The (Continuing) Evolution of Technical Support
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In 1996, the price of gasoline was 1.23 a gallon, Braveheart won the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture, the New York Yankees won the World Series, and by the way, Maximo 2.1.1 was released. The product was delivered on 24 3.5 diskettes and the upgrade consisted of running multiple SQR scripts. If you wanted to run on the brand new Windows 95, you were out of luck as it only ran under Windows for Workgroups. Today, there are in excess of 30,000 different system configuration options for Maximo v7!
In 1996, only 20 million Americans had access to the Internet. Today, approximately 272 million people have Internet access in the Americas. Those folks that did have Internet access spent fewer than 30 minutes a month surfing the Web. Today, we spend about 27 hours a month online. In 1996, you tied up your phone line because dial-up was the sole means to online access. Today I bet at least some of you are reading this on your iPad or other wireless device. In 1996, the Maximo product support engineers were expected to be proficient in all aspects and functions of the application. There was no online support website. There was no support email. If you were asked to send in a file (remember the SQL.INI file?) you either faxed it in or posted to a bulletin board.
The provisioning of product support has evolved as well. The modern Maximo application suite is too large for a 1996 “Jack of all trades” approach. Today, we have segmented our engineer’s focus and expertise to specific functional areas. The fax has ben supplanted by online support that allows for electronic problem submission, tools that can review your system’s health, and comprehensive online documentation. In 1996, there was no Maximo forum on CompuServe. Today, you can collaborate with Support and other users through Face Book, YouTube, Twitter, and a multitude of social business channels.
The focus of support delivery continues to evolve. In 1996, 100% of all problems were resolved when you picked up the phone and called into Support. Today, 42% of all problems are resolved online with no Support personnel interaction. In the vernacular of the support world, this is called “Customer Self Assist” or CSA. CSA is the evolution. CSA says you would rather go online and find a timely resolution to your issue. The cornerstone to CSA is efficiency. For you. For us in Support, CSA is the delivery of relevant and accurate content and diagnostics that allow you to resolve your issue.
The next evolution in technical support is to resolve problems proactively. Before they impact you or your business. Imagine logging into a support site and having the site deliver suggestions based on your specific configuration, usage, previous problem history. This is the next phase of product support. And it will be coming to a theater near you soon.
In future posts, I will be communicating on how we continue to evolve in product support. In the meantime, I welcome any comments. What we’re doing right, what or where we need to improve. Successful evolution requires collaboration and teamwork.
I’ll end with today gas is 3.65 a gallon, Mel Gibson isn’t winning any Academy Awards, and the Yankees are already out of the playoffs. Go figure…