Posted tagged ‘social service’

Social Dynamx Launches: Social Customer Service Designed for Large Enterprises

April 26, 2012

I was lucky to get a pre-brief of one of the most exciting new company launches I’ve seen for some time, Social Dynamx. Based in Austin, with leadership whose background includes executive roles at Siebel/OracleCRM  and Sigma Dynamics (one of the best offer management platforms ever invented, acquired by Oracle in 2006), this company has built a social customer service platform designed for large enterprises. The company officially launched this week! Here’s a link to the press release.

There are some very innovative features in the Social Dynamx platform, including:

  • Role-Based User Interface. Role-specific UIs designed for agents, supervisors and managers, giving each the features and access levels they need for their individual responsibilities.
  • Automated Prioritization and Matching. Social Dynamx’s proprietary algorithms score posts for relevancy and actionability. Then posts are matched in real time and auto-assigned to the most appropriate skill group. Agents can quickly identify and respond to high-priority issues first and fast.
  • 100% cloud based. The platform’s open architecture means it’s easy to integrate with your existing investments in CRM, knowledge management, social listeners, peer-to-peer support communities and business intelligence systems.
  • Advanced Conversation Management. Go beyond posts and start having conversations. Social Dynamx supports advanced conversation management so agents can respond, thread, split, de-dupe and unify conversations so customers receive the attention they deserve and expect.
  • SLA-Based Metrics. Stop treating social media interactions lack second class conversations. Social Dynamx delivers comprehensive real-time metrics across agent and workgroups so managers and supervisors have immediate insight into KPIs. Use out-of-the-box metrics, or export and build your owns.
  • Enterprise-Grade Workflow. TSIA members are very process oriented, and I was thrilled to see that the platform delivers customized workflows so you can assign, re-prioritize, flush, re-assign, audit and report on every post and conversation.
  • And more…

Congratulations to Social Dynamx on the launch! The company is already engaged with multiple TSIA members, and I look forward to sharing customer case study examples as they emerge.

For those of you attending Technology Services World, I’m pleased to announce that Social Dynamx will be participating in our Service Revolutions showcase on May 9th, in which the audience watches live demos of bleeding-edge tools for service and votes for their favorite. I’m looking forward to everyone seeing Social Dynamx in action!

Thanks for reading!

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Top Attended Session on TSW Day 1: Social Media Trends & Best Practices

October 25, 2011

Yesterday was the opening day of TSIA’s Technology Services World Conference in Las Vegas, and our opening keynotes took a somber tone as our executives discussed the changes in the industry and service revenue models and gave calls to action for rapid evolution in order to survive. I always worry about starting a conference on a worrisome note, as you walk a fine line between energizing attendees about the importance of change vs. intimidating them with dire predictions.

Following the keynotes, we had the Power Hour, with concurrent presentations from each of us on the research team.  (See this previous blog entry for an overview of my session on Video in service.) We had a good selection of topics, including a big focus on revenue generation and cloud impacts. I was anxious to see the numbers on top attended sessions, since I think that is great indicator of where people’s heads are at. Christi Holzer, our tireless Events Project Manager, sent me the attendee numbers for the Power Hour session late last night, and while the revenue generation sessions all had good attendance, the top attended session with Shawn Santos’ presentation on social media, “The State of Social Support: New TSIA Research Uncovers Leading Trends & Best Practices.” Not only does social media continue to be a fascinating topic for members, it is also a fun and sexy subject that is relevant to everyone, regardless of your role or title.

Just in time for TSW, Shawn completed his annual social media survey, which has a massive response rate and provides incredible information. This is the third year Shawn has done the survey, so now he has created great trending data, tracking results from 2009 to today. He shared his findings in this session. My session on video in service was actually next door to Shawn’s presentation, and I could hear hoots, hollers and applause from the audience, so I’m pretty sure the content was well received!

