Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Two out of Three Consumers Switched Companies in 2011 Even Though They Gave Higher Marks for Service

Two out of three (66 percent) consumers switched companies –  including wireless phone, cable and utilities – as a result of poor customer service in 2011 even as their satisfaction with the services provided by those companies rose, according to new research released by Accenture. The research findings pose new challenges for marketers as they focus on building customer loyalty and improving market share in a very competitive business environment.

Among the 10,000 consumers who responded, the proportion of those who switched companies for any reason between 2010 and 2011 rose in eight of the 10 industries included in the survey. Wireless phone, cable and gas/electric utilities providers each experienced the greatest increase in consumer switching – five percentage points. This includes consumers who switched entirely to another provider as well as those who continued to do business with their current provider but added services from another provider – a new, but growing trend.  

The survey also found that fewer than one-quarter (23 percent) of consumers surveyed feel “very loyal” to his or her providers, while 24 percent indicated that they had no loyalty at all. And, only half (49 percent) indicated that they are strongly influenced by at least one loyalty program offered by their service providers.

At the same time, however, consumer satisfaction with their providers’ customer service actually increased in 2011 in 10 attributes measured by the survey. These attributes include the wait time for service (33 percent satisfied compared to 27 percent in 2010), the ability to resolve issues without speaking with an agent (38 percent satisfied compared to 33 percent in 2010) and speaking with just one customer service agent to resolve an issue (39 percent satisfied compared to 32 percent in 2010).

More information on customer service and support can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com

Monday, January 30, 2012

CEOs say prospects gloomy for global economy

Nearly half (48%) of the 1,258 CEOs polled worldwide believe the global economy will decline even further in the next 12 months, according to PwC’s 15th AnnualGlobal CEO Survey. Just 15% said the global economy will improve during 2012.

However, nearly three times as many CEOs are confident in their own companies’ growth prospects for the next 12 months than in the outlook for the global economy, suggesting CEOs believe they have learned how to manage through difficult and volatile economic times.

Forty percent of CEOs said they are ‘very confident’ of revenue growth for their companies in the next 12 months, down from the 48% last year - though still up from the 31% who were ‘very confident’ in 2010.

In addition, more than half of CEOs worldwide expect to increase headcount in the next 12 months, although the picture changes from sector to sector with hiring much more likely in entertainment and media than elsewhere.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest decline in confidence was in Western Europe. Beset by the sovereign debt crisis, just a quarter of European CEOs said they were very confident of revenue growth, down sharply from nearly 40% last year. Short term confidence also fell among CEOs in Asia Pacific to 42% from 54% last year. China saw the biggest decline in confidence in the Asia Pacific region with 51% of CEOs feeling ‘very confident’, down from 72% last year.

There was also a marked decline in confidence in India with only 55% of Indian CEOs very confident of revenue growth, down from 88% last year. In the US, 41% of CEOs said they were very confident of short term growth, down from 45% last year. Confidence increased, however, among CEOs in Africa, where 57% said they were expecting growth, up from 50% last year.

More information on service and support can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Consumerization of IT Helps Level the SMB Playing Field Across the World

Increased adoption and personal use of advanced technology is paying dividends for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) around the world as the consumerization of IT continues to expand, especially in developing countries. Survey research from International Data Corporation (IDC) found that SMBs in developing countries are much more likely to encourage the use of worker-owned technology, allowing employee smartphones, netbooks, and media tablets to be connected to company networks to run a host of different business applications.

Additionally, SMBs in developed countries (e.g., the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan) typically indicate higher levels of advanced technology use, from notebook PC to wireless networks, than do similarly sized firms in developing countries (e.g., China, Brazil). However, the gap closes quickly when portable computing/communications products are added to the mix. SMBs in developing countries are keeping pace with their more developed counterparts when it comes to providing employees with smartphones, netbooks/mini notebooks, and media tablets. In some cases, they are actually more likely to provide these products to their staff.

Additional findings from IDC's research include the following:

-- Independent of region, medium-sized firms are more likely to provide employees with advanced mobile devices than are small businesses (SBs).

