Archive for the ‘CRM’ category

CRM Evolution 2012: MultiChannel and Customer Experience Hot Topics

August 21, 2012

Last week I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at CRM Evolution 2012, held at the Marriott Marquis in New York. Coordinated by the editors of CRM Magazine, and chaired by the “father of CRM,” Paul Greenberg, this is THE conference for those tasked with selecting, implementing and getting the most value out of customer relationship management, across marketing, sales and service. The sessions were mostly driven by big name industry analysts and influencers, such as Ray Wang, Esteban Kolsky, and Bill Band, so the content was excellent and definitely pushing the envelope on strategy and vision.

View of Times Square from Marriott Marquis

One of the most interesting sessions I attended was the CRM Leader Panel, moderated by Paul Greenberg, with a panel of CRM vendor execs: Anthony Lye, Oracle; John Wookey,; Larry Augustin, SugarCRM; Andrew Joiner, Autonomy’s Promote Business; Bob Stutz, Microsoft Dynamics CRM; and Anthony Leaper, SAP. Not because I heard anything really new about CRM, but because the audience questions focused on customer experience and multi-channel–two of my favorite topics but not things I usually expect CRM vendors to be experts on. There was a lot of marketing-speak in the answers; I wish they had posed the same questions to some of the multichannel and customer experience vendors in attendance.

The session with the best content I attended was “Customer Service Using Social: Trends, Analysis, and Guidelines,” with Esteban Kolsky and Mitch Lieberman, Vice President of Strategic Marketing, KANA, presenting findings from a research study they did on the effectiveness of social channels, including advice for B2C and B2B. Really compelling data, and as always with Esteban, some strong opinions.

A lot of focus on gamification. I must admit, I came to the conference thinking I just “didn’t get” gamification, but after attending some sessions on the topic, I’ve decided that if the emperor is not naked, he is at least scantily clad. As I posted on Facebook recently, adding a “like” button to a screen doesn’t mean you have a gamification platform. And the examples presented at the conference seemed to focus on collaboration, usually in communities, equating collaboration with gaming. Human beings are social creatures, and we have been collaborating for thousands of years, before gaming was invented. I remain unconvinced.

My session was the only field service topic at the event, so I was glad to represent the subject! I spent an hour discussing mobility and video in service, including impacts to knowledge management, field service and education. Great audience reaction, especially when I talked about picking the right device, and demo’d drop kicking the Intermec CS40, a ruggedized handheld computer/smartphone specifically designed for field service.

I also did a book signing, autographing copies of Lessons Unlearned for attendees. Special thanks to eGain for allowing me to sign books in their booth in the showcase!

Thanks to Paul Greenberg and the editors of CRM Magazine for including me in the event!

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!

2012 Services Technology Survey: NOW OPEN!

February 1, 2012

TSIA’s 7th annual Services Technology Survey is the only available source of actual industry data for adoption, planned spending and satisfaction across 24 categories of technology used by service organizations, including:

  • Support Services: All the tools used to support customers, including incident management, knowledgebases, multi-channel tools and web collaboration.
  • Field Services: Technology used to automate the field service process, including mobility, scheduling and dispatch, and parts logistics and warehousing.
  • Professional Services: Professional Services Automation (PSA) platforms to manage PS resources, projects and performance.
  • Education Services: The various tools used to deliver customer training, including Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Learning Content Development (LCD).

In addition to these technology categories, the survey also tracks tools used across service lines, including Customer Relationship Management (CRM), social media and online communities, and reporting and analytic platforms. The survey also includes questions regarding the use of third party service providers/outsourcers and c0nsultants.

The results of this survey are usually available only to members of the TSIA, but for this 2012 survey, everyone who completes the survey will receive a complimentary copy of the survey results. Armed with this information, companies can benchmark their rate of technology adoption compared to industry peers, illustrating where you may be losing a competitive edge due to lack of automation or technology sophistication. Additionally, by identifying the top installed products in each technology area, you can shortcut your next search for a tool or platform by starting with a list of “best fit” solutions.  For the first time, the 2012 survey will also track responses by geography, identifying top installed products and planned spending for the Americas, Europe and the Middle East, and Asia Pacific.

The survey will take less than 15 minutes of your time, and your answers are completely confidential and will only be reported in aggregate. The first 50 people to complete the survey will receive a US $5 Starbucks gift card. Again, everyone who completes the survey will be sent a copy of the resulting research when it is released in May.

Please follow this link and complete the survey at your earliest convenience:

Thank you so much for your support!

TSW Best Practices 2012 Agenda Now Available: Sexy Operational Topics

January 19, 2012

The agenda for our Technology Services World Best Practices 2012 is almost complete. We are still finalizing case studies for the “Services Technology” track, so I wanted to highlight some sessions that show just how sexy some of the operational issues of service can be! The amount of expertise within our member and partner ecosystem is amazing, and I’m always impressed how willing experts are to share their expertise. The complete conference agenda is available via this link.

