What We Read This Week, 9 January 2015:

Who Provides Tech Support for the Internet of Things? – The writer examines the challenges associated with supporting the massively connected Internet of Things (HBR)

The Baffling Advances of Social Customer Service – The always excellent Esteban Kolsky on Social Customer service, and whether companies need to be where their customers are.

Customer Loyalty in the B2B World: What Does it Mean, and How to Achieve It – a marketing oriented discussion on managing and increasing customer loyalty. The main point, IMO, is the need to identify the influencers, a point I made on this blog as well as in several online discussions concerning customer satisfaction (mycustomer.com)

What We Read This Week, New Year 2015:

Happy New Year Everybody!

Are Ideas Killing Our Organizations? – presents the well known principle that it’s better to test an idea rather than fully develop it to perfection over a much longer period of time (Forbes)

False positives and false negatives in predicting customer lifetime value – Customer Lifetime Value has become very important as SaaS delivery gains prominence. Arie Goldshlager presents the potential errors and risks in this field. I recommend also visiting the article on which the post is based, here.

6 Tips For Managing Worldwide Offices – pretty self explanatory title, with very useful tips for those if us managing multiple locations and cultures (InformationWeek)

“Your Product is a Piece of Sh#t” – on the HootSuite blog, by their CEO Ryan Holmes on the company’s response to customer criticism

See the Experience You Are Giving Customers – Service Blueprinting is a very useful way of visualizing service experiences. This post provides an excellent insight into the discipline (Center for Services Leadership).

What We Read This Week, Boxing Day Edition, 2014:

I hope everybody had an excellent Christmas. Below is our weekly Enterprise Technology Support Management reading list for the week:

How to Prevent Experts from Hoarding Knowledge – An interesting, if somewhat obvious, perspective on losing knowledge as people retire (HBR)

Forrester’s Top Trends For Customer Service In 2015 – from the always excellent Kate Leggett at Forrester.

I Actually Enjoy Terrible Customer Service – And frankly speaking, so do I. An interesting discussion from the Kana blog.

Large Company Customer Experience Battles – discusses the differences between large enterprises and smaller companies as far as customer focus goes (Pivot Point Solutions).

Knowledge Management vs. Content Management – from David Kay.

Thank you all for following the blog, we’ll see you in the new year!

What We Read This Week, 19 December 2014:

What’s Lost When Experts Retire – Knowledge Management and Retention are key for every support manager and we usually spend significant amounts of time and effort ensuring knowledge is well documented and shared. This post touches on a different perspective of departing employees and the knowledge they take with them (HBR).

Measuring Customer Value in Experience?Wim Rampen is a very thoughtful blogger on customer service and interaction. In this post he describes the current state of customer value definitions and how it fails – I am waiting eagerly for the next post in this series

Skype’s newest app will translate your speech in real time – Supporting customers in other countries has always been a challenge for companies with smaller, single-country operations. While still in the future, skype Translator can transform that part of the support business in a very profound manner (The Verge).

Who Will Make Money in the IoT Gold Rush? – Internet of Things is one of the hottest discussion topics in recent memory. In the post, the author reviews some of the business challenges surrounding IoT and tries to predict the winners. I believe the jury is still out on the business models and technologies for enterprise class IoT implementations (sandhill.com)

What We Read This Week, 12 December 2014, Math Edition:

This week I’d like to recommend two longer form articles touching on slightly mode complex mathematical topics. I believe each of these articles is very pertinent to managing customer support, and specifically to measuring and thinking about our workload:

First, I’d like to recommend Log-normal Distributions across the Sciences: Keys and Clues(pdf). It touched on an alternative method of measuring populations different to the very common Gaussian system we are all very familiar with. The following image compares the two distributions:

I am sure the image on the right is very familiar to many of us. The firs example that comes to mind is the number of cases closed vs. their age.

The second post I’d like to share this week is The Power of Power Laws from John Hagel‘s blog, Edge Perspectives. Power last distribution is sometimes knows as Pareto Distribution, or the 80/20 rule:

This post establishes some solid foundations for thinking about Power Law distribution which we should all be familiar with.

I’ll return to these two concepts in a future post and discuss how we can use them to greater benefit in managing support operations.

Image source for both images: Wikimedia.

What We Read This Week, 5 December 2014:

Managing 3 Types of Bad Bosses – Pretty self explanatory title. How many of us have encountered one or more of these types in our career? (HBR).

