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Customer Service Survey Time – One More Time!

Hello ladies and germs,

That time you were waiting for all year is finally here!

The new phonebook is here!! I’m finally somebody…

Sorry,

The time to give me your opinions in exchange for an aggregate view of what’s going on in Customer Service is here.

As a side item, 46% of people in America still use yellow pages to find business listings and 34% (kid you not) still use the phonebook to find telephone numbers for people (I am assuming it’s so they can text them….).

Isn’t that interesting?

No?

How about learning that Customer Experience and Engagement are the most hoped for budgeted projects in Customer Service in 2016-2017 – but cloud, knowledge, employee empowerment, and analytics were the top four that got funded?

Or to know we finally (finally!) made it to mainstream adoption with Chat (more than 30% of adoption) and that IA (intelligent assistants) are around 10% adoption?

Still not interesting enough?

How about…

Nah, to learn the rest you will have to take the survey and read the results in August.  Or come to my session in early October at Dreamforce to hear me present in a masterful way… OK, same as always… but had to try.

This year we are looking at adoption, usage, mobile customer service, future technologies, empowering agents, and more… much more!

Come on folks, entertainment like this does not come cheap (or free)… you have to take my survey in exchange.

Want more?  How about if I bribe you?  The first 200 people who take the survey (which should be within the first two weeks – starting today) will get a Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts e-gift card worth $5.00 (just about a cup of coffee these days… whatever happened to the nickel cup???).  Sorry, Peet’s decided not to do e-gift cards (which goes with having crappy coffee and no hot food as top three worse decisions ever for a business).  Just let me know at the end of the survey, will send the cards as the survey wraps up in mid- to late-July (depending on number of responses).

Ready? Set? Take the survey!

disclaimer: i don’t like Peet’s coffee, never had, never will.  Call me any name in the book if you want, but their coffee sucks and their decision to not offer hot foods made Starbucks – worse coffee even – beat them.  sucks.  as for bias on surveys, how owns the data, etc — my friends at Salesforce are sponsoring this survey and I am forever grateful so my kids can eat twice a week now.  i still control everything else about it, including topic selection, questions asked, answers offered, biases, and data collected. no one but me will ever see the data collected (some people say I don’t even see it <rimshot>) and all identifying information is removed – this is truly anonymous unless you decide to give me your email address to get the results, to chat more, or because you are greedy and want a cup of joe in exchange for the 15-20 minutes it takes you to do this survey… 🙂

disclaimer 2: if you follow me anywhere you know i never endorse giving prizes or rewards for taking surveys.  i still don’t believe in bribing and offering prizes and rewards for taking the survey — but i am trying something different. will let you know how it goes

Three Questions To Ponder on Microsoft and LinkedIn

Hello,

Your friendly neighboring analyst (who apparently never writes anything anymore).

I had to dust off the cobwebs for this one… I had such a busy day with calls and messages and emails and such – I figured it was a good time to break the streak and write something.

First off, won’t comment on the price… OK, maybe just one tiny one. One of the people who was in the team who setup the Yammer deal (the one that was done for $1.2 billion, ‘member?) called me today to get my thoughts…  This person was very happy because they no longer own the title of worst buy at Microsoft… <rim shot>

There’s also this — the price per monthly active user is $260.00.  Expensive acquisition cost…. (thanks Dave Kellogg for doing the math). What happens when (not if) users start leaving because now Microsoft owns it? Don’t think this is true? How many customers have each of the acquired businesses by ANY large vendor (including Microsoft) lost following acquisitions? My data says 20-80%.

I won’t go deep into that – but there are a few questions that I ponder on.  Beyond the salutatory and congratulatory posts that I’ve seen all day and the enthusiasm that plagues Microsoft executives – three things come to mind…

Who owns the data?  

There is a lot of data in LinkedIn (not all the data is good, as you know if you use it — you don’t put all your data and allow it to track everything you do, much like you don’t put everything you have done in your resume or allow your employer to track everything you do).  One of the jokes I heard during the day was that Microsoft did this as a marketing campaign to offer everyone on LinkedIn a Hotmail or Outlook.com account (since mostly no one uses their work email there… yeah, bad joke… sorry).

A lot of it is semi useful in the form of a Social Graph (friend and colleague Ray Wang expressed this first among the people I follow and talked to).  It’s likely incomplete, but it is the best we have and aggregate use aligned with it (your former boss  read four articles on cloud security after you left your former job as a cloud security expert — hmm) makes it more interesting to the outside world.  LinkedIn has been using this well for targeting content and offers.

