Announcing Categories for Spring 2008 Recognized Innovator Awards

One of  the best parts of my job is managing the SSPA Recognized Innovator Award program.  These awards are presented in the Spring and Fall to SSPA partners who are creating innovative solutions for customer service and support.  With such focus in our industry today on consolidation, examples of true innovation are few and far between.  Our awards highlight different categories for each round, reflecting areas our members are struggling with and looking for new approaches.

For the Spring 2008 SSPA Recognized Innovator Awards, the categories are:

·         Innovation in Root Cause Analysis. Identifying the root cause of a hardware or software problem not only shortcuts downtime for the customer, but can eliminate reoccurrences of the problem.  Historically, root cause analysis required manual detective work on the part of agents and support management, and often happened only after multiple reoccurrences in order for enough information to be available for analysis.  Today, with more structured and unstructured data captured, and more intelligent analytic tools available, companies can identify patterns in customer incidents faster and streamline root cause analysis. This award recognizes an SSPA partner that helps member companies more quickly identify the true failing component at the heart of one or a series of support incidents so a fix or workaround can be crafted. 

·         Innovation in Voice of the Customer.  Customer-focused organizations succeed by listening to customer input at every stage of the customer life cycle, producing products, services and support offerings that exactly fit the needs of consumer or business customers.  Many SSPA members have Voice of the Customer initiatives underway, to proactively capture customer feedback and integrate the input into product planning and creation of support and training programs.  This award recognizes an SSPA partner that enables member companies to better solicit and capture customer feedback, ideas and experiences, and present the findings in an actionable way to the support organization, as well as across the enterprise.

·         Innovation in Usability.  One of the primary reasons new technology implementations fail to achieve the desired return on investment is lack of employee adoption, and application usability is key to high user adoption.  As support applications have evolved from green screens to client/server to Web applications, usability often appears to be an afterthought.  The best support applications are highly intuitive, so little training is required to master the software, with visual cues provided so agents can quickly complete a process without having to think about the next sequential step.  This award recognizes an SSPA partner who consistently delivers extremely usable applications, leveraging innovative technology and controls to offer a differentiating user experience.

If you are an SSPA partner and would like more information, please contact me or Lydia Zaffini, our Director of Partner Programs.  We held an info Webcast last week and will soon be posting a recorded version on our website if you weren’t able to attend.  Deadline for applications is February 29th.

If you are interested in being a judge for the awards, please send me an email at jragsdale@thesspa.com.  I recruit a panel of SSPA members and industry experts as judges, and there are a few slots still open!  You will only judge one category, requiring less than an hour of your time, and I’ll give you 2 full weeks to complete your scorecard. 

The awards will be announced during my keynote at our Spring Best Practices Conference, to be held May 4-6 in Santa Clara, CA.  I will also recognize the judges, so this is a great opportunity to get your name in front of 800 service and support professionals.

Where do you see the most innovation happening in enterprise software?  Are you as frustrated as I am that the media has stopped focusing on any innovation other than consumer devices?  If you have examples of innovation within the domain of service and support technology, please add a comment or send me an email.  And as always, thanks for reading!

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