda Corporation), Jeanne gave example after example of companies attacking innovation in customer service in a variety of ways. This was a very dynamic presentation, filled with humor, personal asides, and a passion you don’t normally find in conference speakers. In other words, she nailed it!
- Rusty Walther, SVP of Global Support, Network Appliance. What a character. This was an extremely well received session, entitled “Go BIG or Stay Home: Surviving and Thriving During Major Change.” Rusty outlined a plan of attack for assessing if a support organization is ready and able for VAS, guidelines for executing the change, and how to handle the inevitable challenges that arise. The whole time he was speaking, I was thinking, “Damn, this would be a great book!” Turns out he’s writing one–so stay tuned.
- Julie Hogan, Region Vice President, Xerox Services. When support managers tell me they are hampered by executives who aren’t customer centric, I always give the same advice: change them or leave. Julie showed part of an internal Xerox video of their CEO discussing customer passion and being customer focused. Now that’s something I wish every CEO did! Julie’s presentation, “Xerox Corporation Total Alignment: Creating a Customer-Focused Culture,” gave a detailed blueprint for how Xerox has linked individual employee objectives, performance feedback and cross-organizational alignment with company and customer goals to deliver on the customer promise.
I was up next, talking about Support’s Perfect Storm, with SSPA Benchmark Metrics documenting the rise of complexity, its impact on incident volume, and how our existing technology is not keeping up. Every service level benchmark we track (first call resolution, self-service success, resolution times) has dropped from 2003 to 2006, and I discussed technological innovation as part of the solution. In my previous post you can read about the winners of the Spring 2007 Recognized Innovator Awards, which I announced.
Our breakout sessions this time are in 9 tracks:
- Support Optimization
- Knowledge Management
- Web Self-Service and Online Communities
- Protecting and Expanding Service and Product Revenue
- Talent Management & Training
- Services Sales & Marketing
- Benchmarking & Metrics
- Tools & Technology
- Best Practices for Small & Medium Companies
Some of the yesterday’s top attended sessions, with audiences of 60+, were:
- Going Global: Transforming Support and Service, David Keeling, VP Global Operations, Acision
- Using Web Interfaces and Customer Communities to Build Customer Satisfaction, Kenny Bunnell, Director, Operations and Tools, Novell Inc.
- Enhancing Online Community and Support Models, Kurt Samuelson, General Manager, Microsoft Global Service Automation; Sean O’Driscoll, General Manager Community Support and MVP, Microsoft Corporation
- Making More and Spending Less Through Online Support, Francoise Tourniaire, Founder, FT Works
Stay tuned for updates from today’s sessions, including the Spring 2007 winners of the SSPA STAR Awards, which will be announced at a luncheon later today.