Friday, May 30, 2008
A key CRM indicator is the establishment of a single view of the customer. Ten years ago, 39% of participating contact centers already possessed this capability, with a further 45% of centers planning to implement a single view within the next two years. However, this year’s results show that the percentage of centers with a single customer view has decreased to 34%.
In addition, in 1997 many organizations stated their intention to deploy a more sophisticated set of customer metrics within their contact centers. These metrics included customer lifetime value and profitability. However, this year’s statistics reveal that contact centers that are able to measure or actively employ these types of metrics are in the minority. For example, less than 10% of centers surveyed have the capability to measure lifetime value, and only 18% of centers use customer profitability as a metric.
Another key CRM indicator is the deployment of ‘trigger events’ within inbound customer service contact centers. These involve the initiation of an outbound customer contact as a result of the nature or outcome of an inbound call. These trigger events usually relate to either customer dissatisfaction, retention of a customer or a policy, or new revenue generation such as an inbound inquiry about a policy surrender. According to this year’s Report, only 21% of contact centers actively engage in this type of customer management activity.
More information on the Customer Service and Support industry can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
A survey conducted by PayPal and comScore revealed that unexpectedly high shipping fees are the number one reason consumers abandon online purchases. Checkout abandonment is a significant challenge for online merchants, with an estimated two out of every three consumers failing to pay for items they put in their shopping carts.
The study also found that many consumers abandon their purchases for payment-related reasons. Of those surveyed, more than one in five shoppers didn’t complete purchases because their preferred payment option was not offered on the merchant’s Web site. Many shoppers simply think it is too much of a hassle to search for their wallets or purses – 21 percent did not complete online purchases because their wallets were not easily accessible.
Online comparison shopping is also a common reason for checkout abandonment. More than one in four indicated that they wanted to compare items at online and offline stores before making a purchase. However, more than one-third who abandon at checkout said they returned to the merchant’s Web site at a later time to complete the transaction.
A summary of the survey’s findings included:
--43 percent of consumers didn’t pay for items in their shopping carts because shipping charges were too high
--36 percent of purchasers didn’t pay for items because they felt the total cost of the purchase was more expensive than anticipated
--27 percent of shoppers didn’t pay for items because they wanted to comparison shop at other Web sites before making a purchase
--16 percent of consumers didn’t pay for items because they could not contact customer support to answer questions
--14 percent of shoppers didn’t pay for items because they forgot their usernames and passwords for their store accounts created with the merchantsMore information on customer service and support can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com
Friday, May 23, 2008
When it comes to aligning the executive suite with the customer service organization, there is a significant gap between what C-level executives promise and what customer service organizations see, according to the results of a comprehensive worldwide survey. Titled "The Executive Disconnect: The Strategic Alignment of Customer Service," the survey takes an in-depth look at businesses across key regions worldwide, with detailed data for major markets in Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific.
The research, which covers 47 countries and 927 participating companies, was commissioned by Genesys to better understand the challenges in strategically aligning customer service with the business goals of the company. The survey found a significant gap between C-level perceptions and the reality experienced by most of their customers. Here are a few highlights:
Strategic vs. Operational Role — Customer care professionals and executives overwhelmingly agree that customer service impacts the company's brand identity, yet very few think their customer service acts mainly as a strategic function.
Only 20% of CEO-level executives and 20% of customer care professionals say their contact centers are very strategic.
Both groups agree that customer service is key to brand identity — with 92% of C-level executives and 85% of customer-centric employees agreeing.
But C-level executives (73%) overestimate the effort in their companies to measure customer lifetime value, compared to a smaller number of customer-level employees (60%).
Measuring Revenue and Customer Experience vs. Speed and Efficiency — Most C-level executives underestimate the emphasis their organization places on efficiency, and overestimate how easy their organization makes it for customers to purchase during interactions:
For example, 55% of C-level executives believe their operations use average speed to answer as a critical metric, compared to 70% of customer service professionals. On a worldwide basis 67% of all organizations considered this a key metric.
