After watching the two Eurovision semi finals this week I am struck by many thoughts. Why didn’t Austria’s rapper with his pole dancing dominatrix accompaniment get through? Is there a small animal curled up on the top of the Albanian singer’s head pretending to be a hairstyle? Are the rumours true that the Spanish contestant has been instructed to “throw” the final to ensure that the Spanish national television station doesn’t go bust by being required to host the event next year? Yes, many many thoughts and questions have arisen. Eurovision is undoubtedly a circus. But it is also a well loved institution that teaches us many things. It is perhaps the only consistent showcase of European diversity that exists. We may not always appreciate the subtleties of all of the acts, but we should appreciate the fact that we get to see them each year whether we want to or not. Diversity is a fact of life. A fact that many fail to take account of.
Europe is not an amorphous blob and neither are your customers. Treating them as such is a big mistake which could cost you dearly. Within each customer account there will be numerous constituencies that are impacted by the nature and level of the support service being delivered. Within each constituency there may be numerous warring factions. Support providers must identify and classify the various audiences they must engage with if they are to increase overall satisfaction and become a valued provider. Different constituencies will sometimes have dramatically different requirements. Overly focusing on the needs of any individual constituency to the detriment of others should be avoided wherever possible.
Consider the humble system administrator. They may be focused on ticket closure rates and current issue status updates. Their manager, the IT Operations manager will have a dramatically different set of priorities. They are likely to be interested in overall availability, the relative levels of competence and performance of their in-house team and ways that they can improve system stability. The VP of IT Operations will have yet another set of concerns. Risk exposure and mitigation will probably be top of their mind. As will incremental productivity improvements and ongoing cost reductions. Line of business executives will have yet another set of drivers and requirements depending upon their level of seniority and the roles that they oversee.
Unless providers deliver specific service elements for specific audiences they are likely to come to a compromise which fails to truly satisfy any constituency. Generic services help to solve generic problems. Unfortunately, there aren’t many truly generic problems in the world.
If support is to be relevant and useful it must become more focused and personal.
If it is to matter and make a difference it must mean something to the people that use it.
Areas where the support experience can and should be tailored to the specific needs of specific user constituencies include:
- Reporting and dashboards – What are the metrics and trends that they really care about?
- Content streams – What value added information could or should you provide to help them to be more effective?
- Incident process flows – Is it appropriate for them to circumvent some aspects of the standard case submission process or perhaps they need additional help and guidance?
- Case submission templates / wizards – Are they all about incidents or do they need to submit change validation requests, routine task automation scheduling updates etc?
- Tone and language – Are they comfortable with geek speak or do you need to insert the Babel fish in their ear?
- Survey schedules and methodologies – Some cultures and personality types are less prone to praise than others. Some resent being asked their opinion of your performance every 5 minutes. Are you taking account of these differences when you design your customer satisfaction monitoring processes?
Yes, diversity is a wonderful thing. But alas many support providers fail to recognize it let alone embrace it. Failure to do so makes your service more generic. Generic can be ok. Generic can sometimes even be good. But generic isn’t great. And being great is important!
All that remains is for me to wish all of the combatants in Baku good luck for tomorrow – I (and a reasonable proportion of the world) will be watching!
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