TSIA Technology Services World: Day 1 Preview

Posted May 4, 2015 by jragsdale
Categories: Technology

Today kicks off our Technology Services World Conference at the Santa Clara Convention Center. We are expecting over 1,000 attendees–our largest Spring event ever! The theme of the event is “Driving Adoption and Outcomes,” with a big focus on customer success (more on that later in the week), and the shift toward outcome-based services.

The conference officially starts at 1:30pm, with a keynote from my boss, Thomas Lah, Executive Director of TSIA. I’m here extra early today for my Partner Advisory Board meeting at 7am. The PAB meeting is a highlight of the conference for me, getting some face time with key partners of TSIA to share trends, discuss marketing activities, and new programs they are seeing in the industry. I’ll be giving them a peek at the results of my 2015 Global Technology Survey, which will be officially released at my Power Hour session today at 3pm, “Building the Technology Stack for Customer Success: The 2015 Heatmap.”

In my Power Hour presentation, I’ll highlight some of the overarching technology trends impacting service organizations, and reveal the 2015 Technology Heatmap. The Heatmap is a color-coded map of 24 categories of technology used by service organizations, with the colors showing the level of adoption. For example, “cold” categories with less than 25% adoption are blue, while “hot” categories with more than 75% adoption are red. 2015 was the 10th year I’ve conducted the technology survey, which asks about adoption, satisfaction and planned spending for technology. Stay tuned for more details of the findings.

Tomorrow, the second day of the conference, I’m spending the entire day in a conference room doing one-on-one meetings. I think there are still a few slots left, so when you pick up your badge at registration, ask about signing up for a 30 minute meeting with me. Happy to discuss any technology projects you are working on, or have on the horizon, as well as topics around multichannel, knowledge management, mobile and social.

On Wednesday at 11am, the last day of the event, is another favorite part of the conference for me: the TSIA Vision Awards Competition at Service Revolutions. This is our “American Idol” competition for service technology. Presenters have about 6 minutes to give a demo of their innovative technology or program, and the audience uses live response units to vote on the cool factor of each. We have three categories of presenters:  Service Practitioners (TSIA members), Startups (new companies just bringing products to market), and Commercial, i.e., established technology vendors. I get to serve on the judges panel, asking questions and making my usual pithy comments about the presentations. A winner is named in each category based on audience voting, with the winner of the Startup group receiving a $10,000 prize!

To all of you attending TSW, welcome to Santa Clara, and thanks for coming! If you aren’t able to attend live, stay tuned for blog posts all week to recap what I’m hearing, top attended sessions, and maybe even a little hallway gossip!

And as always, thanks for reading!


LogMeIn’s Rescue Lens Puts Tech Support Virtually In the Customer’s Home or Office

Posted March 24, 2015 by jragsdale
Categories: Technology

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Today LogMeIn announced a new product, Rescue Lens, bringing the power of live interactive video to the support center. How many hours have been wasted talking to customers on the phone, trying to figure out what’s wrong, or walking them through a complex procedure they aren’t understanding? How many times has the call center agent said to themselves, “Gee, if only I could actually see what they are doing!”

This innovative product is an extension of LogMeIn Rescue’s remote control/remote support capabilities, which allow a support technican to “take control” of a piece of customer equipment to diagnose and fix errors. The problem is the agent can only see the screen, not the physical device. Rescue Lens goes a step further. The customer can download the Rescue Lens app on their mobile device, which allows the agent to see through the customer’s camera. Show the customer exactly where that semicolon is on the keyboard. Show them which button to push to reset the system. Walk them through replacing that toner cartridge quickly and easily. Inspect equipment to find that frayed power cord that is the real failing component–though the customer never noticed it.

Rescue Lens offers more than just a Facetime video. In addition to real-time video feeds, Rescue Lens offers:

  • Smart Whiteboarding: Annotate on screen, on any device. This annotation stays in place, even if the device is moving.
  • Adaptive Video Quality: Get the best picture and streaming quality, regardless of the strength of the internet connection.
  • Auto Focus: Easily focus on exactly what needs helps.

