Support as Customer Development

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This presentation covers some basics of Support in a startup, and then shows how Support works in the "Customer Development" model for startups.

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  • At SupportUX, we focus on the space between users, product and operations - engaging customers and building a better product. \n\nThis approach is not just compatible with Customer Development, but essential to it. \n\nNote: I use “product” everywhere to denote what your customers or users are buying or using - even if it’s a “service.” \n
  • \nIf you haven’t read Reality Check, get it and read it:\n\nhttp://amzn.to/lerJHZ\n
  • \nRightNow makes software for managing customer support and services organizations. Although this may seem to be self-serving, the method and scope of this report is quite good. \n
  • \nDon’t forget about the ultimate job you’re trying to do - the meaning behind the metrics. \n\nThis advice applies, of course, to all metrics - not just social metrics. \n
  • \nPlanning is invaluable, even though plans are often useless. \n
  • \nIt doesn’t make sense to get more efficient at “not getting the job done.”\n\nMoreover, being effective in support will actually reduce your support load.\n\nLastly, the most important kind of efficiency is by making it easier for your support people to do their job and do it right. \n
  • \nThis is not easy, but a strong emphasis on solving problems will result in better products, and more profit. \n
  • \nCall when you say you’re going to call. Even if the call is to say “we haven’t solved this.” Missing commitments undermines everything else you might do right. \n
  • \nThe conversations your customers are having with your support team are the some of the most frank feedback on your product that you will get. \n\nIn order to really understand what you’re hearing, you must deeply understand your product and also strive for a careful and clear understanding of the problem the customer is describing.\n\n\n
  • \nYou still have your “Support Pro’s.” But everyone, especially product management and key engineers and architects, should have regular exposure to real support situations, even if just by sitting in with one of your support team.\n\nIf a support tool can only be understood by full-time users, it is broken. \n\nThe OODA loop is a critical skill. The best problem solvers all use it, even if they don’t know what it’s called. \n
  • \nDefine the required technical expertise carefully. The right technical people have strong foundation knowledge that helps them quickly learn new systems. \n\nThere are aspects of any role that focus on “people.” \n\nAny role of sufficient breadth needs both a clear focus and space for reflection.\n
  • \nWhen you layout your business processes, define clear functions. Then make each as simple as possible. Find or make tools that simplify the work. \n
  • \nThese are fundamental to good hiring\n
  • \nAnecdote on this topic: \n\n“I had a member of my team who I would ask to plumb the depths and breadth of a candidate’s knowledge - not just to see what they know, but more importantly to see what they do when you reach the limits of their knowledge. If they bluff - bad sign. If they go into “problem solving mode”, THAT is the person you want to hire.” - Darius Dunlap, Managing Director, SupportUX\n
  • \nPeople have to be able to listen, of course. But they also have to be able to converse - to draw people out. Lastly they need know how to assess what they are hearing… \n\nSee also “OODA Loop” - this kind of People Competence is critical to the ‘Observe’ and ‘Orient’ steps in the loop. \n
  • \nUnfortunately, university degrees are not good predictors of this kind of strong literacy. \n\nA good test: have them read a description of a current product problem and then see how they assess the proposed solution. Do they understand it? Ask good questions? Do they see the holes in the solution and how the problem must eventually be better addressed? \n
  • \nA comment on “outside interests”… I have found that the people who have engaged and active lives outside their jobs are also the ones who also get more done inside their jobs. \n
  • \nSupport is often difficult, complex and confusing. The best people enjoy the ambiguity and problem solving, have the skills and tenacity to see it through, and the heart to want to help people. \n
  • \nThis may only make sense in the context of the ideas in Steve Blank’s book “Four Steps to the Epiphany.” There’s a good overview of Customer Execution and Customer Vision on page 217. \n\nhttp://amzn.to/mfXWs3\n\n
  • \nThese key concepts also effect your Support strategy. See Four Steps to the Epiphany for more on this structure. \n\n\n
  • \nStories that answer the question “who are our customers” are critical to understanding the support flow, tools and capability that you need to build. \n
  • \nWalk through these scenarios to understand what will happen. You WANT to find any problems now, and fix them, and otherwise prepare. \n\nLater, you will review what went as expected and what didn’t, and then rework these scenarios and rethink your approach.\n
  • \nAs you gain experience with real customers, you will iterate on this process. \n
  • \nToo often, organizations do not put enough thought into streamlining frequently used processes. \n\nSimilarly, efforts to simplify and document more rarely used procedures prevent costly errors. \n
  • \n It’s critical to make actionable information flow generously through the organization. Awareness will generate insight that is unexpected and valuable. \n\nWell designed instrumentation will make trends and patterns visible. Alerts and notifications will bring important information to the attention of the people who need it. But always remember that people-driven updates and alerts are also important. \n\nPeople will often recognize something before an alert triggers or an algorithm recognizes a pattern. \n
  • \nFor key issues, pull together a focused team with the right skills and knowledge. The support team should have the authority to call that team together.\n\nIt’s easy to call “all hands on deck” for a critical issue. But a solution will come more quickly from getting just the “right team” on the problem, and no more. More cooks in the kitchen won’t make the meal any quicker, and too many will just get in the way and slow you down. \n\n
