Archive for December 2011

Interview with Partner Advisory Board Member Randy Mysliviec, RTM Consulting: Importance of Resource Management

December 14, 2011

TSIA has recently launched our very first Partner Advisory Board, consisting of technology, service provider and consulting partners in the TSIA partner network. This is a great opportunity for us to stay current on marketing and spending trends in other industries, as well as track emerging best practices in our own industry. We have an impressive list of partners on the board; here is a link to view the complete list.

Over the next few weeks, I will be bringing you interviews with our Partner Advisory Board members. Today’s interview is with Randy Mysliviec, CEO, RTM Consulting. A long time TPSA and TSIA partner, RTM works with consulting, professional services and shared services organizations to improve operational efficiency and revenue.

John Ragsdale:  I’d like to thank Randy Mysliviec from RTM Consulting for joining me today, and agreeing to participate in this blog interview. Randy, I know you were a founding member of the TPSA, now part of TSIA, and have served on the TPSA advisory board before joining the TSIA partner advisory board. Would you give us some background on RTM Consulting and the types of projects you help TSIA members tackle?

Randy Mysliviec:  Hi John, glad to be here. RTM Consulting provides strategic and operational advice to help technology companies increase revenues and grow margins by leveraging services more effectively. We specialize in Global Resource Management and Services Business Optimization, helping IT hardware and software companies, pure consulting businesses and support/shared services organizations get better at what they do.

In the past we have worked with many TSIA members including Adobe, Bullhorn, Compugen, EMC, Informatica, Mentor Graphics, MicroStrategy, NCR, TriZetto and others assisting with improving services strategy and operational performance.

John:  We are hearing from many members that there may be some belt-tightening ahead in 2012 due to risk in the economy. When professional services organizations talk budgets, one metric always drives the conversation: utilization. Why is utilization such a key metric for PS teams?

Randy:  In a professional services organization, the largest cost line item by far is people.   Therefore efficient utilization of that resource is paramount. We have done literally dozens of resource management assessment and transformation projects, and we find most organizations continue to struggle with some aspect of getting the right person in the right place at the right time. And the issue is much larger than just cost efficiency – proper resourcing impacts project timeliness, profitability and quality in a big way. Interestingly, most PS teams have invested in a quality method, and a Project Management methodology, but not a Resource Management (RM) methodology. We think the industry has it up-side down. An RM methodology should come first, not last. If you cannot resource a project correctly, what’s the point of tracking quality and PM status – the outcome is quite certain!

John: So let’s talk about effectively managing those expensive PS resources. One of RTM’s specialties is resource management, and I know you have a practice built around Just-in-Time Resourcing® (JITR), including a YouTube video on the topic.  Can you give us an overview of JITR?

Randy:  We introduced Just-in-Time Resourcing® (JITR) solutions to help companies with the complex task of getting the right person in the right place at the right time. It is our brand of human capital management solutions. JITR provides a systematic and disciplined solution to managing human capital in a hyper-efficient manner, while enabling more productive application of PM and quality methodologies. I believe that over the next decade, growing competition and marketplace change will continue putting unprecedented pressure on service providers to rapidly adapt and innovate in every facet of service delivery. Effectively and efficiently sourcing and managing resources will be the new high water mark for the industry and by utilizing Just-in-Time Resourcing® companies build the right set of capabilities to accomplish the most efficient use of human capital.

John: Do companies have a difficult time transitioning away from the old project schedule approach? What are some of the common problems you see regarding resourcing with TSIA members?

Randy:  The industry in general still views RM as the last priority vs. PM and quality methods. It should be their first priority. There is so much waste in PS process spending today! Getting the right person in the right place at the right time does require substantial sophistication in human capital management, but given that it’s by far the largest line item in their budgets, it’s a no brainer investing in an RM methodology and solution.

