Archive for the ‘Best Practices’ category

Hot off the Press: “How Companies Succeed in Social Business”

January 15, 2015

I’m very pleased to announce the arrival of a new book, “How Companies Succeed in Social Business: Case Studies and Lessons from Adobe, Cisco, Unisys, and 18 More Brands.” Shawn Santos, who initiated social research at TSIA around 2009, was the driver and editor of this book. Shawn reached out to experts among tech companies who have successful social business programs, as well as thought leaders in the social world. I’m happy to have contributed a chapter to the book, “Chapter 7: The State of Enterprise Social Technical Support.”
socbiz front
There are 22 contributing authors in all, including TSIA members Adobe, Cisco, Unisys, Bentley, BMC, Infor, Oracle, IBM, ServiceNow and Symantec. Francoise Tourniaire of FT Works, a longtime TSIA partner, also contributed a chapter.

I know there are a lot of books out there on harnessing social media for business purposes. But the majority of those I’ve read are by self-proclaimed experts–with little or no real-world experience–pontificating about how you must embrace social or die. This is not one of those books. “How Companies Succeed in Social Business” is by real practitioners, with stories from the trenches about what works, what doesn’t work, and how to increase the success of your social programs. If you are looking for self-promoting pontification, this is not the book for you. 😉

For my chapter, I shared TSIA research showing best practices and Pacesetter practices for online customer support communities, as well as leveraging social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter for customer support. Most of this data has not been released outside of TSIA membership, so I’m glad to be able to share some of our intellectual property with a larger audience. I made an effort to include as much data and analysis as possible–not just opinions.

socbiz data

The book is available via Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/How-Companies-Succeed-Social-Business/dp/0134036484

Thanks for reading, and I hope you order your copy today!

TSIA’s 5th Annual Social Support Survey is NOW OPEN!

December 1, 2014

Social support is becoming a standard part of technical support operations. 73% of companies now have an online community in place for customer discussions, and 46% of technology companies are supporting customers via social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter. This is the 5th year that TSIA has launched a survey to measure adoption of social support and identify best practices related to staffing, training, service level agreements, and program ownership. The survey is open to all support professionals, will only take 6 minutes to complete, and everyone who completes the survey will receive a copy of the resulting research report, “The State of Social Support: 2015,” to be published in Q1 2015. The survey is open until midnight, December 31st.

The survey contains three sections:

  • Demographics. These questions ask basic questions about yourself, including how social savvy you consider yourself, and which channels you prefer to use when needing support for a product problem.
  • Community. These questions ask about your online customer community or discussion forum, such as how many resources are required for forum moderation, if you have a service level agreement (SLA) for community posts, whether registration is required to read community content, and some technical questions such as CRM integration and single sign-on.
  • Social Media. These questions ask about your approach to supporting customers via social media channels, addressing staffing, training, social channels supported, incident handling, and overall obstacles to social support.

The survey is open to everyone, not just TSIA members, so please consider participating. The more data the better! I look forward to identify changes since last year’s survey, particularly with social media channels expanding and many company’s programs now maturing. There is also a focus on social listening in this year’s survey, which has emerged as a hot trend in member inquiry conversations.

Here is the link to take the survey: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1890735/2014-Social-Media-Survey 

I’d like to give a special shout out to Carl Knerr, Director, Services Offer Management, Avaya, and Doug Pluta, Project Manager, Customer and Business Insight, Cisco Systems, for the input they provided on social listening for this year’s survey. Greatly appreciated!

Thanks to all of you for reading, and please tell your friends about the survey!

Five Service Technology Things I’m Thankful for This Year

November 24, 2014

Here we are at the holiday season once again. When I was a kid, it seemed that Thanksgiving and Christmas were always a million miles away, but as I get older, time accelerates, and it feels like I just put the tree and decorations away a few weeks ago. This week we all take some time to think about what we are thankful for, and I truly give thanks for my personal and professional existence. But I thought it would be fun to write a post about what I’m thankful for this year as a service technology analyst. Here goes!

