Customer service myths, half-truths and nonsense

Kate Leggett

It is often said that managing a call center is more of an art than a science. Some customer service managers use standard operational metrics to manage their business to – like average hold times (AHT), first contact closure rate (FCR) agent, agent productivity numbers, escalation rates, etc. Others apply established customer service best practices to their organizations without understanding the intent behind these best practices. Yet other companies adopt the current trends without an analysis of their strategic importance.

Here is my list of “half truths and total nonsense” about management philosophies and technologies in customer service. Which ones resonate with you? Which ones do you believe are not myths and work for you?

Kate’s List of Common Services and Support Myths

  • Social customer service myths
    • Social CRM is giving customers control
    • Twitter works for customer service
    • I don’t need to interface my social processes with my traditional customer service processes
    • If I have a forum, I don’t need a knowledgebase
  •  Multichannel customer service myths
    • Established best practice apply to my call center
    • I am special - Established best practices do not apply to my call center
    • Front-line support agents don’t know anything
    • When you measure operational activities, you measure business outcomes
    • Support can act independently of brand –Support can have a different brand identity than the rest of the company
    • Email doesn’t work as a support medium
    • Chat won’t work for tech support
    • I dont need proactive chat
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Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Inclusion... and Education helps get there from Davos 2011

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

If you haven’t read George’s notes from Davos 2011 yet, definitely take a look.  I too have been thinking about the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos  – but not attending… maybe someday…

Education has been top of mind for me lately with my upcoming report scheduled to launch this week (stay tuned).  So, as I looked through the notes and quotes from the meeting I was heartened to see that education was top of mind there as well.  Education and education reform certainly peppered the program, part of sessions on everything from new realities and inclusive growth, to women and society, national innovation, the net generation, cancer, regional development, cloud economics , entrepreneurship, competitiveness, and the ageing workforce.

Some of the questions addressed – and to which education and investment in education in particular was often a solution – included:

  • If structural change is a new reality, then what major adjustments should leaders prepare for, and how?
  • How can educating and empowering girls and women impact the acute challenges facing the world?
  • How are national innovation systems created and maintained?
  • In the digital era, how is the "net generation" workforce reshaping the future of business?
  • What innovations, if scaled or replicated, would enable the Middle East to achieve its geopolitical, economic and social aspirations for the future?
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New Insights On Sourcing And Managing SAP Service Providers

Liz Herbert

Thinking about setting up a relationship or renegotiating a contract with an SAP implementation services provider? We have some exciting new insights on these third-party firms pulled straight from their customers' mouths.  We collected some great data when we surveyed 186 SAP customers using 19 of the leading SI firms for their implementation projects and saw some interesting trends surface. 

The report, Insights Into Real-World SAP Projects, highlights key areas that sourcing professionals should focus on when selecting a provider: pricing model offerings, SI industry expertise, and ability to measure business benefits.

Pricing Model Choices Correlate With Project Cost

We will be presenting more of these findings in the Insights Into Real-World SAP Projects Teleconference we are holding on March 11 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time.  You can use the data from these customer interviews and the accompanying  Forrester Wave™ report on SAP SIs, which is due out at the end of February, as leverage for your strategic negotiations with these providers in 2011. 

Click here to register for the teleconference now.

Which Next Subject Would Be Great In The EA And IT Governance Series Of Docs?

Henry Peyret

Last week I finally published the third document in the collection "EA Involvement In IT Governance": "Integrate EA With ITIL Service Portfolio Management." It follows the two previous documents "Integrate EA With Project Portfolio Management Governance" and "Integrate Enterprise Architecture With Application Portfolio Governance."

I say "finally" because most of the ideas for these documents were collected during the research Diego Lo Giudice and I did for Forrester's EA Forum 2010, nearly one year ago. If the ideas are quick to come, they sometimes take a long time to be realized in a document! I apologize to the customers who were waiting for the final document.

The goal of this collection of documents is to demonstrate typical EA involvement in IT governances — an area that is usually more or less "beyond" EA's scope. We also said in the EA Forum presentation that these potential involvements are not mandatory and highly depend on your particular EA objectives. EA involvement in IT governance should remain in line with the recommendation we made in Forrester report "Avoid The EA Governance Versus Agility Trap" and in which we still continue to believe: Governance is a lever to obtain nonshared (or even diverging) objectives. When objectives are shared, then governance is not required, and the approach should remain agile.

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Social Business Strategy

Nigel Fenwick
Social technology is certainly a hot topic, but for many CIOs the emergence of islands of social technology across the enterprise feels like a touch of déjà vu.
 
IT has been here before, having to clean up islands of automation that left organizations unable to coordinate information and react rapidly to changing market dynamics. Many organizations are already pressing ahead with multiple social media initiatives aimed at solving business or customer challenges — and that's preferable to doing nothing. But should CIOs help their organization step back and take a more strategic perspective on social technologies? By doing so, I believe CIOs can help avoid integration challenges down the road. 
 
I'm suggesting that the more mature organizations (where social technology is well-established) should begin to refocus social technology efforts in support of a broader business strategy. At the same time, IT needs to help ensure the technologies being deployed meet the technology architecture needs of the business of today and tomorrow.
 
This is the subject of a recent report called "Social Business Strategy." The research takes a strategic look at how organizations are using social technologies and reinforces the suggestion that CEOs need to establish a social business council. We need to think beyond point solutions in order to maximize competitive advantage.
 
If you are interested in learning more about how to apply social technologies for competitive advantage check out the new Social Business Strategy workshop.
 
What do you think? Does your organization have a social business council? Do you see one in your future?
 
