ASP Free Webinar April 18 at 9:00am With Francoise Tourniaire, Ron Runyon and Tom Sweeny Five on Tips for Modernizing Your Support Organization
Where should support be going? What should you be doing about it? Join us for a rousing discussion. Robert Johnson, CEO of TeamSupport will interview our panel as part of ASP’s partnership with TeamSupport for webinars. Francoise is the founder and owner of FT Works, a support consultancy; Ron is the VP of Global Service Delivery at F5 Networks; Tom is the CEO of ServiceXRG, a research and consulting firm focused on support. The webinar will be recorded, so if you register and cannot attend live, you can view the recording later. Go here to register (required).
Webinars in partnership with
2019 Top Ten Best Support Websites Competition Is On!
This is the 21st year that we have held this competition. We are now accepting entries and the deadline is April 30. Each entry is judged by at least five independent judges. Every company that enters receives a confidential custom report detailing their average scores in all 25 categories that are judged, compared with average scores for their size company. Judges comments are particularly valuable as they help explain their scores. They also tell companies the top three things that they need to do to improve their site. This is a very inexpensive way to get site audits and advice. Prices to enter are $700 for a small company, $900 for medium sized company, and $1,100 for a large company. When the competition is over an approximately 140 pages report will be published with essays from the winners, average scores, a list of judges, a trends analysis, and more. Go to AWARDS above and use the pull down menu for information and to enter.
ASP Partners With Coveo to Expand Newsletters
We have partnered with Coveo to expand our newsletter content and circulation. Starting this January we have added more articles and will continue adding content. This is part of our efforts to expand ASP that was requested by our Member’s Advisory Board.
New Report On Advanced Artificial Intelligence Tools for Support is Online Now
The new generation of AI tools is going to revolutionize support. It is not just bots, but Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Sentiment Analysis, and Predictive Analytics. These and more AI techniques will change the way that we deliver support and those changes are already underway. Our report has interviews with 13 different companies, including:
Some made their own tools and others bought tools. All of them have information to share with you. Many of the individuals interviewed will be presenting at our conference on AI tools in San Diego next March, hosted by ServiceNow. Members can just login and the report will be right there to download. You can purchase it for $360, but membership for a year only costs $180 and you get all of our reports.
Report on 2018 Top Ten Competition Available Now
This report on our twentieth annual competition features essays from all ten companies that were this year’s winners. It also has a trends analysis, average scores in all 25 categories that were scored, a list of judges, and much more. It can be purchased for $360 or you can become a member for a year for only $180 and get this report plus all of our other reports. To get it, just login and it will be right there.
2018 Top Ten Support Websites Announced
This is the 20th year that ASP has held a competition for the Top Ten Best Support Websites. Each site is judged by at least five independent judges, who are vetted for competency and conflict of interest with the site that they are judging. They score the sites in 25 different categories. Every entrant receives a custom individual report detailing their average scores versus the average score for their size company. Judges also provide comments that are priceless in determining how to improve the sites. ASP publishes an approximately 125 page report with essays for each TopTen site, trends in the year’s competition, average scores for each category and size company and more. This year’s report should be available by the end of August. The report is free to members and available to others for purchase. Just login to get the latest report. This years Top Ten are listed below in alphabetical order for each group. ASP does not list rankings. Please note that Ivanti, with it’s fourth Top Ten, joins our Hall of Fame.
Medium Sized Companies
Ivanti (Joins Hall of Fame)
How Machine Learning Might Offer Opportunities to Preempt Escalations & Improve Customer Experience
Project Perspective & Learnings
Sameer Patkar, VP -Oracle Support Services
Traditional customer support escalation processes focus on mitigatingvs. avoidinguser dissatisfaction. This often adds to the customer’s already-present frustration; lowers service satisfaction ratings; and increases support costs by requiring intervention from senior staff and management. We believe thatMachine Learning (ML) can help support organizations shift the paradigm from reactive to proactive by systematically predicting escalation triggers and driving interventions beforecustomers get frustrated — improving the service experience, lowering costs, and increasing staff efficiency along the way. This article examines the author’s experience in building an ML tool to predict service escalations and describes key takeaways from his journey.
Escalations comprise only a small percentage of most support teams’ overall ticket volumes. While proportionally few, each escalated incident incurs a higher transactional cost to resolve by requiring additional time from managers and technical resources for monitoring, follow-up, and customer communication. Pre-empting escalations can therefore help support organizations produce better outcomes for their customers and themselves.
