All too often support portal refresh projects do little more than change the surface level look and feel of the customer self service experience. If the portal is supposed to be the single pane of glass through which you are showing your customers the value that you are delivering to them, why then do they tend to focus on ticket submission and status updates only? Is that the total summation of your value proposition? I truly hope not for your sake.
Where are the constituency specific dashboards? Where is the performance benchmarking data? Where is the best practice guidance? Where are the interactive self-assessment tools to help customers understand their level of operational maturity, deployment effectiveness and product capability usage? How can customers request a sanity check on a change they are thinking about implementing? Where is the prioritized customer specific (no… User specific) checklist of the ten things that they should be working on to improve stability, reliability, derived value and reduce waste and internal operational costs associated with your stuff? What is the business case for deploying additional modules or functions? Where is the comparison of reactive customer experience against those that are leveraging proactive elements to help drive prevention based service adoption? Where is the customer manager view that allows your customers to understand which of their system administrators are doing a good job and which of them aren’t (in your ever so humble but fact based opinion)?
All of these capabilities could be delivered and accessed via the portal and yet they seldom are…
But having this stuff passively available is still not enough. If you want to change the attitudes, perceptions and behaviors of your customers then you will have to “encourage” them more tangibly. Sure, some will use their own natural curiosity and dig through your interface to find it. Others will just need to be made aware of what is available and they will start using it with relish. These are the minority. Don’t be fooled into thinking that adoption will “just” happen, it won’t. The apathetic majority will need to be given a little push. And some of them will need to be dragged kicking and screaming out of the shadows. You need a concerted multi-faceted multi-dimensional plan of attack. One of the strands of this octopus of a plan may be in the form of an executive awareness program to drive interest and top down scrutiny. Get the CxO level on board and it should be plane sailing, right? Unfortunately, many execs will not be receptive and of those that are, how many will keep with it long enough to drive the necessary cultural change? A grass roots level recognition program for the best of the best is another option. Appealing to the personal vanity of the technical rank and file often works wonders. But don’t forget the people that REALLY define working practices and behaviors… The supervisory and middle management tier are the ones to covet. If you can get them on your side then everything else will fall into place. Help them to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Show them who to promote and who to fire. Enable them to develop a roadmap to address risk areas. Provide them with the amunition they want to secure the budget they need to implement the prevention based investments that you both want.
Next time you decide to re-invigorate your portal please please please don’t just change the drapes. Change the view. And change it for one that promotes your objectives and preferences.
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