Archive for November 2009

Trends Impacting Technology Services: Please Weigh In!

November 23, 2009

My boss, Thomas Lah, executive director of TSIA, is doing some interesting work on trends. His latest blog post discusses 9 key trends impacting technology services in three areas:

  • Performance Trends: These are trends that will impact the performance metrics and results of a technology services business
  • Practice Trends: These are trends related to the business practices employed by technology service organizations to optimize their businesses.
  • Preference Trends: These trends related to buying preferences of customers consuming technology services.

His blog post includes a poll, asking which of these trends do you personally feel will have the greatest impact on technology service organizations over the next five years, as well as asking for input on other trends to watch. This information will help us build out and prioritize our 2010 research calendar, so your input is requested! Please take a quick read and weigh in on the poll:

Thanks for participating!


The Economics of Customer Service Excellence

November 18, 2009

I’m preparing for tomorrow’s Webcast, “The Economics of Customer Service Excellence: Critical Improvements for Tier 1 and First Contact Resolution,” and wanted to share some of the data I’ve come across in my research.  Obviously in a down economy (and for all the talk about recovery I’ve yet to hear any service execs getting budget increases) there is a big focus on servicing customers as cost effectively as possible. But in this case, reducing support costs is a win:win–not only does resolving more issues at Level 1 lower operating costs, but customers are much happier when issues are resolved more quickly, and by the first person they speak to.

The economics are simple:  the longer a support incident is open, the more it costs.  If you escalate an issue from Level 1 to Level 2, the cost doubles.  Everyone asks about incident costs, and based on member surveys, here is the data I quote: (more…)

Five WORST Practices of Customer Service

November 10, 2009

A few years ago I was speaking at a conference and committed a cardinal sin: I used a company as an example of poor customer service, and that company, an electric utility, was in the audience. I tried to mea culpa my way out of it, and apologized profusely to the company’s support manager at the conference. A couple of weeks later I received a call at my office from the head of support for the utility company, who informed me they had made major investments to their support operations, including 100% call recording, and he had listened to every one of my phone interactions over the last couple of years and I had zero reason to think they gave poor support.

Worst Practice #1: Never tell a customer their feelings about poor treatment are unjustified. You are basically calling them a liar, and putting the customer immediately on the defensive.

The folly of all of this is that the account I had had so many problems with was a rental property I owned at the time, and the electric account wasn’t even in my name. Using call recording as a bully club to argue with customers is ridiculous, as you can’t possibly tie me personally to account problems my name and phone number aren’t associated with.

Fast forward a few years. A few weeks ago, Northern California received a record breaking storm, the remnants of a typhoon from Asia. I live in the Santa Cruz mountains, and I received 10 inches of rain in one day. We had sustained winds at 40mph, with gusts up to 70mph. My power was out for 4 days, and if that wasn’t bad enough, my encounters with that same utility company left me so frustrated, that weeks later I am still angry. This blog post is my attempt at catharsis. (more…)

Meeting the needs of remote and mobile workers

November 4, 2009

I am preparing for tomorrow’s webcast, “Developing a Support Strategy that Embraces Change in Today’s Increasingly Remote Workforce,” and though we don’t have a tremendous amount of data on the topic–YET–in the TSIA benchmark, I have found lots of interesting data from the US Department of Labor and various research groups who graciously shared their findings.  This is an interesting topic because it impacts support in multiple ways:

  • Technical support and call centers have growing percentages of employees working from home, and old approaches to training, coaching and monitoring don’t work.
  • Our customers are becoming more mobile, and assumptions about devices and support processes don’t meet the needs of these customers.
  • IT support is also struggling, as more complex applications are available on mobile devices, meaning your IT help desk needs new skills and tools to support the mobile workforce.

There are lots of benefits to remote workers, and during the webcast I’ll give some survey data on this, covering everything from cost savings (no facilities costs) to increased employee satisfaction to support of Green initiatives.  But what I hear from TSIA members is the pool of possible employees is much larger and better when remote is an option: According to Gartner Inc., 70-80% of home-based agents have college degrees, compared with 30-40% of workers in conventional call centers.

I’ve done a number of webcasts in the past on mobile applications  (including Increasing Field Service Productivity and Profits With Mobile Automation Tools and Take the Mobile Field Service Challenge), and last week I blogged about how SAP is seeing wide adoption of their CRM tools on multiple mobile devices and platforms. Just check out the iPhone AppStore and see the growing number of enterprise application vendors offering iPhone apps to access your corporate data: Oracle, SAP and Salesforce are just three examples.

Clearly customers expect seamless support regardless of what device or platform they are using, and that is putting pressure on support teams when their tools and processes only address applications running on a desktop.  We don’t have all the answers yet, but I hope you will make time for this webcast to learn what to expect and some tips to setting up your mobile and remote strategy. Register here: If you aren’t able to attend the live event, go ahead and register–we’ll send you a link to the OnDemand version later this week.

Cheers, and thanks for reading!