Who will own this data following the acquisition? I know Satya Nadella has said it was going to be independent – but how long will Microsoft be able to maintain that? How will you prevent, for example, the Dynamics CRM team from attempting to get all that data and use it as a value proposition for their Marketing tools? Or Sales tools?

More important, how will use of this data be governed? Today that is governed by LinkedIn making sure that it is not all exposed and all available to anyone just because – will Microsoft continue to enforce this? How about if it becomes a matter of winning the largest deal ever?  Or offering a new product that will place them as a market leader?

How bad can a little indiscretion be?  Think about it this way, Microsoft has PowerBI, Azure ML, cloud everything, and a lot of other properties where trust is the number one currency.  If they obviate or change the data governance to fit their other needs – who will continue to trust they will not do the same for the other properties?

How is this going to be used?

This is actually one of the questions that interests me the most.  If we are going to be honest here, the products that LinkedIn had were — average at best.

As the first company to offer them, there was a value (small) by lack of comparison and competition.  Sales Navigator gave the sales people access to colleagues of the prospect they might’ve worked with or contended with before.  The recruiter tools gives the HR department information about an applicant that is not easily obtainable otherwise.

These tools are not must have.  They are nice to add, but any job can be done without them.  Knowing that my fraternity brother (sorry, yours – I know, shocking to think I was not part of a fraternity) knows the person who is driving the deal on the prospect’s company does not do much for me other than — maybe I can ask for a favor? What if my bro and this person are enemies? Or if their bosses are? None of this information is available to me – just a weak relationship with no contextual data attached.

Better than nothing? Potentially – but then again… spend the time more wisely and don’t look for shortcuts?

The point is that if the products are going to be integrated into Office 365 (and be part of One Microsoft) they may give a false sense of usefulness to the people using them.  LinkedIn never had exceptional products, nor could it ever figure out how to better market and monetize the data they have.  This is what slowed down their growth and what ultimately caused them to be acquired (monumental job by LinkedIn management to unload a stagnant company).

If the usefulness of these products, and new uses, will come from a different utilization of the data – or integration of the capabilities… well, see my point above about governance.

Couldn’t the cloud have done it better?

Let’s say it – twenty-six billion dollars is an obscene amount of money.  It’s not a criticism of anyone – as my friend Paul Greenberg said about Salesforce and Demandware – if two consenting adults want to do it — who am I to stop them?

I am in favor of two things that, well utilized, could’ve done this better.  Open, public clouds and platforms.

I still think, like I did about the Salesforce-Demandware deal last week, that the purchase was not only not necessary – but it actually made things harder to work for users.

In an open cloud anyone who can access a platform with the right responsibilities (which, corresponding to a capitalistic world, you can purchase and self provision in the same open cloud) can access any data.  Any smart provider, in the same open cloud, will make their data and services available to anyone who wants to purchase them — it’s how you make money as a service provider in a cloud world (strictly PaaS talk here).

Couldn’t $26 billion have been better invested in building better open clouds, with better services, offering better data to — more people? Is the need for lock-in into taller walled gardens that necessary that you MUST spend an obscene amount of money in protecting your walled garden?

Wouldn’t $26 billion (and “change”) be better spent in building a better ecosystem? a better accessible model?

Heck.  Yeah.

That’s it.  Nothing earth-shattering, but nothing in this deal is earth-shattering.

I had so many conversations and discussions today, and so many opinions and ideas that i heard that my head is about to explode.  But… these are the questions that continue to haunt me.

Forget whether Microsoft wants to get into HR, or they want to offer more value than anyone else to small businesses via Office365, or even if they figured that $100+ billion they would have to pay for Salesforce is too much and are passing on it altogether… those are conspiracy theories at best.

These questions are the ones I want to hear honest answers to (I heard the party line about them many times today).

Don’t you?

disclaimer: Microsoft and Salesforce are clients – some of my oldest, nicest, and kindest clients with lots of forgiving in their hearts who would never get upset at my opinions — that’s why they love me and I am endearing to them…  Demandware and LinkedIn are not clients, but I know and talked to a few people in both at the time of their respective acquisitions.  These past 1,200 or so words are all my opinions and I stand by them.  Any mistake, omission, or misstatement is mine alone and my insurance company better be ready to fight for them.  I stand by my opinions and these words and will gladly clarify any statements or correct any mistakes – just talk to me.  thanks for reading.

