Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thirty Percent of Workers Whose Companies Have Experienced Layoffs Reported They are Burned Out

Workers who have survived layoffs within their organizations are facing new challenges in the forms of increased workloads and heightened stress, according to CareerBuilder's latest survey of more than 4,400 workers nationwide. Forty-seven percent of workers reported they have taken on more responsibility because of a layoff within their organization. Thirty-seven percent said they are handling the work of two people. Thirty percent feel burned out.

CareerBuilder recommends the following tips to keep stress levels in check:

  • Don't over-promise. If two or more projects come up at the same time, work with your supervisor to identify which takes precedence and establish reasonable timelines.
  • Take time to recharge. Go for a walk on your lunch break. Take a personal day. Get eight hours of sleep. Ultimately, recharging your battery will serve you and the company better.

  • Cut the e-leash. Unless needed, turn off electronic devices at a certain time of the day to designate the end of that workday and avoid getting caught up in discussions that can wait until the morning.
  • Explore flexible work arrangements. More employers today are open to offering telecommuting and other options that may help to provide a better work/life balance.
  • Don't get caught up in the rumor mill. Forty-two percent of workers reported they are fearful of layoffs within their organization. Ignore speculation and focus on the task at hand.
  • Tuesday, May 26, 2009

    Financial Services Firms Sink To Their Lowest Rating Ever In Forrester's Annual Customer Advocacy Ranking

    With angry and mistrustful customers stung by the worst financial crisis in more than half a century, US financial services firms fell to their lowest rating ever in the sixth annual Customer Advocacy ranking by Forrester Research, Inc. Perennial standouts USAA and State Farm Insurance remain the highest-rated companies, former high-flyers Vanguard and Edward Jones slipped, and full-service brokerage firms like Morgan Stanley skidded toward the bottom of the rankings. The survey of more than 5,000 households was conducted in the second half of 2008.

    Customer advocacy is the perception on the part of customers that financial services firms do what's best for them, not just the firm's own bottom line. Forrester's on-going analysis demonstrates that customer advocacy drives retention and deepens customer relationships. Consumers who rate their firm high with regard to customer advocacy are more likely to save more, borrow more, and buy other products from that firm and are less likely to switch to another financial services company.

    Forrester's 2009 Customer Advocacy rankings include more than 40 financial services firms. Only eight of these firms or independent representatives had more than half of their customers rate them high on customer advocacy:

    --Credit unions
    --Independent financial advisors
    --State Farm Insurance
    --Independent insurance agents
    --Progressive Casualty Insurance Company
    --Regional or local banks

    Wednesday, May 20, 2009

    ACSI: Customer Satisfaction Rises Again, Now Joined by Other Economic Indicators

    The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) continues to climb, registering a second straight quarterly improvement after a period of decline preceding the recession. For the first quarter of 2009 the Index jumps 0.4% to 76.0 on ACSI’s 100-point scale, according to the report released by the University of Michigan.

    When ACSI improved in the fourth quarter of 2008, it stood nearly alone among economic indicators showing positive news in the midst of the recession. Now it is joined by several other indicators. In the first quarter or the year ACSI measures customer satisfaction with the quality of products and services in utilities, transportation and warehousing, information, health care and social assistance, and accommodation and food services.

    What? Airline Passenger Satisfaction Improves?

    Passenger satisfaction with airlines improves for the first time since 2003, up 3% to an
    ACSI score of 64, ending a downward slide that, with few interruptions, began in 1994.
    High fuel price volatility, indifferent service, labor problems, congested airports and
    financial challenges have plagued the industry for a long time and even with the current
    improvement, airlines remain one of the lowest scoring businesses in ACSI.
    American Airlines is the only major carrier to drop, falling 3% to 60. Southwest
    continues to lead the industry for a sixteenth (!) straight year, up 3% to an all-time high of
    81. By contrast, United Airlines anchors the bottom, unchanged at 56.

    Airlines that have had the most significant customer service problems in the past
    improved the most. Continental is up 10% to 68, erasing a similar decline from a year
    ago, and US Airways is up 9% to 59, also erasing a similar drop in passenger
    satisfaction. Delta improved 7% to 64 in the wake of its merger with Northwest, while
    Northwest itself remained unchanged near the bottom of the industry at 57, just ahead of

    Hotels: Rooms for Rent - Cheap!

