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 core of that mis-perception is that Support is an unfortunately necessary evil, the group that only deals with problems resulting from breaks and interruptions in service…
Preliminary results from The SaaS & Support Project's 2010 research show that some aspects of the software industry haven't changed much despite the accelerating shift to SaaS. In the 1st survey for the year, TSSP participants are asked to rate the level of importance to a range of issues. “Managing Customer Relationships in a Cost-Effective Manner” is being overwhelmingly rated as of “Critical” concern both by all respondents and specifically by SaaS-only companies as well. When asked to identify how their customer support teams were chartered, nearly half across the board are saying that theirs were set up as cost centers, with another significant bloc of companies landing in the “Not Sure or It's Complicated” camp. Less than 25% of the respondents so far have indicated that they run their customer support teams on a Profit-center basis. But regardless of business model and accounting status, the responses indicate that a serious problem which has plagued the industry all along is still with us. Two thirds of respondents say their need for a method for calculating the costs of providing support is either Critical or Serious. How can a company authentically determine its return on customer retention without accurately knowing the costs?
All across the corporate world, there's a metric and a means of capturing the data for nearly every possible operational detail to be found in any customer contact center. First Call Resolution Rate. (FCR) Average Speed to Answer. (ASA) Abandons. Escalations. Adherence. Volume. Average Handle Time. (AHT) Service Level Compliance. The problem is that the result is a deluge of largely irrelevant information. The most critically important contact center metrics of all -- Profitability and Customer Retention Rate -- are neither acknowledged nor tracked.
In any organization, Power Follows Money. One of the principal reasons why the Customer Support/Service department is low on the corporate pecking order is the lack of clarity about its contribution to overall company profitability. That needs to change. Start by producing a verifiable Cost Per Operational Minute value, and build your profitability picture from that beginning.