Mid-Year Support Trends: Rich Content, Revenue Generation, and the ROI of Web 2

I’ve had a lot of requests lately from members, vendors, and investment firms for the latest trends impacting service and support operations and spending, and I wanted to share with you three things I am tracking. In some way, they all relate to the bad economic conditions in North America, the declining value of the Dollar abroad, and concerns over consumer spending for Holiday 2008. My top three mid-year trends for service and support are:

  • Rich content for Web self-service. One of the reasons Symantec was awarded an SSPA Star Award for Best Online Support earlier this year was the amazing array of self-service options they offer, including how-to videos, self-healing diagnostics, and other rich media, interactive support options.  I have had a lot of interest from members about introducing more rich content/mixed media in their web self-service in an attempt to dramatically improve the customer experience and drive up self-service adoption and success.  And with the industry average for self-service success currently at a startling low 43%, a new approach seems a great idea–and a project with clear ROI potential.
  • Revenue generation.  Both B2B and B2C support groups are under more pressure to bring in additional revenue, and as a result we are seeing new ‘for pay’ support options and higher prices for maintenance contracts.  I sometimes feel I am the last analyst on earth defending maintenance pricing, but we know that premiere level customers always are more satisfied and repurchase faster, so trying to increase customer investment and use of support is a win-win proposal.  You’ve all seen the headlines from the large enterprise apps vendor raising prices and eliminating basic support levels.  But I also expect to see a renewed push for upsell/cross-sell in the support center.  One great example:  a consumer technology company told me they are going to start charging customers $9.95 for remote support/remote control of their computers, which promises to speed up their resolution time.
  • ROI for Web 2.  I’ve written about the rapid adoption of Web 2 technology by SSPA members, and in fact 18% of SSPA members have funding for additional investments in discussion forums this year, 10% have funding for wikis.  But unlike last year, when all my inquiries were more on what the applications were, how to implement them, and who the top providers were, this year I’m hearing questions about the business case for Web 2, where the ROI will come from, and what are the new metrics to track to measure success of Web 2 projects.  Said another way, last year everyone was investing in Web 2 because the CEO said to go create a Web 2 strategy.  This year they are trying to understand how to get the value from their investment.

I also think we will hear much more about Green Support in 2009, hopefully moving beyond cutting electrical usage in data centers–which is where the ‘green’ conversation seems to have stalled at the moment.  I’ll be publishing some Green articles after our Fall Conference, so maybe I can have a hand in launching that trend for next year.  Stay tuned!

If you have any comments or questions on these trends, or have a trend of your own to put forward, please add a comment or shoot me an email.  And as always, thanks for reading!

Explore posts in the same categories: Best Practices, Consumer Support, Enterprise Support, Technology

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2 Comments on “Mid-Year Support Trends: Rich Content, Revenue Generation, and the ROI of Web 2”

  1. John,

    Great summary… I also want to add something on Web 2.0… since I seem to have some 20-30 seconds free.

    I started seeing the trend to make Web 2.0 pay off, be fruitful, etc… in other words, away from the hype and towards productivity, earlier this year as you have. Alas, once an analyst always an analyst… looking for more data points, I found the good folks at Demo who said that virtually none of the entries for their upcoming show are Web 2.0 hype… the only ones that emphasize W2.0 are the ones that are demonstrating what it can really do, what is the payoff, and are already selling it well to corporate customers.

    so, there you have it – for what is worth.. three data points saying the same. it is officially a trend now 🙂


  2. Anand Chopra Says:

    John, Esteban,

    Web 2.0 is spreading and by it’s very nature will bring together Support and various other groups in the enterprise – it’s critical that Support is in lockstep with R&D, Marketing, Sales, etc – because customers, more than ever before, are now demanding it. We’re about to take-off into the widespread adoption of customer co-creation of products and services (in some cases we’re already there) – and furthermore, partners and the entire ecosystem will participate in this co-creation. I’m sure we can all agree that measuring the value you attain from an investment is not always cut and dry, and with a concept and technology relatively new to the marketplace, calculating a return on this is difficult in these early stages – it seems that Web 2.0 is in this stage today.

    We (Talisma, an nGenera company) are sponsoring a webinar next week to discuss the powerful new demographic entering the workforce – Gen Y. This generation will have more spending power than the generations before them and will demand that enterprises are able to communicate with them using Web 2.0 technologies. So while we are busy coming up with a formula to calculate ROI on a Web 2.0 investment, this new driving force is already going away from traditional channels and dreaming up the next Web 2.0 offering…


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