    The hotel industry is facing a difficult time as consumers and businesses tighten
    spending on travel. In the wake of a sharp downturn in business, budget hotels have
    fared the best by offering low rates and even adding a few perks to boot. For the more
    up-scale hotels, the picture is more mixed.

    Hilton leads the category, up 1% to 79, followed closely by Marriott, down 1% to 77.
    Two economy hotels, Best Western and Choice Hotels, surge to the middle of the
    industry, up 7% to 76 and 75 respectively by keeping rates low and maintaining service.
    Hyatt, historically among the industry leaders, drops 5% to 74 by lowering both price and

    Telecom and Cable: Still Some Potholes on the Information Highway
    Traditional local and long distance service is down 1% to 72, a year after reaching its
    highest score since 1999. AT&T declines 5% to 71, losing most of the ground it gained in
    2008. Cox Communications holds its own at 74 to lead the category, while Qwest slips
    3% to 71. Comcast’s digital voice service falls 3% to 67 to remain at the bottom.

    Customer satisfaction with wireless telephone service reaches a new all-time high for the
    third consecutive year at 69. Verizon Wireless jumps 3% to 74 to continue its lead over
    the industry. Sprint Nextel makes the biggest gain of any company this quarter, up 13%
    to 63, though some of the increase is likely to be due to many departing and not very
    satisfied customers. Sprint Nextel remains at the bottom of the industry in customer

    AT&T Mobility falls down 6% to 67. Paradoxically, its success with the iPhone may have
    contributed to the declining customer satisfaction. As the wireless carrier has attracted
    iPhone customers with more intensive data needs, the strain on the network has created
    complaints about slow and spotty performance.

    Customer satisfaction with cable and satellite TV declines, falling 2% to 63, although
    some of the large companies improve. Satellite TV still leads the way, with DirecTV well
    above all measured companies, up 4% to 71. The other satellite provider, DISH
    Network continues its slide, falling 2% to 64. Two years ago the satellite companies
    were tied at 67; now a 7-point gap separates them.

    Cox Communications leads all cable TV providers for a sixth straight year and reaches
    an all-time high at 66, but Comcast makes an even bigger leap, up 9% to 59. Comcast
    has apparently benefited by monitoring customer feedback on blogs and via the social
    networking site Twitter in order to identify disgruntled customers and address customer
    dissatisfaction on a one-to-one basis. Charter Communications is down 6% to 51, a new
    record low for any company in the 15-year history of ACSI. Its stock has been delisted
    and the company is facing serious financial challenges.

    Restaurants: Fast Food and Full-Service Battle for Consumer Dollars
    Fast food is unchanged at 78, matching its highest score ever, while full-service
    restaurants jump 5% to 84. As the recession has driven business away from the pricier
    sit down restaurants to the cheaper fast food alternatives, full-service restaurants have
    had to try harder to compete. Similar to airlines and some of the hotels, service to
    customers has improved, at least in part, because there are fewer customers to serve,
    but it is also true that there have been menu changes to the liking of diners and a
    lowering of price in some instances.

    Domino’s is on top at 77. Wendy’s and Taco Bell make the biggest gains, each up 4%
    to 76 and 73 respectively. McDonald’s continues to do well, passing both Burger King
    and KFC, up 1% to an all-time high of 70. Over the past 4 years, the world’s largest fast
    food chain has improved customer satisfaction more than any other fast food business
    and at a rate more than 4 times the industry average.

    Utilities: Restoring the Power

    Customer satisfaction with energy utilities is steady at 74, tying its highest level since
    2000. Sempra Energy leads at 80, unchanged from a year ago. MidAmerican Energy
    (+1%) and PPL Corporation (+1%) follow closely at 79. At the other end of the spectrum,
    three utilities fall below 70. Pepco Holdings falls 1% to 68, while Ameren leaps by 6%
    also to a score of 68. Consolidated Edison is at the bottom of the industry with a score
    of 66. While not the only factor, a key to high levels of customer satisfaction seems to lie
    in the utility’s power restoration abilities.

