Archive for April 2009

What customer satisfaction scale to use? Majority go with 1 to 5.

April 30, 2009

I receive lots of questions about customer satisfaction programs. One area with lots of disagreement is what scale to use. I’m a fan of 1-5 scales, because I think the increments are realistic for rating a service experience. Also, average scores are always higher on a 1-5 scale than a 1-10 scale. Do customers really understand why they would rate you a 6 verses a 7? In my opinion, too much granularity leads to random choices.

But clearly lots of people disagree. Here is a chart showing which scale is used by SSPA member companies:


While the 1-5 scale is the most popular, there are also lots of companies using 1-10 scales, and a pretty big slice of members selected ‘other,’ which is sort of curious to me. Of course, another big factor is how the scale is labeled, and we’ve heard lots of stories about strange labeling that certainly influences scores (like having 5 on a 1-10 scale labeled as ‘satisfactory’). (more…)


Where the rubber meets the road: Putting innovative technology to work

April 24, 2009

Our Spring 2009 Technology Services World conference is just a week away, beginning Monday, May 4th at the Santa Clara Convention Center here in Silicon Valley. Recession be damned, we will have near 500 attendees at the event, and registrations are still coming in! Historically, many of our top attended sessions come from the “Innovative Service Technology” track, in which members present case studies of how they have leveraged innovative technology to achieve measurable business results. Members tell me they love these sessions because there is so much hype out there about ROI, and it great to hear real-world stories of how technology, wedded successfully with people and process, are driving improved service levels, lower costs and higher revenues.

To me, these sessions are so popular because they prove how taking a chance with leading-edge (and sometimes bleeding-edge) technology pays off. It is the ultimate example of where the rubber meets the road, and something positive happens.



Here are some of the sessions featured in this track for TSW: (more…)

SAP Deepens Functional Coverage in ITSM and Contact Center

April 20, 2009

I had a chance to do a deep-dive with SAP lastweek in two areas, SAP IT Service Management (ITSM) and SAP Business Communications Management (BCM), and there were some very good surprises along the way. My overall finding is that SAP has made HUGE progress in leveraging strong elements from CRM and other applications across their portfolio, so not only do you now have a more consistent look and feel across the various applications, but they surprised me with some sophisticated features in unexpected places giving them a ‘best of breed’ distinction when ‘good enough’ would have probably been acceptable (and let’s face it, that’s the strategy many suite players use).

ITSM, or tools for IT support, may not seem like an obvious interest area for me, since the SSPA is external-customer facing. But with services revenues growing, SSPA and TPSA members are now finding themselves offering all sorts of advanced service options, sometimes acting as the IT outsourcer for implementations of their technology at customer sites. As a result, member companies are facing more requirements for ITIL compliance, service catalogs, CMDB-like asset tools, and they need to be able to speak with IT customers using the ITIL terminology of ‘incident/change/problem’ management. In other words, the line between internal and external support has thinned, and ITSM tools and philosophies are becoming more common in tech support.

A few exciting things for me in SAP ITSM are:

Proactive Chat Proves Hot Topic: Audience Questions from Webcast

April 13, 2009

Last Thursday I did a webcast with LivePerson about proactive Web chat.  I knew this was an area of interest because I receive so many inquiries about chat, and my blog posts about chat tend to generate a lot of traffic.  The live event yesterday had one of our largest audiences over the last year, and we received a lot of questions from the audience we didn’t have time to answer live.  If you weren’t able to attend the live event, here is a link to watch the OnDemand version.

Here are a few of the audience questions and my attempt at an answer:

  • Q: While you contend that chat works for technical support, how effective is it when dealing with a complex technical issue that may be unique to the customer?

We had a few questions from people who are still struggling with the idea that chat works for tech support.  While you support managers tend to deal with all the really complicated support issues, keep in mind that the majority of cases typically aren’t critical, and many members report that 50-85% of issues are procedural questions, not break/fix problems.  That said, certainly Web chat is not the ideal channel when there are detailed diagnostics needed, the customer needs to read some log file entries, or there is a hard down/data loss issue.  The key here is to have a process in place to immediatley escalate issues from chat to phone when necessary.

  • Does the chat need to integrate with the issue tracking system or the CRM system such that the session would be recorded and searchable later or can be converted to a ticket?
  • (more…)

Consona Starts Consolidation Between CRM and Remote Support with SupportSoft Asset Purchase

April 8, 2009

Over the last 2 years I have made recommendations to many multi-channel service vendors that they consider partnering or acquiring some remote support technology.  To me, it makes perfect sense.  Today’s remote support tools allow access to a wide array of operating systems and devices, including Mac, Linux, unattended servers (creating a market for B2B remote support), mobile devices, the list goes on and on.  And, as the home office and home theatre begin merging, remote support tools will be able to diagnose and resolve all sorts of consumer issues.

So I was thrilled to see the announcment on Monday that Consona had acquired the remote support software assets from SupportSoft.  SupportSoft was an early leader in remote support, with innovative capabilities far beyond remote control:  diagnostics, self-healing scripts, etc.  In fact, I did a case study on SupportSoft’s success at BellSouth back in 2002.  In the last couple of years, SupportSoft reinvented itself as, a 3rd party support desk for consumers and SMBs, and no longer wanted to be in the enterprise software business.

Remote support technology is primarily used by the communications, consumer hardware and software, and IT support industries.  But, as platforms expand and new device and OS support is added, the business case for remote support expands.  As an example, I read last week that another remote support vendor, LogMeIn, had signed a deal with Ford to include LogMeIn’s remote access feature in a new dashboard control allowing owners of Ford F-150, Super Duty, E-Series and Transit Connect trucks and vans to access applications and files on any interent connected computer. This technology will soon be a basic part of our daily lives.

I’ve done a lot of webcasts about remote support, and one thing I’ve found is that the ROI for remote support is much higher when the tool is deeply integrated with the support architecture.  Here’s a graphic from one of those webcasts: (more…)

Boost Utilization with Proactive Chat

April 2, 2009

I am doing a webcast next week with our partner, LivePerson, entitled “Can Your Support Center Afford Not to Be Proactive about Chat?” Web chat is always a popular topic with SSPA members, and something I’ve written about before.  Adoption of Web collaboration and Web chat technology has risen in the last couple of years (and I’ll share that data, including a preview of 2009 numbers, on the webcast).  However, though many members use desktop sharing and remote control, Web chat remains a minor channel, with only 1% of current incidents opened via chat.  

Web chat has some unique characteristics that make a good medium for support–as long as the problems aren’t too deeply technical.  For example, a chat request captures the context of where the customer is when they ask a question, it keeps customers in their channel of preference (the Web), and it lends itself to multi-tasking for both customers and agents. One of the issues I hear from members is that channel preference surveys often show chat as unpopular, and I will talk about why these surveys are misleading.

I went through 2+ years of member inquiries and compiled a list of the top FAQs about Web chat, which I will briefly address on the webcast: (more…)