Customer Service Needs to Be Either More or Less Robotic – An excellent HBR blog post discussing the decision making latitude given to customer facing agents. It may be more relevant to those of us serving consumer products, but a worthwhile reading for everybody. If you have time, Masahiro Mori’s linked article, The Uncanny Valley, on IEEE Spectrum is a good use of it

David Kay has an excellent post about the cost of failure and makes an interesting point that cheap failure is a learning experience.

Last, ASP has announced their 2015 Ten Best Support Sites competition. I had the privilege of judging over the last two years and plan to do so this year as well, together with many other support leaders and influencers. Don’t miss this opportunity of having your website reviewed and the valuable feedback you will receive.

What We Read This Week, Black Friday 2014 Edition:

Slimmer selection than usual this week, still some worthwhile readings:

Why customer pain can be good for business – The author suggests a different way of thinking about pursuing excellence in service interactions (My Customer)

Are You Deliberate with Your Customer Strategy or Just Taking a Chance? – looks at building a customer experience culture within the company and the questions to ask in order to make it happen (My Customer)

IBM Works To Bring Engaging Consumer Experiences To B2B Organizations – From my former employers at Big Blue, dynamic customer experiences are now possible in B2B environments (Todd Turbo)

What we read this week, 21 November 2014:

The concept of customer success may be strange to some of us coming from the on-premise enterprise technology side. This post from Totango, and more importantly, the Forrester report it points to do a pretty good job at explaining the concept and pointing to the leading players.

Knowledge-Centered Support – The Methodology That Really Works – (Atlassian)

How to Reduce Waste with Process Mining – I recently came across the concept of process mining, courtesy of a coursera course Process Mining: Data science in Action. From the course description: “Process mining bridges the gap between traditional model-based process analysis (e.g., simulation and other business process management techniques) and data-centric analysis techniques such as machine learning and data mining.” From what I have seen so far, it uses event data (think your CRM’s or case tracking system’s audit trail) to analyze process bottlenecks and dependencies. I will provide additional reviews of the concept and the course when it ends, but if you have some time check it out, it is free.

The 7 Laws of Customer Success – More on customer success and the mindsets driving this rapidly growing discipline (gainsight).

How Do People Get New Ideas? – written in 1959 by Isaac Asimov and only recently published, this article discusses the conditions for creativity (MIT Technology Review).

What we read this week, 14 November 2014:

How can a customer journey lead to data enlightenment? – Mapping and instrumenting the customer journey through the company’s multiple touchpoint, and some ket points to consider (mycustomer.com)

Predicting Customer Lifetime Value – decisions about customer tier and service levels are frequently driven by the ability to predict customers’ lifetime, or long term, value. Frequently this prediction is based on past experience, “our best customers will continue to be our best customers.” The article describes a statistical model used to analyze those predictions and the challenges in doing that. Key quote: “We found that best customers continued to be best customers at a much lower rate than we expected […] If a significant proportion of future best customers comes from past poor customers, you risk losing them.” (Kellogg Insight)

How to Get People to Like You: 7 Ways From an FBI Behavior Expert – several helpful tips on creating rapid rapport with strangers (Time)

Are these the five biggest hurdles to successful customer service? – a good summary of common customer service failures in execution and management (mycustomer.com)

Don’t Be a Metrics Slave – Support organizations are highly instrumented organizations and easy to measure, and frequently metrics are used poorly to the detriment of all involved. This article points to several common pitfalls I have seen a number of people fall into frequently (Enterprise Irregulars)

What we read this week, 7 November 2014:

Welding with Autodesk CEO Carl Bass – How many CEOs do you know who can do their endusers’ job? (The Financial Times, subscription required)

Tailor Your Presentation to Fit the Culture – many of us managing global organizations often face communication challenges when implementing initiatives across multiple locations. This post discusses some of the deep cultural foundations behind that. I have to admit that I was skeptical before reading the post, but found it enlightening and worth sharing (Harvard Business Review Blogs Network)

Two Worlds Colliding: How LinkedIn Could Take On Salesforce – Considering how critical CRM systems are to every customer facing organization, what impact would supporting customers with additional linkedin input have? (Techcrunch)

Firestone Did What Governments Have Not: Stopped Ebola In Its Tracks – on preparation for crisis (NPR)

10 Ways to Spot Great Teachers (and Avoid Crummy Ones) – on what makes an excellent teaching experience (The Talent Code, link via FTWORKS).

Two articles about the current and future states of enterprise technology – The Future of Enterprise IT: An interview with Geoffrey Moore (CIO) and The Harsh Reality Of The New Enterprise World by Gainsight CEO, Nick Mehta (techcrunch) – articles offer distinct perspectives on the industry and are definitely worth your time