Archive for the ‘social media’ category

10th Annual TSIA Global Technology Survey is Now Open! Free Research Report for Participating

March 3, 2015

I’m pleased to announced that my 10th annual TSIA Technology Survey is now open! This survey covers 24 categories of tools and services used by customer support, professional services, education services, managed services and field service. The survey is open to everyone (not just TSIA members), and if you complete the survey, you will receive a copy of the resulting research report, “The 2015 TSIA Heatmap,” which discusses adoption levels of each category and top technology trends related to service organizations.

The survey addresses adoption, satisfaction, and planned spending for commonly used technologies including CRM, knowledge management, enterprise search, web collaboration, online communities, social media monitoring, analytic platforms, learning management, etc.  The survey asks which line of service you work for, then only prompts you with categories that apply. For example, if you work in Field Service, you will be asked about scheduling and dispatch tools, and if you work in Professional Services, you will be asked about professional services automation. So you won’t have to answer all 24 categories!

Along with the traditional service technology, the survey also addresses some emerging hot technology areas critical to TSIA’s B4B, customer success and expand selling messages:

  • Consumption Monitoring/Analytics: These tools are used to measure and monitor customer consumption of technology, gauging how quickly customers are adoption new tools, common process flows, top used features, number of users and length of session time, etc. Consumption Monitoring is a key piece of a Customer Success strategy.
  • Recurring Revenue Management: These tools are used by service professional to manage the sales and renewals processes for maintenance and service contracts. Functionality includes automating renewals, renewal dashboards, and analytics to predict likelihood of renewal and manage profitable contract/maintenance programs.
  • Upsell/Cross-Sell: Also known as offer management software, these tools prompt call center, tech support, field service, or renewal sales reps with contextual offers to extend to customers, using analytics to identify offers they are most likely to accept. Tracking extend and accept rates, the software continues to learn which offer to prompt for which situation and customer profile.

I make great use of the data collected, with mulitple reports published of the survey findings for the Spring Technology Services World Conference in Santa Clara. First is the 2015 Technology Heatmap, which looks at high level adoption and spending trends across service disciplines. This report will be sent to everyone who completes the survey. In addition, I will publish detailed spending report by service discipline, a separate report on EMEA, as well as the “top installed” report, listing the top used tools or service providers in each category. If you are a TSIA partner, ask your customers to take the survey!

The survey is open until March 31st. It should take less than 10 minutes to complete the survey. Your responses are kept confidential, and are only reported in aggregate. Here is the link to the survey:  http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1994057/2015-Global-Technology-Survey

Thanks in advance for your support, and after you take the survey, pass along the link to your friends in service organizations! The more responses, the better. And as always, thanks for reading!

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!

2014 Mid Year Trends: KM, Social and PSA

June 16, 2014

Just over a month ago we had our Spring Technology Services World Conference in Santa Clara, and any time I wasn’t presenting, I was in 1:1 meetings with TSIA members and partners. I’ve been thinking about what I heard, as well as follow-on inquiry conversations after the event, and I wanted to report back with what I’m hearing as the 3 top trends in service technology so far in 2014:

  • The concept of knowledge management has expanded. It used to be so easy. Buy a knowledgebase tool, train all your support techs on KCS basics, and start receiving value. But lots of things have changed to complicate this. Don’t get me wrong, the knowledgebase continues to be a critical element for success, but today’s service organizations are now seeing the knowledgebase as step one of a more complex knowledge infrastructure. Communities are now rated as more useful in solving customer problems than the knowledgebase, according to the TSIA Support Services benchmark. Unified search tools are becoming a ‘must-have’ technology to index and search all your corporate content, including online documentation, release notes, customer configuration files, and incident history. Expertise management is growing in popularity, to analyze your corporate content and identify experts on any topic or feature, so you know who to reach out to when you hit a knowledge or content gap. Though every company seems to come at this complex mix of technologies from a different direction, just about everyone I talk to today is interested in leveraging corporate content, and expertise, and definitely looking beyond the traditional knowledgebase.
  • Social media listening as early warning system. According to Cisco’s Doug Pluta, customers frequently talk about product or service issues via social media channels before the issue is reported via traditional assisted support channels. My inquiries on social media have completely changed. The last few years the questions were transactional: what social channels should we support, how to automate incident management, how quickly should we respond to social issues, etc. Today, the incident traffic regarding social media is focused primarily on monitoring social for voice of the customer analysis. What are customers saying, what sort of sentiment is being expressed, are there thoughts or suggestions floating around we haven’t heard from traditional surveys, etc. It is good to see more support organizations getting active in social listening, and not leaving it to marketing to monitor. Marketing cares about the perception of the brand more than individual products and features, and there is a lot of value to be gleaned from actively listening to these social conversations.
  • ERP integration boosts PSA value. A lot of members tend to start their search for a professional services automation (PSA) tool by looking at who integrates with their CRM platform. But based on inquiry conversations, as well as audience discussion in the breakout session I did at Santa Clara on selecting a PSA system, tightly integrating PSA to ERP delivers more value, faster, than plugging into CRM. Since tightening up billing cycles and reducing DSO on PS bills is a hot button for most companies, it makes sense to plug your PSA system into your billing and accounting system. Project details, milestones, signature approvals and travel and expenses are all passed automatically, with enough audit trail detail to satisfy even the toughest customer. One member told me that they have received 100% compliance in submitting expense reports and project updates by COB on Friday by tying a percent of the consultant’s bonus to getting those reports in on time. I plan to put more focus on existing ERP systems when speaking with companies shopping for PSA from here on out.