I will leave it to Shawn to share his results, but I will be providing a few data points today when I served as moderator for a session entitled, “Social Support: Seizing the Opportunity,” led by David Kay of DB Kay & Assoc. and Brad Smith, Vice President, Global Support Experience, Yahoo.  You will have to come to the session to hear the details (2:15 in St. Thomas B), but suffice to say a shocking percent of companies continue to report they are either unable to measure ROI for social media, or worse–they receive zero ROI for their efforts. We also continue to see lagging adoption of best practices like CRM integration and federated search of self-service content and community content. However, companies that ARE receiving ROI for social media have already done these things, helping prove our point that integration, reporting and dashboards are key to success.

Also today I am leading an invitation-only partner advisory session on key industry trends across each of our service disciplines, I have multiple member 1:1 meetings scheduled, and I’ll be interviewing LionBridge and Astea on the Solution Stage in the EXPO. If you see me in the hallway, please say hi! And as always, thanks for reading!

Calculating the ROI of Community Projects: A Conversation with Francoise Tourniaire

March 7, 2011

This month I am going to publish interviews with the instructors for our Professional Development Courses scheduled for Monday, May 2nd at our Technology Services World conference in Santa Clara, CA. We have pulled together five courses, each with an instructor who is a recognized expert in their field. The courses from from 8am-1pm, and are a great way to educate your team, reward top performing employees, and get them enthused about a new topic.

First up is a long time partner and supporter of the TSIA, Francoise Tourniaire, founder of FT Works. Francoise is a very popular author and visionary on KM and social media, leading workshops and providing consulting services for dozens of TSIA members each year. Her professional development workshop, “A Gold Mine? Calculating the ROI of Community Projects,” hits on the single hottest topic in service today. I had a chance to chat with Francoise last week about her course as well as industry trends. Here are some highlights.

John Ragsdale: I’m thrilled to see you offering a workshop on the ROI of customer communities. Talk about jumping into the lion’s den—this is the hottest topic in support today. About three fourths of our members companies offer a customer community. Does it surprise you that so many companies adopted this technology without an understanding of where the ROI comes from—or if there is ROI?

Francoise Tourniaire: The rational side of me hates jumping into any large initiative without a good metrics strategy – but at the same time experiments are wonderful and mind-opening. Support organizations tend to be very conservative so it’s great to see them taking risks. My view is that it’s always ok to try something new, and that part of the experiment must be to measure the success of the experiment. So sure, get going without being certain you will see an ROI, but take steps to measure the ROI.

Ragsdale: According to our most recent social media survey, 65% of members active in social media say they are unable to measure ROI—they don’t know how or where to start. Many companies assumed they would easily deflect phone calls to the forum, but I don’t hear many stories out there of dropping call volumes. What are some of the financial benefits other than call deflection?

2010 TSIA Social Media Survey

Tourniaire: In my experience the bulk of the quantifiable savings comes from case deflection so it would be interesting to see why volumes are not affected. At the same time, I see lots of my clients experiencing significant benefits on the knowledge management side. Rather than having to invest large amounts of resources in creating and maintaining knowledge, they find that the forums create a strong “tribal” knowledge base, which can be even more useful to customers than something built internally. So that would be one area to investigate. Another area is how increased customer satisfaction (and customers are overwhelmingly happy with forums) can translate into repeat purchases, additional purchases, and referrals. It’s not easy to track them, but it’s worth trying.

Ragsdale: One of the complaints I’ve had from members is the reporting tools for their community platform are insufficient, and there aren’t enough prepackaged reports to get them started. In the workshop, do you make recommendations on what ‘best practice’ reports companies should be tracking?

Tourniaire: Reporting is an issue, yes. Some of the problem lies with what the limitations of what community vendors offer today, but a big part of the problem is that support communities are often rolled out without much forethought and without solid thinking around metrics. If you think through the metrics requirements and implement with them in mind, you can gather those “best practices” metrics much more easily.

