• December 1, 2008

Feedback: December 2008

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Another Filling of Full Service
Another inspiring piece from Lior Arussy (“Self-Service Is Just Less-Than-Full Service,” Customer Centricity, October 2008, http://snurl.com/1008arussy). From my perspective, the right answer is a bit more gray than it is black and white.

First, customers should be provided with functionality that meets their expectations. Sometimes I prefer self-service and get annoyed when I get “please call” or “please email.” Other times, I want live chat or to make that call. It depends—but the decision should be mine.

Second, the brand should deliver nothing short of what it promises. It’s not enough to say, “We’re high-end” or “We’re customer-focused.” The brand has to walk the walk. The customer expects what we all expect—to get what we pay for. (Ideally, a little more.) It’s not a question of self-service versus full, but simply of customer expectations and value.

The hospitality industry is actually the model for all others to follow: They don’t have customers, they have guests. In fact, it doesn’t matter what you’re selling, if your brand looks at everyone as guests—and treats them as such. Bottom line: Good service—self- or otherwise—is when I’m not made to feel as if I made a mistake for wanting what I want (however unreasonable my request might seem).

So ask yourself, how does my company treat my guests?

Mark Simchock
Chief Alchemist, Alchemy United

Sharing a reader’s blogpost (http://snurl.com/fcdadsonCRM1) about the same article:

[T]he article examines the flaws of widespread self-service—namely that customers see diminished values provided by companies and make more price-motivated decisions. Toward the end of the article, Lior Arussy...poses this question: “Do you think customers favor self-service over high-touch, high-quality service?” He says no.

But I’d like to argue that sometimes I do. For example, when I run out of milk at home and need to run to the store for a replacement gallon, do I wait in line to be served by an uninterested teenager or head to the self-service lane? Um, self-service lane, please. Or when I’m at a gas station to fill up the tank, do I swipe my credit card at the pump or run inside to carry out that transaction? It might sound a little lazy, but I’ll pay at the pump.

I use ATMs. I use vending machines. Willingly. For me (and I venture to guess a few of you, too), it’s all about convenience and simplicity. If the transaction is an easy one, I’ll take self-service whenever it’s offered, especially if it means I can get it done faster. But if it’s a more difficult process, I’ll gladly seek out some help.

Weigh in on the debate: think self-service is the end of the customer service world as we know it? Do you loathe it? Love it?

From the blog: The Dadson Diaries


‘On-Demand’ Demands Another Look
I have always admired Senior Editor Marshall Lager’s writing style and the uniqueness of content in each edition of CRM magazine. The topic of “An On-Demand Assessment” (Pint of View, October 2008, http://snurl.com/1008pov) was very interesting and I wanted to share some of my thoughts based on real-world “walk-the-walk” experience. I am a CRM strategist and technology implementation professional having successfully implemented software-as-a-service (SaaS) and on-demand for Fortune 1000 companies.

You refer to “SaaS” as a cool delivery model, but to SaaS implementation professionals like me, it’s more of a service that’s simply enabled for subscribers. “On-demand” and “SaaS” are often used interchangeably (especially by sales folks, some vendors, and executives), but there is a clear difference between the two.

Let me draw an analogy here: On-demand is how you order pay-per-view movies through your cable or satellite provider—making “on demand” merely a delivery model here, not an example of SaaS. Where you place the order—either through your TV’s user interface or through a computer—is the SaaS example, representing more of a service front-end or enabler.

Looking at the gory details, “on demand” commonly refers to the capability of preparing the infrastructure ahead of clients’ needs. It includes designing a readily scalable architecture, redundant server support, and the ability to reassign server capacity based on the need of the hour. “SaaS,” on the other hand, is a (typically Web-based) toolset that allows clients access and control over how much capacity they wish to subscribe to—which they can then modify from time to time. One could argue forever about the exact definition of a “delivery model,” but in this context, SaaS is a mere front end while on-demand actually delivers to the client’s needs.

Your point on needing service-level agreements for SaaS comes into play since individual client needs with regard to uptime can vary. The on-demand delivery model needs to support the uptime demand as the client uses SaaS to drive that demand ever higher.

You also made a great point on “premise” versus “premises.” You lit the light bulb in me—I promise I’ll use “on-premises” going forward.

Thank you for triggering some good thoughts through your Pint of View.

Balaji Ramanujam
Customer Value Partners

Letters may be edited for length or clarity.

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