With a fully burdened field service visit now costing more than $1000, not only will Rescue Lens dramatically cut core support metrics like talk time and resolve time, but it will also eliminate incredibly expensive field service visits.

To read more about LogMeIn Rescue Lens, here’s a link to today’s press release announcing the product:  https://investor.logmein.com/about-us/investors/news/press-release-details/2015/LogMeIn-Brings-Remote-Support-to-Virtually-Any-Product-With-Rescue-Lens/default.aspx

If you would like to see Rescue Lens in action, I’m doing a joint webinar with LogMeIn on April 9th which will include a demo. Here’s the link to register for the free webinar:  http://www.tsia.com/webinars/Revolutionizing_Support_Interactions_with_Video/

Hope to see you at the webinar, and as always, thanks for reading!

3 Ways Search Is Saving Customer Support: View the OnDemand Webinar

Posted March 5, 2015 by jragsdale
Categories: customer experience, customer support, Enterprise Support, knowledge management, self-service, Technology

Tags: , , ,

Yesterday I had the pleasure of co-presenting a webinar with one of my very favorite speakers, Diane Berry, Senior VP of Market Strategy for Coveo. Diane was a past winner of our TechFutures event and is always a dynamic speaker with great content. We had big attendance for yesterday’s webinar, and the OnDemand version is now available for viewing. I thought I would give you a quick look at what we talked about, and you can view the OnDemand event at your leisure.

Enterprise search is increasingly a cornerstone of a company’s knowledge management strategy. During the webinar, I talked about what I call “the three realities of enterprise search:”

  • A single knowledgebase for all information is unrealistic. Valuable content is stored across the enterprise—and in people’s heads. Yes, a knowledgebase for capturing tacit knowledge is critical, but that is only one source of information. Online documentation, product manuals, release notes, forum conversations, etc., are all critical to support technicians and customers. Companies need search technology to search everyplace at once, not just a single repository.
  • Knowing the right place to look for information is impossible—especially for newer employees. Surveys tell us that TSIA members have a dozen or more applications and content sources that they routinely access to support customers, and knowing where to look to find what you need can take years to learn. Unified search pulls from every content source, every time; the actual location of the content is irrelevant.
  • Filtering search results to find exactly what you need is a necessity. We know that 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results. Not only do you need relevancy analysis (which we discuss in the webinar), but you also need filtering options to allow knowledge workers, and customers performing self-service, to find exactly what they need without rephrasing their search over and over again.

Diane and I then went through the list of “The Three Ways Search is Saving Customer Support,” and based on my inquiry conversations, that is no exaggeration. How is enterprise search saving support? Here are the three points we discussed:

#1. Search turns your community or customer portal into a self-service, case deflection engine.

I’ve heard companies afraid to use the word “deflection,” thinking it implies they don’t want to talk to customers. This is simply not the case. My 2015 Social Support Survey shows that 46% of customers PREFER self-service, and only 11% prefer phone. Giving customers a dynamic and sucessful self-service experience is exactly what they want. And it is a win-win, since fully burdened support calls for B2B companies can be $700 or more, and self-service sessions typically cost less than $10.

#2. Search gives employees insight from across  your entire enterprise ecosystem.

One of the hot trends I’m seeing is imbedded, dynamic, contextual search. Imbedded because it sits within your CRM or other system of record, so no additional searches or windows are required. Dynamic because search results constantly update in real time, depending on what you type. And contextual, because the results are filtered based on the case title and notes you type in, as well as the value of any custom fields such as product or failing component. In this way, employees can see a list of related content from across the enterprise: related cases, knowledge articles, documentation, forum conversations, as well as lists of experts on the topic in case you need to escalate.

#3. Search analytics identify trends, knowledge gaps, and optimize relevance.

A couple of weeks ago I had an opportunity to spend an hour with Diane and her analytics team focusing on how analytics can improve the success of a knowledge management program. I was so impressed with the conversation that now I’m writing a new research report, “Leveraging Analytics to Boost KM Success: Proactive Analytics Automate the Knowledge Maintenance Process,” to be published later this month. In particular, analytics can help proactively identify content gaps, improve relevance scores, and recognize content consumption trends. In the webinar, Diane provides examples and screen shots to illustrate these.