  • I’m thankful for new KM insights. This was the first year that I conducted TSIA’s knowledge management survey, and instead of focusing just on metrics like days to publish, I dug into KM potential, culture issues, adoption of emerging technologies, and the “rip and replace” problem. The data was very impactful, and has really informed my research and conversations. Though I cover a lot of technology topics as an analyst, I’m the most passionate about knowledge management tools and processes. It is great to have data-backed talking points about where companies struggle and pacesetter practices for success.
  • I’m thankful for rising PSA adoption and interest. The first few years I was the technology analyst for TSIA’s new professional services practice, it was the easiest job in the world–no one asked me about anything. Boy, has that changed. Today Professional Services Automation (PSA) is my #2 or #3 topic by inquiry volume. I’m seeing PS organizations become more sophisticated in their use of technology, including automated scheduling, analytic-powered dashboards, and automated billing, and core PS metrics like utilization rates and billable utilization are rising as a result.
  • I’m thankful for managed services. In my industry it seems almost politically incorrect to say anything negative about the cloud. But I hear from large enterprises every week who jumped on the cloud bandwagon, usually to save money on a CRM deployment, and are finding the tools are not as sophisticated or feature rich as their legacy solution, and often with abysmal usability. Managed services is rescuing this, offering the sophistication of onpremise technology with none of the ownership headaches or cost. According to George Humphrey, TSIA’s Senior Director of Managed Service Research, “It’s becoming less important to the customer where the product resides. It is becoming crucial to the customer that, whoever sells them the solution, that it is managed. It doesn’t matter if the technology provider is an SI, SP, VAR or the manufacturer selling direct. The expectation from the customer is that it is a fully managed OpEx solutions. The MSPs that are offering this type of solution are seeing explosive revenue growth in MS (many seeing triple digit growth).” For 2015, I expect to see some unhappy cloud customers moving to a managed service platform that better fits their needs.
  • I’m thankful mobility has moved beyond trend into serious business impact. Back in my CRM days, I was the product manager for a WAP CRM product, which I don’t think anyone ever used. The WAP interfaces were so klunky they really didn’t offer huge value for field employees. Early in my Forrester career I wrote a research report about mobile CRM, calling it, “The Next Big Thing That Hasn’t Happened Yet,” because all the vendors were releasing WAP products but no one seemed to be adopting them. The latest round of mobile solutions are a huge improvement, and as a result, we are seeing wide adoption and real business benefits. Here’s a chart with some data from our Field Service benchmark survey, which asks field service organizations what sort of business impacts they have seen from mobile initiatives. The value is clear and documentable, and I’m thrilled to see this “next big thing” is finally having the impact we all envisioned over a decade ago.

FS Mobility

  • I’m thankful NPS is losing some luster. I’ve gotten in trouble over the years because I have never been a fan of net promoter scores. I totally understand the importance of repeat business and referrals, but too many companies asked the “would you recommend us” question once a year, of one person at the account, which in my opinion is a totally useless way to gather real information on customer satisfaction and loyalty. Let’s be honest–many NPS programs are only designed to allow executive bonuses to pay out–not to really measure customer sentiment. Over the last 6 months I’ve heard many companies talk about how shallow their NPS program was, in retrospect. The new focus on customer consumption, customer experience, and now customer effort scores seem to be measuring much more actionable information than a single NPS score.

Wishing each of you a wonderful holiday season. And as always, thanks for reading!

Getting Ready for TSW: Partner Advisory Board, Knowledge Managment, and Customer Success

October 20, 2014

Today kicks off our Technology Services World Conference in Las Vegas at the fabulous Aria. Though the conference offically starts today, I was here yesterday for the Partner Advisory Board meeting. We had a very productive meeting, with a lot of sharing on both sides. I presented the findings of my recent knowledge management survey, and our newest research executive, Judi Platz, gave the partners an advance look at the Customer Success data she is releasing at the conference. Great discussions on industry trends related to knolwedge sharing and corporate culture, the cloud economy and impact on service operations, and defining and measuring customer success.

Today I open the conference with the TechBEST Showcase at 12:45, interviewing the finalists for our TechBEST Best in Adoption award. The results are determined by my annual technology survey, and we recognize the three partners who had the largest increase in adoption by TSIA members in 2014 compared to 2013. The finalists are Changepoint, LivePerson, and Verint Systems. For more information, here’s a writeup on the award and finalists.

After the opening keynote speeches, the first round of breakouts are the Power Hour sessions, with each of TSIA’s researchers giving a presentation on what is hot in their service discipline or focus area. My session will be revealing the results of my August Knowledge Management survey, and the results of the survey are being published on the TSIA website today as well.

The survey showed that companies still see enormous potential for productivity improvements from KM, and there is growing adoption of KM processes across service divisions. I also collected a lot of data on new technologies related to KM, including expertise management, unified search, mobility and video, and crowdsourcing content. And, I have data on KM staffing, approach to content maintenance, as well as very interesting data on corporate KM culture.  Stay tuned for a post tomorrow with a few data points from the survey. And for those of you attending the show, send somebody to my presentation today!

For those attending the conference, I still have a few 1:1 meetings available on Tuesday. If you’d like to book a 30 minute meeting with me, please ask at the conference registration desk.

