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.
The current bleak economic landscape offers proof of what has long been suggested here: there is no future in tech support. There is, however, a very bright potential for the profession of managing customer relationships. It's time to acknowledge the difference between layoffs and leadership, to explore the architecture of what comes before management: the design and development of what might be called "product as a relationship."
It's time to profoundly reinvent the profession of Customer Support. From the beginning of the technology industry to the present time, Support has been the Department of Break/Fix; “when something breaks, we fix it.” As such, the “profession” offers no real economic value to anyone; it never has. What's worse, as we move deeper into the gathering recession and farther into the rapidly unfolding SaaS era, Support as it is currently defined has no future. There are two paths that lead away from this point. One is downward into obscurity, obsolescence and ultimately extinction. The other is towards an authentic profession based on the exchange of true economic value.
A new name, a new look, and a new focus has come to The HotLine. Re-launched as The HotLine Magazine, the new layout and graphics have strongly increased the accessibility of the articles and content. But the crucial difference is more fundamental. The focus has changed from optimizing center operations over to producing strategically significant, and sustainable, levels of contributions to overall corporate profitability. And the same needs to happen to the old role of Support / Service and the customer contact center. It's indeed time for something new.