Among C-level executives, 41% think they measure the experience in self-service by quality rather than just cost savings, but only 35% of customer service professionals think so.
At the same time, 36% of C-level executives think their customer service is measured on revenue per call, when in reality only 28% of customer service professionals validate that notion. Among global respondents 30% say they measure revenue per call.
Capturing Customer Feedback — There is a major (16%) gap between C-level execs who believe they are capturing important customer feedback, and the views of customer service professionals
While 78% of C-level execs think their company is doing a good job of collecting information on customer and market needs and passing it on to sales, only 62% of customer service professionals agree.
Interestingly, on a regional basis, Germany is the leader, as 75% of companies have processes for systematically passing on customer feedback, followed by Asia, France and Spain at 74%.
Finding a Cure — On a positive note many companies have already implemented or plan to initiate priority projects over next 18 months, to address misalignment:
More than 28% of the companies surveyed have or will add "click for a call back" capability, and in Germany a surprising 54% of companies say they will or do support it.
To support proactive business management, nearly 30% of those surveyed plan to enable information consoles to provide real-time views that leverage customer data across the entire enterprise.
And 36% of companies worldwide plan to improve visibility into customer processes by identifying the root causes behind customer interactions and behaviors through analytics.
Leveraging the Entire Organization — There are two significant areas of investment that are helping companies become more dynamic — extending customer service to branch offices and virtualization.
Over 28% of the companies surveyed are already moving to incorporate branch offices to expand the pool of resources available during high volume periods.
Regionally, the UK is the leader, where 39% of companies are doing so followed by Spain at 38%.
Nearly 40% of contact centers worldwide are currently virtualizing by operating multiple contact centers as a single entity, or plan to do so.
Asia Pacific and the UK are the leaders in this, with 49% and 50% of companies respectively virtualizing.
More information on Customer Service and Support can be found at www.Supportindustry.com
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Worldwide Services Spending to Surpass $965 Billion by 2012 and It Won't Be Long Before It's a Trillion-Dollar Market
IDC forecasts that companies and government agencies will spend more than $746 billion on external services in 2008, representing a growth rate of 6.8% over 2007. Despite – and in some cases because of – a weak U.S. economy, there are many market forces driving enterprises to continue to turn to service vendors for assistance. Additionally, increased customer use of new and often disruptive delivery options (e.g., hosting, SaaS, and utility computing) will encourage service provides, especially outsourcers, to focus their investments in these areas.
Additional key trends examined in this IDC report include:
--Though representing the smallest outsourcing market, the hosted application management (AM) is expected to grow the fastest at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.9%, followed by business outsourcing services at 10.4%.
--In 2007, IT services continued to represent the lion's share (74%) of the overall services market. But the business services market that IDC tracks is slowly catching up, with a much faster CAGR of 9.6% compared with the IT services market's CAGR of 5.6%.
--Service providers continue to aggressively pursue a geographic expansion strategy to increase their footprint across the globe. While service vendors based in the United States and Western Europe are focusing on building their presence in the emerging markets, service companies based in those geographies are expanding into Europe and the United States.
--The growth of outsourcing of non-core processes and the adoption of service-oriented architecture (SOA) are prompting enterprises to shift toward tighter alignment of business and technology. Although such an alignment is critical, it is still not enough. Ultimately, organizations will seek to eradicate any distinction or separation between IT and business in order to obtain convergence between them.
--IDC expects that new types of partnerships along with an expanded ecosystem will increase in importance as service vendors seek to deliver best-of-breed offerings and full-service capability at the lowest cost.
--Vendors need to take active steps to provide higher-value-added services and innovation to their clients.More information about the service and support industry can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
U.S. business travelers are increasingly making daily choices to reduce their environmental impact, and they have specific expectations about the green practices hotels should be adopting today, according to a recent survey commissioned by Deloitte.
The survey shows business travelers have begun do some green practices routinely: nearly seven of 10 business travelers (69 percent) say they always turn off the lights and one out of three (31 percent) always adjusts the heat/air conditioner when leaving the room.