To that end, support teams have utilized various approaches in the past to try and identify tickets that might escalate; most have proven to be partial solutions that either did not scale or could not reliably predict triggers. For example, one effective way to avoid escalations that occur due to lack of timely response is for ticket owners to seek help from others if they are stuck on how to proceed with an incident. While some do, most support engineers prefer to resolve problems themselves rather than seek help. Consequently, organizations have enacted external review and monitoring processes wherein managers and/or peers review open within another team member’s queue. This approach is time-consuming and does not scale.
Another popular approach is to use rules-based reports that run on all open tickets in backlog and apply logic meant to identify markers of missed expectations. While more scalable than manual audits, rules-based reports tend to identify too many potential escalations to be used reliably; the volume of “false positives” they produce can quickly inundate support personnel with additional work that may or may not legitimately require investigation.
This occurs because rules have limitations: they must be written to know about ALL potential conditions that could lead to escalation and they must have data available on which to operate. Conversely, customer dissatisfiers are not always explicitly stated in ticket data, but must instead be derived forensically by examining each individual interaction from the inception of the ticket to identify missed expectations. The relationship between this derived data and the reasons why customers escalate can be complex and not reducible to simple rules. Furthermore, customers express dissatisfaction in text updates that also convey their sentiment. Rules-based approaches are not very effective at assessing text-based sentiment and then correlating that sentiment with derived data. Finally, relationships across data elements can change over time, which can require rule reprogramming.
Sameer is on ASP’s Member’s Advisory Board. This is an excerpt of a longer article he wrote for us. Login to see the rest of the article and click on Articles.
BLOGS From Al Hahn & Other Industry Thought Leaders
ASP’s conference March 27-28, hosted by ServiceNow in San Diego, is all about Artificial Intelligence (AI) in support. This, plus many conversations that I have had in the last year with support leaders has got me thinking about where support is going. This is, of course, the kind of thing
BLOGS From Al Hahn & Other Industry Thought Leaders
Where is Support Going?
ASP’s conference March 27-28, hosted by ServiceNow in San Diego, is all about Artificial Intelligence (AI) in support. This, plus many conversations that I have had in the last year with support leaders has got me thinking about where support is going. This is, of course, the kind of thing that ASP cares about and should be frequently thinking about. There are many trends that are making a difference worth noticing, but three really stand out as far as making a significant difference. They are:
- The subscription economy
- Customer experience/success
- The new generation of AI
The subscription economy is significant in that it has changed the way that technology companies generate revenue in a very significant way. Instead of receiving revenue credit when a product ships (and the customer is invoiced for the whole price of the product), companies now get much smaller revenue every month or quarter as customers pay for their subscription. It typically tales 2-3 years to make any money on subscriptions. Customers can change products much more easily. This means that keeping customers happy is much more important as it basically equates with actually keeping your customers. Support is not all of the customer experience or customer success, but it is a very significant part of it. We have always felt that support was an important part of keeping customers, but subscriptions have put a fine point on this.
Subscriptions have really driven home the importance of the customer experience/success. Many companies have a Chief Customer Officer. To be sure, this is sometimes just lip service, but there is a real significance to the attention now paid to customer experiences and customer success. I believe that this is a long-term change. Certainly not all support leaders are taking advantage of this change, but some are. I encourage all of our leaders to rise to the challenge of this. Yes, the politics are scary, but it is better to try to take the strategic high ground than to be following the lead of someone who does not understand support or the effect we have on customers.
Finally, A I has achieved a new generation of maturity and is generating revolutionary changes in support, as well as many other areas. I really believe that bots will provide much of the level one support in the near future. They are already there in some companies. If you want to know more, come to our conference. All of these three trends cause me to think that the landscape is fundamentally changing. In the future, support may morph into more than it is today. I know that tech support people don’t like to hear this, but we have more in common with call centers that take orders than we want to acknowledge. They have the advantage that they generate lots or maybe all of a company’s revenue and they are taking advantage of that. I was made aware of a recent conference that was held for these folks and I was impressed with several things. First, it was big, very big. Attendance was in the thousands. Second, it was tiered. They had tracks for individual contributors through lower level managers, tracks for mid to upper level managers, and tracks for executives. They were providing educational experiences for all levels. Lastly, I noticed that they were using technology to a great extent. In fact, they were ahead of most support organizations in their use of technology. This is part of the difference between a revenue producing organization and a cost center. Having a P&L (profit and loss) center allows an organization to get more budget and make strategic investments that are much more difficult for cost centers. This is why we are a bit stuck on cost avoidance or call diversion in trying to justify budget requests. I think we should consider taking down the walls between support and “customer service” and merge these organizations as the fundamental aspects of keeping customers.
I realize that many people will not agree with me. I am not averse to being challenged or questioned, so bring it on! I will be delighted if many respond to this article. I can be reached at email@example.com.
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