In a previous post we reviewed the various maturity stages for a support organization. Having done that, the next question becomes “so what?”, or in other words, how does support’s increasing maturity impacts the value it delivers to the company?
To answer that, let’s look at the relationships with internal constituents, such as corporate management and adjacent organizations, as well as external entities like partners and customers?
Most of us can imagine how the dialog between support and engineering evolves in line with the increasing maturity. Support organizations transition from a front-end where every customer case is escalated to identifying failures, advising customers on product use and having responsibility for the customers and for the well-being of the installed base. Similarly, the interaction with sales shifts from adversarial to a partnership.
But, how does all this deliver actual value to the company?
If we think about it, there are three ways customer support can add value to the company:
- Increased efficiency, so support costs for unit of revenue grow slower than revenue does
- Creating additional support revenue through value added services
- Reduced discounting during the sales process through collaboration with sales, minimized problem impact on customers
- Accelerated and enhanced consumption of the products, driving the customer to add capacity or licenses
Additionally, a mature support organization can provide the company extensive amounts of information about the products and the customers, for example:
- Ways in which customers use the products
- Challenges and difficulties customers face while using the products
- The most commonly used features, and those used rarely or never at all
- Interaction with third party partners, their capabilities and deficiencies
- Customer satisfaction and its drivers and inhibitors
However, the reliability of this information and the ability of the support organization to be a valued partner depends on the maturity of the support organization, but also on the maturity of the entire company.
What’s your experience in taking your organization to higher maturity levels? Where did you encounter the biggest challenges?