There are vital clues and indications in the search strings that bring readers to The HotLine Magazine from around the world every day. “What is the Definition of Customer Support?” “What is the profitability of customer retention?” “Define the SaaS support model.” “Usual customer retention rate for a SaaS company?” “How to profit from SaaS support?” All of these are indicators of the same fundamental problem. Every so often, an inquiry comes along that goes to the heart of the issue and begs for an immediate reply. “Fixing a broken customer support group” is a perfect example, prompting two immediate questions in return. What do you mean by “broken?” And how would you define “fixing?” Almost invariably, the source of serious problems with a customer support group is external to the group itself; they are inevitably strategic errors. Until the senior management team and the support executive or manager understand each other, and work together, producing a truly effective and lasting resolution for the broken group is unfortunately unlikely.
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…
From a single post and a handful of readers, The HotLine has warmed up considerably over the past ten months. There are now regular readers from more than 70 countries around the world and all 50 states of the USA. From Hawaii to Georgia, the Maldives to Sri Lanka, Slovakia to Senegal, the Ivory Coast to Ireland, Austria to Australia, Support executives and C-Level officers alike are looking for answers and insight. Years ago, Ken Shevock, then the VP of Worldwide Support Operations for Cisco, commented "Nobody is really 'winning' at Support. We're all doing the same things to try to keep up, but to get to the next level, we're going to have to do something new." The HotLine is about that "something new."
The decision to transform a company, to recode its essential DNA for customer centricity, is not something to be considered lightly. The shift is not about changing what you do or merely improving how fast you do it for your customers; true customer centricity begins with the very definition of who you are and why as a company. The effects of such a profound reinvention of company identity necessarily will be global, touching every aspect and level of the organization's strategy, process, people and technology. If the change is real, movement will be seen in the perceived value of both the skill sets and knowledge of the individuals themselves and in how people are organized and deployed within the firm.