Ragsdale: Let’s talk about integration. Francoise, I believe you were at Scopus about the same time I was at Clarify, so we both have a CRM-centric background. I have to say I am saddened that only 8% of our members have integrated communities to CRM—and that number remained flat from the 2009 survey! Clearly CRM integration isn’t a priority, but in my mind, it should be. Does the 360 degree view of the customer not include community activity? Or is CRM no longer the center of the customer data universe?

Tourniaire: Fifteen years ago when Scopus was pushing the 360-degree view of the customer I totally, absolutely believed that we would deliver just that to all our customers. But even then I could not help but notice that even our customers were not always purchasing an entire solution from us, and with the proliferation of functionality I think things may be worse today than they were at the time. With communities, integration is rare because many times communities were started as a skunkworks project, under the radar of the structured and slow-moving CRM team. So it will take time to hook up all of the pieces. I’m very hopeful in the long term.

Ragsdale: Let me get back to your course. You have a lot of ground to cover in a 5 hour workshop. Could you give us an idea how the day is structured?

Tourniaire: It’s going to be very hands-on, with the goal that every attendee takes away a custom model for his or her organization, so it will run as a hands-on workshop. We’ll start with some best practices discussions on ROI in general, and then we will dive into practical topics, from measuring case deflection to estimating knowledge management savings, drawing on my experience working with a variety of clients on community ROI. The workshop will be very attendee-driven. Ideally I’d like to be able to put the power of the attendees of the workshop behind each and every ROI we build. That’s the power of communities!

Ragsdale: I’m so impressed you are actually giving class attendees a spreadsheet model for calculating community ROI. That’s one heck of a take away!

Tourniaire: I’m a generous person 😉 — and I’m all about practical, tangible results.

Ragsdale: Francoise, thanks for taking the time for this interview!

Tourniaire: John, it’s always a pleasure to talk with you. And I want to mention that I will also facilitate a workout with Rob Shapiro of Oracle on Tuesday afternoon at TSW on the topic of community best practices and metrics, so that’s another opportunity to talk about my current obsession, support communities.

Bringing TSIA’s Social Media Message to Asia Pacific

August 25, 2010

Next week I am doing a webcast for Asia/Pacific on leveraging social media for support. The event is sponsored by TSIA Partner Citrix Online and callcentres.net, a research, consulting, analyst and online publishing company dedicated to the Australian and Asia Pacific contact center and outsourcing industries. I hope all of my readers and our TSIA corporate and community members in Asia/Pac take this opportunity to tune in to a webcast in your timezone–Thursday, 2 September at 2:00 PM Australian EST (9pm PST on Wednesday September 1).

This webcast will cover the results our TSIA Social Media Survey, and much of the information has not been previously published. This is a fascinating, and as far as I can tell, completely unique data set, so definitely worth your time to attend. During the webcast I will cover survey data as well as the top FAQ’s for social media, including:

  • Adoption growth of discussion forums 2007-2010
  • Which department owns social media efforts within companies?
  • What social support channels are most companies using, across discussion forums, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  • How do you select the social media channels to support?
  • What staffing is required for social support?
  • Social media interaction volumes
  • Basic support processes for handling social media channels

The moderator for the event is a leading voice in support practices in the Asia Pacific region, Dr Catriona Wallace, Managing Director of callcentres.net Pty Ltd and ACA Research. Dr Wallace is an expert in Customer Engagement and Employee Engagement and advises companies on service and employee strategies, with particular emphasis on contact center service channels. Dr Wallace has a PhD in Organisational Behaviour, which gives her great insight into consumer behavior and the impact of social media on the workplace. She is also funny as hell, so it should be an educational and entertaining webcast.

To register for the webcast, click here.

Hope to see you all online next week!

