Archive for May 2012

What’s Hot at TSW: Top Attended Sessions

May 9, 2012

Today is the closing day of Technology Services World in Santa Clara, and I always find it enlightening to look at the top attended sessions of the event to see what topics are most interesting to members. No surprise, services technology, metrics, social media, and knowledge management proved to be popular topics. This is a list of the 10 sessions from Day 1 and Day 2 with the highest attendance:

  • Social Support: Battle-Hardened Lessons from Top Practitioners: A Panel Discussion with Leading Social Media Strategists in Tech Services. The was the top attended session at TSW, exploring the inner-workings of social media–best practices and lessons learned–and uncovering which strategies, tools, and processes are being used most successfully by leading services organizations. The session leader was TSIA’s own Shawn Santos, with a very impressive panel of experts: Lois Marie Townsend from Hewlett-Packard, Radha Penekelapati from, and Toby Richards from Microsoft.
  • Driving Recurring Service Revenue: How SAP, EMC, and BMC are Transforming Their Service Business into a Growth Engine. This Services Technology Advantage Case Study session was the 2nd highest attended session at the event. The audience heard from SAP, EMC and BMC service leaders on how they have taken their service business to the next level. Panelists discussed how increased focus, visibility, and control has helped them transform their service business into a revenue growth engine. The session host was Keith Leimbach from ServiceSource, with panelists Christophe Bodin from BMC Software, Sara Hepner from EMC, and Roger McConville from SAP.
  • Positioning the Support Organization as the Leader in Innovation. The third most attended session from Day 1 and Day 2 was also a Services Technology Advantage Case Study session. Presenters Tarik Mahmoud from Cisco and Diego Ventura from noHold explained that intelligence collected during a support interaction provides valuable insight for marketing, product development, engineering, and more. The challenge is that information is siloed and not transformed into measurable ROI. noHold’s customer, the leader in networking devices, has found a way to break the mold and create a paradigm shift by syndicating opportunities across all business units.
  • The Artful Manager: How to Leverage Business Metrics to Greatest Effect. Number 4 on the top attended list was this panel discussion, led by TSIA’s Stephen Smith, with panelists Syd Garrett from Cisco Systems, and Frank Coleman from EMC, presented an interactive discussion about how to optimize your metrics and business intelligence program.
  • Demystifying Service Revenue Growth. This session, presented by Julia Stegman, TSIA’s VP of research for service revenue generation, revealed the results from the Service Revenue Generation benchmark, which is the first and only industry benchmark for recurring services. Participants learned what actual performance is, which is an aggregate of impressive industry leaders from our Service Revenue Generation Founding Members.
  • Blending Knowledge Management and Social Media for Service and Support. Number 6 on our list was presented by Lynn Llewellyn and Kevin Mitts from VMware, who shared social media and knowledge-management strategies from VMware® Global Support Services. The company has developed an innovative, award-winning program that provides invaluable assistance to its customers and helps deflect support cases–the Social Media Guidebook for Service and Support Responds to Customers Faster and Increases Satisfaction.
  • Our Journey through Knowledge Management: Business Challenges, Best Practices, and Lessons Learned. Number 7 on the top attended list was also a Services Technology Advantage Case Study,  presented by Joni Ortbring from Audatex, a Solera Company, and Tom Kolano from Consona. The session focused on how Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS) principles, along with a feature-rich KM system, allowed Audatex  to focus on knowledge as a community asset providing accurate information to their clientele and associates in near real-time.
  • Channel Optimization and Why This Matters to Your Business. This session was originally going to be presented by my research pal, Sally Foster, but due to an injury, our fearless leader, JB Wood, stepped in and drove the session. Customers are becoming more and more interested in engaging with service providers via multiple channels of communication. It used to be that calling a support center or sending an e-mail was what you did. The cost of these channels is almost becoming prohibitive depending on the volume of incidents a provider handles. Customers want solution providers to engage with them in the way that they want to be served. This session looked at evolving channel strategies and how successful companies are approaching customer channel preferences.
  • Transform Your Services Business To Create A Strategic And Sustainable Footprint With Your Customer.Number 9 on our list is another customer case study, part of the Services Technology Advantage track. Presented by Ruth Fornell from NCR, the session described how NCR Corporation continues its evolution into a services led, software driven, hardware enabled solutions company. Attendees learned how NCR uses Compuware Changepoint Professonal Services Automation (PSA) to differentiate themselves while creating a broader, more strategic and sustainable footprint with their customers. This case study presentation was targeting services executives looking to transform their services business through global knowledge sharing, centers of excellence and organizational transformation.
  • Award-Winning Best Practices in Complex Applications Support. Rounding out our Top 10 session was a panel discussion with Charlotte Baker of Digital Hands, Michael Montoya from EMC, and Buffy Ransom from Oracle. Providing sophisticated technical support for complex applications in mixed or otherwise complex environments requires a unique set of service delivery capabilities. Attendees came to learn what works from a panel of 2009-2011 STAR Award winners in the Complex Applications Support category, who shared their successful strategies and tactics in an interactive panel discussion

