Archive for February 2009

New for Spring 2009: SSPA Certified Support Leader

February 27, 2009

In conjunction with our Spring conference, Technology Services World (TSW), to be held here in Silicon Valley May 4-6, we are launching a new individual certification program, the SSPA Certified Support Leader Professional Development Course. The program is targeting front line supervisors and new support managers, particularly those designated as ‘Top Talent,’ who want a deep dive into the dynamics shaping our industry.

The curriculum is being developed by SSPA founder Bill Rose and myself, and will cover all the FAQ’s we receive from members, an overview of benchmarking best practices, a technology map of service and support solutions and leading vendors, a discussion of current trends and their short/long impact on the industry (economic recession, Value-Added Service, Web 2.0, service convergence, etc.), and a lot of other information (including some ‘off the record’ information on career success). We promise an open-kimono, somewhat irreverent, content packed, and definitely challenging environment.

The SSPA Certified Support Leader course begins with a full day of classroom instruction on May 4th, with a proctored exam. For the following 2 days of the conference, attendees will have some assigned keynote addresses and breakout sessions to attend, and Bill and I will hold breakfast and lunch meetings with the class to discuss learnings and how to implement them.

Upon completion of the course, attendees will be presented with certificates during the SSPA Star Award Luncheon, where they will be welcomed into the SSPA community as new Certified Support Leaders. Bill and I will offer ongoing counseling for course graduates via the SSPA member inquiry process.

You can find more information about the new certification program on our list of professional development courses. I hope you will take advantage of this program to provide some innovative training to key employees; investing in your support executives of the future.  If you have questions, or have opinions about what the course should cover, please add a comment or shoot me an email.  And as always, thanks for reading!  I look forward to seeing all of you at TSW!


Why 2009 is a good year for Work Force Optimization

February 26, 2009

There are not a lot of areas within service and support technology expecting growth this year, but there are a few. I had a chat yesterday with Chris Musico at CRM Magazine who wanted to know if I agreed that Work Force Optimization (WFO) was one of the few growth areas for service and support technology in 2009. And I definitely agree.

So what exactly is WFO? This encompasses the whole soup-to-nuts suite of skills based scheduling for support employees, eLearning, and a whole array of quality monitoring (QM) capabilities, such as phone and screen recording. WFO is available from specialists (Verint, Nice, LiveOps) as well as telephony/call center vendors (Genesys, Aspect, Cisco, Avaya).

We started hearing from some larger members mid-last year that they were investing in WFO for the first time. We even had a mini-collab between our SMB members about what products they were using for sophisticated agent scheduling. Why has this technology, formerly thought of as only used by large consumer call centers, suddenly ‘crossed the chasm’ to technical support and B2B support? I think there are three primary reasons: (more…)

What’s Hot in Consumer Tech Support; And Why It Is Bad for Your Brand

February 10, 2009

I have been amazed by the growth of 3rd party providers of support for home office and SMB, such as, Plumchoice and SupportSpace. These companies target consumers with a message that is music to their ears: we’ll fix your problem, no matter what it is. It doesn’t matter if it is your computer, an application, the operating system, your peripherals or drivers, your home network, or your ISV, one phone number fixes it all for a very reasonable price. In addition to break/fix, they also offer menus of services such as network setup, security/virus protection, upgrades, backups, apps training, and some also have an option for in-home assistance. I even did a webcast recently with HCL, who is launching a business (HCL Touch) offering these services to consumers and SMBs in India.

HCL Touch

HCL Touch

I was talking to a PC manufacturer recently who said, “I sure hope these guys are successful, because they take support volume away from me.” I agree, in the short term this is a win:win:win. Customers get one stop shopping for multivendor support issues with no delays, transfers, or call backs. PC manufacturers receive less inbound support volume. The 3rd party providers have discovered a reliable source of revenue. So what’s the problem? (more…)

And the Phone Keeps Ringing: Update on Incidents by Channel

February 6, 2009

I’ve had a couple of inquiries this week about incident volumes and channel distribution and thought I would share some updated benchmark metrics with you. The general assumption has always been that as self-service and e-channels became more popular, phone calls would drop. Well, phone volume wouldn’t actually drop, but the percentage of incidents reported by phone would drop. That’s certainly where we were headed in the late 90s and early 00s as email, chat and web self-service became more widely adopted.  But the trend may now be reversing.

Support Incidents by Channel

Support Incidents by Channel

As you can see in this chart, phone incidents represented 66% of volume in 2001, dropping to 52% in 2006. But over the last 2 years that number has been rising, and currently the percent of phone incidents is 57%.

So what is behind this trend?  I suspect the following based on member conversations.