• December 6, 2004
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

The Power of Self-Service Support

Help Desk Institute released the results of its latest practices survey, and all signs point toward a growing trend to empower the customer. The survey includes the addition of new analysis by industry sector, and represents a comprehensive look at the service and support industry. Participants in the survey included HDI membership and other service and support professionals visiting HDI's Web site, with a total of 795 companies completing the survey. Designed to provide guidance for support center managers, the "2004 Practices Survey" identified performance, technology, and service trends throughout the support center industry. HDI included demographics, support center performance, tools and technologies, and outsourcing and resolution, among other issues. The survey found that an increasing number of organizations are allowing direct customer input and reporting, while enabling customers to directly review the status of requests. "The number of companies that are using self-help technology, [even] as simple as frequently asked questions, has increased, giving people access to search tools and information," says Ron Muns, founder and CEO, HDI. The use of self-diagnostic tools is also increasing, and the role of support professionals continues to expand. The average number of incidents was up by 27 percent, according to the report, due primarily to upgrades, the growth in the number of customers, and an increase in responsibilities for the support organization. The study also found that more companies are outsourcing some or all of their support centers than in 2003. At the same time, many companies are beginning to bring their support operations back in-house, after having previously outsourced them. An increasing number of support centers are providing 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week support, up 35.5 percent in 2004 from 22 percent in 2003, while the median call abandonment rate remained 4 percent. HDI also found that 42 percent of respondents indicated that response time to incidents reported via email exceeds one hour. The 2004 survey included for the first time the addition of analysis by industry sector, including education, healthcare, computer, financial, government, and outsourcers. HDI also breaks out some of the findings by company size and whether the support organization is internal or external. "Every year we conduct this survey we ask our responders what other information they would like to see," Muns says. "Based off that we provided segmented data by industry and center size this year. We've also seen an increase from the education and healthcare sectors. These are two industries that are growing year after year--as well as the federal government sectors--with all the money that's being spent." Related article: Wires: News and Technology for November 12, 2004
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