Archive for October 2009

SAP CRM: Momentum followed by innovation

October 27, 2009

Today I attended the SAP CRM Virtual Influencer Summit to get an update on SAP’s CRM practice. I love the virtual approach for analyst summits as I have access to all the content without having to lose a day flying somewhere.  Here are some updates:

  • Twitter integration. SAP unveiled a CRM Twitter Solution that pulls in Tweets and performs sentiment analysis, so you can take action on negative comments automatically.

SAP Twitter integration with sentiment analysis


Final Day of TSW: Top Attended Sessions

October 22, 2009

I am back home after our 3 day Technology Services World Conference in Las Vegas, and starting to process all that I heard into some trend ‘buckets.’ For now, I wanted to highlight the top attended sessions from yesterday. Very interesting. The first day of breakout sessions showed that the basic challenges of support (talent management, KM, partner enablement) have not changed greatly over the last decade. But as we will see in yesterday’s highlights, Web 2.0 is an equal, if not even greater, concern.

  • Change is the Only Constant: How Social Media is Transforming Customer Service; Shawn Santos, Director of Programs & Community, TSIA

With 124 attendees, this was the #1 attended session at our entire event.  Thank to all of you who responded to our Social Media survey in the last 3 weeks–we had over 400 completed surveys.  In this session, Shawn revealed some survey results, our very first look at company attitudes toward social media, staffing, ROI, and lots of other data.  We’ll be publishing multiple reports based on this data in the months to come.

FTEs Dedicated to Social Media Efforts

FTEs Dedicated to Social Media Efforts

Announcing TSIA STAR Award Winners

October 21, 2009

Today at the closing ceremony of our Technology Services World Conference, we announced the winners of the Fall 2009 TSIA STAR Awards. These awards are presented to outstanding service and support operations, and let me tell you, winning ain’t easy. There is a required deck of 50+ PowerPoint slides including business and customer impacts, a minimum of 3 quarters of customer satisfaction data must be presented, as well as different criteria in each category. The applications are judged by our executive board, and a call is held to discuss (and sometimes loudly debate–or maybe that’s only the calls I’m on…) applicants and to select winners.

The 2009 STAR Awards for Service Excellence winners by category are:

Service Excellence in Complex Application Support – Enterprise: EMC Corporation.
Service Excellence in Complex Application Support – SMB: Netezza Corporation.
Service Excellence in Consumer Support: McAfee, Inc.
Service Excellence in Continual Improvement: Aruba Networks.
Service Excellence in Emerging Business Support: Taleo Corporation.
Service Excellence in Innovative Support: Hewlett-Packard.
Service Excellence in Integrated Services: Oracle Corporation.
Service Excellence in Mission Critical Support – Hardware: Juniper Networks, Inc.
Service Excellence in Mission Critical Support – Software – Enterprise: Symantec Corporation.
Service Excellence in Mission Critical Support – Software – SMB: Invensys-Wonderware.
Service Excellence in Outstanding Improvement: Schlumberger Information Solutions.
Service Excellence in Partner Management: SAP AG.

In a few weeks I will be publishing a research report with the case studies behind each of these wins. These are very impressive stories, showing the very best of our industry. For more information on the award categories and past winners, see

Congratulations to all the winners!

Hot Topics from TSW: Top Attended Sessions

October 21, 2009

Greetings from Fabulous Las Vegas, where 800 of my closest friends are together for our annual Technology Services World Vegas. Yesterday was our first full day of breakout sessions, and I wanted to highlight the top attended sessions since this is an instant read on the top challenges facing our professional services, technical support and field service members. Here are the breakouts from yesterday with the highest attendance: (more…)

Launching our New Company Brand: Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA)

October 20, 2009

Today at the Technology Services World Conference in Las Vegas, we announced our new company identify: Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA).  This has been in the works for some time, and my very first comment is congratulations to Cindy McCombe and the rest of our marketing team for doing such a great job on the preparation and launch of the new brand.  Preparing for this on top of the conference cannot have been easy.

