Customer Service Done Right In 10 Easy Steps

Kate Leggett

Today, the gap between a customer’s expectations and the service they receive is huge. Customers are increasingly knowledgeable about products and demand value-added, personalized service.

Companies know that good service is important: 90% of customer service decision-makers tell Forrester that it’s critical to their company’s success, and 63% think its importance has risen. Yet companies struggle to offer an experience that meets their customers’ expectations at a cost that make sense to them, especially in these economically challenging times.

The end result for companies is significant: escalating service costs, customer satisfaction numbers at rock-bottom levels, and anecdotes of poor service experiences amplified over social channels that can lead to brand erosion. 

Mastering the customer service experience is hard to do. Focusing on the end-to-end experience can help you move the needle in a positive direction. In this 10-part blog series, I will outline one tip each day that you should think about.

Tip 1: Do you know how your customers want to interact with you?

Customers know what good service is and demand it from each interaction they have, over any communication channel that they use. Forrester’s data shows that in general, customers still prefer to use the phone, closely followed by email and web self-service. That being said, customer demographics affect channel preference with the younger generation more comfortable using peer-to-peer communication and instant service channels like chat. Its important to understand the demographics and communication preferences of your customers.

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Beyond Study Abroad: There’s Vendor Opportunity In Education’s Global Expansion

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

[Co-authored with Rachel Brown]

Recently, two top-tier American universities announced plans to launch new global satellite campuses. Yale University will partner with the National University of Singapore to set up a joint campus in Singapore, and MIT, which already has a global campus in Abu Dhabi, is partnering with the Skolkovo Foundation to develop a graduate research university in Skolkovo, Russia. Yale University and MIT are not the only universities to expand globally. In fact, having a global satellite campus (or even multiple global satellite campuses) is a growing trend among universities trying to remain competitive in an increasingly global world (see the “flight map” figure below).

The expansion of universities poses a huge opportunity for technology vendors who are already accustomed to “going global.” Technology vendors can offer universities a way to bridge the geography gap through technologies such as intercampus networks, videoconferencing, and content-sharing platforms that allow students and faculty at global campuses to stay connected with the home campus. However, vendors need to be aware of the many challenges that are inherent in education ICT. To learn more about the global campus phenomenon and how vendors can seize this opportunity, check out my latest report, "Opportunities In Education’s Global Expansion: Tap Global Enterprise Experience and Local Expertise."

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From The Inside Out: Building A Customer-Centric Infrastructure

Doug Washburn

Whether or not IT Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) leaders believe they are well-positioned to support customer growth, the business does. Their expectations are high, and they firmly believe that technology's ability to serve and support customers is most valuable, even more so than cost savings. To deliver on these ambitions, I&O leaders must follow suit and build a customer-obsessed organization that takes an outside-in view from the customer's perspective — not inside-out from the data center.

While this transformation will be anything but easy, there are invaluable lessons to be learned from those who have already taken on the challenge of rebooting their people, process, and technology to become more customer-centric. Lessons from companies like Fidelity, where Wilson D’Souza, Senior VP of End User Computing, and George Brady, Executive VP of Distributing Hosting For Fidelity Technology Group, have applied these “rebooting” principles to improve associate experience. In preparation for their upcoming keynote at next week’s Infrastructure & Operations Forum, I recently spoke with Wilson and George about the importance of building customer-centric infrastructure:

Why is the concept of "customer-centricity" so important to Fidelity's business?

Serving our customers has been at the core of Fidelity’s business since our founding 65 years ago.  Our goal is to provide the best customer experience and outcomes in our industry. We believe that customer experience results achieved are a function of the technology environment we provide our associates.

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Are Sustainability Conferences Sustainable?

Chris Mines
That was my thought as I sat down to a lovely banquet dinner to kick off the Low-Carbon Earth Summit (LCES) in Dalian China a couple of weeks ago. I was lucky enough to be on the keynote agenda at this conference and was sharing dinner with local dignitaries from Dalian and some sustainability luminaries from around the world.

My fellow keynoters hailed from Germany, Brazil, China, Switzerland, and the US. And one of the topics over dinner was the coming round of sustainability conferences, COP 17 in Durban, South Africa, next month; the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi in January; and Rio+20 in Brazil next June, all part of what the UN has dubbed its "Sustainable energy for all" initiative.

Which got me to thinking: Is it sustainable for all these experts to be flying around the world attending sustainability conferences? The "industry" of creating more sustainable business, home, and public environments should be a role model.

All of us involved in improving sustainability should take a look at our travel schedules and see if cutting one or more of those long-haul flights can be part of our "carbon diet" for the coming year.

And we should pay attention to technology-enabled alternatives, like the VERGE virtual conference run a few months ago by my friends at GreenBiz. Videoconferencing, webcasting, and other technologies can help habitual conference-goers like myself to separate participation in an event from travel to the event.

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A Letter To Meg Whitman From The Market

Glenn O'Donnell

Dear Meg,

Now that you’ve settled into your latest position as the head of Hewlett-Packard, we wish to make a request of you. That request is, “Please take HP back to the greatness it once represented.” The culture once known as “The HP Way” has gone astray and the people have suffered as a result. Those people are of course the vast collection of incredible HP employees, but also its even vaster collection of customers. They (ahem, we) once believed in the venerable enterprise that Bill Hewlett and David Packard conceived and built through the latter half of the 20th century.

HP became renowned for its innovation and the quality of its products. While they tended to be pricey, we bought HP products because we knew they would perform well and perform long. We could count on HP to not only sell us technology, but to guide us in our journey to use this technology for the betterment of our own lives. We yearn for the old HP that inspired Steve Jobs to change the world – and he did!