On the first day of the conference, Monday, May 7th, we open with a set of Professional Development Programs, a half-day deep dive on a topic with one of our expert alliance partners. Based on my inquiries, one session in particular jumps out at me as a “must attend:”  Winning Support Websites: From Assessment to Customer Love, presented by the always-popular Francoise Tourniaire. In this fast-paced workshop packed with checklists and practical recommendations, Francoise will show you how to:

  • Conduct an audit of your existing support site, combining internal evolutions, customer user testing, and competitive analysis.
  • Prioritize improvements to deliver an enticing customer experience at a reasonable cost.
  • Use web analytics to create a better website, and to continuously audit customer usage to improve the site.
  • Nail the three basic building blocks of support sites.
  • Prevent customers from having to think (too much).
  • Handle common dilemmas such as multiple product lines, multiple version numbers, and displaying alerts.
  • Integrate forums, the knowledgebase, and troubleshooting wizards into a seamless experience.
  • ….and much more.

With self-service success at an all-time low, please have someone attend this workshop and learn how to improve your customer self-service experience!

Speaking of self-service, who better to present a session on the topic than the 2011 STAR Award winner for Best Online Support, Cisco! On Wednesday, May 09, at 9:45am, hear from Chris Kells and Chris Vasan how Cisco earned this prestigious industry recognition for Online Support. During this session, Award-Winning Best Practices in Online Support, you’ll get the inside track and “how to” details directly from the individuals responsible for running this initiative. Additional session details coming soon, so stay tuned!

One of the trends I’ve been tracking over the last year is enterprise support adoption of web chat as a customer channel. In fact, one of our top attended webcasts from 2011 (which you can watch via this link to the OnDemand version) was a case study of how EMC successfully implemented chat, and we asked EMC if they would be willing to share their story at the conference.  On Tuesday, May 08, at 9:45am, don’t miss EMC’s Julie Larsen’s session:  Leverage Chat to Empower Customer Self-Help and Increase Utilization of Your eServices Support Channels. In this session, you will hear about how the journey to enterprise-level chat is an exciting one that includes a paradigm shift from the traditional support agent call-back model to a more direct, synchronous model across the globe and across business units. Learn about chat best practices and lessons learned as well as key considerations when considering multilingual chat. With a 700% increase in chat traffic, customers both large and small engage in chat sessions to quickly engage with technical and support experts. Customers are realizing faster response and resolutions times for their technical and support questions and issues. In fact, customers benefited from a 250% faster time-to-relief and a 15-25% increase in service requests closed in less than 24 hours. And customer satisfaction with chat is approaching 90%, the highest among our entire suite of online support tools.

Social Media is another favorite topic for TSW attendees, and we have several breakouts on the topic, including presentations by TSIA’s own social media expert, Shawn Santos. But I wanted to call your attention, in particular, to this session focused on the knowledge management side of social media, “Blending Knowledge Management and Social Media for Service and SupportService Social Media,” from VMware’s Lynn Llewellyn. This session will share 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. It outlines VMWare’s efforts to create, implement, monitor, and measure its social support program. This is an ongoing process that the company continues to adjust and improve as the business grows.

In addition to these sessions, I will also be presenting the findings from my 2012 Services Technology Survey, highlighting technology  adoption, satisfaction and planned spending across 24 areas of services technology.  In “The 2012 TSIA Technology Heatmap: Service Technology Spending and Adoption Trends” on Monday, May 07 at 4:15 PM, find out what the most popular products are in highly-adopted areas such as incident tracking, multi-channel management, and web collaboration, and hear about the top technology trends impacting the service industry today.

And last, but hopefully not least, I will be closing out TSW with the closing keynote on Wednesday, May 09  at 12:30pm, “Lessons Unlearned: 25 Years in Customer Service.” I will be launching my new book, Lessons Unlearned, at TSW, and this session will highlight some of the book, as well as give you some background on my writing process. I’m hoping the book will serve as a manual for new support managers, and I look forward to finishing the publishing process and sharing a lifetime full of hard-learned lessons with you at Santa Clara!

Thanks for reading, now book your conference pass!

Balancing Quality and Innovation: 2010 Consona Connect

October 13, 2010

I am at the 2010 Consona Connect User Conference at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and what a successful event this is! Over 800 attendees across the multiple product lines Consona sells: Axis, Cimnet Systems, Configuration Solutions, Consona CRM Customer Management, Consona CRM Knowledge Management, Consona CRM Live Assistance/Dynamic Agent, DTR, Encomplix, Intuitive, and Made2Manage. I attended this morning’s opening keynote for CRM attendees by Consona CRM General Manager, Tom Millay. Tom gave an overview of the business and talked about product roadmaps.

