In the second afternoon breakout session in the business track of Parallels Summit 2013 on Wednesday, Kellie Green, VP worldwide support for Parallels, spoke about the unique challenges to support in the cloud, and social support.
According to Green, as providers update their marketing strategies, they should be updating their support strategy as well.
As SMB cloud demand is diversifying, it can be difficult for support, but it gives support teams the opportunity to change their strategy.
At Parallels, an annual support strategy review helps to identify strengths and weaknesses. Green suggests benchmarking key performance indicators with competitors and talking to customers to understand the ways support can be improved. The second step is a detailed competitor review, which consists of comparing your own support systems to competitors, and talking to their customers. It is also a good idea to follow them on Twitter to see the noise occurring in terms of perception on social media.
It is also important to stay up to date on industry trends, and listen carefully to customers, Green says.
“There are lots of data, and lots of conversations to make sure you know where your strengths and weakness lie,” Green says.
Green recommends the book Uncommon Service: How to Win at the Core of Your Business, and says the biggest takeaway is you can’t be good at everything, but it is important to set specific targets, and ensure customers are aware of where you position yourself.
Differentiating support offerings is crucial for service providers, and Green suggests moving away from statements like best in class, and move towards specific, measurable targets. It is important to set expectations around support, and commit to specific improvements when you fail.
Social support is”somewhat old news,” Green says, but what is changing is the type of metrics available on measuring social support success. Green recommends c2bsuite.com for metrics, which offers best practices around deflection rate, abandon time, flush rate and end user satisfaction. Flush rate is mentions on social media that a support team is not able to respond to based on staffing shortages or policy.
“Our customers are talking about us on forums and blogs, and we are focusing more resources on social media support,” Green says.
Using C2bsuite, Parallels has seen a 47 percent contact resolution rate for forum topics, and a deflection rate improvement of 25 percent.
Green suggests establishing listening stations, and finalizing how you want to be known on and offline.
Social support can actually amount to significant cost savings, and can be a way to deflect cost.
Parallels social support Twitter handle @parallelscares has increased followers by over 50 percent last year, and answers straightforward questions quickly. It is important to recognize every mention, even with a simple thanks, and be directional with your Tweet. Being directional means pointing customers to the right resource, and making sure they get into the support channel or ticketing system so it can be resolved offline.
The other thing that Parallels has focused on this year in terms of support is harnessing power users through its Parallels Product Experts program. This program is people who love Parallels who have volunteered to participate in forums. To reward these power users, Parallels offers a chance to win a ticket to Parallels Summit. The power user who won was sitting in the front row of the session.
Customer education is a way that customers can help themselves where appropriate, and to this end, Parallels will introduce a new training and certification site for customers later this year.
Talk back: What support challenges have you seen around social or cloud? How do you measure the success of your support strategy? Let us know in a comment.