Here is the link to view the OnDemand version of the webinar: http://www.tsia.com/webinars/Trend_Alert_3_Ways_Search_Is_Saving_Customer_Support/

The webinar is only 30 minutes, and we did receive some interesting questions during the Q&A period at the end. Be sure to follow the link and watch the webinar when you have time.

And as always, thanks for reading!

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

Posted March 3, 2015 by jragsdale
Categories: CRM, customer support, Education, Enterprise Support, field service, knowledge management, Professional Services, self-service, social media, Technology

Tags: , , , ,

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!

Interview with Ryan Hollenbeck, SVP Marketing, Verint Systems: Customer Engagement Strategy

Posted February 23, 2015 by jragsdale
Categories: Technology

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I’ve been hearing a new topic bubbling up from TSIA members: creating a customer engagement strategy. Common in the consumer world, B2B companies are putting more emphasis on defining and measuring customer engagement now that more interaction channels are being embraced, and proactive strategies to boost customer adoption and consumption of technology are being developed by more tech companies. A customer engagement strategy includes which channels of support are offered, staffing for all channels to guarantee service levels, tools to deliver multichannel support, and technology to measure and analyze customer satisfaction, loyalty and sentiment.

To discuss customer engagement strategies, I tapped an expert on the topic: Ryan Hollenbeck, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Verint Systems. Ryan has been in the customer support technology space as long as I have, and he is a member of TSIA’s partner advisory board. Here is a snapshot of our conversation:

John Ragsdale: Hi Ryan! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today about customer engagement strategies.

Ryan Hollenbeck: Always a pleasure, John, and thanks for discussing this important topic with me.

John: I’ve heard B2C companies talking about ‘customer engagement strategies’ for a while, but it is fairly new with B2B companies. Are you hearing this topic bubble up within more of your customer base? I know you have a good mix of B2B and B2C companies as customers.

Ryan: Absolutely! In fact, customer engagement is a top consideration for our customers worldwide. Many of our customers are thinking of customer engagement as something that goes beyond managing the experience at touch points to include all the ways companies motivate customers to invest in an ongoing relationship – a lifelong customer journey of sorts! The entire enterprise needs to align with the C-Suite on the vision for engagement: what relationship do you want with your customers? Organizations need to think about different customer journeys and then tailoring experiences along the way by providing relevant context, as well as empowering customers to tailor their own experiences.

John: It seems that Verint Systems is uniquely positioned to be a leader in customer engagement. You offer resource management and scheduling tools, case management, multichannel service, knowledge management, as well as a survey platform and voice and text analysis. I can’t think of any other vendors who offer such a “soup to nuts” approach to planning, delivering and measuring customer engagement.

Ryan: Verint offers a unique Customer Engagement Optimization platform that enables organizations to enrich interactions, improve processes and optimize the workforce. With the combination of Verint and KANA solutions, “smarter engagement” – where you can capture and manage cross-functional information and behavior around customer interactions and workforce performance across delivery channels – is readily available. Organizations can then inject intelligence to uncover trends and discover why certain employee and customer behavior is occurring. These organizations can then manage interactions seamlessly across channels and use guided business processes and recommended dialogues to deliver fast, precise, personalized service – from next best action, to next best offer.

John: I’d like to pose some of the FAQs regarding customer engagement I’ve received to get your input. The first question is “Who owns the strategy?” In consumer firms it seems marketing largely owns engagement strategy, but in the B2B world, service seems more of a driver. Do you see advantages to service or marketing driving this initiative, or should it be a collaborative effort?

Ryan: Service is the new marketing! It’s actually a collaborative effort across services, marketing and other enterprise functions. Organizations can analyze customer and employee experience data in real-time to design and implement customer-centric business strategies that unite the organization across people and processes. As a result, they have better alignment across the organization and can move much more quickly to take precise action to deliver differentiated and personalized experiences that count. This improved alignment leads to more engaged employees who are spurred on by solutions that capture and manage information about customers and performance, then use it to predict measurable, sustainable business results.