-- China SMBs are providing company-owned smartphones to employees most often.

-- In developed countries, 33.7% of SBs and 46.7% of MBs indicated they provide access to the business network for employee-owned smartphones.

More information on IT can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com

Monday, January 23, 2012

One in Three Consumers Consider Highly Trained Employees the Most Important Factor

EmpathicaInc., a provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions, announced that its Consumer Insights Panel survey of 5,000 U.S. and Canadian consumers found that nearly a third of consumers consider highly knowledgeable and well-trained employees as the most important element of their luxury purchase experience.

Survey results also showed that consumers are very willing to walk out of a luxury retail store if they are not receiving the one-on-one attention they need. In fact, three out of four consumers said they buy either nothing -- or less than what they would normally purchase -- if there are not enough employees in the store to assist them.

Despite the importance of individual attention at luxury retailer stores, many consumers think today’s brands aren’t delivering. Only 38% of consumers said they receive better customer service in luxury retail than in non-luxury retail. On the other hand, if employees are eager to serve customers, a full 80% of survey respondents said it would have a positive impact on their perception of the brand and affect their future business with the store.

Top Luxury Service Elements that Consumers Value, From Most Important to Least Important

-- Highly knowledgeable and well-trained employees

-- One-on-one customer service

-- Brand exclusivity

-- Welcoming store atmosphere

-- Many employees available to serve them

More information on customer service and support can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How to succeed as a CIO in a new company

How to succeed as a CIO in a new company
The first 90 days are the most critical for new CIOs

The success of the CIO is based on results.  Too often new CIOs try to do too much before they know enough.  According to the IT Productivity Center, six things that a new CIO should do are:

Find an Internal Ally - It is crucial to quickly get to know the new company. But since no one can be everywhere at once, it’s good to have an observant adviser within the company.

Find someone in the company to “be your counselor, letting you know if the troops need more attention or if they’re confused.” An ally does not have to be a peer or a direct report; it can be junior colleague who is attuned to the workforce and unafraid to share their observations. Often people who needed help rarely came directly to you and ask for help.

Hire a Strong Ally - Hire someone who know how you work and what your strengths and weakness are. They can be a sounding board and at the same time another ally who is totally loyal to you.

Get Things under Control - A CIO who wants to position himself as a strategic partner to executive management should avoid getting bogged down in detail tasks. A new CIO should establish a strong leadership persona, whether that means adding positions, hiring people, or reorganizing.  The new company needs the new CIO to have a team and processes in place that support the new CIO's success. That’s not going to happen in 90 days, but the CIO needs to have the commitment in place to support them going forward.

Focus on the Right Issues - CIOs want to control costs and processes, and what better way to do that than tightening the purse strings or project initiatives of the IT department. CIOs often think they’ve got to set an example and that is often the wrong issue to focus on. Doing something solely to be a model for the company can be a mistake because it may send the wrong message. And more than anything, a new CIO needs to be viewed as a team player.

Be a Collaborator - When it comes to strategy, it’s easiest to forge ahead if executives across the company are on board. Particularly for a new CIO, it’s important to vet plans with the right people, whether launching an IT transformation or introducing a new initiative. Keep them updated on where things stand so that they’re hearing how the project is advancing. That way you’re constantly winning buy-in for the next move.

A new CIO should also look for informal support and feedback on how to make projects more efficient and less disruptive to the business. Many of the things the CIO do have a big impact on the other business functions. It’s critical for the CIO to gather input and make sure that he is doing what he can to make it as easy as possible.

Listen - A new CIO should spend lots of time listening. Many CIO spend too much time talking and not enough time taking notes on what they hear. When you’re new, you find so much information and get so many ideas, but it’s not wise to act on those ideas immediately. Rather, the first 90 days are an opportunity to determine which strategies, people, and processes are healthy and which need improvement.