  • \nImportant reminder - the most useful and actionable information is often bad news. \n
  • \n“Engineering Problem” in that you want to make a simple and smooth process with minimal steps and exceptions. Work it out, think it through, and iterate.\n\nAny support process must focus on the making and keeping of commitments and movement toward solution to the problem. (Remember to “Solve twice!”)\n
  • \nTracking indicators give information about course and motion over time. Warning indicators are triggered by levels or rates of change. \n\nLimit “Performance Metrics” - those you want to drive - to just one or two key metrics. Keep them straightforward and regularly review them and occasionally change them. \n
  • \n“Waterfall Forecast” is a method usually associated with financial projections, such as sales forecasts. But it is a very useful method for any forecasted metric. \n\nIn the Waterfall, you show not only your actuals going back and your projections going forward, but also your previous projections against actuals, and your previous forward-looking projections against your new projections. \n\nCharting methods vary, and should consider the nature of the metric, whether levels over time, or rates of change, or totals...\n\nWhatever your method, remember that you are trying to understand the CUSTOMER’S experience of your company, your support and your product. This isn’t about you, it’s about them. \n\nUseful, actionable summaries regularly reviewed are the key to improvement of both support and product. \n
  • \nDon’t get too tied in knots over this process and metrics stuff. Start simple, with fundamentals. Eliminate anything that complicates things, or anything that removes sensible authority from the people on the front-line. \n\nGive those front-line people the power to help customers. \n\n(remove the “rules” that force them to say “no”)\n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nPicking the right tools can make the job easier, and more manageable. \n\nThis slide is a little old, so please forgive any oversights or changes in the market. \n
  • \nAny of these approaches can work. But always consider integration into your web presence or web-based product.\n
  • Support as Customer Development

    1. 1. Customer Serviceas Customer DevelopmentSupport | UXDarius DunlapManaging Directordarius@SupportUX.comcb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    2. 2. Support Basics “Customer service largely determines a companys reputation, so do not consider it a profit sucking necessary evil.” - Guy Kawasaki, Reality Checkcb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    3. 3. Support Basics “40% of consumers switched to buying from a competitor because of its reputation for great customer service 55% cite great service, not product or price, is their primary reason for recommending a company. 66% said the great customer service was their primary driver for greater spending.” - 2011Customer Service Impact Report, RightNowcb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    4. 4. Support Basics “Social Metrics are outward measurements of internal emotions. What we want to do is optimize toward increasing the emotion, not increasing the metrics." - Thomas Knoll, Community Architect, Zapposcb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    5. 5. Support Basics “... the very definition of "emergency" is that it is unexpected, therefore it is not going to happen the way you are planning.” —Dwight D Eisenhower, US President and World War II Generalcb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    6. 6. Support Basics Efficacy before Efficiency Effective Support is: 1. Solving Problems 2. Making Commitments and Keeping Them 3. Taking Care of People Once youve got that sorted out, THEN we can talk about doing it all more efficientlycb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    7. 7. Support Basics Product Support “Fix Everything Two Ways” - Joel Spolsky, Joel on Software 1. Solve This Customer’s problem … and make that solution available to other customers 2. Fix it in the Product so it Never Happens Againcb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    8. 8. Support Basics Customer Care • Make Commitments • Keep Them "The biggest difference between acceptable and great customer service is how often and how well the customer service department follows up on requests." - Guy Kawasaki, Reality Checkcb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    9. 9. Support Basics Listening • Support as “Getting out of the Building” • Seek Clarity • Know your Product • Understand the Problemcb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    10. 10. Support Basics Key Recommendations • Everyone Does Support • Simplify Tools & Processes (so everyone can use them) • Use the OODA Loop Observe, Orient, Decide, Act A key discipline in Support, especially for Escalationscb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    11. 11. Hiring and Team Development Roles Roles are to be Defined and Clarified. Make them Broad. Key Attributes • Technical Expertise Landscape • “People” Orientation - Support is a People Business • Focus & Reflectioncb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    12. 12. Hiring and Team Development Functions "Send the customer a replacement" is a function Functions are to be Minimized and Simplified • Tools should simplify Functions - if they don’t, get rid of them • Require Minimal Training - Preferably self-documented • Spread Functions as widely as possiblecb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    13. 13. Hiring and Team Development Hiring the Right People 1. Organization Fit "If youre buttoned up and formal, dont try to become hip and casual. If youre conservative company, be a conservative company; just be a conservative company that puts its employees first and its customers ahead of everything else. There is a way to do that without installing a foosball table or allowing people to wear flip flops to the office.” - Gary Vaynerchuk, The Thank You Economy 2. Role and Function The ideal customer service person derives great satisfaction by helping people in solving problems. This cannot be said of every job candidate. - Guy Kawasaki, Reality Checkcb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    14. 