Social Platforms Mature: OutStart Seamlessly Blends Internal/External Communities

August 3, 2010

I had a call today with the folks at OutStart, a vendor of social business software as well as learning and mobile solutions, to get an update on their Participate platform, which includes full community capabilities along with knowledge and expertise management tools. I’m happy to see that social media (or social service or Social CRM, depending who you are) is definitely maturing, with products and customer examples reflecting more integration, more inclusive definitions of community, and a broader range of content management capabilities.

There were three things that struck me about the OutStart demo I found impressive, not just that the product includes the features but that the market is demanding them:

  • Blending internal and external communities. I have written about this before, and I’m thrilled to see new vendors like OutStart who sell internal, external and blended communities. Some of the leading community platforms only sell to customer communities, not internal, because they make their money by the number of page views so only care about huge customer communities with big page view traffic.  Employee communities will never be as big or as profitable for them. But I think it is incredibly short-sighted not to realize how useful communities can be for employees, as well as understanding that employees play a critical role in customer communities, and we should be encouraging as much employee participation as possible.
  • Content control. Only 17% of TSIA members have integrated social media channels into the corporate website, but it appears that this is changing–at last. I made a comment to OutStart during the briefing that their platform now includes a lot of features normally found in content management systems (CMS), and it is great to see so much flexibility built into a customer service platform. The Participate customer portal treats discussion forum content as one library of content, with sections and links to knowledge articles, other corporate content, and even external content from 3rd party forums, expert blogs or news outlets. Additionally, OutStart offers very granular controls for who can see what content, allowing separate internal and external discussions and content to happily co-exist on a single platform with no problems. This also means that content can be developed and published to different groups along the way, embracing Knowledge Centered Support processes.
  • Integration. Only 8% of TSIA members have integrated social media channels, including forums, into their CRM/incident management system. It didn’t help that early community vendors formed strategic relationships with specific CRM/incident management vendors, with few packaged integrations available. Then the new breed of vendors came along offering combined CRM and communities, and while they do solve the integration problem, they require you to replace your existing tools. I was happy to see that OutStart has a tight integration to Salesforce.com (used by 19% of TSIA member companies), with an open integration framework available that customers can use to connect to their CRM system of choice.

Shawn Santos, our director of social media, is working on the 2010 TSIA Social Media survey, so it will be interesting to see if these integration issues are being resolved by member companies, and how the formerly separate worlds of web self-service knowledgebases and discussion forums are merging. Stay tuned for those survey results later this year. If you have any comments or questions, please add a comment or drop me an email, and as always, thanks for reading!

KM Megatrends: Social, Mobile, Global, Green

June 4, 2010

I’m doing a webcast with KMWorld and eGain next week on June 8th at 11am PT (click here to register!) on knowledge management (KM) megatrends.  When we had our content planning call, we brainstormed on top trends in customer service, and every one of them had a tie-in to KM.  We’ve divided up topics to discuss on the webcast, and I’m going to cover these 4 areas:

  • Social media/social service: New channels, increased transparency, customer in control
  • Mobility: Information access anywhere, anytime, on any device
  • Globalization: Meeting needs of customers regardless of geography or culture
  • Green Support: Reducing environmental impacts of support

I’ve blogged about some of these topics before, but the globalization angle is new. I’m adding a graphic here showing how many languages different industry segments currently support for phone, email and web self-service.

In how many different languages are the following support resources offered?

No surprise, consumer companies are out in front, but enterprise software firms are also far along the path to offering multiple languages across channels. Even small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) are getting in on the act. Why is this so important?

  • Increased self-service adoption and success with local language versions. If you want to boost self-service success, offering content in the customer’s native language is a great place to start.  Note that some companies are already WAY ahead in this effort, and here are a couple of “all star” company examples:  17 languages offered by Nikon (B2C), 32 languages offered by Xerox (B2B)
  • Huge improvement in translation tools and KM capabilities to create/maintain multiple languages. I’ve given a couple of Recognized Innovator Awards to Language Weaver, who has the single best (and accurate) translation tool on the market. Also, KM vendors like eGain are now able to handle multiple languages in a single instance, with reference customers for proof.
  • Cultural differences extend beyond language and can thwart success in other geographies. I’ve told the story before about how my first startup lost a big deal in Japan because of a stupidly designed icon in our product that was mis-interpreted as insulting by the Japanese prospect. North American companies have always tried to shove our approach to UI and workflow down everyone’s throats, but increasingly, we are seeing companies enter China starting not with sales, but development centers, building new product versions that are more in tune with local expectations, norms and culture.