John: With the recent launch of Consumption Economics, TSIA has a big push around making products more customer centric so technology is more easily adopted and time to value is accelerated. This is a topic RTM Consulting has been discussing for some time, with your Value Realization Framework. Can you talk about the link between user adoption and company revenue?

Randy:  You’re right John, we have been discussing this very trend for some time and it’s something we feel very strongly about. Today’s increasingly complex technology solutions are making it more and more difficult for customers to adopt all of the available features and functionality and achieve maximum value from their investments. Ultimately, this diminishes client satisfaction and loyalty, threatening client retention and future revenue streams for technology vendors.

As with most challenges, this trend represents a tremendous opportunity for services organizations within technology companies to increase their value by aligning their services portfolio with their clients’ most pressing need – achieving real value from the product. If these companies evolve their services teams from product implementation and support to valued advisors, they will drive user adoption – the most critical element in growing company revenues. Services is the key!  Shortly after J. B. Wood released ‘Complexity Avalanche’, we introduced a very comprehensive methodology designed to help companies improve value realization for their customers.

John:  We’ve focused on professional services so far in this interview, but before we close, I wanted to be sure our readers know that you also have a lot of hands-on experience in the customer support and outsourcing arena. What sort of projects are a good fit for RTM Consulting on the support services side of TSIA’s membership?

Randy:  At our heart we help technology companies make services work better for them in every respect. We know as much about Work Force Management (WFM) for support services as we do about Resource Management (RM) for PS teams. This is true for every other aspect of running a support or education services operation. For support service providers we can help with customer acquisition, retention, revenue management, work force management, channel strategies (contact optimization), infrastructure support, or overall support service strategies.

John:  Thank you for taking the time for this interview, and for providing such excellent content!

Randy:  Thank you for the opportunity John. It’s been an absolute pleasure serving on the TSIA Partner Advisory Board.

Eeek! Average cost of a field service visit passes $1000: How to change the math in 2012

December 13, 2011

In 2011 we overhauled the support and field service benchmark survey and began tracking additional operational metrics for field operations. Much of this data has never seen the light of day until this week, when I began preparing for this Thursday’s 9am PT webcast, “Optimize and Control Your Mobile Workforce.” In the webcast, I will reveal industry averages for multiple metrics, including onsite response time, onsite travel time, average repair time, percent of issues resolved on the first visit, and more. But the biggest shock to my system was when I pulled the average cost for a field service visit, which last time I checked with around $750.

The current average is now $1,011.17.

That means every time you roll a truck to a customer, it costs over a grand. When you aren’t able to solve the problem on the first visit, you are flushing another thousand dollars down the sink. With numbers this big, the ROI for improving key productivity metrics is fast and dramatic.

Tomorrow’s webcast is sponsored by Astea, and they will present a very compelling story, showing the complex series of processes required in scheduling and dispatching field service technicians, onsite work, and T&E tracking, and how automation can eliminate more than half of these steps being manually performed today. Which brings me to one other shocking statistic I found in the benchmark data: 58% of members say the scheduling and dispatch of field agents is done 100% manually. And guess how many have fully automated scheduling and dispatch? Zero percent.

Many companies have been existing for a decade on old CRM field service tools, waiting for a good reason to adopt newer, more flexible and more impactful tools. From what I’ve seen, mobility is that good reason. Mobile field service is revolutionizing how customers are serviced, as well as the cost model to do that service.  Tune in this Thursday to hear how investing in technology will prepare your service operation for the next decade, include pushing back that average field service visit cost to well under $1000 again.

If you aren’t able to attend the webcast live, please go ahead and register and we’ll send you all the slides from the webcast, and a link to review the OnDemand version (maybe as a reward for finishing that Christmas shopping).

See you Thursday, and thanks for reading!

Interview with Partner Advisory Board Member Ryan Hollenbeck, Verint: EFM/Voice of the Customer

December 12, 2011

TSIA has recently launched our very first Partner Advisory Board, consisting of technology, service provider and consulting partners in the TSIA partner network. This is a great opportunity for us to stay current on marketing and spending trends in other industries, as well as track emerging best practices in our own industry. We have an impressive list of partners on the board; here is a link to view the complete list.

