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 anti-Beatitudes: Calling Apple a religion

    Put on your special underwear and get ready to cut a goat! No, not because our Apple religion calls us to those practices but because arguing Apple is a religion just drives a Macalope do some crazy stuff.

    The Macalope
  • Cameramakers missed the Wi-Fi bandwagon on the road to obsolescence

    The day of the standalone digital camera has passed for all but professional photographers and those who aren't paid for their work but have particular needs a phone's built-in camera can't meet. Smartphones won by making photos easy to share online.

    Glenn Fleishman
  • When it comes to Apple products, how thin is too thin?

    One of the characters in Neal Stephenson's novel Snow Crash uses knives with edges a single atom thick, so sharp they can cut through anything. I think about those knives every time Apple announced a newer, thinner MacBook or iPad or iPhone.

    Jason Snell
  • Yahoo: One Giant Step—Sideways?

    Authentication is the biggest issue that enterprises have to face in a connected world because all systems have flaws.

    Balaji Narasimhan
  • Weird science: The Apple Watch may already be killing you!

    You should see the Macalope's biceps right now. He's totally ripped from all the tables he had to flip because of this piece in the New York Times by Nick Bilton.

    The Macalope
EDITOR'S PICK

Try These 5 Undiscovered Google Drive Tricks

Google Drive and its attendant apps offer a wealth of tools to help you be more productive. Try these five for the biggest boost.

What Does the Collaborative Economy Mean for Information Security?

Most employers allow their staff reasonable use of office products such as telephones, copy machines, coffee and the like. For the most part, employees won't be using the copy machines to compete with Kinko's or a company car to compete with black car limousine services. Well, at least not until now.

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

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?

12 LinkedIn Mistakes IT Pros Make

LinkedIn is the go-to place for IT pros to market themselves, connect with co-workers, find former colleagues, and meet-up with like-minded folks. Take a few minutes now to make sure your profile showcases your accomplishments, and skills. Here are some common mistakes to avoid.

ChannelWorld Survey: State of the Market 2014

Partners poll their sentiments, expectations, pain points, and challenges for the coming year.

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.