Posts Tagged ‘customer relationship management’

The Future of Support: Holy Hologram???

Every now and then we come across a story at that really makes us appreciate the level of today’s available technology. When it comes to customer service and support automation, the future is literally here with the introduction of ‘Star Trek’ like hologram technology. This will truly bring the help desk and customer service to the next level. Good or bad thing? Let us know your thoughts. Enjoy the story, as featured in The Week:

Coming soon: Airport customer service reps… who are holograms? – The Week – Mozilla Firefox

She can smile, point you to your gate, and even identify the nearest restroom. Just don’t ask this disturbingly perky virtual worker to carry your luggage

The video: First Coachella brought Tupac back from the dead, and now, airports are also employing holograms of humans to dazzle (and assist) frazzled travelers. This summer, fliers dragging luggage through JFK and LaGuardia airports in New York City and Newark airport in New Jersey will be treated to “computerized, hologram-like avatars” working alongside busy human employees. (Watch a demo below.) The peppy, freakishly selfless, two-dimensional projection “smiles, answers questions, and can guide you to the nearest restroom or to your connecting flight,” says The Associated Press. Each unit costs $250,000, but instead of making an outright purchase, The Port Authority of New York will spend $180,000 to rent five digi-helpers for a six-month period during the daunting summer travel season, when some tens of millions of people will pass through its three airports.

The reaction: This hologram is “more than just your average customer service representative,” says Matthew Rosenbaum at ABC. “She’s always ready with a smile, never needs a bathroom break or a shift change” and could easily give you “a lifetime of devoted service.” I guess, says Fox Van Allen at Tecca. But why would The Port Authority pay $180,000 to rent “fake humans when they could have paid half that to hire real people”? Well, perhaps this “cheery, two-dimensional lady” really will “make the agony of modern air travel a little easier,” says Eric Mack at CNET — “if she doesn’t totally creep you out, that is.” Take a look: Click here for video


Socializing the Help Desk – The Party Continues

May 25, 2012 1 comment

It’s impossible for an IT professional to go anywhere without hearing about the social media paradigm transforming the help desk function. Help desk software providers are rushing to augment their platforms with tools and technologies integrating social features and functions. The more advanced solutions not only embed Facebook/Twitter integration, but actually make these social platforms the center point of the solution (or in some cases at least provide the option for this). One could argue that social integration, like Facebook and Twitter, are probably more ideal for external customer (CRM) support.

After all, consumers are all about these platforms, so it makes tremendous sense to embed customer support where the customer likes to frequent. For internal help desk support, how much does social integration really help? Well, there are corporate social platforms now (like Yammer) where embedded help desk support would make life much easier for employees, especially if the network is successfully deployed and used to centralize other key processes and communications.  One of the more common employee gripes is the confusion and difficulty in reaching the help desk and getting timely support. Putting support where the user lives — in the middle of their social experience – could go a long way to improve the end user experience.

The below reprinted article discusses the social media paradigm further, and how it benefits both end users and the help desk itself. Enjoy.

Guest blog: Social media and the service desk – a powerful combination

Chris Rixon, principal solutions manager, BMC Software, writes for CBR on how the service desk can use social media to improve IT support

Social media is the pervasive technology of the 21st century and increasingly people are turning to it as the default source of information.

Whether they are trying to figure out how to solve a technical problem with a PC or looking for opinions on the best bars, the question will often be put forward through a social media channel.

This growing preference to seek information and guidance through social collaboration has clear implications for the IT service desk. With this perspective in mind, let’s consider how the IT service desk, together with social media, can optimise the customer experience of IT and support.

Focus on the IT service desk has grown as organisations look to align the IT user experience with the consumer interfaces with which they are most familiar. To do this they are providing interfaces that are accessible, intuitive and similar to other interactions end users have come to expect in their daily lives.

When IT service management tools are combined with social media they can help to improve the IT support experience by facilitating a rapid, efficient and customer-centric service.

The alliance of social media and the service desk
Social media tools used within an organisation allow a greater number of support specialists to be alerted to a problem, to contribute to the solution and to be educated about the solution for future use.

For example, with BMC’s Remedyforce, agents working on a help desk ticket can turn to Chatter, a collaboration tool created by to see if others are currently working on similar issues.

Chatter is an integrated social media platform for proactive team collaboration and is embedded within the help desk tool. The agent can look for posts by other agents who are dealing with similar problems. The agent can then recognise related incidents and assign similar occurrences to a single agent or group of agents who are already working on the problem, and therefore improve efficiency.

