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Insights and musings about customer service and managing a SaaS software company

 

Archive for the ‘Customer Interaction Management’ Category

From One Side to Another

May 12, 2010 by Yuval Brisker


Yesterday I was at The Cable Show in LA mingling with elite of the industry at  receptions where all the CEOs (Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, etc.)of the industry were present.

It was interesting to hear that there was a lot of thinking and talking about the future of the business. Clearly people devoting mind time to how they can stay ahead.

I attended a very interesting conversation with Brian Roberts with Peter Chernin. It was clear he was thinking about the business all the time -(in fact he said that he is constantly thinking that the whole edifice would come down on him – he said “that’s what I have Steve Burke for, he always see the glass half full and I ALWAYS see the glass half empty – I thought that was interesting). He was talking about how Comcast is dedicating a lot of thought on how to improve the customer experience both in terms of content and technology.  He was very proud to show off Comcast’s new interactive guide interface,  which was indeed impressive.  It was clear how much thinking is going on about the customer experience at the level of the customer interaction with the content.

But WE know that the most important interaction is the human connection.

And though Brian Roberts did say that the cable industry is the industry people “love to hate” – he offered clue into how Comcast is intending to transform the customer experience as it relates to the one time that people will actually see a Comcast person face-to-face, i.e  the in-home appointment.

So today I went to check out how things are going at the level of the earth, not the stars – from the pinnacle of glamour and power, to a day spent with a tech – with one of TOA’s customers’ people in the field.

And somehow there were a lot of things that seemed the same to me. He was also thinking about how to make the customer experience better. Crawling in attics and closets… drilling, hooking and thinking how best to do things. But the difference was that he was there on the front lines – in people’s homes, under their carpet and inside their kitchen. It’s amazing how intimate this job is. People let you into the most private parts of their home and life without much reservation, exposing their most intimate physical space. Maybe it’s because, at the end of the day, the cable guy is just another sort of handyman, I don’t know… but it’s a fact that you get to see a LOT when you’re on this job. And it’s a hard job, both physically and mentally, to be the front line of the industry that ‘people love to hate’ as Brian Roberts put it and do a great job – which the guy did!

And if that’s the case, and you have great people doing a tough job, working one by one to transform the image of customer service – it behooves the leaders to provide them the best tools and the best methodologies to help them do their job with the least annoyance and disruption – to search and find the most innovative technology – software and hardware – to take away the burdens of the job and let them focus on what they do best and need to do best. Interacting with the customer well. It will pay dividends more than any great menu driven interactive guide – as well thought as it might be.

Pattern People

May 5, 2010 by Yuval Brisker


As creatures of habit and pattern – there are some patterns that we, people, recognize, but  many that we don’t. And though these patterns may stand out to others, we ourselves may be oblivious of them. Maybe we are even in denial of them.

Why?  A way of keeping us from being exposed to too much information, a protection mechanism from things we don’t want to know or  just because we move around our world not always 100% aware of everything we do…

At the end of the day -  it doesn’t really matter because the patterns are there and they can be harnessed for the greater good.

So when Irad and I started TOA Technologies with the goal of solving what is commonly referred to as ‘the cable guy problem’ (or customers waiting at-home from 12-4 or all day for some kind of appointment without knowing when it will actually happen) we thought that, if we could only identify those patterns and connect we could use them to help solve this daily but incredibly annoying and costly problem.

Our assumption was that even in the most dynamic environment – like a field operations environment – there will always be behavior or “performance patterns” that could pretty easily be recognized and documented, ultimately  help better plan, schedule and manage the work-day of the many field service people out there. We thought that by identifying these performance patterns and building a mechanism to communicate them, we could help the companies be more predictive and respectful of everyone’s time. By being able to identify specific performance pattern of the specific people who provide the services or goods – we came to the conclusion that we could accurately predict when an appointment would happen and how long it would take. We could then offer up that information to all the stakeholders in the appointment – the planners, the managers and supervisor, the dispatchers but most importantly to the Customers.

Two weeks ago – after a long 6-year gestation period the US Patent Office finally recognized the uniqueness of our idea and the spefic combination of methodologies and technologies that we combined to solve this problem and awarded us a Patent Number 7,693,735 . The first of many.

I want to thank Irad here for the great work he did in steering this to completion. Though the concepts and the composition of the patent is/was ours jointly, the last two years of negotiations and execution was Irad’s alone. Thanks!

Since we got the patent I have been saying that I now know for sure that those who get a patent deserve a patent. Either because they were truly geniuses who came up with something completely and radically new or because they had the perseverance and the conviction to believe that what they had was unique and fought for it without compromise.  In both cases the award is honestly due.

CNNMoney highlights TOA!

February 5, 2010 by Yuval Brisker


CNNMoney published a great piece about TOA today. It highlights how we solve the problem of customers waiting at home for a service or delivery without knowing when it will actually happen…! This is another fantastic validation of our unique approach to mobility and mobile workforce management: Focus on the customer, solve the customer pain first – and everything else (including increased efficiencies) will fall into place.

Preparing for my joint webinar with Aberdeen Research

December 13, 2009 by Yuval Brisker


Getting ready for my joint webinar with Aberdeen this coming Thursday (12/18/09)  -  organizing my slides and my thoughts… and it got me to thinking about the things I was going to focus on in my talk. I was again struck by how important managing customer expectations is to sustaining a great relationship with customers.

I always think of my own experiences as a customer:  The more I know about what to expect – the less anxiety I feel.  The more I am communicated with about what to expect – the less unknown and  the less worry I have.

Pro-active, continuous, relevant and actionable communications throughout the  process is key to a good relationship – in life with the people around you and in the vendor/service provider to customer relationship, as well. It’s really that simple. Why is it so hard then for most vendors/service providers to do?