Good Service Offers ROI | Opinions | ChannelWorld.in

PARTNER HOTLINES

Good Service Offers ROI

By Bart Perkins, Computerworld on Mar 16, 2012
Bart Perkins About the author

Bart Perkins, Computerworld

Bart Perkins is managing partner at Louisville based Leverage Partners,  Contact him at BartPerkins@LeveragePartners.com.

For many organizations, service centers are necessary evils that eat budget dollars while adding little value. Because they are viewed as overhead, many service centers (a.k.a. call centers, help desks, etc.) are outsourced to reduce costs. But that may not guarantee that you'll save money, and worse, it can alienate customers by presenting as your public face service-center staffers who may have insufficient product knowledge, language capabilities or civility.

Savvy organizations value service centers as revenue generators . That doesn't just mean that they have staffers take orders in addition to answering questions. It means that they also expect staffers to be strong brand advocates who have personal experience with the products. These organizations treat their service centers as primary customer contact points. Their operations align with the assertion in the book Marketing Metrics , by Paul Farris et al, that "customer satisfaction provides a leading indicator of consumer purchase intentions and loyalty." Thus, every customer interaction becomes an opportunity to improve customer perceptions and relationships.

Skullcandy, L.L. Bean and a few other organizations have taken this philosophy to heart. L.L. Bean's Carolyn Beem describes the retailer's service center as "an integral part of the business and the brand. It is a revenue generator and the face of the brand."

L.L. Bean and Skullcandy recruit service-center staffers creatively. L.L. Bean sends recruitment emails to customers. Skullcandy announces jobs on Facebook and Twitter. Both methods generate numerous applications. Hiring choices are based more on customer-service orientation than product knowledge: Candidates must show an ability to handle difficult customer interactions, such as rude refund requests, unreasonable product replacement demands and convoluted product questions, while remaining calm and respectful.

Skullcandy augments its small, in-house service-center team with "brand experts," who are customers hired part time to handle chat lines. Brand experts are paid a competitive wage, but most find recognition to be more important. Successful answers to customer queries earn the experts points that can be redeemed for new or limited-edition products. A leader board displays point status, garnering the best experts peer (and management) recognition. Passionate experts often research thorny issues so that they can send follow-up emails with additional information or improved solutions.

Like most service centers, Skullcandy's and L.L. Bean's operations measure "talk time," but rather than encourage staffers to end conversations as quickly as possible, they view service-center calls as opportunities to educate their customers and sell additional products. Neither company uses scripted responses. And whereas it's common in many service centers for staffers to handle seven callers at once, Skullcandy's brand experts chat with two or three online customers simultaneously, and L.L. Bean's staffers interact with just one each.

Matching the customer service excellence found at L.L. Bean, Skullcandy and some other companies requires changing the service desk's mission, processes, metrics and rewards. That's not easy, or inexpensive. But the resulting increases in customer satisfaction, loyalty and support are well worth it. Stronger customer focus can also have a significant positive impact on both internal and external perceptions of IT -- and that's invaluable.

IT shops can benefit from adopting, adapting or morphing creative approaches into their service centers. Challenge your staffers to think of other innovations, tailored to the needs of your customers, your products and your IT organization's success.

Latest Opinions

  • The F-word: Obsessively calling the Watch a "flop"

    What is it with the F-word? Pundits just can't stop themselves from applying it to the Apple Watch, even after it's backordered to June.

    The Macalope
  • How to get CVSS right

    For anyone dealing with software vulnerabilities, the CVE and CVSS are often their first stops in finding out the scope and details, and just about everything else they need to know about the specific vulnerability.

    Ben Rothke
  • When mice had balls: Remembering the Apple Desktop Bus Mouse

    Apple is almost universally praised for how well-designed its products are--even if its detractors usually do so through gritted teeth while snarking about price--but one thing it's safe to criticize Apple for, it seems, is its mice.

    Christopher Phin
  • A true story of combating a large-scale DDoS attack

    Here are some things you can do to fortify your data center and protect your corporate websites.

    By Adrian Newby, CTO, CrownPeak
  • Discovering a blind eye to vulnerabilities

    How many of our security tools are configured effectively, and how we can validate their configurations. Where are my blind spots, and how can I find them?

    By J.F. Rice
New Fiscal Special

Fiscal 2015: The Road Ahead for Channels

According to a survey of about 200 Indian channel partners, fiscal 2015-16 is going to be an eventful year. Here are the challenges, emerging technologies and trends that will shape the year for you.

Partners Will Help Us Grow This Fiscal: VADs

With new technologies gaining ground, and a stable economy, VADs are optimistic about growth this fiscal. And for that, VADs are piggybacking on channel partners.

Trust Vendors Who Generate Value for Customers This Fiscal: Rajesh Mathkar, Wysetek Technologists

With new technologies emerging, this fiscal is rife with plans, strategies, challenges and a lot of excitement.  Rajesh Mathkar, Director, Wysetek Technologists, highlights the strategies that will help his company stay ahead in the game.

IT Skills Gap is the Biggest Challenge This Fiscal

Availability and retention of IT skills has always been a huge challenge for the Indian IT market. Indian channel partners say it will continue to a big hurdle in the way of growth this fiscal as well.