Why the change?  I’ll give you my take.  As you know, I have been covering technology for three industry associations: SSPA for technical support professionals, TPSA for professional services execs, and AFSMI for field service and depot professionals.  Though each group has a unique agenda, different success metrics, and different ‘bleeding edge’ interests, there was also a lot of overlap.  In my keynote address today, I outlined several areas where technology needs overlap across service disciplines, and I recommended the creation of a Converged Services Infrastructure: (more…)

Fall 2009 Recognized Innovators: Winners Announced!

October 20, 2009

During my keynote today in Vegas at the Technology Services World Conference I announced the winners of the Fall 2009 Recognized Innovator Awards.  These awards recognize technology innovation from our SSPA, TPSA and AFSMI partners.  Partners submit application to be judged by a panel of association members and industry experts.

Innovation in Battling Complexity. Technology complexity has been rapidly increasing and the percentage of members who say the products they support are highly complex has grown from 42% to 62% since 2003. Rising complexity affects many areas of service and support operations, and the Recognized Innovator in this category will provide real-world examples of how their technology or services help companies battle complexity.

The Recognized Innovators for Battling Complexity are: (more…)

Yes, Support CAN Sell: Lessons from the B2C World

October 14, 2009

I’m preparing for tomorrow’s webcast with LivePerson, “Live Chat: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly,” and we are going to talk about something we’ve never tackled on an SSPA webcast before:  upsell and cross-sell.

This is always a touchy topic for tech support, with some long-time support techs not happy about putting on a sales hat.  But trust me, it was also a controversial topic 10 years ago in the consumer support world.  I did some research on this during my time at Forrester, and many of the lessons learned by consumer companies can apply equally well to the enterprise support world.   I will be covering this during the webcast tomorrow, but here is a preview for you.

Lessons learned by consumer companies who incorporated sales into service

  • Include sales training in product training.  During training, include appropriate upsell/cross-sell offers along with technical training on common problems.  Newly minted support techs will learn both simultaneously, getting over the “service vs. sales” mentality.
  • Training must be ongoing.  Just like customer service skills, soft sales skills training should be ongoing, especially for those with low extend/accept rates.
  • In many cases, sales is PART OF servicing the customer.  One company told me, “When agents hear YES often enough, they stop thinking of it as selling.”  Some SSPA members (IBM, HP) already do this. If a customer is struggling with technical problems on older equipment, offering them a special deal to upgrade will solve the problem and create revenue.
  • Measure offer extends and accept rates, NOT total revenue generated.  Learn some new metrics.  “Offer extends” is what percent of the time an agent extends an offer to the customer during the call/chat/email.  “Accept rate” is the percentage of the time the customer accepts the offer. The biggest barrier at the start is getting agents to extend the offer, and soft sales training helps them work the extend naturally into the conversation.
  • Support techs/agents should be incented, not goaled.  Don’t give them a goal, because when the goal is reached agents stop selling.  Instead, provide incentives, such as a sales commission or per-accept reward.

Please join us for the webcast tomorrow if you can, I’ll expand on these points and have some other advice to share.  Thanks for reading, and I hope to see all of you next week at Technology Services World Vegas!

Bidding a fond farewell to a CRM innovator: Sarah Nunke

October 7, 2009

I know there is a fine line between personal and business blogs, and I have worked hard over the last couple of years not to cross that line.  I realize this post puts a toe over the line, but I hope you all will indulge me. A good friend, mentor and supporter of mine died yesterday, Sarah Nunke.  She had been battling pancreatic cancer for 15 months and passed away at home under hospice care.

When I was a tech support manager at JCPenney in the late 80s/early 90s, we implemented the very first knowledgebase product designed specifically for support:  Apriori from Answer Systems.  Sarah was the product manager for the company. JCPenney was this small startup’s first big-name account, and I worked with Sarah providing requirements for some additional modules they were building, around contact management and entitlement, that would become the common paradigm used today in every CRM system on the market.  Sarah saw potential in me that I didn’t even see, and I remember her saying on one of her JCPenney site visits, “We need to get you out of here.” (more…)

Gearing up for TSW: Killer KM Content

October 5, 2009

The majority of my SSPA member inquiries are regarding some aspect of knowledge management (KM) and search, and increasingly I’m receiving similar inquiries from TPSA and AFSMI members.  KM is definitely a cross-service concern.

