The Hotline Magazine

Thursday March 20, 2014



Related Materials
Below Are Excerpts From Articles Related To The One You Are Now Viewing
  • SaaS/Cloud & Support: Reinventing the Role The role of Support in the SaaS/Cloud era desperately needs to be reinvented. The reputation of the group hasn't changed despite the advantages of SaaS, it's still about waste rather than generati...
  • SaaS/Cloud & Support: Significant Questions For SaaS companies, where the application and its data resides out on the web instead of on the local PC, the support burden is less -- and that means lower headcount in the customer contact center...
  • SaaS, Support, and Owning the Customer Relationship Since the beginnings of the software industry, Sales has claimed to own the customer relationship. Under the traditional premised-based model, the connection between company and customer is almost...
  • SaaS/Cloud & Support: The Right People Hiring a Customer Support/Service executive or manager for a SaaS / On-Demand company through use of a position description from the old model software manufacturing world is a recipe for trouble. ...
  • SaaS & Customer Success, The (new) Definition of Customer Support There is a tendency for some SaaS/Cloud vendors to think that Customer Support is the same as it was in the traditional sector, only with less demand and therefore a significantly lower staff. The ...
By Mikael Blaisdell
Part of Series

Underneath the window dressing of the brave new world of SaaS, there lurks an ugly little secret. Down in the depths of the customer contact center, the quality of service that the customer sees hasn’t changed, hasn’t kept up with the promise. To the reps, the name of the game is still: When something breaks, fix it. Nothing happens until the phone rings, the e-mail arrives or the chat window opens. Once energized, the rep then goes to work to resolve, as best they can, whatever is preventing the customer from being productive with their technology purchase. Hopefully, the efforts are successful and the incident is closed. The rep documents the specifics of the problem and what they did to resolve it in the hopes that other reps may find the record useful in dealing with other customers. After filing the case, the rep then reaches for the next incoming call. Another hour, another ten or more calls. Handle those, and here come ten more. Stop, rewind; let’s take another look.

Where is the Value?

Where’s the value in the above traditional interaction? One customer got a problem resolved. The contact center team got a searchable record that might later help another rep solve a similar or related problem. And the rep got a point towards a successful performance review. While it may have been necessary, the scenario certainly didn’t offer any economic value to anyone except indirectly to the guy collecting a salary for answering the phone. Everyone involved had much more profitable things that they could, and should, have been doing.

So long as Company, Rep and Customer all think that the role of the contact center is about Break / Fix, the result will be a repetitious pattern of waste and dissatisfaction for all concerned. The shift to SaaS and the Cloud, with its single instance of a program, will necessarily bring some relief in the shape of a somewhat lowered demand for support. But even at a lower volume, the traditional pattern of activity in the contact center is still a waste. Support is still the illegitimate red-headed stepchild of the company. There is no way to win under this paradigm. To succeed, to offer the full potential of technology and the organization and receive the maximum profitability in return, the SaaS/Cloud applications manufacturers have got to get beyond perceiving Support as a seemingly endless series of Break/Fix incidents.

Time for Reinvention, Redefinition

It’s time to completely reinvent Support and the customer contact center. Just as the old days of “free” “tech support’ had to give way to fee-based plans when the fall in software license fees could no longer cover the costs of the service, the break/fix model must likewise be retired — and for the same reason. No one can afford to do business that way anymore.

The starting point is a total change in focus. Instead of wasting the skills and knowledge of the rep on fixing single problems, the purpose needs to be about generating direct value for both company and customer in every interaction. The challenge is substantial, but so are the rewards.

Published: July 18, 2007

Revised: August 30, 2010