Archive for October 2008

Hot Topics: Top Attended Sessions at Services Leadership Conference

October 30, 2008

A great way to identify the hottest topics in the service and support industry is to look at the top attended breakout sessions from last week’s AFSMI, SSPA and TPSA Services Leadership Conference.  This was the first co-located event for the three associations, and the first time that attendees were given an option of attending any session, regardless of association.  With an audience of 850 members and partners across professional services, contact center, technical support and field service operations, the five top attended sessions were:

  1. Tracking Effectiveness and Performance with Operating Metrics; Chris Palomino, Oracle
  2. Segmenting to Innovate: Tapping into Customers’ Unspoken Needs to Build Differentiated Services; Barry McPherson, McAfee
  3. Winning and Keeping Customers: It’s All About the Experiences- Eight Steps to Becoming a Customer Experience Superhero; Joe Baksha, Motorola, Andrew Hull, RightNow Technologies
  4. The SSPA/AFSMI Benchmark Study: How Does Your Support Organization Measure Up?; Bill Rose, SSPA
  5. Process Overview and Industry Data Points: Economic Impact Analysis; Thomas Lah, TPSA

There were multiple tracks of content at the event with a total of more than 80 sessions.  Here are the top attended sessions from each track: (more…)


Services Leadership Conference: Closing Day

October 22, 2008

Today was the final day of our Services Leadership Conference at the Mirage in Vegas. The day opened with an incredible keynote from Robert Reich, former US Labor Secretary, who decided at the last minute not to use his prepared presentation and instead discussed the current economic situation. Very powerful. I’ve always been a fan of Reich because he has the ability to explain very complex economic dynamics so it is consumable to the masses, and today was no exception. Considering he knows most of the players involved in our current mess, his insights were fascinating.

Robert Reich opens day 3 of the conference

Robert Reich opens day 3 of the conference


Services Leadership Conference: Day 2

October 22, 2008

Welcome to my recap of the 2nd day of our Services Leadership Conference at the Mirage in Vegas.  My day started very early with a series of member 1:1 meetings before the conference opened at 8:30.  In an eerie coincidence, I had 2 more 1:1 meetings focused on the topic I wrote about yesterday: how to fulfill customer service/KM requirements when no single vendor offers all the necessary components.  Examples: Strong KM, weak incident management.  Strong incident workflow but weak entitlement.  Good customer portal but no enterprise search. Excellent enterprise search but no community platform.  It is very daunting to members who launched a project assuming they were going to select one vendor, only to find they may need 3, or even 4.

There is more to this problem than just picking a provider who meets 80% of your needs.  These companies look at KM and self-service as competitive differentiators, they already have “ok” systems, but want best of breed in each area in order to create a next generation customer experience.  Despite the enormous consolidation we have seen across CRM and eService in the last few years, a best of breed, end to end solution remains an unreachable nirvana. (more…)

Announcing the Winners of the Fall Recognized Innovator Awards: Green Edition

October 22, 2008

This morning during my keynote presentation at the AFSMI and SSPA Services Leadership Conference I announced the winners of the Fall 2008 Recognized Innovator Awards.  

Winners accept their awards at the Vegas event

Winners accept their awards at the Vegas event

These awards are presented to technology and service providers who have proven innovations; the categories for the awards change for each event.  For Fall 2008, I focused on Green Support, with the following three categories:

  • Innovation in Enabling Virtual Support Centers.  The winner in this category provides innovative technology to fully engage remote employees so they are not isolated; enable support management to understand the complete picture of the employee, even when they are working remotely; and identify training needs of remote engineers and/or streamline remote training delivery.
  • Innovation in Eliminating Onsite Visits.  The winner in this category provides innovative technology to remotely diagnose and resolve product or service issues, with a proven track record for reducing onsite field technician visits.
  • Innovation in Streamlining Field Service Schedules.  The winner in this category provides innovative technology to streamline the scheduling and dispatch of field resources, increasing productivity for onsite appointments and ensuring the right mix of parts and skills are included to eliminate return visits.

The winners were selected by a panel of judges consisting of AFSMI and SSPA members, as well as industry insiders.  The judges for this round of awards were:

Maria Afonso, Wolters Kluwer Health; Brad Cox, RouteSmart Technologies; Tim Curran, Wolters Kluwer Health; Jennifer Klafin, IronPort; Joe Lelievre, Kronos; Jason Walker, USInet; Jackie Wienburg, Research in Motion; Anand Chopra, nGenera; Matt Healey, IDC; Michael Israel, Ignite Service; and Esteban Kolsky, eVergance. Thanks to all of you for your help!

With no further ado, here are the winners: (more…)

Opening Day: 2008 Services Leadership Conference

October 21, 2008

Greetings from Las Vegas!  Our 2008 Services Leadership Conference officially kicked off at 3pm today with our first joint keynote across the AFSMI, SSPA and TPSA.  JB Wood, Stephen Smith and Thomas Lah talked about the past, present and future of the industry, with emphasis on service convergence and Value-Added Support. Next, Juergen Rottler, EVP of Customer Services for Oracle, gave one of the best keynotes in my recent memory about how Oracle challenged the industry status quo and pushed for innovative services.

Juergen Rottler presents at the Services Leadership Conference

Juergen Rottler presents at the Services Leadership Conference


Service Technology Success Stories: PSA, Communities, Field Service

October 15, 2008

Next week is our Fall Leadership Conference for the AFSMI, SSPA and TPSA at the Mirage in Vegas.  I hope to see you there!  I’ve spent part of my week reviewing conference presentations and providing feedback to presenters. Typically, about half of the top attended sessions at the conference are in the Innovative Service Technologies track, which features success stories from companies on various customer support, field service and professional services technologies.  I predict we will have high attendance in this track yet again, as there are some really great stories about service organizations that have leveraged innovative technology to improve operations and gain a competitive edge.  

Here are a few examples: (more…)

Higher adoption of premium support? Not so fast.

October 7, 2008

One of my (many) pet peeves as an analyst is how certain ideas are repeated so often they become accepted fact, even if they aren’t grounded in reality.  The worst of these is the one you’ve all heard me grouse about before:  the oft repeated lie that 70% of CRM implementations fail.  Not true!  What is failure?  What is success?  How do you claim failure when you never defined success criteria? Aigh! But I digress.

I’ve recently had several companies remark to me about how in the age of proactive support and remote monitoring, more customers are opting for premium support contracts.  It makes sense to me.  When you look at a service contract through a Value-Added Support lens, it is logical that companies would want more services because they accelerate time to value for the purchase.

Accept it isn’t true.  I found our SSPA Benchmark information on this from 2003 and compared it with the 2008 numbers.  As you can see in the graphic, things haven’t changed much at all in the last 5 years. (more…)