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The ITSM Selection Process

Eveline Oehrlich

Almost every day I get the question: “We want to replace our ITSM support tool; which vendor should I look at?” There are many alternatives today and each vendor has certainly done a great amount of work to position themselves as the best. The success I had in consulting with these clients, and the knowledge I carry with me now, is thanks in part to the clients with whom I have discussed the ITSM space. They have all confirmed that the functionality across these vendors is very similar. This, however, does not help in decision-making — so I’m especially excited to have authored a three-piece research document which might take some magic out of the decision process when selecting ITSM support tools in the future.

This Forrester report is called Eliminate Magic When Selecting The Right IT Service Management (ITSM) Support Tool.  It’s an overview of the process decision-makers need to follow and the important — but sometimes overlooked — other criteria to keep in mind as they work toward launching or engaging with the ITSM vendor community.

I identified four phases of the evaluation process that should be followed:

Plan: Lay the groundwork, set objectives, explore existing conversations, and make necessary early decisions.

Assemble an evaluation team: Putting the right people together to understand the use cases and requirements is critical before the next step.

Define your requirements: Use the ITSM Support Tools Product Comparison to define your requirements.

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The Fallacy Of Architecting Behavioral Change With Social Technologies

Randy Heffner

 

Social networking is hot, and it’s smart to think about how your organization might use it to generate benefit equal to the market hype. As you develop your social technology strategy, it’s particularly important to steer clear of a fallacy of thought that often creeps into technology strategies for enterprise communication and collaboration.

Oftentimes, an enterprise social strategy, like enterprise collaboration strategies before them, will have among its goals a phrase suggesting that the technology should “change the way people communicate.” Superficially, this phrase may accurately describe part of the effect, but at a more fundamental level, it violates a very important change management principle. To make my point, I’ll back up and start with a little history.

I used to communicate via paper memos and phone calls, but it was cumbersome and time-consuming. Email has come to replace much of that. So, the “way I communicate” has changed, right? On the face of it, yes, but, looking more closely, not really, at least not at first. Compared to my “before email” days, I still communicate the same types of things with the same kinds of people — only email made these communications easier (for the most part). I started using email because (1) it could improve the existing way I communicated and (2) it fit my work and life context — it was just a new program to use on my handy desktop PC. Once email became part of my context, I realized that I could use it for communications that were too costly before. At this point, it did, to a degree, change the way I communicate.

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What's On The Radar For Sustainability Research In 2011?

Chris Mines
What's on the Radar for Green IT Research in 2011?
 

Last week, Forrester gathered its 1,200 worldwide employees together for an offsite meeting in Boston to kick off our agenda and plans for 2011 and beyond. It was the first time we had gotten the whole company together under one roof in 4 years; the company has grown by roughly 50 percent since the beginning of 2007.

Part of our offsite was devoted to research agenda planning around the big themes that we have identified for the technology industry in the coming year. And we have quite a strong research agenda in the sustainability arena, focusing on how large companies are using IT systems, software, and services to help meet their sustainability goals.

Our research agenda starts with our big-picture point of view on the state of the technology industry. And that is a good place to be! The global technology industry is at the beginning of a multi-year up-cycle of industry innovation and growth, during which investment in tech products and services will grow considerably faster than the overall economy. This was true in 2010 and will again hold true in 2011 and 2012 (see Figure 1).

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For GRC Decisions, Avoid The ROI Discussion If Possible . . . But If You Can't, Here Are Some Tips

Chris McClean

This week we published the first in a series of reports I'll be writing to help clients calculate the return on investment of GRC technologies. This report, How To Measure The ROI Of A GRC Platform, outlines the key factors and suggested metrics to show what GRC can do for your organization. 

Of course, my first recommendation is to exhaust your arsenal of arguments before falling back into ROI terrain. GRC is about improving oversight, strengthening controls, and finding ways for the business to succeed within the boundaries of risk tolerance. But these board-level issues can quickly give way to questions of costs and savings... so it's good to be prepared.

The considerations for costs (software, hardware, maintenance, implementation, etc.) are not much different than other large IT projects, nor are the associated risks (requirements, scope, adoption, integration, etc.). What's tough is articulating the benefits. The report offers much more detail, but generally the success factors of a GRC implementation fall into three categories. These are:

  • Efficiency, which includes product and process consolidation as well as facilitation of processes such as policy development and distribution, risk and control assessments, incident/issue management, data/report aggregation.
  • Risk reduction, which  includes decreases in audit and examination findings, reduction in regulatory fines, faster remediation of issues, and the secondary benefits of these improvements, such as deceased cost of capital and lower insurance costs.
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IBM And ARM Continue Their Collaboration – Major Win For ARM

Richard Fichera

Last week IBM and ARM Holdings Plc quietly announced a continuation of their collaboration on advanced process technology, this time with a stated goal of developing ARM IP optimized for IBM physical processes down to a future 14 nm size. The two companies have been collaborating on semiconductors and SOC design since 2007, and this extension has several important ramifications for both companies and their competitors.

It is a clear indication that IBM retains a major interest in low-power and mobile computing, despite its previous divestment of its desktop and laptop computers to Lenovo, and that it will be in a position to harvest this technology, particularly ARM's modular approach to composing SOC systems, for future productization.

For ARM, the implications are clear. Its latest announced product, the Cortex A15, which will probably appear in system-level products in approximately 2013, will be initially produced in 32 nm with a roadmap to 20nm. The existence of a roadmap to a potential 14 nm product serves notice that the new ARM architecture will have a process roadmap that will keep it on Intel’s heels for another decade. ARM has parallel alliances with TSMC and Samsung as well, and there is no reason to think that these will not be extended, but the IBM alliance is an additional insurance policy. As well as a source of semiconductor technology, IBM has a deep well of systems and CPU IP that certainly cannot hurt ARM.

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