Thanks to everyone for attending our event, and a special thanks to all these presenters for creating such dynamic topics and content!


The coolest of the cool compete: TSIA Vision Award at Service Revolutions

May 9, 2012

Every year at the Technology Services World Best Practices conference, the most innovative companies compete in live stage demonstrations at Service Revolutions to win the coveted TSIA Vision Award. Winners are selected by audience members who vote after each presentation. Introduced in 2010, the TSIA Vision Award recognizes game-changing ideas in technology services that advance the industry and shape emerging trends. Based on the theme “True vision is having the intelligent foresight to define a better, more productive future,” winners receive a TSIA Vision Award trophy presented at a gala awards luncheon immediately following the Service Revolutions event.

There are three categories in which companies compete to win the TSIA Vision Award:

  • Services Practitioner Category – companies in the business of delivering technology services to end customers
  • Start-up Category – emerging providers of capabilities—products or services—that enable the delivery of technology services by services practitioners
  • Commercial Category – established providers of capabilities—products or services—that enable the delivery of technology services by services practitioners

The following companies gave live demos today as part of Service Revolutions.

Category: Service Enabler/Start-up

  • ChatID. Phone numbers are really easy to display online, and drive 20 billion costly support calls between businesses and consumers in the U.S. every year. ChatID enables that same ubiquity for chat at a much lower cost. Chat has proven to increase conversions and average order values on businesses’ own sites. But they are missing valuable engagement opportunities with the 4 out of 5 consumers who begin shopping everywhere else around the distributed web. ChatID seamlessly connects to businesses’ existing live chat systems, multiplying the value of their existing infrastructure. Now businesses can engage customers while they read reviews, compare prices, browse Facebook and Twitter, or via text message as they move about offline.
  • Hold-Free Networks. As the skit opens, it’s clear that Lance is having a bad day. First the company shipped the wrong item…and now he’s stuck on hold waiting for customer service. End Call!!! Lance opens a Smartphone app and vents his frustration via social media. Moments later a new item appears in his Secure Messaging folder. The company has taken notice and has even offered an immediate callback from an agent. When the phone rings, the agent knows Lance’s name and the nature of his inquiry. Lance gets the help he needs…and then he realizes something: the agent’s voice sounds awfully familiar!
  • Whodini. In large companies it is often left to luck and personal networks to find the right person with the right experience to help answer business critical questions. Whodini automatically builds professional profiles for enterprise workers consisting of projects, work items, customers and other granular aspects of their work. Whodini profiles allow coworkers to discover relevant colleagues in a way never before possible. Whodini uses natural language processing to create accurate, granular, up-to-date and objectively scored views into what enterprise workers know. Indeed, in the aggregate, Whodini can show what the enterprise itself knows. Whodini is groundbreaking technology for the enterprise.
  • Social Dynamx. Purpose-Built Social Customer Care. At Scale. Square peg. Meet round hole. That’s the best way to describe the current state of social customer care. Marketing departments force-fitting their tools into a customer service function with limited success. We say enough! Customer service has always had its own unique goals and workflows. It needs it’s own tool. Social Dynamx is purpose-built for high-volume customer care teams who need to identify, prioritize and respond to thousands of one-on-one conversations in real time. We prioritize and automatically match the social post to the right skill group with a UI built for agent, manager and supervisor roles. And the more you use it, the smarter it gets.

