Conversation with Francoise Tourniaire of FT Works: Winning Support Websites
One of the benefits of attending our Technology Services World Conference is the ability to spend a day in a professional development course, doing a deep-dive on a subject critical to your organization’s success in 2012. Our Spring TSW event will be held at the Santa Clara convention center May 7th-9th, with the professional development courses taking place on May 7th from 8am to 1pm on the 2nd floor of the rotunda. For a complete overview of the courses being offered, follow this link to Monday’s schedule.
I’m very pleased to bring you an interview with one of the professional development course instructors, longtime TSIA partner, Francoise Tourniaire, founder of FT Works.
John Ragsdale: Thanks for agreeing to share your wisdom and expertise with TSIA members at your upcoming professional development course at the opening of our Technology Services World conference. Can you give my readers an overview of the course?
Francoise Tourniaire: Winning Support Websites is focused on taking existing support websites from whatever their existing states may be to GREAT! It’s targeted towards the many support executives and managers who feel that their websites are not that great but don’t quite know what to do about it.
John: Could you talk a bit about how the course is structured? How will attendees spend their day?
Francoise: We are going to work hard, and by that I mean all the attendees will work hard! I will ask all the attendees to bring screenshots of their current sites and their top 3 design concerns, and we will work together on solutions and improvements. I will introduce a set of best practices but most of the time will be spent doing real-time consultations on websites. We will also cover the process for redesigning websites so that the participants know what to ask and what to watch out for once they decide to embark on a redesign initiative.
John: TSIA continues to expand our membership, now offering research and conference content across technical support, professional services, field service and education services. What departments and titles do you see as the target for your professional development course? Any positions you would like to see paying more attention to this topic?
Francoise: One of the big themes of Winning Support Websites is that a great support website should not be siloed. We tend to think of ourselves as support people, or professional services people, or educational services people, but customers don’t care about how we organize internally: they need help to use the products more successfully and they expect to find everything they need in one place. So I advocate a unified approach to support websites, one that gives customers full access to all the various services that the company offers.
John: What are some of the common challenges you run into when working with companies on support websites? Do you see companies struggling with similar problems?
Francoise: Each client is different, naturally, but the big themes tend to be the same: (1) there’s no solid analysis of what customers are looking for on the site so it’s not clear what they should do when they visit, (2) navigation is challenging and (3) the site looks like it’s ten years old, and not in an attractive, vintage way. Also, companies often focus too much on functionality: do we have a community? Do we have a knowledge base? And not enough on how users interact with the website. It’s great to have a community, say, but if it’s hard to find, or disconnected from the other troubleshooting options it’s not to useful. So you need a vision for what customers want to accomplish on the site, not just a checklist of features.
John: What are some of the key trends you see making support websites a critical topic for service professionals? Why should companies focus more on this area?
Francoise: Support websites are a critical component of success for self-service, naturally, but also for peer-to-peer support and assisted support. So investing in a great website brings dividends for customer satisfaction and cost – a great double win. And since most support websites are not so great, the opportunity to improve is very large.
John: Francoise, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today, and good luck on your professional development course!
Francoise: My pleasure John. See you at TSW!