More information on customer service and support can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com

Monday, January 16, 2012

Young Professionals, College Students Admit They'll Go To Extreme Measures for Internet Access Despite IT Policies

Seven out of 10 young employees frequently ignore IT policies, and one in four is a victim of identity theft before the age of 30, according to a global study from Cisco announced today. The final set of findings from the three-part Cisco Connected WorldTechnology Report reveals startling attitudes toward IT policies and growing security threats posed by the next generation of employees entering the workforce – a demographic that grew up with the Internet and has an increasingly on-demand lifestyle that mixes personal and business activity in the workplace.

Considering that at least one of every three employees (36%) responded negatively when asked if they respect their IT departments, balancing IT policy compliance with young employees' desires for more flexible access to social media, devices, and remote access is testing the limits of traditional corporate cultures. At the same time, these employee demands are placing greater pressure on recruiters, hiring managers, IT departments, and corporate cultures to allow more flexibility in the hope the next wave of talent can provide an edge over competitors.
Key Findings

Adhering to IT policies
-- Of those who were aware of IT policies, seven of every 10 (70%) employees worldwide admitted to breaking policy with varying regularity. Among many reasons, the most common was the belief that employees were not doing anything wrong (33%). One in five (22%) cited the need to access unauthorized programs and applications to get their job done, while 19% admitted the policies are not enforced. Some (18%) said they do not have time to think about policies when they are working, and others either said adhering to the policies is not convenient (16%), they forget to do so (15%), or their bosses aren't watching them (14%).
-- Two of three (67%) respondents said IT policies need to be modified to address real-life demands for more work flexibility.
-- Companies restrict many devices and social media applications. Of these, young employees said online gaming (37%) was the most commonly restricted application. Apple iPods (15%) were the most commonly restricted device.
-- One in 10 (10%) employees globally said IT policies prohibit the use of iPads and tablets, signaling a growing challenge for IT teams as tablet popularity increases. Three of 10 employees (31%) said social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were prohibited as well.
-- Three of five employees (61%) believe they are not responsible for protecting information and devices, believing instead that IT and/or service providers are accountable.

Risky behavior: Unsupervised computer usage
-- More than half of the employees surveyed globally (56%) said they have allowed others to use their computers without supervision – family, friends, coworkers, and even people they do not know.
-- College students exhibited higher tendencies than young employees to engage in risky online behavior. More than four of five college students (86%) said they have allowed others to use their computer unsupervised, indicating that this behavior is only going to become more prevalent as the next generation of employees enters the workforce over the next few years.
-- More than one in 10 college students (16%) admitted leaving personal belongings and devices unattended in public, while getting something to eat or drink at a café or going to the restroom.
More information on IT Policies can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Consumers Say “Call Me -- If It’s Relevant”

New research from customer management leader Convergys Corporation shows that consumers welcome proactive outreach from service and sales organizations, but only when companies make the interaction relevant by first understanding the consumer’s individual needs and interests.

The Convergys 2011 U.S. Customer Scorecard Research offers an in-depth view of contact preferences – by topic and channel -- and underscores the importance of analytics tools that provide the insights essential to making interactions worthwhile for consumers and companies alike. When communications are on the mark, consumers are receptive to outreach on a variety of issues:

-- 60% of consumers want to be informed of excessive or unusual usage or fraud, and about special offers and discounts;
-- 51% want to learn about product/service upgrades;
-- 43% say it’s “okay” to contact them for feedback on the quality of service;
-- 41% approve of a reminder about a payment or deadline renewal.
However, although many consumers are open to proactive outreach, companies often squander the opportunity by using generalized outreach that alienates consumers. According to the Convergys research, nearly one out of every four consumers who complain about the effort of working with companies specifically cite company employees who waste their time trying to sell them something they don’t want.

In addition to favored topics, consumers also expressed specific channel preferences. Nearly three-quarters of respondents preferred e-mail outreach, while more than half said contact via U.S. mail or telephone were also acceptable. Automated and new media channels were less popular, with only one in five consumers preferring IVR and text messages, and fewer than in one in ten saying they prefer to be contacted by social media.
More information on service and support can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com

Monday, January 9, 2012

Gartner Says Worldwide IT Spending to Grow 3.7 Percent in 2012

Worldwide IT spending is forecast to total $3.8 trillion in 2012, a 3.7 percent increase from 2011, according to the latest outlook by Gartner, Inc. In 2011, worldwide IT spending totaled $3.7 trillion, up 6.9 percent from 2010 levels.

