Support’s Perfect Storm Rages On: Incident Volumes Up; Self-Service Success Down
An SSPA partner asked me this morning for an update on my 2006 stump speech, “Support’s Perfect Storm,” which documented how rising technical complexity was driving up incident volumes. I just pulled the latest 2008 AFSMI/SSPA Benchmark numbers and compared them to my information from 2006, and I am sorry to say: The Perfect Storm continues to run rampant over technical support operations. With the financial services crash certain to create even more cost cutting for support operations, will technical support find itself riding out 2009 in a FEMA trailer?
Let me tell this story with some data. Figure 1: Check out the rising average monthly incident volume from 2000 to 2008.
Sure, there are a few explanations for the massive increase other than just complexity. Today’s benchmark includes more companies than just enterprise hardware and software, there has been a lot of consolidation, etc., but any way you slice it, incident volumes are up. By a lot. “No big deal,” you say, “We have so much automation in place, we deflect a lot of those incidents. Right?”
Not so fast. Check out Figure 2, showing incidents created via phone vs. eChannels (email, web).
Not much progress here, in fact, except for Enterprise Software, it appears that customers are relying on the phone channel EVEN MORE than in the past. The biggest jump was for Enterprise Hardware, which according to the current benchmark database receives 69% of incidents via phone, compared to 51% two years ago. “Oh,” I can hear you thinking, “But self-service takes care of so many more incidents today.” Really?
Check out Figure 3. The percent of visitors successfully finding their answer via self-service is also down, from 48% in 2003 to only 40% in 2008.
Are phone incidents up because web self-service isn’t working? Have customers become so frustrated with self-service they are being trained to call automatically? Gosh, I hope that isn’t the case.
Clearly we have some work to do here, and I hope you will be attending our Fall Leadership Conference next month in Las Vegas to learn about technology and processes to stop this alarming trend. Learn how to build more supportability into products. Learn how to partner with professional services to ensure go-lives are faster and have fewer problems. Learn about new self-service technologies to deflect more incidents. Learn about harnessing the power of communities for peer-to-peer support.
Just LEARN. Because business as usual means there is a FEMA trailer waiting for you in 2009.
Thanks for reading!