A Research Experiment — Help?

I know, I know… seems that all I write here lately is a request for contributing to surveys and research.  Too many, right?

Add the ones you get from every vendor, consultant, and even on Twitter and you feel abused.  Worse? the length of all these surveys and how few insights you get from that (infographics are the farthest thing from analysis and insights – they are The National Enquirer of the research world: all the sensationalistic data it’s not fit to print anywhere else).

I want to change that, and I would love your help.

With the help of my official customer service usage and adoption research sponsor ™ Salesforce we are aiming to change the model.

We were debriefing following the research we did last year (if you never got the data – its here; no report was done, we used the analysis in other ways… feel free to download and use, but you have to attribute thinkJar for the source of the data) and we came to three conclusions:

  1. Length.  Over the past five years I conducted this survey we added, molded, and improved left and right – that made the survey almost 30 questions long.  My rule of thumb for surveys (9 +/-2 questions) was totally violated.  Number of responses dropped dramatically (almost 70%) as the survey increased in length.  Worse, most questions became matrixes – it was almost impossible to understand and answer.  Too ambitious.
  2. Insights.  The more data the less insights we were able to get.  This is a correlation of the complexity of the survey (see above) that yield too few answers for proper cross tabs and the complexity of making sure that questions don’t contradict each other.  We tried, but there were still a few values that contradicted each other – happens often with long surveys with overlapping topics.
  3. Logistics.  Massaging data (cleaning incomplete records, finding the best records to follow up, conducting post-survey interviews) became a hassle.  Took too much time, again – see length above, and too hard to coordinate and aggregate.  Too many single cases as opposed to data points that aggregated into interesting trends and patterns.  Hard to write interesting insights when the work that went into it was more than the value that came out of it.

This is more than a mea culpa – it’s the catalyst to trying a new model – and we need your help.

  • We are running six mini-surveys (each no longer than 8-10 questions) that are more focused in specific topics:
    • Future Trends in Customer Service
    • Building Super Agents
    • Leveraging Mobile for customer service
    • Self-Service usage in customer service
    • Modernizing Customer Service
    • Social Customer Service
  • We want to deliver explicit insights for each survey, an evaluation of each topic in depth versus trying to compete with 6-8 different insights in a single report.
  • We want to expand the list of people we ask to participate and have them commit to either do all six, or at least two or more of the surveys instead of trying to find six different  groups of people to participate.

This is what I need from you:

  1. Give me your information, volunteer to participate in the surveys – become part of the community and we will provide you with first look at the data and insights for each survey.
  2. Take the first survey.  tell us what you think are future trends for customer service.
  3. Click-through the emails you will get in the future and take future surveys (don’t worry, will remind you).
  4. Come every four weeks to read the insights and data from the past survey (will also remind you)
  5. Enjoy
  6. Tell your friends, have them tell their friends, and their friends, and their — you get the idea…
  7. Let me know any comments or questions in the comments section right below

disclosure: yep, someone is sponsoring this research – come on, i told you above – Salesforce is my official customer service usage and adoption research sponsor ™.  they pay me, i pay my expenses, feed the kids, etc. and i give them a chance to participate in discussions on topics, questions, etc.  then i write the questions, conduct the surveys, conduct post-survey interviews, write all the content, publish it, and am fully responsible for everything.  nothing they say can change what i do and how it do it – nor can any other vendor. i know, incredible – right? someone paying to just be mentioned? they agree with me – we are trying to build bigger pies for more people to eat.  and yes, final veto for everything is mine.  period.

On Platforms…

Some time ago I wrote a post that was called “Why PaaS Is The New Black” and it was referring to the growing expected adoption for platforms in the enterprise.

That was 2010 – six years ago – and it was referring to work I had been doing since the mid 1980s around distributed work, computing platforms, and later PaaS.  The statements in there have not changed, but the urgency with which organizations must embrace a PaaS strategy as part of their cloud computing architecture deployments has risen – very fast, and very much.

Given the chaotic state of platforms in the enterprise (where every software vendor promises they have a platform and every IT department is trying to figure out the difference between owning 20 different applications and signing up for 20 different platforms – hint: none) I thought it was high time to dive deeper into trying to explain platforms from the Enterprise IT perspective.