Many other topics are brewing as well. A rising trend in inquiries is asking how to reduce the cost of a CRM deployment, with many companies complaining that their cloud CRM vendor is “nickel and diming them to death,” charging extra for every new feature. Mobility continues to be a hot topic as well, with more field service organizations investigating devices and mobile capabilities. Collaboration is another big subject in 2014, especially with more at-home workers making it impossible to ask questions across the cubicle wall.

2014 is seeing a lot of companies shopping for new and interesting technology to take them to the next stage of productivity, as well as new levels of insight/visibility into operations.  I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on other big trends in service technology. Feel free to add a comment! And as always, thanks for reading.

TSW Day 2: Top Attended Sessions

May 7, 2014

Yesterday was the first full day of sessions at Technology Services World Best Practices. I spent most of my day in 1:1 meetings with members and partners, as well as moderating a workout session on selecting the right Professional Services Automation (PSA) tool. A big thanks to the panelists who presented in that session: Al Gray, Vice President, Bentley Systems; Keith Drab, Solutions Architect, Changepoint; and Jeff Gebhart, Senior Solutions Consultant , Planview.

I always like to report on the top attended conference sessions, because while we all like to say what the ‘hot’ topics are, attendees vote with their feet. We had six sessions with over 100 attendees, with one session having over 200 attendees! Here are the top attended sessions from Tuesday:

Business Makeover Case Study – Support Services. This was the top attended session with 205 attendees (wow!). Business Makeover Case Studies consist of a member company who bravely agrees to “open the kimono” and talk about the biggest problems they face in their service operation, then receive input from a panel of experts on how to solve the problems. The audience also gets a chance to chime in. While finding someone brave enough to spill the beans about their own issues is difficult at each conference, clearly these sessions are hugely popular with members, the majority of which have the same or similar problems, or have solved them in the past. The brave volunteer for this session was Don Stanley – VP, Customer Support, CA Technologies. This session was moderated by Judi Platz.

Next-Generation B2B Online Community. This was the 2nd top attended session with 156 attendees. Customer communities is always a hot topic, and Joe Cothrel from Lithium is always a big draw. (Checkout Joe’s new book, Social Customer Experience.) Here is the session description: If you think online communities are just discussion forums, think again. Companies like AppDynamics are stretching the boundaries of a B2B community, encompassing documentation, learning, ideation, app exchange and other elements to create a one-stop shop for sharing and learning. In this session, Steve Levine, Senior Product Manager at AppDynamics, will share the business rationale for creating such a hub and what it took to bring all the right pieces together. Joe Cothrel, Chief Community Officer at Lithium, will set the stage with some observations about B2B trends across Lithium’s global customer base.

Eliminating Serial Escalations: Leveraging Technology Skill Groups. This session, led by Matt Stone, Director, Customer Success Services,
NetApp; and David Yoffie, Customer Impact Consultant, PwC; had 151 attendees. Here’s the session description: Technical Support organizations tend to be characterized by teams with product focus, serial escalation of more difficult problems, and complex workflows. NetApp has embarked on a path to bring the appropriate level of technical assistance as close to the customer as possible while continuing to improve support efficiencies. In this session, we will share an approach to achieving these goals while servicing a highly demanding, global, extremely heterogeneous customer population. Leaders and practitioners that would like to explore new ways of providing high levels of service in complex technical environments will be interested in this presentation.

Power to the People! This session was led by Julian Lopez, Head of Customer Loyalty, Rackspace Hosting, Inc.; and Clayton Sherwood, Business Development Director, Clarabridge; received 131 attendees. Here’s the session description: During an epic 15 year journey, Rackspace® has transformed from an obscure San Antonio start-up into the global leader in hybrid cloud, the founder of OpenStack®, and a constant on Fortune’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For. The home of fanatical support, Rackspace® now operates on four continents and is helping the world through the cloud revolution. Learn how they empowered customers to guide them on this journey by combining trusted disciplines and a fiery culture, with a unique set of tools. Then get a sneak peek into the future as they share their plans for empowering front line employees to drive the next wave of innovation.

