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At TSIA, we provide technology and services businesses with the insights they need to grow, advance, and achieve their desired outcomes in our rapidly evolving industry. At the heart of this in-depth research are TSIA's research executives, who keep their fingers on the pulse of what's new and what's next in technology and services in order to deliver compelling content, best practices, and tools to our members. To highlight the brilliant people behind the research that makes TSIA what it is, we've invited the VP of Support Services research, Judith Platz, to tell us a bit about herself and her thoughts on both the current state and what the future holds in her area of research, customer success and support services.  

Q: How would you describe your role at TSIA?

A: I work closely with both our Support Services and Customer Success members to identify areas they need to improve to streamline their current processes and workforce, operate more efficiently, and become more customer-focused. By engaging in open discussions with our members, I work on uncovering what's really important to them so I can help them get to where they need to be based on today's industry standard, and to also rise above that standard.

Q: What is the difference between support services and customer success, in your own words?

A: Support services has traditionally represented the "reactive" aspect of the customer-supplier relationship, and directly assists customers by answering questions and solving problems that may be preventing them from effectively using the solution they've purchased. Basically, support services organizations are where customers turn when something "breaks." These teams are on the front lines of helping customers resolve specific issues with products and services, and work directly with them to troubleshoot and problem solve on an individual basis.

Customer success, on the other hand, is all about the steps organizations take to make sure that their customers continue to be happy with a solution, and that they are on the right track to achieving their desired ROI. (Tweet this!) While customers contact support typically on an as-needed basis for their break/fix needs, customer success teams often are the ones who initiate customer outreach and remain in ongoing discussions designed to nurture that customer-supplier relationship. This can include inquiries about customer goals and directing them to the right channels to help them reach those goals.

So, in short, while support and success make up different parts of the customer engagement lifecycle, they're both elements that make up the overall customer experience. Because we recognize that there's no "one size fits all" approach when it comes to enhancing the customer experience, we offer Support Services and Customer Success as separate membership programs, both of which I currently lead along with a team of researchers that work with me. This team provides our members with the opportunity to customize their experience and focus on the types of thought leadership and dedicated resources each discipline has to offer that they feel would benefit their organization the most. Some of our members choose one or the other, but many have chosen memberships in both disciplines.

Q: How can technology organizations benefit from a membership in both of TSIA's Customer Success and Support Services disciplines?

A: We talk a lot about how more technology companies need to focus on providing customer outcomes, and as a result, customer success has quickly evolved as its own function within many organizations. However, customer success operates alongside support to create and maintain better customer-supplier relationships, so they're still very much related. While membership in both disciplines is beneficial in a "big picture" way, as it allows for a more in-depth approach to the research, business frameworks, and best practices needed in order to grow and advance, some organizations might still want the option to receive help optimizing only a specific area.

See the Benefits of a Support Services Membership with TSIA

Put simply, TSIA's Support Services discipline helps organizations improve the traditional technical support charter of maximizing the availability of technology, while our Customer Success discipline helps organizations develop strategies to increase customer adoption of technology and create the conditions to expand customer relationships. It all depends on the individual needs of an organization, but if there's any doubt on which they should join, or if both are needed to achieve the outcomes they're aiming for, I encourage them to contact me directly and I can help point them in the right direction.

Q: In your experience, what are the biggest challenges impacting today's support services organizations?

A: I've been telling my Support Services members that they have four main strategies they need to focus on, and I've been spending the majority of my time helping them along those four strategies. I actually wrote a blog post outlining these four key areas support services organizations need to improve to stay ahead of recent trends, but the main takeaway is that support organizations can't continue to be where they were yesterday. They need to refocus on the customer, and work toward being proactive rather than just reactive. (Tweet this!)

For example, customers today expect a more personalized approach to support, which includes working in the customer's preferred channel, knowing what the customer has purchased, and how they are using the product or service. This can be achieved by providing social media support, dedicated customer support portals, or proactive updates that allow customers to solve common problems themselves before needing to reach out to a support representative.

To step even further back from this, many support organizations are still struggling to modernize both in their tools and their processes. This is leading to not only dissatisfied customers, but also unhappy employees who feel that they're not able to effectively meet the needs of the customers they're supporting. Basically, a good portion of today's support organizations need to transform their overall operation if they're to remain successful, but this can only be accomplished by taking it one step at a time. (Tweet this!) For my Support Services members, my primary goal is to make this process as painless as possible by establishing priorities and working from there to help them become the modern support organization they need to be.

Q: What can you tell us about your professional background?

A: I have over 30 years of experience in the technology sector, including the areas of systems integration, support services, operations, and customer success. Before I joined TSIA, I've held various roles where I was responsible for supervising and coordinating multiple functional, strategic, organizational development, and technical work streams. Some of the companies I've worked for in the past include Oracle, the International Monetary Fund, and Approva Corporation.

I've been fortunate to have the unique opportunity of being not only a TSIA employee, but also a member. In fact, when I was the Senior Vice President of Global Success at Approva, I led my team to win three consecutive TSIA STAR Awards in various customer support-related categories. Now, I'm here at TSIA, and being a part of the behind-the-scenes processes that help technology organizations achieve that level of greatness is a real source of pride for me. 

Q: In your opinion, how is TSIA's approach to helping technology companies achieve their desired outcomes unique?

A: I really enjoy that I'm able to have the kinds of candid discussions with our members that give me a clear picture of their current challenges and what they're trying to accomplish. Between these conversations and TSIA's in-depth benchmarking programs, I'm able to collect key data points across the entire industry that allow me to provide our members with an accurate comparison of where they're at and where they need to be.

This data also allows me to perform a detailed analysis on the challenges or business issues that each member is having in their customer success or support business, such as staffing, processes, systems, etc., and develop a plan of action they can follow to solving them as quickly and efficiently as possible. Also, because our membership community is so diverse, I'm able to facilitate conversations with other members on any issues they're struggling with that I know another member has tackled. TSIA has a level of fact-based insight and a sense of community that I haven't encountered anywhere else, and I'm happy to be a part of it.

How Can TSIA Help You Meet Your Business Goals?

Contact us today to find out how Judith and the rest the TSIA research team can help your business achieve success with our world-class business frameworks, best practices based on real-world results, detailed performance benchmarking, exceptional peer networking opportunities, and high-profile certification and awards programs. We look forward to hearing from you!

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