Roughly a third of travelers surveyed are keenly concerned about green travel. Some 34 percent "seek out hotels that are environmentally friendly," just as 38 percent have researched green lodging facilities either online or by asking friends and relatives. Similarly, 28 percent say they would be willing to pay 10 percent more to stay in a green lodging facility.
Hotels: True green?
The top five environmental actions business travelers expect lodging facilities to be taking are (in order):
--Recycling (77 percent)
--Using energy-efficient lighting (74 percent)
--Using energy-efficient windows (59 percent)
--Placing cards in rooms to let guests request that sheets/towels not be changed (52 percent)
--Using environmentally safe cleaning products (49 percent)
Additionally, more than seven in 10 (71 percent) say they believe the lodging industry is only "somewhat" green, with an additional 23 percent saying the lodging industry is "not at all green." One in five (20 percent) say they have stayed at a hotel that didn’t allow them to be as green as they wanted to be, while approximately 30 percent say they have requested sheets and/or towels not be changed, but the hotel changed them anyway.
Gen Y: Least green of all
The survey found that Generation Y business travelers are the least likely to be taking a range of green actions identified in the survey. Among the seven green actions — requesting that bedding not be changed, requesting that the towels not be changed, turning off the lights when leaving the room, adjusting temperature when leaving the room, conserving water, conservatively using the toiletries, and using public transportation and/or hotel buses — Gen Y was the least likely to do the first four actions.
Clear gender divide
The survey found a significant split along gender lines on some key questions: 72 percent of females say they always turn off the lights when leaving a room vs. 66 percent of males. Similarly, 36 percent of female business travelers always adjust the heat or air conditioner when leaving a room vs. 26 percent of males. More than half of female business travelers say they frequently or always use public transportation or hotel buses (52 percent female vs. 42 percent male).
More information on the service and support industry can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com
Monday, May 19, 2008
Consumers Will Demand Comprehensive Support Services As Technology Becomes Mission Critical in the Home
The expansion of technology in the home has been accompanied by installation and troubleshooting problems that often require specialized knowledge. To help consumers overcome these challenges, IDC believes a new generation of tech support services is rising up that leverages the Internet to provide assistance remotely and directly.
To better understand the technology problems that consumers are encountering, IDC analyzed more than 10,000 consumer support sessions captured by support service provider PlumChoice. Key findings from this data include the following:
--PC software and operating system problems were the most common, representing 41% of the support sessions analyzed.
--Security problems, particularly issues associated with viruses, spyware, and malware, were the second most common session type representing 23% of the sessions. Despite the high number of security related sessions, 82% of consumers indicated that they had security software installed. This suggests that consumers are not regularly updating the software to meet new threats.
--Other categories where consumer support is regularly needed include PC performance issues, networking, PC hardware, and peripherals that connect to the PC or network.More information on the service and support industry can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
IT Spending Remains on Track with Expectations, But U.S. Economic Woes are Spreading to Other Regions
International demand continues to mitigate the impact of the U.S. slowdown to some degree, particularly in relation to favorable currency trends which have buoyed the reported earnings of U.S.-based vendors. Some tentative signs of weakening demand and indicators have emerged in Europe and Asia, however, and there remains an elevated risk of further downside patterns in the next three quarters. Worldwide IT spending is expected to increase by 5.7% this year on a constant currency basis, down from last year's 7.2%.
The first quarter results have not disrupted IDC's prior view on U.S. IT spending this year, with signs of softening demand in the PC market confirming that a broad-based but so far contained slowdown is in effect. We reaffirm our view which calls for hardware market growth in the U.S. of less than 2% this year, while software spending will increase by 7% and IT services by 5%. Strongest growth continues to come from back-end software (system infrastructure and application development tools), network equipment, and mobile devices. However, downside risks relating to macroeconomic weakness in the U.S. are expected to persist throughout the remainder of 2008.