Business Makeover Case Study – Services Revenue Generation. This session, with another brave member discussing their top challenges, received 112 attendees. Longtime TSIA member Phil Nanus, Sr. Director, Business Development, SaaS, Infor Global Solutions, Inc. volunteered to discuss his challenges. This session was moderated by Julia Stegman, VP of Research for Service Revenue Generation.

I Know Social Media. What the Heck is Social Support? Another social topic rounds out the top attended list with 101 attendees. I know from my annual social media survey that 46% of TSIA members are now interacting with customers via social channels such as Twitter and Facebook, but the majority of companies started doing this because marketing was monitoring social channels and started forwarding them Tweets from unhappy customers. How to formalize the program and do it right remains a challenge. This session was presented by Tim Albright, Senior Director Community Strategy, Jive Software, Inc.; and Matthew Stauble, Vice President, Global Customer Support, Palo Alto Networks.

I will be back later this week with some final thoughts on today, the last day of TSW. Hope to see everyone at the Service Revolutions competition kicking off at 11am. Thanks for reading!

 

 

2014 TechFUTURES: What will Service operations look like in 2019?

May 5, 2014

Today I have the pleasure of opening Technology Services World with our TechFUTURES event, kicking off at 11am. TechFUTURES takes us forward in time five years, to the year 2019, for a look at the state of the industry with special focus on the impact of services technology. TSIA TechFUTURES focuses on three topics identified as primary change agents within the industry. The three topics are:

  • Analytics. “Big data” is not only a buzz phrase, it provides a solution to the explosion of enterprise data: harnessing the power of analytics to glean critical information from multiple, real-time streams of content. As an example, professional services organizations have historically run their operations using spreadsheets, only to find out at the end of the project that major milestones were missed, the project ran over budget, and customers are not satisfied with the outcome and are pushing back on payment. Today, we are beginning to see real-time dashboards that can pinpoint projects in trouble immediately, giving supervisors the opportunity to resolve problems and put the project back on course. With increased sophistication coming to analytics every year, what will big data look like in 2019? How will proactive dashboards evolve over the next five years?
  • Collaboration. There are many drivers behind the growing budgets for enterprise collaboration tools by technology suppliers. Younger demographics entering the workforce prefer to share ideas and collaborate on problems. Mobile devices provide mechanisms to ask questions of peers from any location, on any device. The rise of expertise management is making it easier to identify the expert on any subject—or any line of code. The growing number of remote workers means collaboration can’t happen over cubicle walls—enterprise collaboration tools are required. Looking ahead to 2019, with collaboration becoming the default communication mechanism for employees, how will this change the way we work? Looking beyond just employees, what is the role of partners and customers in collaboration?
  • Service Channels. The way we interact with customers has seen dramatic changes over the last decade. The shift from call centers to contact centers was forced by customers rapidly adopting emerging channels. First was email, offering a way for customers to thoughtfully describe problems without a phone call. Next was self-service, then chat, and today, rising adoption of social media channels means technology firms are interacting with customers via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and more. Looking ahead to 2019, what will be the dominate interaction channels for customers? With the Internet of Things allowing every device in your home and office to be online and interconnected, how can we further streamline and automate technology support to leverage the new always-connected customer?

TSIA has identified three technology partners to paint a vision of the future state of services, focusing on the topics defined above. The presentations will take us forward to 2019, and focus on “a day in the life” of Bob, a highly social, collaborative, connected, and data-savvy customer, as well as June, a high-tech support executive, responsible for consolidated service operations. How will the combined forces of analytics, collaboration, and evolving service channels impact June’s people, processes, and technology, and what new challenges can we expect from our future customer, Bob?

