Archive for March 2012

Five Drivers Enabling the Field Service Mobile Revolution: Webcast Thursday!

March 20, 2012

By now, everyone has seen the video making the rounds of the FedEx delivery person throwing a computer over a fence. This video has sparked a lot of discussion with TSIA members on the role of field service in improving the customer experience. Unlike support techs who work with customers over the phone or via email, field service has an amazing opportunity to dazzle customers since they are face-to-face with the customer in their home or office for a repair or installation.

What can we do to improve the field service experience, make field service techs more professional,  and hopefully leave every customer dazzled? Mobility is driving a new breed of field service automation, with huge impacts to customer satisfaction, loyalty and repurchase rates.

Tune in this Thursday at 10am PT for a new webcast on one of the hottest topics today: service mobility. The webcast, “The 5 Drivers of Field Service Mobility” is sponsored by ServiceMax (who, by the way, has the coolest iPad field service application you’ve ever seen–here’s a link to an online demo).

In this short 30 minute mini-cast, I will talk about the five key drivers enabling the mass adoption of mobile tools for field service:

• Device cost and availability.
• User adoption and ease of use.
• Improved operational metrics and revenue generation.
• Architecting the customer experience.
• Increased employee collaboration.

I will provide details, supporting data, and examples for each. I’ll also give a sneak preview of some data from my 2012 Services Technology Survey to illustrate how adoption of mobile tools is climbing, and talk about where the ROI comes from these strategic projects.

I have also been working with ServiceMax on a joint research paper on this topic, which will be released in the next few weeks (target date April 1). Even if you aren’t available to attend this Thursday’s webcast, go ahead and register. We will send  you a link to download all the slides from the webcast, and to watch an OnDemand version of the webcast when you have time. And, as a registered participant, you will automatically receive a copy of the joint research paper when it is published in April. What a win-win!

Thanks for reading, and hope to see you online Thursday morning!

Buyer 3.0: Changes to Technology Buyer Behavior

March 9, 2012

This morning in my infinite spare time (insert eye roll here) I attended a webcast presented by Christine Crandell of New Business Strategies on “Buyer 3.0: The Buyer’s Journey.” This was by far the most interesting 30 minutes of my week. Since I spend all my time on the supply side, thinking about the changes to the demand side–in light of changing demographics and social media–really gave me a new perspective on some challenges technology services is facing–especially as services focuses more on revenue generation.

A few key points from Christine:

  • Customer experience. Today’s buyers are putting as much emphasis on the buying experience as they are the product features. This is something I hear all the time. I even have a section in my upcoming book about how often a rude or abrasive sales rep eliminates a “best fit” vendor from a technology project. If the customer doesn’t feel the love in every contact, you won’t be considered for the deal, no matter how good your technology is.
  • Informed buyers. According to Christine, 70% of the buy cycle is complete before the buyers contacts you, giving the traditional sales rep less influence, and making other touch points (web sites, demos, blogs, analyst reports, etc.) very important. Again, this is something I hear from TSIA members shopping for technology. We have conversations about project goals and best fit options, I line them up with other members using the tool for reference calls or visits, and they spend time researching Forrester Waves, Gartner MQs, and doing lots of reading of online communities and expert blogs–all before they speak with a sales rep. By the time they contact the vendor, they are usually down to 2 or 3 vendors and ready for a test drive.
  • Understanding influencers. What websites do prospects visit to learn about you? How big of an influence are social media channels and online communities? Are there particular people (press, analysts, bloggers) with a big sphere of influence? With so much research going on before engaging with a vendor, technology firms need to get much better at understanding how prospects form opinions about the brand and products, and look for ways to influence these influencers in your favor. I find only the very largest companies are doing this sort of analytic research involving millions of page views and clicks, and even then, the focus is more on customers than prospects.

I think there are some good lessons here for services marketing, who are trying to sell more services, and competing for that business with their customer’s own IT departments, as well as 3rd party service providers. Buying services from a product company may not seem obvious to buyers, so we need to get much more sophisticated about branding the service options and making them highly visible, particularly during the original product sales cycle. If they push the services decision to a later stage, the door opens for a lot of competition.

Thanks for reading!

“Knowledge: Your Most Valuable Service Asset” Webcast on Thursday

March 6, 2012

My annual services technology survey is now closed, and I will be spending the next couple of weeks slicing and dicing data, making comparisons to last year, and starting the writing process to deliver nearly 20 reports on adoption and spending trends in time for our Technology Services World Conference in Santa Clara in May. At the event I will be revealing the findings in my Power Hour session, “The 2012 TSIA Technology Heatmap: Service Technology Spending and Adoption Trends,” on Monday, May 7th.

