There's a lot of buzz right now surrounding social media, Twitter, Web 2.0 — and whether there is any business value. My gut said there was... but having a Ph. D. in engineering, I knew that hypothesis needed to stand-up to testing. I began talking to customers, the brave souls who have ventured down the social media path, about what they were observing. None had calculated an ROI, but they could share with me their observations — their benefits, their costs and the risks. I looked for trends.
From my inquiries with customer service professionals, I wanted to get a generalized view of where companies are with respect to implementing the very best of customer service initiatives. It's become pretty clear that most are stuggling with outdated technology, systems that are not integrated together, outdated or no knowledge management technology systems, they haven't deployed proactive chat or ventured down the social media path and are unsure of how to document how much these factors are increasing operational costs, reducing customer lifetime value and lowering sales, revenue and profit margins-- or how to make the business case to show that if these types of things were changed-- that the return would be positive and in many cases, very large.
On the flip side, their organizations are expecting them to provide great customer experience despite these huge handicaps.
In covering Customer Service, I have divided the topic into three aspects:
“Get the Basics Right”
“Understand the Business of Customer Service"
“Plan for the Future of Customer Service.”
I just published a document, “How To Win Funding For Your Customer Service Project." Forrester suggests to standardize the process and template for a business case. We use the discipline Total Economic Impact™ to calculate the ROI for an initiative. I’m hearing from a lot of my clients that in order to get their project approved, they need to justify it.
Today I had an inquiry call from a vendor that wanted to know how best to standardize the business justification process. They are finding that they can’t even get a meeting, or if they do, then one of the first sales objections of their clients is, “What is the ROI of this solution?"
SAP held a carefully orchestrated product launch event for Business Suite 7 in its global marketing headquarters in New York on February 4, 2009. I had the privilege to attend this event, along with a cadre of other industry analysts, investment analysts, press, and industry influencers, as well as key partners and customers. The 2 hour program featured presentations from senior SAP executives, a product demonstration, and a Q&A session that included CIOs from 3 large SAP customers – IBM, Roche and Colgate-Palmolive.
Microsoft announced today that it is discontinuing the Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server product. The business performance monitoring and analytics capabilities of PerformancePoint will be bundled into the SharePoint Server enterprise license (CAL) going forward, and no longer sold separately. The planning and budgeting capability of PerformancePoint will see a midyear enhancement that is already in the works, and then put into support mode. Existing PerformancePoint customers will receive support on these products for 10 years. Another element of the announcement is the return of FRx reporting and forecasting capabilities to the Microsoft Dynamics business applications group.
After investing heavily in the development and launch of PerformancePoint over the past 3 years, it is a major shift in strategy for Microsoft to essentially kill off the product initiative. Its rationale is that the goal is to make business performance monitoring and analytics pervasive across the enterprise, and SharePoint is the best vehicle to carry this functionality. Microsoft expects that bundling these capabilities at no additional cost within the SharePoint enterprise license will accelerate sales of SharePoint, including upgrades from the standard license. Planning, meanwhile, is seen as a Finance desk application that is not part of the SharePoint strategy.
Yesterday morning best-of-breed field service optimization vendor, ClickSoftware Technologies, and enterprise applications software giant, SAP, announced a heightened extension to their successful partnering history. Building on an existing record of successful synergy between the two technologies, especially within the utilities industry, SAP will now recognize ClickSoftware as a Solution Extension (SOLEX) Partner.
As an SAP SOLEX partner, ClickSoftware’s Service Optimization Suite will be sold by SAP as the SAP Workforce Scheduling and Optimization application by ClickSoftware.
How is this different from today?
ClickSoftware’s optimization suite of products will now appear on SAP’s official pricelist. As a result, SAP account executives will now be compensated for selling the ClickSoftware product and clients will have access to SAP’s support service infrastructure.
Prospective buyers, especially existing SAP customers, will have the advantage of negotiating through one vendor, one contract, one sales team – well, you get the idea.
SAP will package and resell Click’s solution suite into three bundled offerings. 1) Effectively the entire ClickSoftware suite of products with SAP Workforce Scheduling and Optimization Suite by ClickSoftware; 2) the real-time scheduling optimization and analytics product with SAP Workforce Scheduling and Optimization by ClickSoftware – Field Service and Maintenance Scheduling; and 3) the demand forecasting and resource planning products with SAP Workforce Scheduling and Optimization by ClickSoftware – Forecasting and Rostering.