Category: Service Enabler/Commercial

  • GOLDEN-i. Remote Experts & Mobile Video . . . Reducing Cost – Improving Service. Everyone performing mobile service faces increasing complexity, accelerated hardware and software updates, new product introductions as well as old legacy equipment still in use. All of these circumstances cause delayed service calls, repeat service calls, broken customer appointments and lost revenue for everyone involved. Golden-i is a 3 to 6 ounce, Hands-Free, Voice and Gesture controlled PC that can provide service and repair technicians with spontaneous access to “Remote Experts”, “Shared Streaming Video and Photographs” and access to any information available from an OEM or on the Internet. These advanced information, training and support capabilities will be demonstrated Hands-Free on stage during Service Revolutions 2012.

Category: Service Practitioner

  • HP.  Predictive Customer Satisfaction Model. The Predictive Customer Satisfaction model provides a control mechanism, for perceptive performance indicators like Customer Satisfaction, using a scientific methodology to drive desired results and better business use for the IT Infrastructure. The model identifies business factors related to customer satisfaction, translates the business factors to measurable metrics and based on those metrics predicts variations in performance leading to lower customer satisfaction. The Predictive Customer Satisfaction model brings immense advantages to both the customers and the service providers, alike. IT User Satisfaction is a key indicator of the success caused due to high availability of the IT infrastructure. This model helps us assert that “even service perception should not be a coincidence”.
  • SAP.  Advanced Delivery Management, Learn how SAP Services extended the innovation of modular re-usable components from automotive, construction and other industries to SAP service delivery. With the SAP Advanced Delivery Management SAP is redesigning its services portfolio and delivery approach to achieve faster delivery while lowering the cost and risk. This innovation is possible thanks to lessons learned from delivery of Rapid Deployment Solutions ( smaller, modularized packages – and extension of the concept to the entire services portfolio.

The audience voted using live response units and the winner was SAP and ChatID.

Congratulations to the winners, and to all the amazing presentations! See you next year for Service Revolutions 2013!


My First Book, Lessons Unlearned, Is Officially Launched!

May 9, 2012

This week I get to put a big check mark next to an item on my bucket list: become a published author.  This has been a dream of mine since childhood, and even though I’ve been publishing 300-400 pages of research reports every year since 2001, a book is different. And this week that dream came true.

My first book, Lessons Unlearned, was launched this week at our Technology Services World Conference in Santa Clara, and this morning I gave a keynote highlighting sections of the book for TSW attendees. Monday and Tuesday evenings I spent on the Expo Solution Stage, signing copies and answer questions. It has been a lot of fun.

I’ve been calling Lessons Unlearned a “memoir-based tell-all book” about my 25 years in customer service. It is definitely a memoir, and it is definitely filled with gossip from Silicon Valley and the world of service. But I’m hoping many of you will see it as a resource, especially for customer service professionals. God knows I have screwed up many, many times over the years, and hopefully by reading this book, you can learn what I’ve learned without having to screw something up to glean the knowledge. There are a million books out there on how to be a sale person, or a developer. But you don’t see much on the subject of how to be a high performing service technician or service manager. Well, now there is a book on the subject, describing my approach to customer management and employee management, with tips on hiring, coaching, motivating, and writing reviews for employees.

Though clearly the book is written as a business book for the service industry, but it is also written for customers. I believe if customers understood how support works, the metrics that drive us and the cost associated with giving good service, they would not only have more appreciation for the service professionals they encounter, but also better understand the support process and maybe even help it move along more efficiently. If nothing else, I hope consumers who read the book take this point away: good service is worth paying for.

Lessons Unlearned talks about more than customer support. From my years working for high tech firms, I have chapters on knowledege management, and how to select and implement enterprise technology. I also have a chapter called “advice for startups,” with a list of challenges I see small companies struggle with on their way to becoming big companies. In my 12 years of being an analyst, I have worked with some of the most messed up companies ever created… but I’ve also worked with some incredbly successful firms…and quite a few who didn’t succeed financially but were filled with brilliant people and ideas. I tried to capture the best approaches for all of these experiences and include them in the book.