No, I am not foolish enough to fall for the old “explain the cloud in one page” trick that Sameer Patel played on me before.  Once bitten, twice shy… instead I will undertake a series of posts through the year to answer some of the questions I hear from IT and business people on platforms.

note: I will stay away from definitions.  if you need a definition and a good understanding of platforms go to this HBR (Ha-vud, you know) article that does a tremendous job (and saved me easily 2-3 posts if not more) of explaining it (and thanks Brian Vellmure for pointing it out to me — well, tweeting about it).

What are some of those questions (outside of definitions)?  In no particular order (other than remembering since they were more recent conversations)

  • How do we manage  platforms? how can  make sure we manage  platforms and services appropriately considering everyone wants us to use their platforms and services?
  • How can a platform replace costly and complex point-to-point integration?
  • When do we need to use a platform? I will try to include a framework and questions to guide the decision
  • What is the implicit and explicit value of a platform-based solution (by comparison and by extension)?
  • How can we leverage a platform to ensure compliance? 
  • How can our customers leverage our platforms to get what they want? (if this works like I envision it, likely a series of posts using case studies)
  • How to build ecosystems using platforms?
  • What are the economics of using platforms? basic to complex, not economic, models to justify the adoption
  • How can we leverage platforms to access better data and create better experiences for our customers?

It is a tall order, not sure if or when I will be able to cover all this information – but i now have a purpose for this blog.

Is there something else you would like me to cover? explain?

note: you can always read my cloud purist ebook that has a great explanation of platforms and their value…

Vindication On My Position: Social Customer Service Sucks…

I am as tired of telling you not to embark on Social Customer Service as you are of telling me I am a grouchy old man and I don’t get it.

Fine.

My data and case studies have not convinced you, so let’s try a different approach.  Let’s have someone else show you their data.

Nice and BCG run a study on the subject (link below, registration required) and their data vindicates my positions: abandonment, slow to process, unable to deliver on complex situations, being dropped from investment, etc.

Don’t take my word? no problem – but still… don’t do social customer service.

Excerpt below, and link at the bottom

The report found that the number of consumers using social media to resolve customer service issues has dropped compared to two years ago. While daily, weekly, and monthly use of social media channels doubled between 2011 and 2013, those same categories declined between 2013 and 2015, while the number of respondents who never use or are not offered social media customer service rose from 58 percent in 2013 to 65 percent in 2015.

Respondents who do not use social media cited a number of reasons why. It takes too long to address issues said 33 percent, it has limited functionality reported 32 percent, and it isn’t feasible for complex tasks according to 30 percent. Social media was the channel with the highest percentage of abandons in both 2013 and 2015, with the number rising from 32 percent to 42 percent over that period.

Source: NICE & BCG 2016 CUSTOMER SURVEY

What do you think? Am I just being “jaded, even more so lately” as someone commented following one of my recent presentations (where, I might add, I talked about this same problems…)

Customer Service Considerations For 2025

OK, enough bashing plagiarists… let’s go back to real work.

Last year (I know, sounds like way farther back than it really is) in November I ran a research project for one of my clients.  The Microsoft Dynamics CRM team (customer service branch) asked me what I thought were the most interesting questions I had collected over the year in Customer Service.

In chatting about them, and the outlook for Customer Service, I was asked to write a position paper on it; something with thought leadership flavor about what to expect in the next decade.

Let me be the first to say, I hate, hate, hate prediction pieces.  I once attended a presentation by Steve Forbes where he did an amazing job explaining how economists not always get their predictions right (I was an Econ major in college, Mr. Forbes is being charitable).  He said he prefers to make five year predictions versus shorter time.  When asked why he commented that if he was right, its a great privilege to be correct in such a long-term prediction.  If he was wrong, there was sufficient time that he could deny it or correct in the process.

Except for the part about being wrong (I was only wrong three times), I agree with him.  Its a lot more fun to reach long-term conclusions.

I like to reach conclusions from the many conversations and projects I work in every year.  It is one of the most fun things I get to do in this job.  Creating visions of the future is fun, interesting, and challenging.  Being able to synthesize the almost 1,000 structured inquiries and many other conversations I have ever year gives me the chance to influence the market and to set a vision for how things can be done better.  It’s most likely the reason I started working as an analyst in the first place.

In that spirit I wrote the paper.  It is a short, fun read (clocks in at roughly 3,000 words) if you are in customer service – and it provides you with a great perspective of what is going on in the world of customer service – and the challenges we face.