One of the first data points I have found is that spending is up across the board, but spending on knowledge management (companies with approved budget for new or additional KM tools in 2012-2013) is WAY up. The unaudited numbers show about 74% of technical support and call centers are gearing up for a KM purchase, compared with 50% last year–which was an all time high then! In a year when companies are being asked to tighten their belts and improve operational metrics, why is spending on KM so high?

Tune in Thursday, March 8th at 8am PT for a live webcast and find out! In the webcast, Knowledge: Your Most Valuable Service Asset, sponsored by RightAnswers, I will give a sneak peak at these spending numbers, and talk about the many impacts of knowledge management on operational metrics. I’ll even show some brand new slices of benchmark data to illustrate how an effective knowledge program has a direct correlation to customer satisfaction AND customer loyalty. You can’t argue with good data.

Additionally, having just completed judging the TSIA STAR Award applications for Knowledge Management and Online Support, I will also give a look at KM trends from best-in-class operations, including the importance of process, cross-enterprise KM initiatives, sophisticated approaches to knowledge maintenance, and some pretty impressive business impacts.

Please follow the link and signup for the webcast. Even if you are unavailable to attend live, by registering we will send you a link to download all the slides, as well as to view an OnDemand version of the webcast at your leisure.

Thanks for reading, and hope to see you Thursday for Knowledge: Your Most Valuable Service Asset!

Interview with Partner Advisory Board Member Diane Berry, SVP Marketing and Communications, Coveo: Big Data

March 1, 2012

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.

I will be bringing you interviews with our Partner Advisory Board members, a few at a time. Today’s interview is with Diane Berry, SVP Marketing and Communications, Coveo.  Coveo Insight Solutions™ leverage the full breadth and depth of information available across your organization, whether it resides in systems behind the firewall or in the cloud, to increase enterprise innovation, competitiveness and agility.

John Ragsdale: I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Diane Berry, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communication for Coveo, and thanks for participating in this blog interview. Could I ask you to start with a little background on Coveo?

Diane Berry: Coveo is an Insight Solutions software company with a new radically new approach to information integration. We help organizations get a much higher return on collective knowledge and information, and place the customer at the center of operations to facilitate sales, marketing, customer service and product engineering.   In effect, by aligning information better, we help companies establish one-to-one relationships with customers and prospects to increase sales, build customer loyalty and build more innovative products that reflect customer/marketplace needs.

As you know, with all the talk about “big data,” there is tremendous value in information that is never realized.  Companies are overwhelmed by unstructured information both within the enterprise and in social media. Coveo unlocks the value in that information with our technology, and we make it highly consumable for the users, whether that user is a customer service agent, a marketing manager, or the customer. Our customers share a common belief: “waiting for the perfectly integrated system is a losing game!”

Our unified indexing technology, at a very high level, creates structure within information where none exists, across systems and across customer interaction channels. Our platform connects with and pulls information securely from basically all enterprise and social systems to create a virtual integration layer that is always up to date. In this Unified Index, we enrich the data, consolidate and correlate it, and discover information relationships to help users become, as we say, “insightfull.”  From here, the information is consumable via role-based Insight Consoles.   If you think of, say,  Yahoo! Finance on the Internet, you get an idea of the type of mashups that we provide, in real-time, both on company websites and within the enterprise systems and the social media—however, an important difference is that the information is instantly assembled in alignment with the context of the user. The interface, in effect, “knows” the user and serves up personalized information.

John: I first became aware of Coveo as an innovative enterprise search vendor, but clearly you have expanded your platform beyond just search. But let me start with search, since poor search technology is at the root of many of problems we have today with customers, call center agents and support technicians all struggling to find the right answer amid an ocean of corporate content. How does Coveo solve this problem?

Diane:  Yes we do start with an Enterprise Search 2.0-approach to consolidating and correlating information from basically any system, whether that is within the enterprise, in the cloud, or even in social media. This is our Unified Indexing Technology. You can think about it as a real-time, virtual information integration.  The system is always indexing the latest changes from each system, so the agent—or the customer—always has the latest, contextually relevant information in front of him or her.  With the most recent version of our platform, Coveo 7.0, we’ve introduced Multi-Channel Text Analytics on top of the Unified Index. This creates information relationships that help agents solve challenges quickly and easily, and can also helps customers  to solve even complex issues via self-service.  There is a growing swell in a new technology category – Insight Solutions. Today, that is what we bring to market – solutions that help agents, executives and customers gain insight from the unprecedented—and still growing—mountains of unstructured and structured data in enterprise and social systems.