For all your technology marketing folks, you should definitely give the chapter on “working with industry analysts” a read. In it, I discuss the realities of “pay for play” in the analyst world, as well as give advice on working effectively with analysts, how to get a briefing scheduled, and how to shape that briefing for the maximum benefit of all involved. I’ve never seen a book address this topic, and am already getting feedback from our partners who have read the book along the lines of, “Thanks for confirming my worst fears.”

The hardcover and electronic versions of Lessons Unlearned are available on Amazon. For multiple copies you can receive volume discounts by purchasing through TSIA.

I’d like to thank the TSIA team for all the help in making Lessons Unlearned a reality, in particular, our tireless editors Suzanne Hite and Suzanne LaBounty, who gave up many nights and weekends to meet editing deadlines for the book.

Thanks for all the kind feedback. I look forward to answering all your questions about Lessons Unlearned!

Workout Session: Proactive Channel Management

May 8, 2012

Today at Technology Services World in Santa Clara, CA I co-hosted a “workout session” on proactive channel management, with my friend and longtime TSIA member, Tarik Mahmoud from Cisco. Over the last two decades, customer support interactions have evolved from phone to a variety of channels, including email, web chat, self-service, and now social media. Support organizations have been largely reactive about these changes, adding channels as customers demand them and allocating staff as channel volumes evolve. But I’m beginning to see a very different approach becoming common today: companies will no longer sit back and watch channel volumes roll in, they are taking charge and helping manage volume by channel, nudging—and sometimes forcing—customers to move to more effective and less-expensive channels.

No one knows more about this subject than Tarik. In 2008, Cisco’s Linksys division made the brave decision to eliminate email support, which was their most expensive and least effective channel. Email has always been a challenge for technical support, with many back-and-forth emails required to get all the necessary details from customers. With the lag time waiting for email responses, average incident resolution time grows, and incident costs soar. With a careful strategy involving lots of marketing, Cisco eliminated email support without a single customer complaint, successfully transitioning the majority of email volume to an unassisted channel–the online forum.  The remaining traffic moved to the web chat channel. There was no impact to phone volumes. I documented this case study in a research report, “The Challenges of Tech Support via Email: Linksys Ends Email Support, Successfully Migrating Traffic to Forums.” TSIA members can find this report on our website–search by the title (or email me for a copy if all else fails, I know our search engine leaves a lot to be desired).

A workout session is not the kind of breakout in which audience members get to sit and listen for an hour. Oh no, you gotta work it girl! Tarik and I teed up the conversation, I shared data on average incident cost per channel, then we started a conversation with attendees around a few topics, such as:

  • Do you know your cost and satisfaction by channel today? What are your best/worst channels?
  • Do you know your volume by channel today? Which channels are growing/shrinking?
  • How do you influence channel adoption today? News letters, user groups, training classes?
  • What new approaches should you consider to influence channel adoption? What has worked for you?

The discussion was both fun and enlightening. We talked about how channel preferences are influenced by demographics, the importance of building use cases by customer type to establish which channels you should have, and how to encourage customers to try a new channel, such as chat.

Everyone was interested in the details of Tarik’s email story, as well as a new example of proactive channel management he provided. When the chat costs in a single country in Europe began averages 2x or 3x the cost of a phone call, chat was no longer offered in that region. When the customer selects that country from the pick list in the chat tool, they receive a message to please call for support. That way they are delivering the best experience for the lowest cost. So it turns out proactive channel management can be a very granular strategy. Each product may have different demographics, i.e., different channel adoption, and each country or region may have drastically different channel costs.

I hope everyone enjoyed the session as much as I did!

TSW Best Practices Opens with my Innovation Tour!

May 7, 2012

TSIA’s Technology Services World Best Practice Conference kicked off today at the Santa Clara Conference Center. The conference opened at 12:45 with my Innovation Tour. The tour is a presentation of all the finalists in the Spring 2012 Recognized Innovator Awards, which are presented to partners of TSIA at our Spring and Fall conferences. Partners submit applications for consideration, and case studies documenting business results are required. Winners are selected by a panel of TSIA members and industry experts.