From the paper.

The model has indeed changed from simply delivering a single, well executed (from the operations point of view) interaction to accumulating these interactions into experiences (how well the company delivers over time – not in a single interaction), to eventually reaching a state of engagement with customers.  This model has become quite complex as every single interaction has a long-term outcome – when done properly – and many data points and metrics to track its performance (and potential correlation to effectively monitoring interactions).

We also discuss how to combine agents, technology, and engagement-as-an-outcome to deliver a new model, a new framework for customer service built on four stages: centralization, automation, focus, and extension.

I promise its a worthwhile read – download the paper and let me know what you think.

disclaimer: I will make this one short, you read many of my disclaimers already.  If you did you would know that yes, I do take money from my clients to help me pay for my vices (feeding my kids, giving them a place to sleep, saving for retirement, etc).  In exchange, they get to work with me either on strategy, content, or both (Oxford comma well placed, thank you very much).  I’ve been working with Microsoft for several years – and yet, not in a single instance they did anything more than ask for research or content, let me do my thing, and never even attempted editing my content.  All errors, typos, omissions, and problems are entirely mine – they either don’t want to have anything to do with them… or they are truly supportive of my work and my research and respect the fact that clients don’t get to tell me what to do, how to do it, or what to say. I know its the latter, thanks my friends (and, yes – this is a short disclaimer).

Jacob Morgan Is An Idea Thief; He Should Be Stopped

update (01-26-2016, 16:30): I received via twitter a comparison of the two charts in the picture below.  i don’t use other people’s names without their permission, won’t quote them here, but they have my most sincere appreciation.

Models Comparison

update (01-26-2016, 14:00): the editor for Forbes Magazine maintains there are no sufficient similarities between the charts, will post them for you to make up your own mind; please let me know if I am wrong, seriously.

update (01-24-2016, 15:00) Mitch Lieberman, a friend and fellow victim to Mr. Morgan plagiarism, wrote a very good post on Linked-in about sharing and attribution.  thanks.

original post below.

Imagine my surprise on waking up this morning and discovering this tweet.

A Framework For How Any Company Can Design Amazing Employee Experiences #FutureofWork https://t.co/2apz47obpy pic https://twitter.com/5m1o0RNgvL

I first I thought it was a mistake, or somehow Mr. Morgan had forgotten to properly credit me for my work.  I thought to myself this would be easily fixed – just ask him to credit me and it should be easily solved.  With very few exceptions, that turned not-so-well for the supposed-authors, many discrepancies in the past few years have been solved this way.

This is a popular chart, for some reason.

Then I remembered, back in 2009-2010 we had the same problem, with the same chart.  Back then he also did the same, took my chart (the same one) and added his copyright to it and claimed it to be his.

Back then it could’ve been a misundertanding: I was getting started, was short of funds (I think we call it broke now, but I digress) and was trying to help Mr. Morgan get started in the world of CRM (and back then SCRM).  He offered to have his designer improve the graphic quality of my chart (which was the same, and it was derived from my short — well, not so much — series on Social CRM, check out part 2.1).

I agreed, but when I got the results from his designer had both our copyrights in it (he worked as chess media back then).  We talked (it wasn’t short) and I explained to Mr. Morgan that intellectual property is not simply about putting nice colors and better pictures to an idea, but rather about the idea itself. Eventually he agreed, but not before damaging his reputation in the SCRM/CRM/Enterprise Software communities… which to this day continues to haunt him.

We had a set of private conversations about it that time.  Next time it almost happened we had a very long strong-worded conversation about it.  He blocked me on Twitter, I blocked him, and we have not talked since (we crossed paths in conferences, I hold no grudges, we shared some meals, we chatted – but never worked together or collaborated again).

The same thing happened with other people, his standing with virtually anyone in the Independent Analysts groups is poor – at best.  He is thought of as a copyright thief (one of the worse possible problems to have when you try to make your living as an “thought leader” and generator of ideas).

I thought for a while about this, I wrote an email to Forbes providing them with prior publication of the same model, asked them to take it down and to remove him from their ranks.  I will pursue it further within other publications as well.  I am not spiteful – but when you find someone that cannot understand what he does wrong – even after several people tell him and document for him its wrong — something has to be done.

Jacob Morgan, you have to stop stealing ideas and pass them as yours.