International markets are also feeling the impact of the U.S. slowdown, to varying degrees. IDC has lowered its forecast for Western Europe to 4.1% growth in IT spending this year, and for Asia/Pacific to 5.4%. Manufacturing exporters and financial services firms are likely to be the hardest hit, and this will be reflected in adjustments to their short-term IT investment plans. Booming growth has continued in resource-based economies such as Russia and the Middle East, however, and IT spending in those regions is expected to continue its double-digit rate of expansion this year.
More information on the Information Technology industry can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
In an extremely competitive service landscape, Best-in-Class service firms are turning to remote product solutions to aid in increasing the efficiency of their service organizations, to deliver better service and increased availability to their customers while more efficiently managing service-related costs. As such these firms are seeing significant improvements in asset availability, first-time fix and in service dispatch avoidance, according to a recent research report entitled, “The Maturity of Remote Product Service,” published by Aberdeen Group.
The report finds that leading service firms are twice as likely as all other firms to use remotely captured data to aid their technicians in diagnosing potential service issues and resolution scenarios prior to dispatch. These firms are also leveraging remotely captured data to reduce the need for technician dispatch in cases where service can be performed over a network, via guidance from technical or customer service representatives, or by the customers themselves.
As a result, leading firms are experiencing:
-- A 16% increase in mean time between failure for their assets over the last 2 years, compared to a 5% increase for all others.
-- A 19% increase in percentage of calls resolved without technician dispatch over the last two years.
-- A 93% level of asset availability for their customers on average, compared to 65% performance for all other firms.
Monday, May 12, 2008
In 2008, 41.4 million corporate employees globally will spend at least one day a week teleworking, but there is still resistance to this trend from those preferring face-to-face interaction, according to Gartner, Inc. Enterprises must create formal plans for establishing and sustaining virtual office arrangements to make this arrangement successful.
Although virtual offices vary in format, the most typical kind of teleworking involves an individual who works from home at least one day a week and has work space available at a corporate office for the remaining days.
To formalize the process of transitioning to the virtual office, the business case ensures that the proposal is fully thought out and well supported. The case should include the impact on productivity and the expected cost reductions. When conducted effectively, virtual working becomes a source of productivity benefits that can be passed along as returns to shareholders. More work gets done and savings occur because of reductions in office accommodation costs and other expenditures.
In transitional environments where virtual working is a novel concept, it helps to allay loss-of-control fears by starting with a pilot program. The implementation plan for the pilot can be included in the business case so that the pilot gets approved along with the proposition. A formal teleworking policy should clarify expectations regarding conduct of teleworkers and the support that will be made available to them.
A successful pilot typically follows these steps:
Step 1: Decide the criteria for success of the pilot and how to measure, report and review them
Step 2: Find a supportive environment that is not too large in order to get started
Step 3: Establish a steering committee of key decision makers and a project team to plan the initiative
Step 4: Ask for volunteers to participate in the pilot
Step 5: Educate employees on the initiative, focusing on process changes and changes in roles
Step 6: Launch the pilot
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Parature and Supportindustry.com have announced the release of a free white paper outlining the results of the 2008 Service & Support Metrics Survey.
This annual survey, conducted in February 2008 by Parature and SupportIndustry.com, was designed to explore the state of enterprise service and support – current industry trends, future plans, technology adoption, workforce issues, benchmarking strategies, metrics and other areas. Respondents were comprised of high-level executives responsible for a range of internal help desk and external customer-facing functions and representing vertical sectors across industry.
The survey reveals that, while support organizations are evolving processes and adopting technologies to improve service delivery, they continue to face significant challenges.
Some of the highlights from this year’s survey include:
Everyone Wants a Piece: Every year that the service and support metrics survey has been conducted, there has been an overarching theme. For support teams, whether they are serving customers or their own company’s employees, the pressure is constant. They continue to report that the demand for their services increased over what they experienced the previous year. In this survey, three quarters of executives (74.1%) said they have seen increased demand and use of their services.
Multi-Talented and Multi-Tasking: More than ever, everyone expects to be able to choose their means of interaction with support agents. Approximately 43 percent of respondents said that more than three quarters of their agents handle multiple channels of support including, phone, email, live chat, and co-browsing to meet the needs of their customers.
