TSIA fields hundreds of PS member inquiries every year. Always among the most common service business challenges (SBCs) represented is how to improve PS price performance. That’s why for the last decade, TSIA has been capturing extensive professional services rates and pricing practices information in our Professional Services Market Rates Study. This study distills the latest developments in professional services pricing and collects detailed data surrounding 8 job titles at 3 levels in roughly 60 countries to provide our members with the most current market rates benchmarks and data. In this post, I’m going to share what this study can do for your organization through real-world examples of how it’s currently being applied to businesses in the industry.
The cat is out of the bag: We now live in the age of the customer. While this reality has many implications in the world of the modern-day technology executive, what it really means is that listening to and taking action on customer feedback is essential for business growth.
Depending on who you ask, today’s organizations look to customer experience above many (if not all) success metrics. In fact, in the new knowledge economy, customer experience trumps all. A study by Walker showcases this evolution. A majority of customers (86%) will pay more for a better service.
So, how do you understand whether a customer experience is positive, negative or somewhere in between? According to Gartner, this all starts with collecting and acting on customer feedback.
The concept of “shifting left" is an interesting one. In the software world, it means bringing testing and user feedback into the development cycle as early as possible so that developers can produce, and bring to market, a product that is better designed and more aligned with their customers' needs.
In the support world, "shifting left" means something a bit different. It refers to pushing work down and to the left, and ultimately out to self-service when appropriate. In doing so, they can provide end-users with solutions quicker and close tickets faster.
By moving solutions closer to the point of first contact—and closer to the customer's first issue—support can reduce complexity, resolve cases faster, and create more delighted customers.
Forecasting in professional services has never matched the maturity of other industries. However, this is becoming a bigger problem as technology projects become shorter in duration and narrower in scope. Revenue backlog simply doesn’t stretch as far into the future as it once did. Faced with a less certain revenue and resource demand outlook, a “wait until you win, then react” operating style prevails. This puts pressure on margins, strains delivery teams, limits agility, and makes business models vulnerable to more progressive approaches. Yet, most of the industry is still forecasting in spreadsheets. It’s time for professional services to match other industries in forecasting innovation by deploying modern technology, more comprehensive methods, and real-time data.
According to your customers, support just got personal. In Salesforce’s 2017 State of Service Report, 69% of consumers and 82% of business buyers now expect support to be personalized to them. That doesn’t sound unreasonable until it’s stacked upon their additional desires to receive faster resolutions, be routed to the right agents, and be recognized across a multiplicity of channels.
Where can support executives turn for help shouldering the growing weight of modern customer expectations? To the power of video.
It’s no secret that great customer service is growing harder and harder to deliver. Customer expectations are rising and there is a lot of pressure for support organizations to deliver more with less. Surveyed IT support organizations report that ticket volumes are up 57% over the past year, and yet headcount has remained flat. In addition to having more tickets, the issues they are working on are becoming increasingly more complex as customers demand support across more devices.
The “do more with less” challenge can feel like an uphill battle for most support organizations, but there are ways to maximize efficiency. It’s all about working smarter and not harder. In this post, I’ll be sharing some steps you can take to get started in building a smarter customer support organization.
Digital transformation has traditionally centered on customer-facing parts of the organization (the contact center, online self-service, mobile apps, etc.), but that’s changing. Increasingly, that focus is spreading into back-office functions and the broader enterprise as a way to digitize and optimize the entire customer journey. In fact, according to a March 2017 Digital McKinsey post titled, "Putting Customer Experience at the Heart of Next-Generation Operating Models," they say, “The benefits of improved customer experience can be fleeting unless changes to supporting back-end operations are made as well.” The article also goes on to state, “Delivering a great customer experience calls for disciplined execution and consistent service delivery.”
For many product companies, it can seem difficult at first to get CFOs to see the value in professional services (PS). The simple answer to addressing this challenge is to focus your PS business on profit margin growth. Only when margins are great, should you focus on revenue growth.
As a PS executive in a product company, you probably are all too familiar with this reality. Valuation multiples for PS revenues are 1x to 2x compared to 8x to 10x for product revenues. So, CFOs are not interested in PS revenue growth, but what matters to them is earnings contribution of PS business. The current trend of optimizing PS business through headcount reduction and expansion of partner-led implementations is a direct result of CFOs desire to increase earnings contribution of PS business.
Increasingly, technology products that are merely “good enough” are permeating the market. Clients are not looking for perfection and accept the limitations of a lower-cost product. Software allows these good enough products to be enhanced over time, with new features being delivered through software updates that can make a product more valuable.
After researching several large hardware providers, we discovered that a large percentage of their monthly sales were either fulfillment or products, while only a small percentage of their monthly sales were high-margin solutions that included high-value services. Every manufacturer would like to improve their percentage of high-margin products and services, so, why don’t Sales teams sell more high-value solutions to solve the business problems of their customers?
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