What changes will customer support see in 2009? Vote now!

Welcome to 2009! As my first post of the year, I wanted to take a poll to see what you think will impact customer service/tech support the most this year.

I think the top change drivers will be:

  • The economy. The first question members and partners ask me now is how I think our industry will be impacted by the recession. I’m trying to be optimistic that the mood of the country will change when we purge the White House and seat a new president this month. With interest rates dropping, gas prices down, and a new president who can speak in complete sentences, the recession may be over sooner than expected. If so, the long-term impact to our industry will be minimal. If not, cost cutting could force some innovation this year–think new approaches to staffing, changes to entitlements, push toward more embedded support, etc.
  • Web 2.0. In 2007 and 2008 there was huge spending on internal and external community technology, and early adopters are seeing some great results (call/incident deflection, more engaged customers). My favorite success story of 2008 was Linksys ending email support and successfully migrating the majority of interactions to the forum. As more communities are launched, and existing communities grow, 2009 may be the year we see real ROI for community technology. I’ll definitely be sharing those case studies as I find them. Note we added a new Star Award category for Spring, Best Online Community. I look forward to reading those applications!
  • Green initiatives. Maybe you are going green because of executive or shareholder pressure. Or maybe it is just about saving money. Either way, more companies are launching green initiatives with real impacts to support policies and processes. Expect to see more emphasis on remote monitoring, diagnostics and resolution for tech support, field service and professional services in 2009. Additionally, with remote or at-home agents seen as a way to cut operating expenses and increase the talent pool, some long-held ideas about support (training, monitoring, coaching) will be forced to change.
  • Generation Y. You may be tired of this topic, but I still see big impacts coming to our industry from Generation Y. These folks, aged approximately 21-31, now represent all new support employees and increasingly the target customer for your technology. If you haven’t spent time understanding how big an impact this has on employee relations and product requirements, please checkout some of the excellent resources on the topic. Gen Y will force US tech companies to rethink almost every current process, policy and stated product direction in the years to come.

Please take a moment and respond to the poll, so I understand what you think the biggest driver for change will be!  Thanks for reading, and if you have any thoughts on blog topics for 2009, please add a comment or shoot me an email.

Explore posts in the same categories: Best Practices, customer support, Enterprise Support

2 Comments on “What changes will customer support see in 2009? Vote now!”

  1. Jim Watson Says:

    John, I like your optimism re: the possiblity for an economic rebound, beginning as early as January 21! And even the turnaround doesn’t kick in for another 12 months, well, then … what doesn’t kill us will make us stronger. Your points about “forced innovation” is spot-on. The silver lining of the recession is that it causes businesses to get better at the basics and find creative ways to preserve their customer bases, so that when the smoke clears – either later this year, or next, both the businesses and their customers will be better for it.

  2. John,

    Very nicely said — but I think you are missing something here. My friends at Gartner – even the ones from Forrester – have agreed with some other pundits, and myself, and we see 2009 as the year of feedback. I think, and wrote about it several times in my blog, that we will see it grow up as a strategic tool. I voted above for the closest area you had (user requirements) but wanted to add my caveat.

    You know I could not resist 🙂

    Finally, and this is called a shameless plug, I wrote my resolutions for customer service in 2009 — link below– in case you cannot sleep tonight. 🙂


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