    More information on customer service and satisfaction can be found at

    Tuesday, May 19, 2009

    Workaholics now working 2-6 hours a week in bed

    Over a quarter of UK employees are so work obsessed they can't resist using a mobile device such as a laptop in bed before they go to sleep according to a survey released by CREDANT Technologies – the endpoint data protection specialists. The survey discovered that of those people who do work in bed, 57% do so for between 2 and 6 hours every week, little wonder that the survey also found that the majority of their bed companions found their partners' obsession with their mobiles "a very annoying habit". A staggering 8% of people admitted that they spend more time on their mobile devices during the evening than talking to their partners!

    The survey into "Laptop use in bed and the security implications" was conducted amongst 300 city workers who were interviewed to determine whether the UK has become a nation of work obsessed, laptop dependent, key tappers and to highlight the security implications of unsecured mobile devices. Almost half the respondents (44%) admitted they are holding important work documents on their mobile devices of which 54% were not adequately secured with encryption.

    This will sound alarm bells for the many in-house IT departments who are tasked with trying to secure an ever increasing mobile workforce who are using data on the move and consequently losing more unsecured data than ever before.

    Additionally snooping neighbors or even malicious infiltrators could hack into the devices that are being used in bed, as a fifth of people are not using a secure wireless network as they busily tap away under their duvets.

    The most favored way to connect to the Internet, and subsequently back to the office, whilst lying in bed is via a wireless network (87%). Disturbingly, almost a fifth of people spoken to are using a wireless network that they know is insecure, with 56% down/uploading company information.

    When staying in hotels, people are happy to connect to the hotel's wireless network, expecting the hotel to ensure it's secure. 47% admit that they do so without even considering the security implications.

    When asked "What is the last thing you do before going to sleep" it is reassuring to learn that, for 96% of the people questioned, it is kiss their partners goodnight. For the other 4%, (71% of which are male), who confess to completing work and checking their emails it would be advisable for them to take a long hard look at their gadget obsessed lives.

    More information on the customer service and support industry can be found at

    Thursday, May 14, 2009

    Businesses Quit Slashing IT Budgets

    After reducing their budgets sharply for months, many businesses across the U.S. have stopped slashing information-technology spending, a shift that could stem revenue declines at tech companies, including Hewlett-Packard Co. and Cisco Systems Inc. Spending on computer hardware, software and services used to be one of the fastest growing segments of the economy, increasing 9% in 2006 and 13% in 2007, according to Forrester Research.

    But growth in corporate tech spending -- the primary source of revenue for such behemoths as International Business Machines Corp., Dell Inc. and Oracle Corp. -- slowed to 8% in 2008, and it is expected to contract 3% in 2009. The shift toward stability isn't likely to show up when H-P and Dell report quarterly earnings over the next two weeks.

    Both companies are expected to announce declines in profit and revenue from a year earlier. But interviews with more than a dozen chief information officers and corporate technology executives who oversee tech spending indicate that a range of U.S. businesses have finished cutting.

    The stabilization doesn't mean the good times are back in tech. While spending may have hit a bottom, the executives say they don't intend to boost their budgets again until after their businesses and the economy as a whole have shown stability for several quarters. For 2010, they anticipate tech budgets that are mainly flat.

    Source: WSJ

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Wednesday, May 13, 2009

    IT Spending Looking Up

    After more than a year of confidence decline, the first tentative signs of IT growth are appearing. According to the latest CDW IT Monitor, an increasing number of IT decision makers from small and medium-size business sectors anticipate investment in the next six months.

    According to the latest survey, 29 percent of small business IT decision makers expect budget increases in the next six months, an increase of seven percentage points from February. Additionally, 18 percent of medium-size business IT decision makers anticipate hiring in the next six months, an increase of six percentage points since February.

    Despite these emerging signs of spring, confidence among IT decision makers on the whole remains relatively low with an overall IT Monitor score of 69. However, for the first time in eight months, this reading remained flat with the previous IT Monitor, indicating that sentiment may have stabilized.

