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The Forgotten Space

We have coined the area of Customer Service and Support (CS&S), “The Forgotten Space”. In my 2 years as CEO of Dovetail Software, I have spent a lot of time “observing” the marketplace and there are signs everywhere of how CS&S just doesn’t get the same attention that other areas of CRM does. Interestingly, I find that CEOs and other executives of large companies “talk” about how important the customer experience is to them. However, I am a believer in the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words”, and everywhere I look, I see little action towards truly improving the customer experience. Actually, I believe that CS&S and contact centers are seen only as cost centers to most executives, and therefore the primary goal is about reducing costs. Thus, the CS&S space, and the employees who work in this area, try to provide excellent customer service while all around them, they are being asked to do more with less, and being provided with fewer tools while other groups in their company get the resources and the tools. The Forgotten Space.


 


Let me give you some further examples. My most recent experience was attending the Service and Support Professionals Association (SSPA) Conference last month in San Diego. I found this conference extremely valuable both for the sessions conducted, and the opportunity to network with senior managers of the CS&S groups at a number of large companies. It was their largest gathering, with attendance I believe exceeding 600. They also had a Technology Services Expo where vendors showcased their offerings to the attendees. I was extremely disappointed to see that the Expo was actually quite small relative to the size of the attendee group and from my experiences at other trade shows. However, as I thought about it afterwards, my disappointment turned into excitement. Why? Because the CS&S space was being ignored by the vendors and since our company is focused only on CS&S, I saw this as an indication that if we execute our game plan, we will be very successful because we will be one of the few companies focused on this important space.


 


Ask people if they have heard of CRM. If they say yes, I find the majority of them only know of CRM as Sales Force Automation (SFA), and know of the popular vendors like Siebel or Salesforce.com. The “buzz” of CRM is in SFA and Marketing. CS&S – an afterthought.


 


Look at the vendors. Siebel, Salesforce.com and newer companies such as Entellium started out as SFA vendors and have only added CS&S capabilities because they want to have an entire CRM product suite. But if you truly look at the depth of their functionality in CS&S or how much effort they are putting into improving their CS&S modules, you will quickly learn that if your environment has any complexity to it, these vendors fall short quickly. Then look at vendors who started out in the CS&S space, like Amdocs/Clarify and RightNow. Clarify was one of the premier providers of CS&S CRM solutions back when they were a standalone company, but since being acquired by Amdocs, they now concentrate only on the telecommunications space. And RightNow. They also started out as a CS&S provider, but as they grew larger and went public, they decided that if they wanted to continue to grow, they had to move into the more glamour space of SFA.


 


As a former finance executive, I get the importance of growing the top-line, and therefore why the attention is focused on SFA and marketing. But I believe you can grow the top-line by providing world class support. It is time for actions to follow words.


 


We at Dovetail won’t forget you. We will continue to focus on the CS&S space, continue to improve our product suite and continue to provide our top-notch support to our customers.


 


Until next time,


Stephen

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