Getting it Together: In this year’s survey, more than half the respondents (56.8%) said they have managed to integrate at least some of their channels, whether it be at the level of multichannel queuing, through a single view into multichannel interactions, or via a common knowledgebase for interactions across channels.
Helping Others Help Themselves: Numerous incentives such as, cost reduction, customer demand, and the need for a more rounded services portfolio have driven organizations to fund self-service projects and strengthen existing offerings over the last few years. Nearly three quarters (72.6%) of responding executives said they offer access to a searchable knowledgebase or dynamic FAQ. Nearly 44 percent now offer clients the ability to submit cases electronically via the Web if they can’t find their answers in a searchable knowledgebase.
Your Place or Mine: Nearly 40% of the respondents have entrusted their support technology implementations to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) models. The research shows that CRM and other sales and service-related technologies lead the types of applications driving the on-demand software market. Of the respondents who don’t currently use a hosted solution, a third say they likely will within the next year.
More information on the service and support industry can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Outsourcing help desk services to an offshore location may yield as much as 30 to 40 percent cost savings, but customer satisfaction must be a key factor when making this decision, according to Gartner, Inc. Based on informal client interviews, Gartner analysts found that offshore help desk service voice support services have experienced problems, particularly those located in India. The problems are focused on poor quality that can lead to significant customer dissatisfaction.
Four factors have been identified as the main contributors to the customer dissatisfaction:
*Client knowledge -- When a help desk is internal, the client has its own employees supporting the help desk. These employees have access to internal communications which enable them to clearly understand their business and, therefore, support end users. When the help desk is outsourced, the service provider tries to capture the information into a knowledge database, but the information is not always kept up to date or easily understood.
*High turnover -- A recent Gartner survey for all IT services showed that the worldwide attrition rate was 14.7 percent and offshore it was 22.1 percent. Although this can be a problem anywhere in the world, it can be extremely prevalent in low-cost countries where many IT job opportunities exist and many IT help desk agents will switch jobs for a small salary increase.
*Cultural differences -- If a client has a problem, he or she will relate the problem over the phone, but because of cultural differences, the help desk agent may not interpret the problem and react in the most appropriate manner. For example, a client employee may have a problem on a PC and want to know how to fix it. Instead of explaining how to fix the problem, the offshore agent may take control of the employee’s PC and change the image without explaining how this was accomplished because the agent doesn’t want to insult the client. However, the client employee may be dissatisfied because he or she doesn’t learn what was wrong or how to fix the problem resulting in a need to call the help desk again in the future.
*Language dialects -- Although Indian-based providers’ agents speak English, they are generally trained in U.K. English and may use British words or a more formal context, format, tone and enunciation. Because many clients are from North America, this adds to oral communication problems. This can cause frustration for the client and the agent, and lead to dissatisfaction with the help desk experience. However, when a help desk problem is sent via e-mail or on a Web chat site, this language problem is not a factor, and customer satisfaction is positive.
Gartner offered key recommendations for enterprises to help ensure the success of an offshore help desk service:
*Assess and validate whether the offshore provider’s services can meet requirements.
*Review the service provider’s offshore practice for building and updating its knowledge database.
*Review the provider’s offshore service for cultural understanding, language proficiencies and employee turnover ratios.
*Talk to references using offshore help desk resources and ask what issues they may have encountered.
*Understand that the help desk may be the first line of IT support to your end users, so offshoring should not just be a cost decision.
*Evaluate low-cost onshore alternatives as well. The savings available from low-cost onshore and “nearshore” alternatives may negate the desire to go offshore.
More information on the service and support industry can be found at www.supportindustry.com
Monday, May 5, 2008
Enkata, a provider of performance management software, announced the results of a first annual performance management (PM) survey. The survey found that organizations leveraging PM solutions are able to improve customer satisfaction, service delivery and agent retention. Additionally, the survey found that the majority of large contact centers require agents to perform more sales outreach as a part of their responsibilities.