Over the next few weeks, I will be bringing you interviews with our Partner Advisory Board members. This week’s interview is with Ryan Hollenbeck from Verint Systems, the leading provider of Actionable Intelligence® solutions and services for enterprise workforce optimization and security intelligence.

John Ragsdale: I’m very pleased to share an interview with one of our new Partner Advisory Board members, Ryan Hollenbeck, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing, Verint. I’ve known Ryan since the late 90s, when he was with Witness Systems, the original workforce optimization provider for call centers. I’ve seen the organization grow over the years, with mergers and acquisitions including Blue Pumpkin, the merger with Verint, Vovici, and most recently, Global Management Technologies (GMT).

Ryan, welcome.  My CEO has just published a book, Consumption Economics, that explains how the rush to the cloud is changing everything about the economics of servicing customers. A very central part of the story is the need to better mine customer data for business intelligence. I’d like to start by asking about voice and text analytics. Verint has won multiple TSIA Recognized Innovator Awards for your capabilities in this area. Could you talk about how companies can mine existing customer conversations for insight?

Ryan Hollenbeck:  Customer service has changed dramatically since you and I first started working together the late 90s. Back then, customers typically interacted with companies by calling into contact centers.  Today, consumers expect to conduct business using a combination of email, Web chat, text messaging, telephone, and social media postings. At the same time, competitive pressures are really pushing companies to do a much better job of tapping into the “voice of the customer” to make informed decisions and avoid costly missteps that can cost them business.

This ups the ante in customer service, since companies not only have to capture the “voice of the customer” across multiple channels, but also need to analyze it and use it for strategic and tactical decision making.  It necessitates a very different approach to customer service—one that involves the entire organization, rather than just the contact center.  So there has to be a way to capture, analyze, and share customer comments and sentiments across the enterprise.

Voice of the customer analytics solutions do exactly that by providing a platform for detecting, gathering, analyzing, and acting on insights across multiple communications channels.  They include speech analytics, social media analytics, email and Web chat analytics, and feedback analytics. They can even be integrated with workforce optimization software and strategies for a truly holistic approach to customer experience management. Voice of the customer analytics solutions offer a practical way for organizations to mine customer comments and sentiments, identify rising trends, determine root cause, and take action quickly.

John:  Another hot topic from Consumption Economics is how customers are more active in driving company and product direction. Clearly another Verint strong point is enabling enterprise feedback management. Can you talk about EFM, and explain why this is a bigger effort than just post-interaction surveys?

Ryan: Let’s start with post-interaction surveys, which are surveys that are delivered by the contact center, usually over the IVR, after the conclusion of interactions with agents. They’re almost always focused on the transaction that has just taken place.

Enterprise feedback management solutions expand upon this. They collect data across the entire enterprise, including the contact center, and centralize it so that it can be analyzed and tailored for various internal users.  Although EFM solutions can certainly include transactional surveys, they’re also used for relationship surveys, or to recruit survey panel members via social media. The surveys can be delivered over the Web, email, social media, and mobile devices, and text analytics can be applied to them to analyze open-ended questions. EFM solutions offer a practical way for operationalizing a voice of the customer program.

John:  While we are on the topic of surveys, could you talk about the Vovici acquisition? The timing of the acquisition was interesting, because we at TSIA had just evaluated multiple EFM vendors and selected Vovici, which we now use for all our member surveys. You picked a fantastic company, amazing user interface, sophisticated reporting, and as a TSIA member, a great service operation! How did Vovici fit into Verint’s strategy?