Gartner has revised downward its outlook for 2012 global IT spending from its previous forecast of 4.6 percent growth. All four major technology sectors computing hardware, enterprise software, IT services and telecommunications equipment and services are expected to experience slower spending growth in 2012 than previously forecast.

The Thailand floods, that left one-third of the country under water, are having serious implications for businesses worldwide, particularly with computer and storage purchases.

Although large PC OEMs will see fewer problems than others in the industry, no company will be wholly immune to the effects on the HDD supply chain. Gartner has reduced its shipment forecast for PCs, which has impacted the short-term outlook for the hardware sector. The impact of HDD supply constraints on HDD and PC shipments in the first half of the year compound the cautious environment for hardware spending in general.

Telecom equipment spending is projected to show the strongest growth, with revenue increasing 6.9 percent in 2012, followed by the enterprise software market, which will grow 6.4 percent.

More information on IT spending can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Research Finds IT Budgets Are Up, And So Is Demand For New Technology Projects

InformationWeek Reports, a service for peer-based IT research and analysis, announced the release of its latest research report. Outlook 2012 encompasses analysis of results from InformationWeek's recent survey on IT spending, staffing plans and strategies for 2012. More than 600 business technology professionals responded to this poll.

Research Summary:

IT budgets are up, and so is demand for new technology projects, according to the 2012 edition of InformationWeek's annual Outlooksurvey. Fifty-six percent of respondents say their companies plan to increase tech spending in the coming year, up from 46% two years ago. Three-quarters of respondents see heightened demand for new IT projects, up from about half in our Outlook 2010 survey. This budget growth builds on last year's momentum, while strong demand for tech projects is a positive sign for overall business expansion and investment.

Other Findings: 

-- Two years ago, the IT hiring picture was bleak: Just 14% of companies were expanding compared with 18% making cuts. Today, 25% are expanding vs. just 9% cutting back.

-- 23% say IT is viewed as a business driver and is therefore asked to cut spending less than other departments.

-- 49% of respondents say their companies will increase spending on data center software next year compared with just 9% cutting that spending; 42% say they will increase spending on data center hardware, while 12% will cut.

-- Tech pros are changing their tune about tablets: 51% of IT pros last year "strongly disagreed" that their companies would give tablets to even 10% of employees who normally would get a PC. Now just 35% of respondents are that deeply skeptical.

More information on IT can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com

Monday, January 2, 2012

CIOs Reveal First-Quarter Hiring Plans

Technology executives expect information technology (IT) hiring to continue in the first quarter of 2012, according to the just-released Robert HalfTechnology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report. In the latest quarterly survey, 20 percent of chief information officers (CIOs) said they plan to expand their IT departments, and 10 percent expect cutbacks, for a net 10 percent projected increase in hiring activity. This is up four points from the previous quarter's projections.  

Key Findings

-- The net 10 percent increase in anticipated IT hiring activity is up four points from a net 6 percent increase in hiring activity projected last quarter.

-- Networking and IT security professionals are in greatest demand, according to survey respondents.

-- Almost three quarters (73 percent) of CIOs said it's challenging to find skilled professionals today, up seven points from the previous quarter.

 -- Eight-eight percent of CIOs are confident in their companies' growth prospects in the next three months.

-- Eighty-three percent of technology executives expressed confidence in their firms' first-quarter investment in IT projects, rating the possibility of IT investment a 3 or higher on a five point scale, with 5 being most confident. 

Skills in Demand

The functional areas in which executives say they are experiencing the greatest challenge in finding skilled IT professionals are networking (20 percent) and IT security (19 percent). Applications development, data/database management and help desk/technical support followed, cited by 15 percent, 11 percent and 10 percent of survey respondents, respectively. 

Network administration remains the skill set in greatest demand, cited by 57 percent of CIOs. Windows administration and desktop support were next, each with 56 percent of the response.

More information on IT, customer service and support can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com