Archive for June 2010

Let’s Take Back “Customer Experience” from the Marketing Team!

June 22, 2010

I just did a search of my old files for “customer experience,” and I first started writing about this in 2001 as a new analyst with Giga Information Group.  Customer Experience, or CEX, became the hottest new term in customer service.  We saw vendors adopt the term as an industry segment name with lightening speed–quality monitoring, CRM,  incident management, knowledgebase and self-service vendors all became CEX companies overnight.

At some point around 2003-2004, however, CEX took a dark turn: Mass adoption of the term by marketing and marketing-oriented vendors that used CEX to mean click stream monitoring and upsell/cross-sell.  The customer experience stopped being about “the product ownership experience” and instead became a euphemism for how to get more products into online shopping carts and through the checkout process. When I was at Forrester, they had a big CEX practice, and it was all about storefront website design and driving online revenue.

I am seeing some very promising trends in customer service about improving the CEX, and have decided that instead of coming up with a new name for this trend, I’m going to TAKE BACK the customer experience term, and use it for what it was originally intended:  to measure the ownership experience of customers while they are interacting with your products and services.

With this in mind, I’d like to draw your attention to a short 30 minute webcast this Thursday at 11am PT: Actionable Customer Experience Metrics: Measure Consumption & Encourage Adoption with Frontline Performance Intelligence. One of the key components underlying TSIA’s push on the Complexity Avalanche and Value-Added Services is product consumption:  technology products are becoming so complex that customers struggle to use all the new features, impacting ROI for new hardware and software.  To understand how customers are ‘consuming’ products, identifying laggards who need more training to improve use of the tools, as well as finding customers who are way ahead of the consumption curve and how they managed to do so, are all projects we are seeing our members try to tackle.

For OnDemand/SaaS vendors, this may be easy.  They automatically can capture how customers navigate applications, what features they use, how long it takes to complete processes, etc., to arrive at a baseline and then show customers how they are above or below that baseline. But for the majority of enterprise software deployments, which at the large enterprise level are all OnPremise, how can you do this level of monitoring?

Enter Aternity, whose End User Experience Platform for Application Performance allows companies to capture how customers navigate any desktop or networked application, which features they use, which flows they use, how long processes take to complete, etc. Armed with this information, support suddenly has the capability to do some amazing things:

  • Work with customers to boost their use and consumption of products, with metrics showing how their baseline consumption compares to their peers in the industry
  • Identify problem areas of the application needing tweaks or rewrites to improve usability and mask complexity
  • Lobby with development to prioritize bugs and enhancements based on actual customer impact, not guess work or the squeakiest wheel.

Not only can platforms like Aternity provide accurate consumption information for enterprise software vendors for the very first time, but the same platform can also be used to have major impacts on employee productivity.  You can use the same platform to monitor how employees navigate their desktop applications, highlighting which employees need additional training and who your ‘super users’ are that may be good coaches for new hires.

Join us Thursday for a great discussion on Customer Experience, and help me take this valuable customer service mindset back from marketing! Thanks for reading!

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User Experience Analytics Hot: IBM Acquires Coremetrics

June 15, 2010

I wrote back in 2007 about the ongoing acquisition of standalone analytic vendors, making it difficult for companies to find analytics tools to compliment their existing applications. The flip side, of course, is that enterprise applications are getting smarter, with increasingly sophisticated analytics included in application reporting modules.

The single hottest area of analytics today, from a customer service perspective, are customer experience analytics, that analyze how customers or employees move through websites and desktop applications to understand things like:

  • Usability. Confusing flows or screens that users struggle to accomplish, adding time and cost to employee activities, and impacting customer self-service and online shopping success.
  • Sales potential. Understanding how customers navigate websites help marketers determine where to place ads and upsell/cross-sell messages to maximize potential.
  • Personalization. Analyzing how different segments of customers or demographics use applications or websites help companies create accurate personalization for specific users.

The world seems to have separated between web click stream analytics specialists, and vendors focusing on desktop application analytics. Today, the leader in web click stream analytics, Coremetrics, was acquired by IBM, to become part of the IBM WebSphere business.  I’ve written about Coremetrics before (see Coremetrics improves the Customer Experience by differentiating Visit vs. Visitor), and I even did a webcast recently with TSIA member Paige Newcombe from Coremetrics, highlighting the great story behind their STAR Award Finalist win last year. You can view an OnDemand version of that webcast here: Metrics that Wow! How Coremetrics Became the Customer Service Model of Success

WebSphere is already the market leader for eCommerce and customer portal platforms, and having Coremetrics as part of WebSphere will give marketers unprecedented insight into customer behavior.

I think this announcement will also bring more visibility to the desktop application analysis platforms as well.  We have a couple of TSIA partners who are experts in this area.  Enkata, who participated in our Spring TSW event, specializes in desktop analytics for customer service, helping employees increase velocity and productivity, as well as root cause analysis to increase FCR and eliminate repeat calls with the customer. Another TSIA partner, Aternity, also offers technology to improve the customer and user experience, and we will explore this in a webcast next week on 6/24 at 11am PT: Actionable Customer Experience Metrics: Measure Consumption & Encourage Adoption with Frontline Performance Intelligence

Congratulations to Joe Davis, Paige Newcombe, and all the gang at Coremetrics. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know. And as always, thanks for reading!

KM Megatrends: Social, Mobile, Global, Green

June 4, 2010

I’m doing a webcast with KMWorld and eGain next week on June 8th at 11am PT (click here to register!) on knowledge management (KM) megatrends.  When we had our content planning call, we brainstormed on top trends in customer service, and every one of them had a tie-in to KM.  We’ve divided up topics to discuss on the webcast, and I’m going to cover these 4 areas:

  • Social media/social service: New channels, increased transparency, customer in control
  • Mobility: Information access anywhere, anytime, on any device
  • Globalization: Meeting needs of customers regardless of geography or culture
  • Green Support: Reducing environmental impacts of support

I’ve blogged about some of these topics before, but the globalization angle is new. I’m adding a graphic here showing how many languages different industry segments currently support for phone, email and web self-service.

In how many different languages are the following support resources offered?

No surprise, consumer companies are out in front, but enterprise software firms are also far along the path to offering multiple languages across channels. Even small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) are getting in on the act. Why is this so important?

  • Increased self-service adoption and success with local language versions. If you want to boost self-service success, offering content in the customer’s native language is a great place to start.  Note that some companies are already WAY ahead in this effort, and here are a couple of “all star” company examples:  17 languages offered by Nikon (B2C), 32 languages offered by Xerox (B2B)
  • Huge improvement in translation tools and KM capabilities to create/maintain multiple languages. I’ve given a couple of Recognized Innovator Awards to Language Weaver, who has the single best (and accurate) translation tool on the market. Also, KM vendors like eGain are now able to handle multiple languages in a single instance, with reference customers for proof.
  • Cultural differences extend beyond language and can thwart success in other geographies. I’ve told the story before about how my first startup lost a big deal in Japan because of a stupidly designed icon in our product that was mis-interpreted as insulting by the Japanese prospect. North American companies have always tried to shove our approach to UI and workflow down everyone’s throats, but increasingly, we are seeing companies enter China starting not with sales, but development centers, building new product versions that are more in tune with local expectations, norms and culture.

I hope you can tune in next week to hear more, as well as additional megatrends to be covered by Don Muchow, Senior Solutions Consultant with eGain. Don always has great insight to share–not only has he been at eGain since 2003, but he also worked at early CRM vendor Scopus as well as Siebel, so he has seen a lot! Thanks for reading, and hope to see you on Tuesday!