Monday, October 26, 2009

Corporate Giving: Off topic

Although this blog posting is more than a little off topic, it is timely. Contextware started giving more to non-profit causes the last couple of years for lots of reasons: it’s a good idea, we can afford to, events impacting our own lives compel us to and it there are lots of needs that go unaddressed. In 2008, Americans gave more than $307.65 billion to their favorite causes despite the economy. When adjusted for inflation, giving was down 5.7 percent, the largest drop recorded since it’s been tracked.Corporate giving, tied to corporate profits, decreased 4.5 percent (8 percent when adjusted for inflation) in 2008 to $14.5 billion. So although corporate giving is a smaller percentage of the total, it’s an important and volatile component. And to be fair, that number doesn’t include giving from all of the private (business-like) foundations e.g. the Gates Foundation in the total.

In 2009, it’s likely that giving in total, and corporate giving in particular will be lower. We’re telling as many people that will listen about opportunities to contribute back to the community, sign up for United Way (and other) capital campaigns and donate time to worthy causes. Hope you do the same. It does make a difference.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Process and Customer Service Content - Part I

(Part 1 of 2)

Providing customer service, whether via self-service, performed through the web, delivered through a call center; outsourced or insourced is a business process...on that everyone can agree. And the specific types of customer inquiries can be grouped into a series of sub-processes related to providing customer service e.g. purchase a product, inquire about a charge, return or repair a product. And most customer service environments have figured out how to create prescriptive work flows (scripts and call aids) that are organized around these sub-processes.

However, most of the supporting content and information designed to support accurate and complete response to customer service questions isn't organized by process. It's categorized in information categories that don't align with the way an agent or a customer would expect to find them. So the most common approach to solving customer service content issues is to use enterprise search or to create a large knowledge base of Q&A that can be...searched. One problem with this approach is that as the body of knowledge and content grows, so do the search results...and instead of helping with productivity, this approach drains it by requiring agents and customers to wade through the mounds of content and Q&A returned in a search result before they can provide a hopefully, correct answer.

An alternative method for categorizing content is to do so around the processes, workflows and types of questions that are typically posed. This approach can reduce agent and customer "search" time by up to 50% on a per incident basis. The impact on quality is intuitively positive. The flow-through impact of answering customers more quickly and accurately is also obvious.

But where to start?