  • Changepoint: Analytics 3.0 (Data + Analytics) = Business Opportunities. Analytics 3.0 is the heart of the next phase of global transformation—it’s where big data and analytics join forces with strategic operational and decision processes to create new accelerated opportunities and revenue streams for businesses, giving rise to the Data-Driven Economy. In this TechFUTURES presentation, Changepoint futurist Larry Kading takes you on a journey about how all organizations—not just the large online pioneers—can compete in the Data-Driven Economy. However, while new business opportunities and revenue streams abound as a result of this global transformation, they only exist for organizations that understand how to get there. Larry will share the secrets of how June can exploit the opportunity with game-changing, analytics-based products and services. Control the data or it may control you.
  • Jive Software: Collaboration. The human brain is as powerful as 300 supercomputers, but excels at a certain kind of intelligence: creativity, innovation, and intuition. It is limited by its isolation and access to information, and because of its limitations, we have all adapted our behavior to machines much better at crunching numbers. Today, we are starting to carry devices more powerful than the original supercomputers with us all of the time that are always connected: the laptop, the tablet, the smartphone, smart watches, Fitbits, and wearable HUDs. In the next five years, the time may come when all of us will complement our own intelligence with hundreds of tiny, connected supercomputers that are able to instantaneously perform staggering analytics, expanding our concept of collaboration by presenting us with the right information, conversation, or access to expertise in the moment that we need it. In this TechFUTURES presentation, Chris Morace, Jive’s chief strategy officer and New York Times best-selling author, explores how much better it will be to work together in 2019. Find out what work will be like when we are empowered by powerful technology, and not tethered to it.
  • Support.com: Service Channels. Support.com, Inc. is a leading provider of cloud-based services and software that enable technology support for a connected world. In this TechFUTURES presentation, Amy Millard will discuss how the Internet of Things will continue to create new opportunities and challenges. We live in a world where our devices monitor, track, and connect the physical world, and this will only increase in the years to come. As device interconnectivity begins to touch every phase of our lives in both the business and consumer worlds, the stakes rise higher and higher for a seamless customer experience. Amy will share how tech support teams can rise to meet these challenges.

Please join us for this fun event to get your TSIA experience off to a great start. And as always, thanks for reading!

Where to find John at TSW Best Practices

April 30, 2014

Our big spring event, Technology Services World Best Practices, kicks off next week at the Santa Clara Convention Center. The conference begins for me on Sunday with partner advisory board and internal meetings, then we officially open the doors on Monday. I’ve been getting emails asking what I’ll be doing at the conference and where to find me, so wanted to give everyone a look at what I’ll be up to at TSW. Here’s a link to the full conference schedule.

  • Monday 11am-12:30pm. TechFUTURES: The Future of Service Technology. This is the opening event at the conference, and I’m really looking forward to it. I will take the audience 5 years in the future for a look at the impacts of Extreme Efficiency and Extreme Automation, focusing on 3 areas: Analytics, Collaboration, and Service Channels. We will have 3 presenters, from Changepoint, Jive Software and Support.com, each painting their view of 2019. Then the audience votes for who gives the most provocative view of the future. Don’t miss this fun event!
  • Monday 12:45-1:45pm. TechBEST Showcase. My annual global technology survey covers 24 categories of tools and services, with dozens of vendors/providers in each category. One of the things I survey about is satisfaction, and in general, the numbers aren’t that great. However, there are some bright spots with companies receiving extremely high scores. The 3 TSIA partners with the highest satisfaction scores are finalists for the 2014 TechBEST Best in Satisfaction Award. In this showcase, I will unveil the finalists and interview them about how they are able to have such satisfied customers.
  • Monday 3-4pm, Power Hour: The 2014 TSIA Technology Heatmap. In this session, I will reveal the results of my 2014 Global Technology Survey, including adoption, satisfaction and planned spending across 24 categories of tools and services, including analytics, CRM, online communities, web collaboration, PSA, and more. I will also touch on the top technology and social trends I’m seeing.
  • Monday 4:15-5:15, Pacesetter Practices: Social Media for Support. In this session I will talk about the results of my recent Social Media in Support survey, then turn things over to two experts on social support: Doug Pluta, Project Manager, Cisco; and Tim Lopez, Social Media Manager, Symantec. We will talk about the importance of social media both for customer interactions, but also monitoring social conversations as part of a larger voice of the customer strategy.
  • Tuesday 9:45-10:45am. Workout Panel: Key Criteria for Selecting a PSA Solution. Professional Services Automation (PSA) is now one of my top inquiry areas, with PS teams shopping for automation around resource management, project management, and project accounting. I will be moderating a panel of experts on the topic: Al Gray – Vice President, Bentley Systems; Keith Drab – Solutions Architect, Changepoint; and Jeff Gebhart – Senior Solutions Consultant, Planview. A prize will be given for the best audience question, so be sure to attend and participate!
  • Wednesday 11am-12:30pm, Service Revolutions. This is our annual “American Idol” contest for cool technology, with presentations from startups, established tech firms, and some TSIA members, on innovative technologies for streamlining and automating service delivery. I will be doing my best Paul Abdul on the panel of experts, providing pithy comments after each presentation. Live audience voting determines the winners.

I still have a few slots left for 1:1 meetings on Tuesday, so see Susie at the registration desk to book a time to discuss your service technology challenges, or to find out the best Mexican place close to the conference center. Thanks for reading, and see you next week!