I hope you can tune in next week to hear more, as well as additional megatrends to be covered by Don Muchow, Senior Solutions Consultant with eGain. Don always has great insight to share–not only has he been at eGain since 2003, but he also worked at early CRM vendor Scopus as well as Siebel, so he has seen a lot! Thanks for reading, and hope to see you on Tuesday!

Recap of Day 1: Technology Services World

May 4, 2010

Yesterday our Spring 2010 Technology Services World (TSW) kicked off at the Santa Clara convention center, with over 700 attendees. The morning was filled with professional development workshops, advisory board meetings, and 1:1 meetings with members and partners. The conference officially opened at 3pm with a keynote by my boss, executive director of TSIA Thomas Lah.

Thomas talked about how “the cloud” is changing technology services, and not necessarily for the better. The traditional “on premise” hardware and software companies are all morphing into OnDemand as quickly as possible, yet pure SaaS companies have lower profit than their on premise counterparts. Should we really be running so fast towards what seems to be a cliff?

One thing you can’t deny about cloud companies–support has a critical role in keeping customers happy so they renew when their 2-3 year agreement is up.  The most profitable accounts are those that extend beyond the initial contract, but the cost of switching OnDemand solutions is low, and you have to work extra hard to be sure your customers won’t leave for a better deal. In some ways, enterprise software is beginning to feel an awful lot like a cell phone plan: loyalty is hard to come by when the cost of switching is so low.

During the support services advisory board meeting, Bill Rose asked the board about problems that “keep them up at night,” and the answers were interesting, with a mix of old issues that never go away, and emerging challenges with no official best practices yet.  Some of the long time issues companies still struggle with include:

  • Multi-vendor support. As technology becomes more intertwined, identifying the failing component between a dizzy array of hardware and software is darn near impossible sometimes, and members are spending more time troubleshooting technology they don’t own or control. Training time and costs are going through the roof to keep techs up to speed on dozens of technologies, in addition to the core technology they support.
  • Outsourcing attrition. With turnover rates as high as 15% per month for some outsourcing contracts, having adequate staffing of highly skilled staff becomes very challenging. And, this is not just an India problem anymore. Latin American and other areas in Asia are now finding high demand for seasoned, trained support techs, so turnover keeps growing.
  • Demonstrating value. The economy has put even more pressure on maintenance renewals, with discounts climbing and more customers asking to renegotiate terms.

Some of the emerging issues listed were:

  • Managing consolidation. High tech has always been a hot bed of mergers and acquisitions, and activity has increased as valuations dropped due to the economy. 2009 was a big year for acquisitions, and 2010 is expected to be as well.  Multiple companies said more information is needed on best practices for merging support organizations, standardizing processes and systems across global operations.
  • Cloud complexities.  Companies m0ving to the cloud are finding a new set of support challenges, including confusing international standards for cloud computing–data storage, privacy, etc. Also, what are the key metrics/KPIs for cloud operations?
  • Social media. Our larger members, and many of our smaller members, have jumped into social service and now are wondering how to effectively handle the huge influx of customer content. In addition, the ROI of social service continues to stymie companies as online communities find huge adoption…but assisted support interactions never decrease.

Day 2 of TSW is underway with a full day of breakout sessions, including my session at 4pm revealing the results of my 2010 Member Technology Survey. I’ll also be giving 2 Innovation Tours of the Expo at 11am and 2pm, with a drawing for an iPod shuffle for tour attendees. Come join us!