Category Archives: Support Strategy

Support, Transparency and Service Design

Support teams are regularly torn between customers’ pressure to disclose more information, especially when cases are not progressing as expected, and the need to protect the company’s internal processes or the identity of decision makers.  Frequently, we err on the disclosure side, thus exposing the decision makers to unexpected calls from customers and undue pressure.

Those of us who enjoy visiting restaurants with open kitchens will realize that while we enjoy watching the cook prepare our pizza, we hardly ever get to watch the dirty dishes piling up or, indeed, the dishwashing crew in action.  Similarly, there are always portions of the company’s operation that we should consider keeping away from customers’ eyes

Here’s where Service Blueprinting comes into play – it is a methodology for process design and analysis that, among other things, makes process designers aware of the need to make informed decisions about the visibility of sections of the problem resolution process to the customers.  A sample of a service blueprint is:

I am sure each of us can chart our favorite restaurant / bank / airport experience into similar chart,  Can we done it with similar clarity for our support operation?  Is the line of visibility as clear in our operation as it is for other businesses we are familiar with?

I added several blogs to the blogroll on the right with service design and blue printing information.  Wim Rampen’s blog is always insightful, while design for service and desonance have several good entries that got me thinking about

Take a look and let me know what you think.

How Support Generates Customer Value

One of my consulting clients wanted to develop a mission statement for their customer support operation.  The discussion revolved around a defensive “we solve problems” for a while until a breakthrough was made, proposing to focus the statement on the protection and enhancement of customer value.

When we chart the cumulative value customers expect to gain from a product we expect that during the early stages customers gain relatively little value due to implementation and training.  Conversely, towards the end of the product’s useful life with the customer, marginal value generated nears zero as users move to other products.

If we put ourselves in the customers’ shoes we can assume that while they understand the complexity of enterprise software the expectation is that the newly acquired solution will function smoothly and with little interruptions.  The customers’ expectation of value is driven by the expectation for, smooth, trouble free operation.

As customers begin using the product and encounter problems, we can see those problems’ cumulative impact on the overall value customers are able to gain from the product.  Critical problems detract significantly while others very little.  However, over time the total impact of problems can be significant drag to the customers’ value gain:

To help customers mitigate the value lost to problems on one hand, and maximize the value gained from the product, vendors have been introducing value-added services, or whatever fancy name they are called:

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