Thanks to everyone for your support, and I look forward to seeing all of you in the EXPO!

Announcing Finalists for TSIA TechBest in Adoption: Changepoint, LivePerson and Verint Systems

October 8, 2014

TechBest_BIA_Finalist_FA2014

Each Spring I launch the TSIA Member Technology Survey, which tracks adoption, satisfaction, and planned spending across 24 categories of tools and services common within service operations. The survey reveals which solutions are most popular with TSIA members, and it is interesting to find out which vendors see growing adoption. One thing is certain: When the percent of members using a particular solution sharply rises, it indicates that provider has the right messaging, the right tools, and the right price for technology service organizations. Proven success within the TSIA membership means the solution meets the business needs of users, is delivering value, and doesn’t require extensive implementation or customization to be effective.

Comparing the results from 2013 and 2014, the three TSIA partners that saw the largest increase in member adoption are Changepoint, LivePerson and Verint Systems. These three firms represent the finalists in the 2014 TechBEST Best in Adoption Award and will be interviewed in the TechBEST Showcase that opens Technology Services World today in the EXPO Theater. The partner with the highest year-over-year gain in adoption will be named the winner during the opening EXPO on Monday, October 20th.

Changepoint-1

  • Changepoint. Changepoint is the leading global provider of Professional Services Automation (PSA) and Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solutions. The world-class product portfolio offers an unparalleled breadth of PSA and PPM capabilities, meeting diverse market requirements in both functionality and spectrum of delivery methodologies. From the largest and most complex enterprises to small and mid-sized organizations, Changepoint offers robust solutions that are available on-premise, hosted or in a pure SaaS model based on the specific needs of its customers that are located around the world and across industries.

Liveperson-logo

  • LivePerson. LivePerson is the leading provider of live digital engagement solutions for business of all sizes. Through predictive intelligent targeting, LivePerson’s multi-channel platform, LiveEngage,  helps brands understand their site visitors’ intent and value, enabling them to meaningfully connect through the most appropriate type of engagement—including chat, voice, video, and content —and do so across all channels and devices. Through LiveEngage, businesses experience increased sales, improved service levels, while maximizing online marketing efforts. LiveEngage effortlessly manages all online customer interactions, and is simple enough for small business clients while still powerful enough to meet the requirements of our enterprise clients. In addition, LiveEngage is able to learn from every interaction, creating a feedback loop that enriches intelligence and optimizes future engagements, further enhancing business results.

Verint

  • Verint Systems. Verint® is a global leader in Actionable Intelligence® solutions and services. Its customer engagement optimization software and services help organizations optimize their workforces, improve enterprise processes, and enrich customer interactions to make them more engaging, contextual, and personalized while providing employees with information for delivering service more effectively. The Verint solution portfolio brings together proven workforce optimization and customer analytics solutions with advanced customer service capabilities from KANA®, A Verint Company. It includes workforce management, voice recording, voice biometrics, quality monitoring, speech analytics, text analytics, enterprise feedback management, engagement analytics, performance management, desktop and process analytics, elearning and coaching, along with knowledge management and other multichannel customer service solutions. From interactions in contact centers, branch offices, and marketing and customer care to the underlying back-office processes for service delivery, Verint solutions provide visibility into performance, operations, and customer intelligence across the enterprise.

To learn more about these partners, please attend the TechBest Showcase which opens TSW at 12:45PM on Monday, October 20th. Hope to see you there! And as always, thanks for reading!

