Gleanings from the TSW conference

A few not entirely random (selected by yours truly, after all!), but not completely structured thoughts I heard or overheard at the TSW conference in Santa Clara two weeks ago — with annotations.

Idea #1: Improving customer retention from 70 to 80% improves profits by 90%

My take: I’m not sure my inner accountant can agree with this finding — but the gist is true: when it comes to profits, retention is more important than acquisition

So what? What are you doing to improve retention? I don’t mean only improving your renewal process, although that’s always a good idea, but improving your customers’ experience with the product/company.


Idea #2: 30% of training budgets are spent on travel

My take: Rings true from my days as a training manager/director

So what? What are you doing to maximize learning? Training expenses, including travel expenses, are totally worthwhile if proper outcomes are observed. With soft skills training, where I operate these days, it’s very easy to get a fleeting improvement in behavior. For long-lasting effects, the entire organization has to embrace the new skills.


Idea #3: Once again the #1 tool investment area is communities, with an emphasis on employee (internal) communities

My take: Very much matches the anecdotal information I’m seeing with my clients.

So what? Giving the support team an easy process to share knowledge is very worthwhile. How about going one step further and implementing a more ambitious program to connect all technical staff within the company? I have a client who is implementing a system that ties in with Engineering for support escalations and even creating documentation. Cool, isn’t it?


Idea #4: Salesforce has now captured 47% of the CRM market for the TSIA members, up from 33% last year.

My take: I’ve seen multiple clients move over from legacy tools to Salesforce and I’m involved in one such migration right now.

So what? Taking a step back, if your company currently sells package software, you may want to get ready to support cloud very soon..


Idea #5: Don’t just ask customers “How am I doing when I’m bad” (standard transactional survey), ask “Are you successful?”

My take: amen

So what? You may not feel that support should own customer relationship surveys, but if no one else is stepping up…


Idea #6: Humans don’t always go as they are measured – they go where they want to go.

My take: This is why change management is hard!

So what? Metrics are very important, of course, but changing behaviors takes more than manipulating metrics (and if you think you can manipulate metrics remember that team members can manipulate them, too!)


Idea #7: To collect the “cost” of specific features/issues, simply ask the support engineers to estimate the total effort time of the case at closure time

My take: Tracking systems are notoriously weak at capturing work time — and asking the support engineers to calculate it manually for each interaction is awkward and error-prone (and time-consuming!) The idea of capturing an estimate at the end of the case is enticing: simple and probably not more error-prone than the alternatives.

So what? Will someone try it and report back on success?


Idea #8: Pre-plan communications for emergencies

My take: If you have a major failure, tempers will flare. A pre-plan communication plan will allow everyone to focus on content, not emotions or logistical concerns.

So what? A simple “code red” notification sequence would be a low-cost win.


Idea #9: Give community MVP higher priority for their support issues

My take: Seems like a very appropriate intangible reward — kinda like early boarding for elite passengers.

So what? Will anyone try it and see how it works?


Idea #10: A formula to recruit community MVPs: proven technical skills and “a feeling they are not jerks”

My take: Love the non-quantifiable approach!

So what? You are not a prisoner of points when it comes to MVP selection.


Tell me what you think! Are you using any of these ideas already? How are they working for you?

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