Interestingly, though 2009 was definitely a wretched year for closing new business, Consona continued to grow. The CRM division has grown from 141 to 249 employees since 2008, with 70 new customer accounts added. And there are some exciting new product features on the horizon, including a new UI, more granular search controls and in-line editing for grids coming in Consona CRM 7.1; new features and improved response time in KM 7.3; prepackaged solution content being added for Dynamic Agent 7.1; integrated knowledge and chat interface in Live Assistance 6.6, etc.

Milay also presented the Summit Awards for excellence among their customer base. The first was the Transformation Award, for a company showing dramatic ROI in a short period of time. The winner was ADP, who consolidated 17 support centers and 17 KB’s  into a single operation. The next awards were for Best Overall Use, for customers that have leveraged multiple Consona products with dramatic effects. Winners were VM Ware, who tripled customer visits to their self-service site; TechSoup Global, a non-profit serving 300,000 non-profits and libraries; and Marriott, with 3,420 properties across 18 brands in 68 countries, who increased call deflection by 10% with self-service knowledge tools.

Later today David Kay of DB Kay & Associates is leading a session on generating revenue within customer service and support, there are multiple deep dives into product futures, and my preso at 2:15 on the top trends impacting service and support today. I’m excited about getting to preview some of my research before I’m back in Vegas next week for our Technology Services World (TSW) Conference!

Thanks for reading, and hope to see all of you next week in Las Vegas for TSW!

SAP CRM: Momentum followed by innovation

October 27, 2009

Today I attended the SAP CRM Virtual Influencer Summit to get an update on SAP’s CRM practice. I love the virtual approach for analyst summits as I have access to all the content without having to lose a day flying somewhere.  Here are some updates:

  • Twitter integration. SAP unveiled a CRM Twitter Solution that pulls in Tweets and performs sentiment analysis, so you can take action on negative comments automatically.

SAP Twitter integration with sentiment analysis

CRM’s Last Gasp: Why Service and Support is CRM’s Last Chance for Success

August 11, 2009

If I were asked for a list of things I wanted to believe in, but had to admit were pure fantasy, the top three would be Santa Claus, world peace, and the “360 degree view of the customer.” Over the years I have heard a million presentations tout the promise of CRM, including a lot of abstract concepts about improving the customer experience that simply don’t jive with most company’s CRM reality. When SSPA, TPSA and AFSMI members talk about CRM, there is usually a bit of contempt in their voice, and in most cases CRM is something IT selected–and to some degree shoved down their throats–with little or no business user input.

We all know that CRM covers the disciplines of marketing, sales and service, but a dozen years into the CRM revolution, there remain few examples of cross-enterprise CRM implementations. Sales, and SFA (sales force automation), was the first priority for many companies when it came to CRM, and this SFA focus drove success for Siebel, and other SFA-centric CRM vendors. Marketing has certainly had its CRM time in the sun, with CRM vendors buying analytic platforms and data warehouses in the last 2 years to better enable demographic analysis and accurate upsell/cross-sell. But what about service?

If anyone can understand the value of the 360 degree view, it is the service and support organization, with goals and incentives largely built not around revenue and profitability, but customer satisfaction. Support has a vested interest in understanding the 360 degree view of the customer–it helps them diagnose and resolve problems much faster if they have the whole universe of the customer (products purchased, implementation dates, versions, patches downloaded, self-service attempts, service history, etc.) at their disposal.

These thoughts had been bouncing around in my head for a while, but they became top of mind after a recent conversation with Michael Tarbet, Vice President of Americas Sales for Consona CRM. We were talking about Consona’s acquisition of the SupportSoft assets (including remote support and self-healing), and how adding this technology to the Consona CRM suite, which includes full CRM capabilities from Onyx, and best-of-breed knowledgebase, search and community tools from Knova; created the industries first truly “service centric” CRM suite.  In fact, in my recent Web Collaboration market overview (“Ten Distinct Modules Comprise this Popular Support Technology“), Consona CRM was one of only two vendors (the other was Alcatel-Lucent’s Genesys) to offer all ten functional modules.

With the majority of legacy CRM implementations becoming more infrastructure than applications, companies look to their existing CRM system for basic incident tracking and entitlement/service contracts. But not much else.  It is exciting to think about implementing a service-centric CRM suite that includes best-of-breed tools for all areas of service and multi-channel support, including value added service tools like proactive monitoring and remote fixes. I’m pleased to see a CRM vendor put a lot of effort into improving the service side of their suites…which have gone largely unchanged since the first Web-based UIs were introduced in 2001 or so. And I’m also happy to see a CRM vendor specifically investing in tools for high tech firms, since the telco and financial services industries have received the bulk of CRM vendor attention for the last decade.

I look forward to Consona CRM’s roadmap becoming a reality as the latest acquisitions are merged into the enterprise platform. Can a service-centric CRM suite change the minds of technology buyers to invest in CRM once again? Will support take the lead and create the 360 degree view so it finally goes from fantasy to reality? My fingers are crossed.

Thanks for reading!