John: I fear the challenges you are solving are getting worse every year. According to my annual technology survey, 21% of technology support groups are using generic data warehouses like Lotus Notes and MS Sharepoint instead of a specialized knowledge base tool, up from 0% in 2007. What I’m hearing is that CIOs are pushing generic tools down the throats of business users, and as a result, content is being dumped into these repositories with little or no indexing or search capabilities. As one member told me, Sharepoint was a “black hole of content” for them—they could enter all the data they wanted, but they would never retrieve it again. This seems to make sophisticated search a “must have” for more companies. Is this something you are seeing in the field?

Diane:  Well, we do see this happening, and yet we see that even with sophisticated knowledge bases, companies face the same problems. It is difficult to get the information you need, because it never only resides in a “system of record.” (And yes, as you say, sometimes these “systems of record” – such as SharePoint – don’t easily give up what they have ingested….) Over the past decade, regardless of the promise of integrated solution suites, information systems have more than doubled within enterprises. For one of our customers, we are indexing 74 different systems – that is CA Technologies, which as we are all aware has grown significantly through acquisition. So this is not just about the large amounts of data, it is also about different types of data; the geometric growth of data is a strong challenge in and of itself.   All of our customers have either a knowledge base or generic data warehouse as you point out, or both in many cases, and in a strong M&A environment there may be multiples of both, plus CRM(s), plus issue defect databases, plus PLM systems…..add on top of all of this multiple customer and developer communities, plus social media such as Twitter, and you have an unbelievable mess for agents to sort through to find the answers they need.

John: I just had a conversation with a member yesterday about launching a “voice of the customer” program, and I’m happy to see interest brewing on the B2B side to improve the customer experience. Clearly social media is raising the stakes for this, with companies ignoring customer sentiment at their peril. Coveo had a major announcement last fall that will have a huge impact on analyzing customer conversations: Coveo 7.0 with Multi-Channel Text Analytics. Could you talk about this new product?

Diane: We are very excited about Coveo 7.0, as I mentioned earlier. The implication for VOTC programs is huge – and, I think, finally takes them beyond surveys to the combination of survey, multi-channel interactions, social media (including community) interaction, all correlated with their products, history and cases.  Equally as important, with Coveo, companies easily share this information across silos, so engineering and product development use it as they develop roadmaps and products, sales & marketing use it as they talk with customers and market to them. It is a virtuous circle of sorts.  This is possible because the platform is completely modular and extensible. I mentioned CA Technologies earlier – CA has rolled out Coveo to its customers via the company’s self-service portal as well as all of its employees.  These employees benefit from role-based access to a common, unified index of information across the company, and placing the customer squarely in the center of operations.  I think customer centricity, which this approach enables, is often the end goal of VOTC programs.

John: With the economy still questionable, clearly companies are not investing in new technology unless they understand where the return on investment comes from. I’ve seen some impressive case studies from your customers, including some TSIA members, on the actual benefits from implementing Coveo. Could you explain where the ROI usually comes from? What sort of metrics do you see impacted?

Diane:  Yes the economy remains questionable; however we are seeing growth in our customer base, as well as plans for growth as they develop solutions that enable their customers to save time and money—particularly with the movement to cloud-based solutions. I think you’ll see that this applies both to companies in growth mode as well as in savings mode.  I was with one of our customers a couple of weeks ago, who is currently rolling out Coveo to its customer service teams, and as a second phase will provide it to their customers for self-service. They are developing new cloud-based offerings which they believe will increase their market share considerably, and quickly. And yet they want to double capacity without adding headcount in their customer support operations—and without impacting customer satisfaction. So, basically, they want to double their capacity. Coveo will enable them to do this, first by helping their agents to become much more effective and efficient, and secondly through self-service, by helping them to deflect calls for even complex issues.

As another example, CA Technologies uses Coveo as the backbone for pulling together information across the enterprise.  With Coveo, CA connects 74 different systems, including customer communities.  If we take just customer service, where they serve approximately 150,000 customers, CA has achieved tremendous results over the past couple of years using Coveo Insight Solutions: Here are some stats shown by CA during a recent Gartner webinar:

  • Overall Satisfaction:  Up 40 Basis points
  • Knowledge Base Content Satisfaction:  Up 90 Basis points
  • Online Usability:  Up 50 Basis points
  • Time To Resolution:  Down 15%
  • % Opened Online:  Up 41%
  • Customer service capacity increase:  Up 8%
  • Customer service staff reduction:  Down 5%

So they were able to increase capacity, reduce costs, and increase customer satisfaction at the same time – until now, these were diametrically opposed goals. Here is a link to a YouTube video of CA talking about their savings.

John: Thank you for being here, and thank you for agreeing to serve on our inaugural Partner Advisory Board!

Diane:  Thank you John, it is always a pleasure, and it is an honor to be involved in the TSIA Partner Advisory Board.