John: Another FAQ is the role of social media in customer engagement. According to my just released 2015 social support survey, less than half of tech firms, 40%, are supporting customers via social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. But two-thirds of tech firms, 63%, are monitoring social media conversations as part of voice of the customer analysis. Are you seeing best practices emerge around social support?

Ryan: Social media is here to stay and we all need to get on board! Social support it’s critical to any organization today. If you don’t have a social media monitoring ad text analytics solution, now is the time. With access to a growing social media warehouse and additional online content, organizations can use Text Analytics to expand its understanding of customers and markets outside of standard feedback channels. These tools provide key insight into what customers are saying about your company—and your competitor’s products and services—no matter where they say it. Text Analytics provides out-of-the-box integration with major social media outlets and business intelligence tools. Social media support is here to stay.

John: A final FAQ I’d like to ask you about is how to best gather customer feedback. Many companies seem to rely solely on post-interaction surveys and a one or twice a year overall satisfaction survey. In my opinion, this is a good start, but is not nearly enough. Could you talk about some innovative approaches you are seeing to harnessing the voice of the customer?

Ryan: We agree that surveys are critical and post-interaction surveys provide valuable insight! And yet there are so many other means to gather the voice of the customer. For example, in addition to highly segmented customer and employee feedback across channels, forward-thinking organizations are also evaluating Social Media to gain deep insight from Twitter, Facebook, and social media monitoring services. They are also looking to analyze Website Visits by extracting information from virtually any website to obtain visibility into visitor experiences and overall site effectiveness. Further, many organizations are seeking to collaborate with Online Communities to construct vibrant, healthy online communities that can synchronize feedback efforts while augmenting customer engagement. Last but not least, let’s not forget the importance of the ability to mine Customer Calls, which can help uncover call drivers, determine customer emotion, identify emerging issues and trends, and measure customer sentiment about products and brand.

John: This has been a very enlightening conversation! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today.

Ryan: Thanks, John! We appreciate all of the work that TSIA does to measure and analyze trends in customer engagement models that increase customer consumption and optimize customer lifetime value!

Interview with Mark Middlekamp, TSIA VP Research for Expand Selling: Take Our Survey!

Posted January 30, 2015 by jragsdale
Categories: Technology

Tags: , , , , , ,

TSIA’s research team continues to grow. I was the original research hire back in 2006, and as we have added new focus areas we have hired some very bright people to manage the research stream for those areas. I wanted to introduce our newest research team member to you, Mark Middlekamp, VP Research, Expand Selling. Mark has launched a new survey to gather information on expand selling practices and metrics, and I had a call with him to learn more about the survey and his research plans for 2015. Here’s a sneak peek at the conversation:

John Ragsdale: Mark, welcome to my Eye on Service blog! Thanks for taking the time to chat about expand selling and your new survey.

Mark Middlekamp: My pleasure. Thanks for having me!

John: TSIA has been documenting in our Service 50 and Cloud 20 studies for several years now that product revenues are falling, and service profitability is under pressure, especially for Cloud providers. It’s clear to me that our industry is searching for ways to reinvigorate profitable revenue growth, and I stress “profitable.” There is also the big trend of launching customer success organizations to encourage customers to adopt and consume products, with an emphasis on demonstrating value so you have an opportunity to sell more. Let’s start on the people side. What do you see happening within tech companies related to their efforts to expand revenues within their existing customer base? My experience is that most B2B firms are good at landing the initial sale, but struggle with the revenue expansion piece over the longer haul.

Mark: Your observations are correct, John, in that our industry is struggling with how to sell more products and services, and to do so profitably over time, beyond the initial sale. I think many people would be surprised to know that most Cloud providers, who are growing very rapidly, are in fact not profitable. We refer to this emerging area as Expand Selling, and believe it will be at the center of our industry thinking just as we are seeing now with customer success as you just mentioned. As for the people side, we see significant changes occurring in both sales and services related to how their roles are defined, the interactions between functions, and how they work together. The primary driver to all of this is that the cost of sales and marketing in this emerging new world is simply too high.

