Redefining Support

Support has been ignored for long by most providers and certainly never been on the innovation radar. And yet, there are some recent examples that show that innovation when applied to support has far-reaching possibilities to address the all-encompassing customer experience paradigm.

It should not be a surprise that business pressures are driving providers to look at support services (as at other services) to drive cost-savings and risk reduction. Survival itself is demanding a renewed focus on service experience and the need to continuously improve support quality and response time. These are conflicting business requirements. And it is interesting that the process has triggered a fresh approach to support and the age-old dull and mundane image is getting a makeover! Support is suddenly being seen as something far more dynamic - an over-arching service that can impact customer experience far more than we all realized.

I see two major trends today. The first trend is simply a wakeup call on a long forgotten message that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure -- and there is an attempt to reduce the number of faults and issues and eliminate service outages and quality issues before they reach the user. The pro-active monitoring concepts that have been in use over the last few years to detect problems early in the cycle are now being extended and a new dimension of predictive concepts are being introduced to analyze the health and performance of networks and services. This requires new capabilities and applications to manage service/technology specific data collection, rules creation and smart analytics and feeding that back into the service assurance, network optimization and operational systems, thus establishing an e2e pre-emptive framework. It needs to build in continuous learning of the network (and user) behaviour and build a repository and a mechanism to identify trends and intelligently apply past experiences to resolution of new problems.

The second trend recognizes the increased expectations of the users and attempts to deliver a tailored service experience thru more interactive models like on-line collaboration tools, expert chat groups, self-service portals. This requires the creation of rich and mult-media content to buildup knowledge pools supported by advanced knowledge management and search tools and seamless integration of multiple expert groups into the support cycle. The introduction of these new mechanisms of support delivery help drive on-demand and personalized support services.

The key is to seamlessly integrate the elements of these two trends into a new dynamic support service infrastructure and operating framework. These elements are diverse - from Personalization and Collaboration to Multiple delivery channels like Self-support, communities, single owner case handling & ownership; from Proactive Measurements to Smart Analytics. The challenge lies not only in the implementation of each of the entities but most importantly in integrating these together to create seamless engagements. The task itself is challenging but exciting. There are no bounds for innovation.

We don’t know yet how it will evolve. There are only some early indicators - Don’t wait for something to happen. Correct it before it occurs. Service availability is a given. Improve the service performance. There is no one-package that fits all. Different services require different types of support. Create service and technology specific support strategies. Every user is different. Use the user/business/engagement history knowledge to deliver personalized and tailored services. The list will continue to grow…

We are still in an initial phase of defining the new paradigm. The transformation may take a few years to realize but now that the potential is suddenly staring at us it is only a matter of time.

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