Choosing The Right Metrics For Your Customer Service Operations

Measuring the success of your customer service by using a single metric is impossible. It’s like flying a plane by just looking at your speed without taking the altitude into account. You need to measure a set of competing metrics to make up a Balanced Scorecard that includes the cost of doing business and customer satisfaction. Service operations that have sales responsibilities should also track revenue generated. And in industries with strict policy requirements, like healthcare, insurance, and financial services, compliance with regulations is yet another set of metrics to track.

Choosing the right set of metrics to measure also depends on the stakeholders that use this information. For example:

  • Service managers need operational data that tracks activities, while executives want strategic KPIs that track outcomes of customer service programs.
  • Service managers need granular, real-time data on their operations, while executives need to see only a small number of KPIs on a periodic basis.  

I always think of it as a two-step process to pinpoint the right metrics for all your stakeholders:

  1. Understand the strategic objectives of your company; choose the high-level KPIs for your contact center that support your company’s objectives. These are the metrics you will report to your executives.
  2. Choose the right operational activity metrics for your contact center that map to these KPIs and which the customer service manager uses on a daily basis to manage operations. Here’s an example of this mapping:
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The Multichannel Organization Revisited

In 2006, Forrester found that organizational structure, internal enterprise goal systems, and most urgent business requirements were key obstacles on many firms’ journey toward broad multichannel solutions with rich cross-channel capabilities. At that time, a few advanced firms tried to establish a multichannel organization, an organizational layer to coordinate multichannel requirements and solutions between the different business groups and the IT organization. Has this changed over the past five years?

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It's The Dawning Of The Age Of BI DBMS

Over the years we’ve learned how to address the key business intelligence (BI) challenges of the past 20 years, such as stability, robustness, and rich functionality. Agility and flexibility challenges now represent BI’s next big opportunity. BI pros now realize that earlier-generation BI technologies and architecture, while still useful for more stable BI applications, fall short in the ever-faster race of changing business requirements. Forrester recommends embracing Agile BI methodology, best practices, and technologies (which we’ve covered in previous research)  to tackle agility and flexibility opportunities. Alternative database management system (DBMS) engines architected specifically for Agile BI will emerge as one of the compelling Agile BI technologies BI pros should closely evaluate and consider for specific use cases.

Why? Because fitting BI into a row-oriented RDBMS is often like putting a square peg into a round hole. In order to tune such a RDBMS for BI usage, specifically data warehousing, BI pros usually:

  • Denormalize data models to optimize reporting and analysis.
  • Build indexes to optimize queries.
  • Build aggregate tables to optimize summary queries.
  • Build OLAP cubes to further optimize analytic queries.
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Canonical Information Modeling - A Best Practice For SOA?

I recently attended the second annual “Canonical Model Management Forum” at the Washington Plaza Hotel in Washington, DC (see here for my post about last year’s, first meeting, including Forrester’s definition of canonical modeling). Enterprise or information architects from a number of government agencies as well as several of the major banks, insurance companies, retailers, credit-card operators, and other private-sector firms attended the meeting. There was one vendor sponsor (DigitalML, the vendor of IgniteXML). There were a number of presentations by the attendees about their environments, what had motivated them to establish a canonical model, how that work had turned out, and the important lessons learned.

Last year I also had some recent Forrester survey results to share – we have not yet rerun that survey, but we are on the verge of rerunning it, so I’ll post some key results from that once the data is available.

Last year’s post is still the place to go to get the general overview about why to do canonical modeling, the main use cases, some areas of controversy (still raging), and a list of best practices I heard attendees agree upon.

What’s New In 2011?

Based both on what I heard at this meeting and on other recent interviews:

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Follow The Conversation From Forrester's IT Forum 2011

Today we’re kicking off Forrester's IT Forum 2011 at The Palazzo in Las Vegas. Prepare for three exciting days of keynote presentations and track sessions focused on business and technology alignment. Use the Twitter widget below to follow the Forum conversation by tracking our event hashtag #ITF11 on Twitter. Attendees are encouraged to tweet throughout the Forum and to tweet any questions for our keynote presenters to #ITF11.

Adopt Mobile CRM Best Practices Now

One trend in the CRM industry that is hot, hot, hot is mobile CRM. Mobile CRM solutions — the ability to use handheld devices to manage sales, sales contacts, and customer service activities — have clearly moved beyond their previous status as a specialized nice-to-have option and into the mainstream. Organizations are also rushing to find new ways to allow their customers to interact with them using consumer-owned mobile devices.

The emergence of ubiquitous high-speed broadband connectivity, smartphones, and tablet devices with enormous computing power and longer battery life, along with increased employee adoption of touchscreen devices (iPhone/iPad/BlackBerry) in every sphere of life, are all trends that serve to “liberate IT from the desktop.”

I am currently midway through a major research cycle on the topic, talking with CRM vendors, systems integrators, and end users. My goal is to define mobile CRM best practices and spotlight the pitfalls that can get in way of capitalizing on the mobile technology revolution.