We need not remind you of what transpired over the past decade or so, but we do have some suggestions for what you should address to restore the luster of HP’s golden age:

  • Commit to a mission. HP needs an audacious mission that articulates a purpose for every employee, from you and the HP board all the way down to the lowest levels. Borrow a page from IBM’s Smarter Planet mission. While it sometimes seems over the top, that’s the whole point. It is over the top and speaks to a bold mission to create a new world. Slowly but surely, IBM is making the planet smarter. Steve Jobs got Apple to convince us to Think Different, and we did. What is HP’s mission?
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Edmonton Offers Urban Planning Classes: Opportunities To Take Citizen Engagement To The Next Level

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

I love the idea of the Edmonton’s Planning Academy, which offers planning courses to anyone in the city.  What a great way to get citizens involved in the complex challenges of city planning!  It made me want to live in Edmonton.  OK, so maybe I’m kind of addicted to school, and taking classes (corporate learning programs, continuing studies programs and even the Red Cross have seen me in their classrooms in recent years).  But really, this one looks so cool I had to write about it. 

The City of Edmonton’s Planning Academy’s goal is to “provide a better understanding of the planning and development process in Edmonton.”  And, it grants a Certificate of Participation following completion of the three core courses and one elective.  These three core courses include:

  • Use Planning: The Big Picture.
  • Getting a Grip on Land Use Planning.  
  • Come Plan with Us: Using Your Voice.

And, the elective course options include:

  • Transportation.
  • Urban Design.
  • Transit Oriented Development.
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HP Embraces Calxeda ARM Architecture With "Project Moonshot" - New Hyperscale Business Unit Program

Richard Fichera

What's the Big Deal?

Emerging ARM server Calxeda has been hinting for some time that they had a significant partnership announcement in the works, and while we didn’t necessarily not believe them, we hear a lot of claims from startups telling us to “stay tuned” for something big. Sometimes they pan out, sometimes they simply go away. But this morning Calxeda surpassed our expectations by unveiling just one major systems partner – but it just happens to be Hewlett Packard, which dominates the WW market for x86 servers.

At its core (unintended but not bad pun), the HP Hyperscale business unit Project Moonshot and Calxeda’s server technology are about improving the efficiency of web and cloud workloads, and promises improvements in excess of 90% in power efficiency and similar improvements in physical density compared with current x86 solutions. As I noted in my first post on ARM servers and other documents, even if these estimates turn out to be exaggerated, there is still a generous window within which to do much, much, better than current technologies. And workloads (such as memcache, Hadoop, static web servers) will be selected for their fit to this new platform, so the workloads that run on these new platforms will potentially come close to the cases quoted by HP and Calxeda.

The Program And New HP Business Unit

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Technology Is Everywhere — Are You Paying Attention?

Brian  Hopkins

We are currently in a technology growth cycle, which is likely to continue for another five to seven years.* The opportunities presented by the likes of cloud, mobile, social, and big data are abundant. I'm wondering if EAs are overly focused on consolidation, simplification, and cost control, which could lead to missing the boat. Alternatively, companies may just leave EA behind as they sail to newer, profitable waters.

In Forrester's September 2011 Global State Of Enterprise Architecture Online Survey, we asked architects to prioritize the following challenges, and here is what we found:

 EA Survey Results

While 37% of firms told us that improving how their firms identify and integrate new/disruptive technology was high priority, it was a substantially smaller percentage than the other nine challenges we asked about. Compare this to: 1) a similar CIO survey that ranked business technology innovation as the top priority, and 2) another EA survey question indicating that "using technology to increase business competitiveness" was the number three IT driver for EA programs.

My concern is that other things may be distracting EA attention away from the opportunities that abound in this growth cycle. Consider:

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What Is The State Of Your Consumer-Facing Mobile Initiatives?

Jeffrey Hammond

My colleague Julie Ask is fielding a survey that asks a number of questions about your company's consumer-facing mobile strategy. If you have a few minutes to spare, please take the survey to answer her questions and help us out with some in-process mobile research.

Here's the link to the survey.

 

Thanks!

 

Jeffrey

Key Areas To Consider In SaaS Contract Negotiation

Liz Herbert

With the Sourcing and Vendor Management Forums coming up next week in Miami and at the end of the month in London, our team is busy finalizing content and rehearsing sessions. Personally the hottest question I have continued to get since the keynote I did last year on SaaS sourcing is the question of SaaS pricing and contract negotiation. So, what can you expect in the track session “Negotiating Cloud Pricing and Contracts” for those of you who can join us?

New data from the Q3 2011 services survey showing:

  1. SaaS is disrupting spend on traditional services. Nearly half of the firms we surveyed say that “as-a-service” spending has reduced spending on traditional on-premises IT spend. And, these firms also say that it will have a noticeable disruptive impact. Out of the firms who say “as-a-service” spending will reduce spending on traditional spend, 30% say this disruption will be 6% or more.   
  2. SaaS adoption has expanded into IT applications and industry-specific applications. Firms are now using SaaS for an increasingly wide range of solutions: horizontal applications like CRM and HR and collaboration applications like email still dominate the trend but now 13% of firms use SaaS for IT software such as asset management and 10% of firms use SaaS for industry-specific solutions such as insurance claims management.
  3. Firms are centralizing their approach to SaaS sourcing and vendor management. The recently gathered data shows a strong trend towards centralized SaaS strategy and formal multi-year plans around SaaS. Not surprisingly, this data also shows that firms expect to see a decrease in unsanctioned, business-led buying.  
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