Why this Fiscal Year is Going to be Very Different for Indian Channels

Technology companies and solution providers need to wake up and smell the coffee to have a blockbuster fiscal year. And there are a few important changes to start with.

Tech Chat

Collaborating To Outcome Based World: Priyadarshi Mohapatra, Avaya

Priyadarshi Mohapatra, Managing Director, India and SAARC, Avaya, on how IT is transitioning from a keep-the-lights-on role to one that enables customers to deliver results.

The Dawn of the Digital Age: Akhilesh Tuteja, KPMG

The development of digital infrastructure will be a key growth driver for technology and solution providers. 

Paradigm Shift from End-Users to User-First : Parag Arora,Citrix

Parag Arora, Area Vice President and India Head, India Sub-continent, Citrix, says new technologies will force organizations to take a user-first approach in 2015.

Mobile and Cloud Are Gamechangers of the Future: Karan Bajwa, Microsoft

Karan Bajwa, Managing Director, Microsoft India, says, in  2015, organizations will adopt a mobile-first and cloud-first strategy to get ahead of competition.

A Network for the Internet of Everything : Dinesh Malkani,Cisco

Dinesh Malkani, President, India and SAARC, Cisco, talks about IoT and the significant technology transitions in the networking world.

Moving to the Third Platform: Jaideep Mehta, IDC

Cloud and mobility are the two technologies that will fuel the rapid adoption of the third platform in India.

Envisaging a Holistic Security Strategy For 2015: Sanjay Rohatgi,Symantec

Sanjay Rohatgi, President–Sales, Symantec India, says the company has a set of holistic solutions in place to secure organizations from security threats. 

Beating the Bad Guys: Sivarama Krishnan, PwC

Organizations will need to turn inwards to establish robust information security strategies.

Building Capabilities for a Digital Tomorrow: Alok Ohrie,Dell

Alok Ohrie, President and Managing Director, Dell India, on the company’s investments to build end-to-end solutions and delivery capabilities for a digital world.

SLIDESHOWS

CIO Survey: What’s Inside Your Customer’s Mind (Cloud Computing)

A look at the findings of the State of the CIO 2014 survey and the challenges, benefits, and strategies of cloud computing that are keeping your customers on their toes. As their channel partners, here's what you need to know.

CEO Comebacks: For Better or for Worse?

We bring to you six global CEOs who made the idea work, or not.

Datacenters in the Weirdest Places

A peek into some of the most unusual datacenter locations in the world. Here are 13 datacenters that are built in unusual locations like mines, ships, trucks and even a nuclear collidor. Taking about common wisdom, eh?

6 Leaders Who Headed for an Abrupt Exit

The abrupt exit of top leaders of Indian and global tech companies this year, with many of them citing ambiguous reasons, surprised the technology world.

FAST TRACK

Kamtron Systems

Transitioning towards a service-oriented company will boost our growth, believes Kavita Singhal, director, Kamtron Systems.

TIM Infratech

Delivering ‘best of breed’ technologies to enterprises is key to success, says Monish Chhabria, MD, TIM Infratech

Mudra Electronics

A vendor-agnostic strategy helped us sustain business, says Bharat Shetty, CMD, Mudra Electronics.

Systematix Technologies

Our USP is a customer-friendly approach backed by services, says Akhilesh Khandelwal, Director, Systematix Technologies.

CorporateServe Solutions

Our ability to turnaround complex ERP projects in record time is what gets us customer referral, says Vinay Vohra, Founder & CEO, CorporateServe Solutions.

KernelSphere Technologies

We are emerging as an end-to-end systems integrator, says Vinod Kumar, MD, KernelSphere Technologies.

Uniware Systems

We constantly validate emerging technologies for first-mover advantage, says Vergis K.R., CEO, Uniware Systems.

Astek Networking & Solutions

An innovative approach helps us stay successful, says Ashish Agarwal, CEO, Astek Networking & Solutions.

CSM Technologies

Our approach is backed by innovation and simplicity, says Priyadarshi Nanu Pany, CEO, CSM Technologies.

EMC PARTNER SHOWCASE

Partnering for Profitability

Atul H. Gosar, Director, Network Techlab, shares how the company’s association with EMC has provided it with a competitive edge and a wide customer base, leading to increased profitability.

Sponsored Content

Promising Pipeline

Venkat Murthy, Prime Mover, 22by7 Solutions, shares how EMC brings in competitive edge by enabling technology, GTM and lead generation, helping 22by7 acquire new customers and retain old ones.

Sponsored Content

Powerful Performance

Deepak Jadhav, Director, VDA Infosolutions, says initiatives by EMC around training and certification have helped the company’s staff improve its performance and enhance customer experience.

Sponsored Content

Performance Booster

Rajiv Kumar, CEO, Proactive Data Systems, says that the solution provider’s association with EMC has helped expand its customer base and added value to existing offerings.

Sponsored Content

Pursuit of Profitability

Santosh Agrawal, CEO, Esconet Technologies, shares insights on how the systems integrator’s association with EMC has spelled sustained success over the years.

Sponsored Content

Non-Performance is Not an Option

Nitin Aggarwal, Director, Trifin Technologies, shares insights on how the association with EMC has helped the system integrator stand out and empowered its personnel to deliver consistent performance.

Sponsored Content

SOCIAL MEDIA @ CW India
SIGNUP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER

Signup for our newsletter and get regular updates.