We are only two weeks out from Technology Serviced World-Vegas, with a conference track dedicated to KM.  Technology support organizations are pushing the envelope with KM in many ways, and attending these sessions is a great way to find out what’s working, what’s not working, and what ‘bleeding edge’ means in the fast changing world of KM.  Here’s a sneak peek of what we’ll be talking about at TSW:

First up is a session I’m excited about: “Quarterback Ratings and Knowledge Management: Maximize the “Pass Efficiency” of Your KM Users” by Jeff Harling, Global Process Manager for Knowledge Management, Avaya. Avaya recently won our STAR Award for Best Knowledge Management Practices, and they have lot of great insight to share. In this session, hear about the latest innovative KM project at Avaya–measuring participation in their knowledge management program. By normalizing across eight key data points similar to a passer rating or football “quarterback rating,” they are creating an aggregated approach to defining the value of each and every KM user. This presentation will look at the algorithm methodology, how it was created, and how it is being implemented into an on-demand report for an organization of over 6,000 associates.

My next big research project is a market overview of search technology. The world of enterprise search is encroaching on our KM-specific search universe, and now there are products serving both domains.  Here are 2 sessions that will help you learn more.  The first is: “Using Information and Knowledge Access Solutions to Lower Service Costs and Increase Customer Trust, Loyalty and Engagement,” by search vendor and SSPA partner Coveo. Coveo will co-present with one of their customers, a leading technology provider, about how their use of enterprise search has evolved from a single departmental implementation to supporting all call center and extranet content.

The second search-related KM session I encourage you to attend is a panel discussion of InQuira customers, led by InQuira’s Chris Hall. Chris and I did a recent webcast on KM best practices that had a very large audience and lots of great questions from attendees. If you want to know the truth about resource and maintenance requirements (a common inquiry topic) for search technology, this is your chance to hear it from real-world users.

If your interest in KM is more on the social media side, you will definitely want to attend this session, “Top 10 Things Online Support Communities Have Taught HP,” by Lois Townsend, Global Manager, Social Media Strategy, HP Consumer Support Operations, Hewlett Packard. Customers are blogging, posting, and tweeting about the problems they are facing and the questions they have. Lois is responsible for determining how HP should use social media to answer them. With more than 290 million customer interactions last year alone, this is no small task. She will give the top 10 lessons HP learned in the last year for you to take back and apply to your support organization.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to seeing all of you in 2 weeks in Vegas!

SSPA/TPSA/AFSMI Social Media Survey: Please Participate!

October 2, 2009

We are receiving more inquiries from member companies regarding social media.  Who is doing what? How important is it? Which customer demographics care the most? Which social media outlet is the most popular? To help answer these questions, and guide members in creating their own social media program, we need your help.

You are invited to participate in a landmark survey of technology services and support professionals and their perceptions of social media and its impact on the technology services industry. It will take approximately ten minutes to complete.

You and other service professionals from around the industry–and around the globe–will benefit from participating in this important research. The feedback that you provide will help shape how the technology services industry understands the potential—and potential pitfalls—of using social media to support their customers.

The survey contains questions about:

1 – Perspectives & Personal Use of Social Media
2 – Social Media: Corporate Policies & Practices
3 – Social Media for Customer Service & Support: Today & Tomorrow
4 – About You

The results will be initially unveiled Wednesday Oct 21st by our Director of Member Programs, Shawn Santos, during his breakout session “Change is the Only Constant: How Social Media is Transforming Customer Service & Support” at Technology Service World 2009 Las Vegas, however, those that complete the survey and provide contact information will receive a summary of the results in a “survey respondents report” which will contain the full set of information and specific read outs for our industry.

I will also be using the survey results in published research later in 2009.

The results of this study are absolutely, 100% anonymous and confidential. Only aggregated views of the results will be created. Your individual responses will NOT be associated with your name or your company name in any way, in any reports, presentations, webcasts, or other disseminations of the results of this study.

To take the survey, follow this link:

Thank you for your help! If you have any questions, please let me know.