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Is Customer Service and Support Still the “Forgotten Space”?

A couple of years ago, Dovetail Software coined Customer Service and Support (CS&S) CRM as the Forgotten Space. It was our belief that CS&S was being ignored by the vendors and senior level executives. From the vendors, more R&D dollars were being put into the more glamorous areas, like Sales Force Automation and Analytics. And senior executives, despite shouting about the importance of providing great Customer Service, saw this function as a cost center, where the goal is to reduce costs as much as possible without alienating customers. Let’s revisit this subject and see how we’re doing.


We just came back from the Service & Support Professional (SSPA) Conference in Santa Clara last week. Just as I noticed the first time I went to the SSPA expo two years ago, most of the major CS&S CRM vendors didn’t participate. Of the 15 vendors listed in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for CRM Customer Service Contact Centers, only 3 of them showed. The SSPA is supposed to be the top gathering of Customer Service & Support Professionals, with over 600 professionals in attendance; yet, it was ignored by the majority of the vendors. Wow! Talk about your Forgotten Space.


As for the level of customer support, an informal poll of SSPA members indicated that 80% have been asked to reduce their 2009 budgets. As I sat and listened to the keynote addresses at the conference, there was almost an air of desperation in terms of getting senior management to listen to the value of improving customer service. They showed customer survey studies that showed a link between the level of customer service and financial performance – Those companies that showed the highest level of customer service had better financial performance than those with lower levels of customer service. But here’s the problem. Corporate Senior Management is focused on next quarter’s performance, not longer term. They are trying to save their own job. That results in greater pressure to reduce short-term costs to bolster the bottom line. So they aren’t listening!


Finally, in a recent CRM blog, Field service – a forgotten CRM impact point, Chris Bucholtz speaks toward Service as a forgotten CRM impact point:


“For a long time, CRM was defined in part as a technology and a det of processed that included two critical areas: sales and marketing. That’s been the classic definition, and it reveals a lot about why CRM has had a hard time living up to its promise.


 


The trend continues; yet, now is the time to gear up for the recovery (which shall come). Support is the third leg of the CRM story, and the sooner companies realize that, the better their prospects will be when the economy does turn.


Until Next Time,


Stephen

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