Ryan: The Vovici acquisition fits very well into Verint’s strategy. By adding Vovici’s enterprise feedback solutions to the Verint Voice of the Customer Analytics platform,  we’ve created a single solution set to support voice of the customer initiatives across voice recordings, surveys, email, chat, and social media. We’re also filling a void in the market by enabling organizations to extract tremendous value from this emerging toolset for their chief customer officers. Enterprises can benefit from Verint’s proven speech and text analytics solutions and workforce optimization suite, as well as Vovici’s advanced functionality, including sophisticated survey management, customer profile management, interactive dashboards, and ad-hoc analysis across any customer touch point.  Verint can now correlate this information and offer a single-vendor solution for collecting, analyzing, and acting on customer insights, and that’s a compelling value proposition.

John:  You and I have talked about a few topics for years now, and one of those topics is looking at productivity in the back office and how it impacts customers. I remember first discussing this with you a decade ago during my Forrester years, when I was getting complaints from support organizations that so many  customer issues (account discrepancies, refunds, shipping problems, etc.) disappeared into the back office and never returned, leaving the support agent on the hook for an answer, but no way to get one. Clearly, the customer experience encompasses a lot of back office activity. How does Verint help improve customer-facing processes across the enterprise…including the back office?

Ryan: I remember those early conversations and scratching our heads!  The industry has come a long way since then, and Verint remains laser-focused on this issue.  Verint solutions offer visibility into the entire customer service chain, from contact centers to branch and remote offices to back-office operations.  And in the back office, one of the greatest challenges is capturing activity and performance information across a diverse set of tasks, functions, and teams.

Unlike the contact center, there’s no ACD to provide this critical information. Instead, Verint’s back-office software collects data from any available electronic sources, such as workflow engines, CRM, email, people queue management, imaging, and business process management systems. Since the penetration of those applications is still relatively low, our solution also provides a manual data entry interface and electronically logs volumes and activities into the system as work is processed. This enables managers to predict their ability to meet processing deadlines given resource availability, skills, and equipment/deadline constraints.  They can take corrective action proactively, which in turn can help companies avoid a flood of calls or emails into their contact centers.

John:  Your most recent acquisition, GMT, expands your customer experience message into banking. It seems that retail banking has a lot of the same challenges as workforce management for call centers:  you have customers waiting, limited staffing dollars, and if you don’t have the scheduling right, customers walk out the door, taking loans and deposits with them.

Ryan:  Yes, those are all significant challenges in retail banking, along with very  intense competition. Banks are under heavy pressure to drive sales, service quality, and customer satisfaction while lowering their costs, enhancing productivity, and retaining staff.

Verint addresses those concerns on a variety of levels.  Our retail financial services solutions automate forecasting, scheduling, and quality analysis across branches while enabling banks to predict customer demand accurately, which helps reduce wait times.  Our solutions also provide real-time customer and productivity information to regional and store managers for enhanced cost management, customer service, and sales. Managers can track how well employees are performing against their goals and even assign eLearning automatically to staff at their desktops during times when customer volume is low.

Verint has offered solutions designed for retail financial services for years.  Yet through our acquisition of GMT, a huge domain expertise in financial services, along with key differentiating functionality, such as robust technology value optimization and sales effectiveness tools, as well as a comprehensive set of consulting services and methodologies.

John:  Clearly companies need help getting EFM programs off the ground. In fact, nearly half of TSIA members said they had budget for consulting partners in 2011-2012. I believe the GMT acquisition also expanded Verint’s partner network. Could you talk about your partner ecosystem?

Ryan: Verint has its own highly successful consulting operations, offered by our own industry experts.  We have also long maintained partnerships with leading companies to extend the reach of our solutions.  From large, distributed consulting organizations with dedicated practices to smaller boutique firms, our customers have many options for ensuring the success of their WFo and VoC initiatives.

As you pointed out, the GMT acquisition has augmented our partner portfolio by adding strong partnerships with leading financial services organizations, including Talaris and Q-matic. It’s all part of our commitment to offering customers superior solutions and outstanding business value.

John: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today.

Ryan: It’s always my pleasure, thanks John.  I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to serving on the TSIA partner advisory board.