Best Practices for Successfully Migrating to a New CRM Platform

August 19, 2014

Over the last few months I’ve received multiple inquiries from companies moving to a new CRM platform, asking for any best practices to make the migration efforts less painful, and to ensure a successful result. Most companies I talk to have 3-5 different systems in place, usually due to acquisitions and mergers, so they have an even bigger task of migrating everyone off disparate systems onto a single platform moving forward. Based on my experience working for CRM vendors, doing consulting projects as an analyst with companies implementing CRM, and many recent conversations with companies moving to a new CRM platform, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Change is hard. No matter how long you’ve had your old system, and how much people may grumble about using it, getting employees to embrace a new system isn’t easy. The #1 complaint from employees when I do system audits is “they shoved this new system down my throat.” This is one of those times when you should over-communicate with employees. Tell them why you are making the change. Give them demos of the new system. Buy everyone a mug or t-shirt with the new vendor’s logo. Do what you can to get them informed and excited about the new system before you start training them to use it. This will go a long way towards getting acceptance and rapid adoption for the rollout.
  • Change is good. The biggest mistake I see companies make when they migrate to a new system is just replicating the old screens and process flows on a new platform. You need to take a very hard look at your legacy implementation and figure out what’s working, and what’s not. Do a real audit of the current system so you know what NOT to recreate in the new platform. I even recommend surveying employees about what they like and don’t like in the old system, which goes a long way toward getting them invested in a new system. Typically, a lot of fields and process flows were added over the years for one reason or another, and many of them need to be eliminated. Process analysis isn’t fun, but you need to look at all your customer-facing processes and identify where changes should be made. Implementing a new CRM system is a wonderful opportunity to change what’s not working.
  • Minimize customizations. Popular CRM systems have thousands of customers, and their “out of box” capabilities and screens reflect the most common, i.e., best practice, approaches used by their customers. Try to stay “out of box” as much as possible. If you see areas—and you will—that need major customizations to meet your current processes, ask yourself if those processes are really providing competitive differentiation for your company. Maybe going with a common industry approach is the right thing to do. The other thing to keep in mind is that the traditional OnPremise CRM platforms are fairly complex, and customizations may require a highly trained system administrator with some programming skills. In newer cloud CRM platforms, customizations are very simple to do with little training. This is both a blessing and a curse. Because customizations are so easy, companies go crazy making constant tweaks, which can wreak havoc for users and degrade usability. Make sure you have a process in place to evaluate and approve every customization before implementing it.
  • Prioritize integrations early in the project. I’ve done a lot of writing and inquiries about integrating CRM to other systems to enable “quote to cash.” There are many 3rd party applications you should consider integrating with CRM to streamline processes and avoid employees juggling multiple applications. Knowledge management is an obvious example, with integration performing automatic searches of the knowledgebase based on incident text and field values. PSA is another example, with integration to CRM automatically passing along new project information to the PSA system to enable resource and project management. The majority of the time, companies say, “Let me just get CRM up and running, and we’ll do the integrations in Phase 2.” The problem is, Phase 2 never happens. Hopefully, you have selected a CRM platform with integrations in mind, as each CRM vendor has a set of ecosystem partners with packaged integrations to minimize the effort required. Get a realistic estimate early in the project about time/costs to integrate each 3rd party system, and try to get as many integrations as possible into the initial project phase.
  • Pick your implementor with care. I guess this goes without saying. But I’ve heard some horror stories about really bad implementors, so be sure you carefully evaluate their credentials and check several of their references. As I said previously, implementing cloud CRM may not require as much technical/programming skills as OnPremise CRM systems. A decade ago, most CRM implementors worked with big accounting firms, and you were assigned a project team with deep experience in process optimization and certified on the CRM platform so they knew every bell and whistle in the system. Unfortunately, today I see companies hiring some yahoo whose only experience was implementing a cloud CRM system for small non-profits or a 5 person insurance office, and they have no clue about “best in class” processes or any real depth of knowledge about the platform.

I know many of my readers know as much or more than I do on this topic, so please submit comments with any other suggestions you may have on what to do–or what to avoid doing–to make moving to a new CRM system successful. Thanks for reading!

TSIA’s 2nd Annual Knowledge Management Survey Is Now Open!

August 1, 2014

I am pleased to announced that TSIA’s 2nd annual Knowledge Management survey is now open! Knowledge management (KM) is one of the most frequent inquiry topics from TSIA members across service disciplines. In fact, 24% of my inquiries over the last year were about KM and self-service, which is pretty impressive considering I cover 24 categories of tools and services in my research.

Though adoption of KM tools is very high, most companies are not happy with their existing implementation. In my 2014 Global Technology Survey, KM received an average satisfaction score of  3.6 on a 5 point scale–hardly an endorsement of existing KM tools. As a result, over half of technology firms have budget for new or additional KM tools in 2014-2015.

KM Spending

Drivers for KM spending include retiring workers, mobile access, and increased interest in internal and external collaboration. TSIA’s 2nd annual KM survey examines core KM processes, tools and metrics, as well as emerging topics such as:

  • Capturing lessons learned by consulting and protect teams
  • Corporate culture regarding knowledge sharing
  • Expertise management, unified search, and crowdsourcing content

This short survey will only take 5 minutes to complete. The survey findings will be unveiled at my Power Hour session at the Technology Services World Conference in Las Vegas on October 21, 2014, and all survey participants will receive a copy of the published survey results. Your responses will be kept confidential, and only reported in the aggregate. The survey will remain open until midnight on Friday, August 29th. Here’s the link to participate:  http://www.tsia.com/survey/2014-knowledge-management-survey

Thank you for your interest in knowledge management, and for your support of TSIA Research!