The content for TSW 2012 Best Practices focused on “Defend, Optimize and Innovate,” allowing member companies to improve core operations while looking for new approaches to streamline operations and generate incremental revenue. Technology firms cannot accomplish these initiatives alone, and the Recognized Innovator Awards showcase the role TSIA partners play in enabling the success of today’s global service organizations.

Following are the award categories and finalists:

Innovation in Products: Innovative products that enable service operations to better compete through means such as increased productivity, cost reductions, increased revenues, improved customer satisfaction, or improvements to other key performance or financial metrics. The Finalists are:

  • Clarabridge, whose innovative text and sentiment analytics allow companies to accurately analyze customer feedback
  • Coveo, whose Insight Solutions for Customer Service turn disparate data from all content sources into actionable insight about your customers

Innovation in Services: Innovative services that help companies to meet and exceed business goals for service operation by allowing partners to manage specific areas of the business. The Finalists are:

  • ServiceSource, whose suite of cloud applications and managed services better connect and automate clients’ recurring revenue ecosystems.
  • SYKES, whose new Sales Assist offering blends proven support program excellence with sales program goals to create a new revenue stream for clients.

Innovation in Consulting: Innovative consulting services that help technology firms meet and exceed business goals. The Finalists are:

  • Value and Pricing Partners, whose TPS Pricing RapidAct™ provides PS leaders with guidance on their rates position relative to peers, and how to immediately improve rates performance to drive bottom line results.
  • Verghis Group, who designed a new approach to metrics, based on research from fields as diverse as aquaculture, championship weightlifting, traffic engineering and firefighting.

The winners will be announced on Wednesday during the closing awards ceremony. Hope to see you there!

2012 TSIA Member Technology Spending Report: Results Live Today!

May 7, 2012

Today at TSIA’s Technolgy Services World (TSW) Conference at the Santa Clara Convention Center, I am presenting the findings of my 2012 Member Technology Survey at 4:15 in my Power Hour session, “The 2012 TSIA Technology Heatmap: Service Technology Spending and Adoption Trends.”

TSIA’s sixth annual member technology survey is complete, documenting member adoption, satisfaction, and planned spending across 24 areas of services and technology used by education services, professional services, field services, support services, and service revenue generation. According to the survey, TSIA members have an average annual budget of $2.99 million to purchase, implement, and maintain service technology. Several areas of technology saw increased adoption over the last year, particularly enterprise mobility and reporting/analytic platforms, which are now seeing adoption across all service divisions. Satisfaction scores for technology and services in place were unimpressive again this year: only one category averaged above a 4.0 on a five-point satisfaction scale (1 being very unsatisfied; 5 being very satisfied), and multiple categories saw averages below 3.5.

Planned spending is very high for 2012–2013, with double-digit percents of members planning additional purchases in every category covered by the survey. Top spending categories include online communities, knowledge and content management, and reporting platforms, with all TSIA disciplines planning investment.

The survey findings are also being released to the website today with mulitple research reports targeting different audiences. For the very first time, this year’s survey targeted Europe, and I authored a separate report comparing technology adoption and spending in North America to Europe. Two other reports appear this year for the first time, a spending report specific to our Service Revenue Generation (SRG) discipline, focusing on technology directly linked to revenue such as contract management and offer management. Also, I created a report listing the top installed products across all 24 categories covered by the survey, which is a question I receive again and again from members.  Here are all the reports live on today:

  • 2012 Technology Services Heatmap: Adoption Trends across 24 Categories of Tools and Services
  • 2012 TSIA Member Technology Spending Report: Education Services
  • 2012 TSIA Member Technology Spending Report: Field Service
  • 2012 TSIA Member Technology Spending Report: Professional Services
  • 2012 TSIA Member Technology Spending Report: Support Services
  • 2012 TSIA Member Technology Spending Report: Service Revenue Generation
  • 2012 TSIA Member Technology Spending Report: Europe
  • Top Installed Products by TSIA Members: 2012: Technology and Services Partners with the Highest Adoption by TSIA Members

Here is a look at this year’s Heatmap, which is a color-coded guide to technology adoption.

I’d like to thank everyone who responded to this year’s survey, and a special thanks to Suzanne LaBounty, our intrepid editor who made time for all these reports in the middle of the TSW crush! Thanks for reading, and hope to see you in my Power Hour session later today!