The HotLine Magazine Archives
For The Profession of Cloud/SaaS Product Support
By Mikael Blaisdell

Hubble Telescope over EarthFor more than 30 years, I’ve been working with companies across a very wide range of industries and types/sizes of organizations on all aspects of their sustainable profitability and customer retention efforts.  While the engagements were usually described as being about fixing broken customer contact centers and optimizing working ones, the essence then as now is about success through keeping profitable customer relationships.

Through the LensI started writing about the world of customer support & service in the late ’80’s with articles and columns in MicroTimes, InfoWorld, VARBusiness, Reseller Management, Customer Support Management Magazine, etc. I’d gotten into the profession of customer relationship management by accident, long before CRM ever became a buzzword. I was the 8th employee of MicroPro, a software company, back in ’79, the manufacturers of an early word-processing package called WordStar. In those days, WordStar owned the word processor market and thought that they didn’t have to worry about the kind of support that they offered to their customers. They were wrong. Not long after, a company called WordPerfect came along out of nowhere and MicroPro’s ownership of 95% of the market swiftly evaporated.

I went on to run a customer support, documentation & training group for another company, and then had my own VAR operation for a few years afterward. In the process, I learned first-hand that customer retention is an all-company effort, and that the true product to be sold is the relationship.

Vision at all Levels

Under the MicroscopeTo get an immediate view of what’s going on out in the community of your customers; go sit in your company’s customer contact center for a few days. Listen in on the conversations that go on all around you. Talk to the support and service representatives – they know, just as I did when I took those calls, exactly what the customers are saying and thinking about the product and company.

What you’ll get here are the observations that come out of those years of direct and in-depth experience about what’s important and why in achieving success in the high technology business.

Charting the Right Course

In management effectiveness, it’s what gets measured that matters. Those who focus on measuring short term events tend to make short term decisions. Unfortunately, such tactical expediencies often can damage long term strategic corporate goals. An emphasis on pursuing new customers, for example, which is inherently more costly than selling to existing ones, can prevent organizations from attaining significantly greater levels of sustainable profitability through customer retention.

Strategy will be a consistent theme in Commentary articles, as will the importance of alignment with it of all of the other elements of success. The technology industry is in a time of profound change, and the pace of the transformation is accelerating rapidly. Companies will need to employ a variety of tactics in the face of increasing competition without losing sight of the ultimate goal. The intent of The HotLine Magazine is to be an active resource to C-Level corporate officers to help them navigate and succeed. If you’d like to be a part of that, the first step is a free membership.

March 24, 2007