According to the survey, which was completed by executives responsible for contact centers at Fortune 500 companies, agent training continues to be major challenge. Industry best practices advise coaching as the most effective method for improving agent performance. As a result, 91 percent of respondents set coaching targets for contact center supervisors, and of those, 63 percent expect supervisors to spend more than 25 percent of their time coaching. To meet these goals, more contact centers are adopting emerging PM solutions to drive agent effectiveness through dashboards, reporting and fact-based coaching tools.
Key highlights from the survey include:
- Organizations using full-featured PM systems to pinpoint coaching topics and automate coaching best practices are able to expect 65 percent more coaching time from their supervisors than organizations without a PM system.
- More than 70 percent of the respondents plan to focus on initiatives to better measure and impact customer satisfaction (CSAT).
- Large organizations are moving more to sales-service operations. Of companies managing more than 1,000 agents in their operations, 80 percent expect agents to sell as well as provide service.
Workforce Performance Management Market Still Maturing and Still Hot with Revenues Expected to Reach $2.5 Billion by 2012
IDC is forecasting that the market for workforce performance management (WPM) software and services will reach $2.55 billion by 2012, increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.1%. Consulting services still make up the largest share of spending given the complexity organizations face when redesigning performance management for strategic advantage. Although the performance management market is maturing with some standardization emerging in terms of vendor offerings, it remains a relatively new market with ample room for growth and innovation.
Other key trends examined in this IDC report include:
--Popularity of the software as a service (SaaS) model is growing and surveyed vendors report that on average, 82% of their performance management implementations are delivered via SaaS.
--Performance management still has the highest buyer interest of the talent management offerings while many vendors are reporting buyer interest in integrated talent management even if buyers are not yet in a position to implement all functions simultaneously.
--Vendors are advised to pay special attention to the various client constituencies served. There needs to be something in it for everyone, especially the employees, if a project is to be successful.
More information on the service and support industry can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com
Thursday, May 1, 2008
In fact, twice as many U.S.-born tech entrepreneurs start ventures in their 50s as do those in their early 20s. Further, elite, highly ranked schools are over-represented in the ranks of these founders, and Ivy-League graduates achieve the greatest business success; however, 92 percent of U.S.-born founders graduate from other universities, according to the study, Education and Tech Entrepreneurship. The study analyzed U.S. engineering and tech companies founded from 1995-2005, representing the most current decade of data.
U.S.-born engineering and tech company founders are overwhelmingly well-educated. While there are significant differences in the types of degrees these entrepreneurs obtain and the time they take to start a company after they graduate, the study reveals a direct correlation between a founder’s education and company performance.
In 2005, the average sales revenue of all startups in the sample was around $5.7 million, employing an average of 42 workers. Startups established by founders with advanced Ivy-League degrees had higher average sales and employment – $6.7 million and 55 workers, respectively. The success of these groups contrasted sharply with startups established by founders with high school degrees with average revenues and employees at $2.2 million and 18 workers, respectively.
Among other findings:
--The average and median age of U.S.-born founders was 39 when they started their companies. Only about 1 percent of U.S.-born founders of tech companies were teenagers.
--The vast majority (92 percent) of U.S.-born tech founders held bachelor’s degrees, 31 percent held master’s degrees, and 10 percent had completed PhDs. Nearly half of these degrees were in science-, technology-, engineering- and mathematics-related disciplines. One third was in business, accounting and finance.
--U.S.-born tech founders holding MBA degrees established companies more quickly (13 years) than others. Those with PhDs typically waited 21 years to become tech entrepreneurs.
--The top 10 universities from which U.S.-born tech founders received their highest degrees are Harvard, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, MIT, University of Texas, University of California-Berkeley, University of Missouri, Pennsylvania State University, University of Southern California and University of Virginia.
--Nearly half (45 percent) of the tech startups were established in the same state where U.S.-born tech founders received their education. Of the U.S.-born tech founders receiving degrees from California, 69 percent later created a startup in the state; Michigan, 58 percent; Texas, 53 percent; and Ohio, 52 percent. In contrast, Maryland retained only 15 percent; Indiana, 18 percent; and New York, 21 percent.
More on the information technology industry can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com