What is going on with large company’s support organizations today? How long has it been since you’ve been in a meeting with a vendor or a call with a company you are doing business with personally and wondered how the company is staying in business with such poor support practices? I know I have. And at a surface level the reasoning is sound. I mean, who would continue to do business with a company that shows no more regard for them as a customer than we would show that annoying person who likes to pass people on the shoulder of the road? The sad fact is you will. Not the figurative you of course, but the literal you, or perhaps I should include myself and say “we” will.
Americans, as a consumer-based society have been conditioned to expect delays, penalties, added costs, and even poor attitudes from the companies we do business with on a daily basis. Sure a small percentage of companies have make strides to address the problem. Some have even done so head-on by running commercials touting their dedication to you the customer, or their dedication to improving the “customer experience”. Unfortunately many have taken out ads and shown with their policies that these ads are nothing more than “faking it until you make it”. At the end of the day your bad experience is nothing more than causality. If a company does not enable their support representatives to make decisions that impact the customer’s cost then the support is toothless.
Don’t get me wrong. I think its great that many companies are starting to realize that they must actually pay attention to their support policies and see that they are followed through with in practice. Its a corporate epiphany that in my mind is long overdue. From where I stand it seems that the current economic challenges, in part at least, have forced companies to squeeze every dollar twice to ensure that nothing is left before letting it go.
While frugality certainly fosters many good business practices it has many negative side-effects when introduced blindly to service-based, or more specifically customer-facing decisions. Today I will analyze the economic toll that is being levied on support organizations across America due to the undying quest to save a continually smaller dollar…
John looks up from his computer to see his secretary standing in the doorway of his office. “Courier just dropped of the fiscal report.” she says. She hands the reportover and calmly exits his office. John Melton is the SVP of the Global Support Channel for a prominent American software company. Alone in his office now he opens and begins thumbing through a report hardly aware of the scowl creeping over his face. The ideas and inspiration are there its the implementation he can’ seem to iron out.
John’s challenge is the same facing many American support organizations today. How do you cut cost and retain competent workers while keeping up moral through the escalating performance metrics. The reality is that if this dilemma were a simple decision between cost and result then the answer would be simple. John would find the balance where each side of the equation stand the least possible chance of breaking and run with it. Unfortunately, this dichotomy doesn’t encapsulate John’s problem. The hitch in the equation is that instead of the decision being between cost and result, the decision is between revenue and revenue.
“Ok,” you may be thinking “This guy is just making things up to have something to say… revenue and revenue” but hear me out before you judge.How do you cut costs in your customer-supporting positions knowing it will gradually decrease the quality of service? You will either sacrifice quality or quantity and likely to the same end.
How do you keep pace with the rising cost of experienced personnel? Increasing salaries increases cost, refusing to do so forces an influx of inexperience gradually decreasing the quality of service and impact revenue.
With the support resources that are steady and remain fixed through any weeding and pruning that is occurring, do you emphasize an increase in efficiency by continually inflating dashboard metrics so the organization must continually strive for innovative ways to achieve the climbing numbers? The catch with this approach is that you eventually end up with customer facing automatons that are capable of little more than learning which direction to route an issue and we all know ACDs and dialers can do this with proper screening questions. And these systems will eventually do it for free.
But customers don’t like talking to machines any more than is necessary. Want to know a good way to show a customer you don’t care? Make them enter an account number and answer three questions when they call you before routing them to an agent that asks them same information every time they call. If it happens once, its a small nuisance. If it happens every time the the customer calls, it gets quite annoying. I’ve wanted to put a choke hold on my phone company more than once.
So what do you do? decrease expenses? Invest more in employee education? Further specialize your support tiers? These are the questions the leaders of support organizations debate over. We try various strategies and cling to our victories for dear life through our losses. These questions and debates are all well and good but they are a bit too circumstantial for an overarching benefit. Before we can get in to ideas on how to make your particular brand of bundled joy succeed, first we have to look at all of the pieces.
The private sector market of today is drastically different from 20 years ago. Workers today rarely get pensions and are much more likely to jump companies in the ongoing chase for higher pay and better benefits. Larger companies are forced to deal with these changes and some have made great strides in this regard. This being the “temperature” of today’s employee the question begs to be asked, “What do today’s employees want?”
Aside from fancy cars to drive home to their fancy homes with fancy toys and fancy problems, what is it that employees are truly seeking? What would your employee want, aside from a healthy paycheck with a little sick-time on the side? You give them pay, they give you time, right? This appears to be the consensus of today’s employees. The problem with this view is that you as an employer don’t need to buy time, you need to buy results. Fortunately for everyone involved this can be accomplished with very little change in approach on either side.
Welcome to the Craztech Blog. This is the first installment of the Craztech blog.
I am an IT professional currently residing in Nashville, Tennessee and I go by the handle Crazgod, and yes, that is Mr. Crazgod to you.
At an early age, I was criticized by my English teacher and asked to learn the art of brevity while at the same time being praised by my creative writing teacher. In the years since I have realized that this is because I have a tendency to over-analyze subjects and under-regulate my opinions.
I currently work as a Consultant-Level System Engineer for a large organization located here in Nashville. With 18 years in various areas of the IT industry, my roles throughout my career have provided me with experience in most aspects of Information Technology. A few of the roles I’ve played are Network Administrator, Support Development Coordinator, Corporate Accounts Manager, Applications Consultant, Integration Consultant, Systems Engineer, Integration Consultant, Implementation Consultant. I even did a stint out west as an Energy Consultant for a bit. I’ve worn many hats through the years each of which has afforded me an abundance of unique lessons and experiences.
Early in my career, I found that I have a natural affinity for process definition and analysis. I also found that computer hardware, software, and technology, in general, were very interesting subjects that came quite easily to me. Despite the many reasons I enjoy the line of work I’m in the most valuable and appreciable element I’ve gained from my professional experience has been the art of relationship management.
Whether dealing with clients, colleagues, or vendors I’ve found that the way you interface with others is the most crucial factor in determining success. Pieces of this concept are obvious but I personally carry it further by accepting that quality of the relationships I foster in each area of my career and life will ultimately either enable or limit my capacity for success. I may prove to have more to learn in this area but suffice it to say that I strive to treat each relationship within my sphere of influence as if it were the very reason that I will be successful. Not only is the nature of this attitude noticed by people but most importantly, it is almost always reciprocated.
In this blog, I intend to bring my experience, attitudes, and opinions to the table for all to mull over. As you read these positions please feel free to post questions, answers, comments, and even scrutiny at any point you feel so led. If you have topics you would like to see or points you would like discussed email me the details and I will see what I can come up with.
That being said, I can be long-winded when feeling enthusiastic about something as well as eager to paint something with the “creative license” brush to cover up poor grammar. Please be lenient when noticing these things. I don’t have a professional copywriter on my payroll so I am writing my own material.
Finally, I will utilize this blog as an attempt to cover topics that typically only occur in conversations with my colleagues. Although there will be multiple authors contributing I hope that readers will find my articles beneficial and hopefully even get some enjoyment out of them.
Welcome to the Craztech Blog!