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The rate of change and disruption in technology has quickly caused a blurring of the line between products and services. Where does the product stop and the service of the product start? Customers honestly don’t care, they just want a better customer experience and a lower effort to achieving their goals with their purchase.
The long-standing silos between support organizations and other business units (consulting, engineering, field services, education services, sales, etc.) are one of the major inhibitors to support organizations being able to provide the type of experience their customers expect. Add to that the increased focus on support executives to lower cost and improve profits and you have a perfect storm.
Today, many organizations continue to function in the more traditional organizational structures with each service line being separate and distinct. Every business unit has a specific function and focuses solely on performing that function. However, changing customer expectations are forcing a review of our internal structures.
In TSIA’s "State of Support Services 2017 " paper, we encouraged members to create a customer experience strategy in order to document how they want their customers to interact with their company throughout their entire customer journey. This cross-functional effort between key stakeholders, often led by marketing, maps out all touchpoints along the entire customer life cycle that span across multiple functions within your company (such as marketing, sales, and services) over the duration of the relationship.
If your organization already has a customer experience strategy in place, TSIA recommends that you continuously review and refine it over time. Once you’ve created your strategy, it will become clear which core functions within your specific organization are necessary in order to execute it.
We also recommend that your support organization be positioned as one of, if not the key, linchpin in this strategy. Whether you already have a strategy or are building one from the ground up, it’s important that your support organization clearly understands where they fit into this strategy, as well as their impact on its execution.
Your support organization should play a key role in your customer experience strategy.
Without a customer experience strategy in place, your company is likely to continue performing functions in the traditional ways, hiring people for traditional roles, and creating additional internal inefficiencies. By developing a customer experience strategy, you’ll be able to focus on the correct functions that need to be performed in order to deliver the type of experience your customers want. Focusing on the function first will allow you to then focus on the positions and people you’ll need in order to deliver on the strategy.
Examples of departmental convergence to enable your customer experience strategy could include:
A customer experience strategy can ensure you're delivering the type of experience your customers want.
The ability to scale the business and deliver cost-effective results is most often impacted by legacy organizational structures. Rest assured, I’m not advocating a reorganization for the sake of reorganizing. What I am merely recommending is that you look at the functions you need in order to provide the right customer experience.
Referencing the “2017 Service Capability Heatmap” report by the executive director of TSIA, Thomas Lah, he’s flagged 35 high priority capabilities that organizations need to possess beginning in 2017. These capabilities are flagged as critical because they are often underdeveloped in most technology companies and are necessary for responding to industry trends. Here, I’ve highlighted just three of those critical capabilities he mentions in this report that you can use as a checklist for your own company:
Service personnel, by nature, want to make tomorrow a better day. It’s time to assess if we have the key capabilities to help them do that. Start with just these capabilities, decide if you possess them within your organization, and use your customer experience strategy to lead you on the natural path of convergence of your service lines. Change is difficult, and failing is even more difficult. Allow your customer experience strategy to be the driver of a new culture and a new era of winning in the marketplace.
As always, I welcome your feedback and am here to assist as you embark on or continue your current journey.
Read more posts in the "TSIA Organizational Convergence" blog series:
Post Date: March 31, 2017
Judith Platz, is the former vice president of research, Support Services, for TSIA. During her over 25 years of customer support experience, she has been responsible for supervising and coordinating multiple functional, strategic, organizational development and technical work streams, including technical support, account management, business consulting, implementation management, and training.
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The Technology & Services Industry Association (TSIA) is dedicated to helping technology and services organizations large and small grow and advance in the technology industry. Find out how you can achieve success, too. Call us at (858) 674-5491 or we can call you.