    Additional findings from the April CDW IT Monitor:

    Expect better performance in reaching corporate goals in the next six months:

    Small Businesses
    (1-99 Employees)
    Feb 09 -- 47%
    April 09 -- 48%

    Medium-Size Businesses
    (100-999 Employees)
    Feb 09 -- 47%
    April 09 -- 53%

    Large Businesses
    (1000+ Employees)
    Feb 09 -- 43%
    April 09 -- 50%

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Sunday, May 10, 2009

    Hidden Costs of Information Work in the Enterprise Exposed

    How do information workers spend their time, and what does this cost the enterprise? A recent IDC study confirms that email is by far the most time-consuming activity for information workers followed by searching for information. Activities that require working with others, including communicating and collaborating, or managing projects, come next followed by creating and publishing information. The costs for these activities are staggering, and this progress report shows that the number of hours spent has not improved much since IDC first started collecting this data in 2001.

    Key findings of this study include:

  • With Web 2.0 applications creeping into the enterprise, information workers will find tools to help them accomplish their work no matter where those tools come from. IDC's research on the use and preferences for information worker productivity tools shows that newer tools, particularly instant messaging, but also social networking and blogs, were preferred over more traditional ones like email or team workspaces.

  • Email consumes an average of 13 hours per week per information worker and is often intimately intertwined with document workflow, sales, scheduling, and other business processes. Assuming that the average knowledge worker makes $75,000 a year, the time spent on reading and answering email costs a company $20,990 per worker per year.

  • More information on the contact center market can be found at

    Wednesday, May 6, 2009

    Seven Out of 10 Workers Surveyed Say Recession Has Had Some Positive Career Impact

    Although the downturn has proven tough for workers, those who are still employed say they're gaining more from the experience than just managing to keep their jobs. Seventy-seven percent of professionals interviewed cited at least one positive effect the recession has had on their jobs, including the ability to tackle new projects (53 percent), assume additional responsibility (52 percent) and take on more challenging work (52 percent). But according to most respondents, the extra work has yet to be formally rewarded: Only 12 percent said they have received promotions.

    The national survey included responses from 457 workers 18 years of age or older and employed full or part time in an office environment. It was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Accountemps, the world's first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals.

    Workers were asked, "What positive effects, if any, has the recession had on you and your job?" Their responses*:

    Taken on new projects........... 53%
    Gained more responsibility........ 52%
    Taken on more challenging work …………52%
    Had more interactions with management……..44%
    Had more interactions with clients or customers……….38%
    Been promoted.................12%
    None of these...................23%

    * Multiple responses were allowed

    More information on service and support can be found at

    Sunday, May 3, 2009

    A Lost Laptop Can Cost Business About $50,000

    An independent study on notebook security, commissioned by Intel Corporation, analyzes the potential business costs of stolen or lost notebook computers, suggesting that in an era where "the office" can be almost anywhere, good security precautions are essential.

    The study, which was conducted by the Ponemon Institute, calculated that notebooks lost or stolen in airports, taxis and hotels around the world cost their corporate owners an average of $49,246, reflecting the value of the enclosed data above the cost of the PC.

    Intel undertook the study to better understand the problems and solutions associated with lost notebooks. The study reveals that sensitive data, not the notebook itself, is the primary factor driving costs upward. The study also suggests that use of products and technologies for encrypting data reduces the financial consequences.

    Analyzing 138 instances of lost and stolen notebooks, the study based the $49,246 price tag on costs associated with replacement, detection, forensics, data breach, lost intellectual property, lost productivity, and legal, consulting and regulatory expenses. Data breach alone represents 80 percent of the cost.

    The study also shows that how quickly a company learns of the missing notebook plays heavily in the eventual cost. The average cost if the notebook is discovered missing the same day is $8,950, according to the study. After more than one week, this figure can reach as high as $115,849.

    Who owns a missing notebook also plays an important role in the cost. Surprisingly, it is not the CEO's computer that is the most valued, but a director or manager. A senior executive's notebook is valued at $28,449, while a director or manager's notebook is worth $60,781 and $61,040, respectively.

    The study found that data encryption makes the most significant difference in the average cost: A lost notebook with an encrypted hard-disk drive is valued at $37,443, compared with $56,165 for a nonencrypted version.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at