Archive for April 2008

Masking process dysfunction: Support’s role as customer ombudsman

April 30, 2008

Last month I had the misfortune of having a credit card hijacked for fraudulent online purchases.  Citibank was wonderful, detecting the activity and stopping it immediately.  I had direct billing from several places going to that account, and I quickly set about switching those to a different card using online self-service.  All went well for my electric bill and NY Times subscription, but when I tried to change the direct billing for my home land line, Internet and satellite TV, which are combined into a single monthly bill, things went seriously wrong.  As luck would have it, that month’s direct billing was set to process the next day, so I felt a sense of urgency in getting it moved to a different payment source.

The telco would only take direct payment online by Visa, so I couldn’t use my Amex and wouldn’t have a new Visa number for a week.  I could have it directly billed to a bank account, but that would take 2 weeks (!) to setup.  So I called customer service.  I knew I was in trouble when the billing IVR asked me to “press 1 for land line, 2 for Internet, 3 for satellite TV” but had no option for converged billing.  I spoke with 6 people at 4 different 1-800 numbers before resolving the issue, and it took over 2 hours of my time.  One lady told me I could use Amex to make a payment by phone.  Wrong.  I tried making a payment using a debit card, but to do so I had to enter the 18-digit account number for my phone/internet/satellite bill.  And where do you get that?  Turns out the ONLY place to get your 18-digit account number is on your paper bill, which I don’t receive because I have paperless online billing.  My account number isn’t shown online “for security reasons.”  What a debacle.

All 6 people I spoke with had one thing in common:  the attitude that this wasn’t their problem.  And that, my friends, is the reason for this rant today.  (more…)


Coremetrics improves the Customer Experience by differentiating Visit vs. Visitor

April 23, 2008

I’ve been blessed with some amazing managers over the years.  The first was Judy Walden during my days as a support tech at JCPenney, who pushed me to think outside the box and be creative in attacking problems.  Another was Joe Davis, who was my boss at Clarify during the dark days after the Nortel acquisition.  Joe was the first executive I’d worked for with a “No BS” policy–he called ’em as he saw ’em, was clear and direct, and never afraid to discuss the occasional elephant in the room.  These two people have a lot to do with my becoming an analyst–a career that requires creative solutions to problems, and a level of frankness that some people find a bit uncomfortable.

Joe is now CEO of Coremetrics, the original “click stream analytics” company, and yesterday I went in for a briefing to better understand how Coremetrics can help support organizations improve the customer experience.  Though Coremetrics is best known as a solution for marketing professionals, there is a lot in their suite applicable to support.  The biggest takeaway for me was their in-depth understanding of Visit vs. Visitor, which gets to heart of why some knowledgebase vendors have ridiculous claims about the success of their self-service technology.

Here’s an example.  Let’s say a customer has a problem with their mobile phone.  (more…)

Best Practices for Talent Managment in India: Report Live 5/5

April 21, 2008

I’m thrilled to report that the long-awaited whitepaper, “Talent Managment in Emerging Markets: Best Practices for Attracting, Developing and Retaining Talent in India,” is now complete, and a press release dropped today announcing it.

A committee of SSPA members, many based in India, have been working on this project for nearly a year, including participants from Symantec, Cisco, Avaya, Microsoft, Oracle, MeritTrack, EMC, Sun and other companies.  The report will be released at the SSPA Spring Best Practices Conference on May 5th, and a presentation on the findings and recommendations will be given by Dheeraj Prasad, Director, Developer Support, Microsoft Global Technical Support Center, at 10:45am on the 5th.

Here are some findings of the study. (more…)

Understanding Cultural Differences in Customer Satisfaction Ratings

April 10, 2008

Sorry I have been neglectful of my blog for the last week; I have been headsdown working on a report detailing the best practices for attracting, developing and retaining talent in India.  The SSPA has a committee of members who have been working on this project for the last year, surveying and interviewing hiring managers in Indian tech support organizations.  The amount of data they uncovered, and the indepth findings and recommendations from the members is amazing, and my job was to merge all the information into a research report.  I completed a draft of the report…all 46 pages…today so am coming up for air.

The report will be released at our Spring Best Practices Conference, and the head of the committee, Microsoft’s Dheeraj Prasad, will lead a session highlighting the findings. I hope you will attend his session; any company with either owned or outsourced support resources in India should leverage these findings.

While I was emerged in writing the report, I came across a fascinating article I wanted to share with everyone.  Over the years I have received inquiries from support managers who were perplexed about how the same service organization could receive such different ratings in post-interaction surveys from different regions of the world.  I have waxed poetic on this topic many times…but never in writing for fear of being politically incorrect.

Last week I had a briefing with CustomerSat, an SSPA partner providing customer satisfaction analytics for the support industry, and we talked about how people in different cultures rate the same experience differently. Marya Darabont, Research Consultant for CustomerSat Professional Services in Europe, wrote an excellent article on this. If you service customers outside of the US, I encourage you to read it. Some highlights discussing propensity for selecting certain scores on a numbered scale: (more…)