What are your customers asking you to do differently?
As a support organization a few key trends include a higher reliance on our remote experts to proactively engage with customers to offer guidance, insights and recommendations. We have also seen a major increase in the use of live video and our HPE MyRoom collaboration platform to assist the onsite customer staff to triage issues and make the necessary HW repairs without the need to send an engineer to their site. We also see increased demand for IT training and professional services help to setup and support remote workforce as organizations open up and get back to business in the new normal.
I'm also hearing a lot of customers pushing for tighter SLAs than they are entitled to because they are dealing with crisis situations, and in most cases, vendors are accommodating that. My hope is that come renewal time, customers will be renewing with more expensive maintenance agreements that include these shorter SLAs, we can't give that away for long and stay in business.
As we continue to move through the COVID-19 Pandemic, customers are making greater demands on employee (customer and support teams) protection. Two examples that come to mind recently:
1) Field Engineers are required to join a Zoom session with a customer medical professional to show employee ID and take their temperature during the Zoom session. Upon successful completion of the temperature check, the medical professional will authorize security to allow the Field Engineer on site.
2) Customers with multiple locations in close proximity are requesting Field Engineers to quarantine for 14 days when visiting different customer sites. If you visit site A, you cannot visit sites B and C for 14 days.
Im sure you can appreciate the resource demand and managment of these resources to a accomplish these new requirements.
I do appreciate the cautious approach for our employees and the customer site/employees, just concerned where this could lead in the coming months.
The trends and expectations for support specifically that I see are on the increased volume of support cases, increasing emphasis on the experience, and time to value.
The first is a challenge often seen for support organizations but intensified due to COVID-19 as customers and companies alike struggle to do more with less.
The second is the increasing emphasis on the experience, which is especially important with the mental pressures society and customers are facing today. The human touch becomes that much more important in a virtual world than it ever has been in the past. The behaviors of support personnel and the ability to drive behaviors from effective use of metrics is vital to the success of a company during this pandemic. Customers, and humans in general, tend to focus more on the actions taken during storms as opposed to calmer climes so the way that companies, big and small, meet current challenges will define who they are for months, years, and decades to come. Now is the time where support can truly become the true differentiator.
Third is the time to value. With all the demands being placed on customers, they in turn need answers faster than ever. If customers can't find solutions online quickly, they need staff to work with them and so companies must either increase staff or have knowledge management best practices in place. Knowledge management has been and must remain one of the primary focuses for any company and support organization. It needs to be. If a company does not already have a robust Knowledge management program in place, it is not a question of when to start because it’s now or never.
Lastly, it’s important that the demands on employees is not forgotten with the increased expectations. Are companies making decisions in an authentic, courageous, and caring way? As the world comes to grips with the realities of the pandemic, the way that a company treats its employees will cement their reputation for years to come. So it is important that companies are transparent and open on all topics, not just on COVID-19 but other current events, including recent and ongoing protests, safety concerns, gender awareness and overall equality.
The choice of having an inclusive culture or one of exclusion.
Employees need to feel part of something bigger and the sense that their company stands beside, and with them, so that they can do the same. I’m happy that the company I work for has such a strong focus on culture as it makes the increasing customer expectations and the current state of the world much easier to bear. :-)