I am often asked, “What can I do to bring my organization to the next level?”. It’s a tough question, because it’s difficult to define both what level an organization functions at today, and also which of dozens of potential improvements would be most valuable to customers and team members.
To that end, I created a support maturity model that I will be validating, refining, and improving over time, with your help. The model has two goals:
- Define levels of maturity or achievement across support organizations (for now, B2B complex support organizations), so we can evaluate and compare organizations, over time
- Suggest areas for improvement and transformation, based on current achievement
Let’s explore the levels a little more.
Bootstrap is the first level and basically describes a small organization whose motto is “whatever it takes”. There is an improvisational quality to the organization and its processes. Very little is written down, and the organization can shift impressively from one day to the next. The organization can do very well in a startup environment but usually starts to struggle as it grows beyond a small team.
Structured is the next level. Its hallmark is the emergence of repeatable, documented processes, as well as customer SLAs, dedicated support tools, and metrics. There is a sense of order to a support organization at a structured level of maturity.
There may not be a lot of vision or strategy, but a structured organization can reliably onboard customers and new team members, and track its achievements through basic dashboards.
The next level is Managed. It is characterized by a planned and comprehensive approach to support. Knowledge is actively maintained, there is a strategic plan in place, and a support ops team to make it happen.
Many successful organizations are at the Managed level and do well there.
I call level 4 Holistic and I characterize it by a collaborative customer experience.
No longer is support bound by traditional break-fix models: it is part of a much larger constellation of services including customer success, implementation and training, and, more important, does not see itself as separate and cut off from these other functions.
The final level is Visionary, which means that the organization is relentlessly pursuing innovation, from voice-of-customer programs to personal development plans for team members, joint goal setting with customers, and constant experiments.
Very few organizations function at that level, at least on a consistent basis.
In the next post of this series, I will explore the model in more detail. One of the special characteristics of it is that it is conceived to be modular, following the FT Works methodology of The Five Layers of Support (offerings, processes, people, tools, and metrics, plus strategy). So organizations can be performing at a respectable Managed level for most layers but be experimenting with AI tools, earning a Visionary rating for that layer. We will start by discussing Offerings next time.
Where do you think your organization would rank? Please share in the comments.
And if you’d like to participate in refining the model, please let me know and we can schedule a short discussion to explore further.