I recently talked with Model Metrics, Wipro’s CRM consulting practice leaders, and Tata Consultancy Services’ CRM practice leadership team. These consulting and development firms are all doing a lot of mobile CRM projects for their clients. We brainstormed about the critical considerations that that must be addressed when defining a mobile CRM strategy:

  • Who are the intended users and targeted business community for mobile app use?
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PMOs – Think Outside Of The Box. Will Kanban Work For You?

Gaining visibility into the big picture of an IT portfolio feels like one of the unsolvable challenges, and it’s not for lack of trying. Dashboards abound, and PPM tools are becoming more user friendly all the time, but do these tools really provide transparency into what’s really going on? Sometimes I think these tools provide MORE information than what you need, akin to telling you how to build the watch when all you want is the time. After reading Dave West’s “Why Kanban Matters,” I think more and more about how Kanban will provide project management offices with the information they need so that it can feed the portfolio more efficiently.

Example:

At a glance, the PMO knows where everything is in its cycle, what’s in the pipeline, and a brief status of what is important or in the need to know. Depending on the information that bubbles up in the brief status line, the PMO can determine where there may be resource constraints or where demand is driving the next steps . . . and it enables executives to get a visual of how demand is affecting current projects and supports the PMO’s need to communicate status without flooding dashboards with useless information. This can drive valuable conversations based on clear, concise information — it’s hard to miss what on tap and what is being delayed. It’s a process whose time has come.

Have you thought about leveraging Kanban above the project level? I’d love to hear your comments.

The Customer’s Bill of Rights: The Right to Choose How to Get Customer Service

The Customer’s Bill of Rights: The Right to Choose

Customers know what good service is and expect it from every interaction they have with a company’s customer service organization, over all the interaction channels that the company supports. More often that not, they are disappointed, and are quick to voice their disappointment. And in this world of social media, this disappointment gets amplified — which leads to brand erosion.

Let’s focus on the way customers want to interact with your customer service organization:

  • Customers expect to interact over all the channels that customer service organizations offer, including the traditional ones like phone, email, and chat, and the new social ones like Faceboook and Twitter.
  • Customers expect the same experience over all the communication channels that they use.
  • Customers expect the same information to be delivered to them over any channel.
  • Customers expect to be able to start a conversation on one channel and move it to another channel without having to start the conversation over.
  • Customers expect you to know who they are, what products they have purchased, and what prior interactions they’ve had with you.
  • Customers expect you to add value every time they interact with you.
  • Customers expect you to offer them only new products and services that make sense to them and fit with their past purchase history.
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Innovation, Serious Games, And Cranky Brits

I'm a dedicated podcast listener, and one of my current favorites is the BBC's In Our Time. The host, Melvyn Bragg, selects a bewildering array of topics, such as Daoism, the Battle of Bannockburn, random numbers, the medieval university, and metaphor. A recent episode about the Industrial Revolution unexpectedly and unintentionally turned into a very lively discussion about the sources of invention, a topic that's near and dear to application development and delivery professionals.

Here's the punch line to this discussion: Not everyone's brain is ready to conjure up new ideas, so you need a catalyst. And here's the connection to this blog: serious games can be that catalyst. Our brains regularly need to be shaken up this way, during both those magisterial moments when we're trying to look over the horizon and the more desperate moments when, as I discuss in a new study, we need to dig ourselves out of a hole.

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Forrester's PaaS Wave: Salesforce & Microsoft Lead, But The Race Is Far From Over

In Forrester's 149-criteria evaluation of 10 platform-as-a-service (PaaS) vendors, we found that Microsoft and salesforce.com led the pack because of their comprehensive features for application development and delivery pros and strong strategies in the category. Cordys, LongJump, Caspio, WorkXpress, WaveMaker, and Google were the next-strongest vendors (in order) in our analysis, followed by OrangeScape and Tibco Software. Our analysis shows which PaaS vendors are best for professional developers and which are best for business developers. Our analysis also reveals a very immature market with lots of potential risks for buyers.

The PaaS market is a sprawling, fast-changing, and immature market. Most PaaS vendors are small, and even big vendors like Google and Microsoft have incomplete, new products. Salesforce.com has the most mature PaaS, but it just acquired an entirely new PaaS product (Heroku), and its fit into the portfolio and strategy isn't yet clear. The PaaS market's immaturity is also evident in the relatively low scores registered by many of the vendors in our Wave analyses. Whereas many Forrester Waves have four or more Leaders, ours only has two.

Our evaluation of PaaS products for professional developers ("coders") uncovered a market in which salesforce.com — one of the PaaS pioneers — has built a powerful product, market position, and strategy and in which Microsoft has quickly also built a leading position.

Our evaluation of PaaS products for business developers ("business experts") uncovered a market in which salesforce.com is the only Leader. But upstart vendors — most notably Caspio and WorkXpress — provide very strong alternatives. Microsoft does not appear in this analysis because it does not yet offer tools for business experts in its Azure product line.

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