John: I’m guessing that sales processes are critical in creating new expand selling capabilities within the service organization. There are certainly a lot of competing process methodologies for sales, such as Miller Heiman and TAS, but these seem to focus on the initial product sale. What methodologies are out there for expand selling, or are these methodologies still being defined?

Mark: You are correct to point out that the processes for the initial sale are quite different than the processes for expand selling. We see expansion revenues from existing customers being generated in smaller increments and over a longer period of time. The frequency of suppliers selling large, upfront and highly profitable products with support services is diminishing. New methodologies and processes are needed. To your question, these methodologies are emerging, and TSIA is deeply invested in identifying emerging trends and best practices in this area. I was brought onboard in September to accelerate our efforts here.

John: Let’s touch on the technology infrastructure required for expand selling. I’m familiar with offer management, i.e., tools that can recommend upsell/cross-sell offers to extend to customers as part of a service interaction. But you recently asked me about lead management software, which isn’t something I’ve covered previously as part of service technology. What are some new areas of technology service executives need to better understand as they launch expand selling initiatives?

Mark: We see the technology piece as being multi-faceted. One of the key transformation areas we see is in the area of customer analytics. Specifically, how can tech companies use customer data, with their permission and support of course, to better understand how customers are using what they have purchased, and how they can better optimize how they use it to achieve better business performance. As you can see, there is a customer success element to this, which can lead to Expand Selling opportunities. Lead gen is tied to this, since how customers consume what they have purchased can identify new leads.

John: You just launched a new survey to gather information about expand selling practices within the tech space. Can you tell us who you are targeting with the survey, and what sort of questions you are asking?

Mark: It is called the “Expand Selling Practices and Metrics Survey” and is designed to baseline where the tech industry is on this important topic, and begin to identify best practices and high water marks. It is actually open to TSIA members across all of our disciplines, as well as non-members. It cuts across all technology company types from pure-play Cloud providers to pure Hardware and Software providers, including those who also offer Cloud services. As for roles, we are looking for those in sales, services, customer success, account management, marketing, and even product management. The best way to participate is to contact me directly. Here is a link to send me an email. (mark.middlekamp@tsia.com)

John: Glad to hear that the survey is open to everyone, and all respondents will receive a summary of the results. Mark, thanks for taking the time to speak with me today!

Mark: Nice to be here! I appreciate you featuring my survey in your blog.

The State of Social Support: 2015

Posted January 28, 2015 by jragsdale
Categories: Technology

This week I published “The State of Social Support: 2015,” which is live on the TSIA website for members. If you aren’t a member of TSIA and you would like a free copy of the report, read on! The report is based on my annual social support survey, which was open December 1, 2014-January 5, 2015. Over 250 responses were received. I will be giving a webinar this Friday, January 30th, to cover the results. The webinar is open to the public, and everyone who attends will receive a copy of the full report via email.

The survey and resulting report address two streams of social support: online support communities, and supporting customers via social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. For online communities, there are findings about program ownership, staffing, service level agreements, CRM integration, and more.

For social media support, there is also data on program ownership and staffing, as well as which social channels companies are leveraging to support customers, and how employees are being screened and trained for social skills. Here’s a peak at the social media channels currently used for support:

social channels 2015

Twitter is the most popular social support channels, followed by YouTube (how-to and trouble shooting videos), and LinkedIn is in third place. Also listed are channels companies plan to invest in this year.

Please tune in this Friday at 8am PT and find out all the results. We will leave plenty of time for Q&A, so bring along your biggest social media challenge and I will offer any assistance I can. And remember–attendees will receive a complimentary copy of “The State of Social Support: 2015.” Here’s the link to register: http://www.tsia.com/webinars/January_2015_Industry_Pulse__Knowledge_Management/

Thanks for reading, and hope to see you online Friday!