Archive for March 2008

The New Low Cost Outsourcing Location: USA?

March 26, 2008

When I had 4 people in 2 weeks confirm that companies have been shifting calls from Canadian outsourcers back to the US because the US dollar’s slide was making the costs of “near shore” outsourcing too expensive, I suspected something was brewing.  And yesterday, when over 400 people registered for our SSPA Webcast entitled “Onshore vs. Offshore Support: Why Domestic Providers are Winning,” I knew we had hit on a hot topic.

Our SSPA benchmark data shows that no matter how you slice it, satisfaction is higher with onshore service than with offshore service:

Onshore vs. Offshore


Finally, A True Collaborative SOA Ecosystem: IBM and KANA

March 17, 2008

The enterprise application vendors have been touting their SOA (service oriented architecture) platforms and ecosystems for a few years now, but there was something that always bothered me:  the creator of the SOA platform shouldn’t also be the provider of the applications that run on the platform.  To use an example I’ve heard applied to Microsoft over the years:  the guy who provides electricity shouldn’t also determine the size and shape of electric plugs. 

A closed ecosystem, in which you buy all the infrastructure and applications from a single vendor, has been the only choice for CRM and ERP buyers wanting Web 2/SOA…unless you wanted to jump on the Open Source bandwagon with its own set of risks and limited functionality.  To me, today’s joint announcement that “KANA Embeds IBM Open Technology to Deliver Next-Generation Customer Service Solutions” finally delivers the first steps of a true SOA ecosystem, in which customers can select the right application functionality, and not be stuck using the only plug that fits the electrical outlet, even if it doesn’t meet their business needs. (more…)

IntelliResponse: One Right Answer for Web Self-Service Questions

March 17, 2008

I receive a lot of requests for briefings from emerging customer support software vendors, and a recent request from IntelliResponse caught my attention because of this line:  “Our unique competitive differentiation is our ‘One Right Answer’ approach, versus all of our competitors who utilize search based paradigms.” Because of the huge popularity of Google, many vendors in this space are creating a ‘Google-like’ search experience, which is great when you are researching a topic, but not so good when you have a specific question or problem and need the One Right Answer, not a scrolling page of thousands of possibilities.

IntelliResponse, a 100% SaaS vendor, has around 100 customers and nearly twice as many deployments, but their focus has been higher education and financial services, with reference accounts including TD Canada Trust, ING Direct, American Express, Scotiabank, Ohio State, and Penn State University. After receiving inquiries from many high tech companies, IntelliResponse is now bringing their solution to our industry, with a commitment I think many tech companies will find attractive: Go live in 60 days and deliver one right answer to at least 80% of visitor questions. (more…)

Exempt or Non-Exempt, That Is The Question!

March 6, 2008

Disclaimer:  John Ragsdale is not qualified to give legal advice about personnel and salary issues and this post should be taken as input, not a directive.  Please work with your HR professional to clarify how workplace legislation applies to your environment.

OK, glad that’s out of the way!  I started my career as a tech support agent in 1985 (thank you for telling me I don’t look that old) as an hourly worker.  We were paid night time differential for shifts past 7pm and of course overtime when we had to “take a customer home” and work very late or early on a particular ‘hard down’ problem. When I moved to Silicon Valley ten years later, tech support agents at high tech startups were salaried workers and in those days we all worked 80 hour weeks and sleeping under your desk was not uncommon…and it never occurred to any of us we should be paid overtime. It was a cultural thing, not a legal issue.

Oh, how times have changed.  A member inquiry this week about paying overtime or a salary differential for agents scheduled for after hours beeper support set off a brouhaha among our SMB member community.  Here’s the scoop: (more…)