14. Hiring and Team Development Hiring the Right People Technical Competence • Not to be confused with “knowing the answer” • Look for Problem Solving Abilitiescb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    15. 15. Hiring and Team Development Hiring the Right People People Competence "Learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about listening to customers. They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf" - Doc Searls • Listening • Conversing • Assessingcb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    16. 16. Hiring and Team Development Hiring the Right People Literacy "Written communications is a critical skill in Support" - Darius Dunlap • Read Critically • Think Clearly • Write Well • Bonus Points for “Tells a Good Story”cb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    17. 17. Hiring and Team Development Hiring the Right People Initiative "Hire people who Get Things Done" - Darius Outside interests can help you assess thiscb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    18. 18. Hiring and Team Development Hiring the Right People Ambiguity "To the right person, the ambiguous is more interesting" - Darius Tenacity Follow-through, Closure, and Attention to Detailcb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    19. 19. Support in the Lean Startup Customer Development Support is a “Customer Execution" Function The Intelligence and Insight it provides assists “Customer Vision”cb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    20. 20. Support in the Lean Startup Key Concepts • Market Type Is it an Existing Market, Redefined/Reframed, or New Market? • Whole Product Hypothesis Assess the complete lifecycle, including Deployment, Support, Service, Updates, Upgrades, …cb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    21. 21. The Customer Experience “There are only two things will convince consumers to pay more for something when they could pay less. One is convenience, and the other is an outstanding customer experience.” - Gary V., The Thank You Economy Who are your Customers? • Develop your “Customer Personae” (there is more than one) Tie this back to your Lean Startup "Hypothesis"cb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    22. 22. The Customer Experience What Product Support and Customer Care do you anticipate? • Sketch 3 - 5 scenarios of why a customer needs support/service • Assess your product for weakness and complexity • How will you mitigate these problems? • What does this mean for support load?cb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    23. 23. The Customer Experience What should the customer’s experience look like? • For each Customer Persona and Problem Type, Storyboard scenarios of customers needing support • How might they contact you? - Most Frequent Method? - Preferred when customer is in a panic? - Preferred when the problem is complex? - Preferred when the problem is simple? • Develop workflows from the Customer Point of Viewcb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    24. 24. Support Process Development Process and Tools "Have standard operating procedures for common things, like cancellations and product returns, to ensure the job is done properly, but never ask or train your representatives to read from a script." - Guy Kawasaki, Reality Check • Make it easy to do the right thing, right • Build-in Information Capture, minimizing extra stepscb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    25. 25. Support Process Development Process and Tools (2) • Make information dissemination easy - Actionable information is often the “bad” news - Visibility allows you to spot trends and patterns • Instrument Panels, Alerts and Notification - Make information visible - Define service levels and implement alerts - Make it easy to notify the right peoplecb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    26. 26. Support Process Development Process and Tools (3) Successful Escalation: Decentralized Decisions & OODA “The person who says to you on twitter, ‘I bleeping hate you!’ is an awesome customer to have. If you can give alienated customers what they want, they will come back to you stronger than ever. Every time.” - Gary Vaynerchuk, The Thank You Economy - Don’t Panic! - Support Takes the Lead - Support Owns the Customer - Make it easy to get the right people involvedcb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    27. 27. Support Process Development Escalations: One More Thing “Great customer service companies dont shoot the messenger. It could be a customer, employee, vendor, or consultant is doing the pointing. The goal is not to silence the messenger, but to fix the problem so that the messenger never has to bring that message again. - Guy Kawasaki, Reality Checkcb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    28. 28. Support Process Development Practical Advice • Think of your processes and methods as an engineering problem • Simplify, Simplify, Simplify • Small Changes, Frequently Deployed • Make and Keep Commitmentscb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    29. 29. Support Operations & Metrics Key Concepts Dashboard / Instrument Panel • Tracking Indicators • Warning Indicators • One or Two “Performance Metrics”cb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    30. 30. Support Operations & Metrics Key Concepts Metrics and Insight Quantitative analysis is only useful where is supports critical thinking - critical thinking is what matters. • Visualize what’s happening, contrasted with projections Waterfall Forecast is very useful! • Measure the customer’s experience, not yours • How will you summarize the day, week, quarter? This should inform your Customer Development effortcb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    31. 31. Support Operations & Metrics Common Mistakes “Premature scaling is the bane of startups.” - Steve Blank, Four Steps to the Epiphany • Scaling too early • Over-wrought process & metrics • Forgetting that you are here to solve problems and improve the productcb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    32. 32. Flexible SaaS EcoSystemcb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    33. 33. Flexible SaaS EcoSystemcb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX
    34. 34. Key RecommendationsStart with CRM SystemStart with Support Case SystemStart with Engineering systemsConsider Integration into your web-based productcb Darius Dunlap, SupportUX

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