Related incidents can be tied together and the agent can do a root cause analysis of these related incidents. Moreover, the agent can create broadcasts within the social media tool that communicate messages to both IT staff and employees companywide regarding service outages or other IT events.

As with other social media applications, you can “follow” certain topics — other people, incidents, changes and even critical business services and assets. This allows you to be instantly alerted to any change in status for each topic followed.

Gauging the effectiveness of social media for the help desk
New service delivery models for IT service management, such as software as a service (SaaS) as well as emerging communications channels for support that include social media, will require changes in the way you traditionally measure the effectiveness of your services. That’s why you should re-examine your service metrics as you begin to rely more heavily on SaaS, social media and a more services-oriented approach to IT delivery.

If social media is to be used as a corporate support tool it may be useful to monitor how employees are using it to solve problems and how social media impacts staff and end-user satisfaction.

Some of the metrics to consider include the average speed to resolve problems, the reduction in e-mail volume related to problem solving and the increase in collaboration among agents and teams. In some cases, organisations might wish to measure the use and effectiveness of social media in addition to measuring its overall effect on IT service management performance.

Indications from early adopters of social collaboration technology in the context of the IT service desk are revealing some real and tangible benefits to this approach. When used as part of a larger help desk solution, social media can increase first-call resolution, reduce the mean time to resolution, significantly lower unplanned downtime and increase call deflection.

Looking ahead
If the saying is true that “two heads are better than one,” imagine harnessing the collective brain power of your entire IT help desk staff. Therein lies the power of social media. As part of your help desk solution, social media has the potential to greatly lower costs and increase productivity and efficiency — and most importantly, improve end-user satisfaction.

>> View original story here

Handling Irate Customers in a Help Desk World

The following article appeared on the Connections Magazine web site. We thought this article did a good job of defining the ‘do’s’ and ‘dont’s’ of effective customer service. The below can be applied to either external customer service or internal help desk management.

You can view the original article  at

Learn How to Handle Irate Customers

By John Tschohl

May 2012

No matter how good you are at what you do, what business you are in, or where it is located, you will at some point find yourself facing an irate customer, but perhaps no more so than in a call center. Maybe the product was flawed, a delivery was late, or a charge was inaccurate. How you deal with that customer not only will determine how he or she feels about your organization – or your client’s organization – but how you feel about yourself.

When you are able to turn an irate customer into a satisfied customer, you will gain confidence in your ability to diffuse a volatile situation and evoke a positive outcome. You’ll also gain the respect of your coworkers and attract the attention of your supervisors. Who knows? You might even be promoted.

When most people encounter an irate customer, their first instinct is to turn and run. Dealing with a customer who has a problem and is upset about it can be more than a little daunting. With the proper perspective, however, you will see that the customer’s complaint is actually an opportunity for you and your organization to put your best foot forward.

Customers who have complaints are a blessing in disguise. They let you know where you and your organization have flaws – and provide you with the opportunity to correct them. When you do, you will realize increased customer loyalty, revenues, and profits. It’s a win/win situation.

You should be more concerned with the customers who don’t complain than with those who do. In a recent study of retail banks in the United Kingdom conducted by J.D. Power and Associates, results showed that 25 percent of customers who have experienced a problem in the past twelve months say they definitely or probably will switch institutions in the next year. And 55 percent of customers who have had a problem or complaint were disappointed with the resolution process.

That study also found that, while incentives are important in attracting new customers, customer service is essential to retaining them. Almost 40 percent of customers left their banks because of a poor service experience, and an additional 43 percent cited poor service as a top reason for intending to leave their banks.

Customer service is key to the success of any business. And dealing with irate customers and solving their problems is a critical element of that service. When dealing with an irate customer, take these steps:

  • Listen carefully and with interest to what the customer is telling you.
  • Apologize without laying blame, regardless of who is at fault.
  • Put yourself in the customer’s place, and respond in a way that shows you care about his or her concerns. Use phrases such as “I understand that must be upsetting,” or “I don’t blame you for being upset; I would feel the same way.”
  • Ask pertinent questions in a caring, concerned manner and actively listen to the answers.
  • Suggest one or more alternatives that would address the customer’s concerns.
  • Solve the problem quickly and efficiently, or find someone who can.

Using these steps will quickly calm most unhappy or angry customers and allow you to address and solve their problems. Patience and tact are critical. Even if a customer is making outrageous statements and, in essence, throwing a fit, it’s important that you remain calm. Do not take those statements personally. Apologize, take the blame, and empathize with the customer, and then solve the problem.

Just as important as what you should do, there are some things you should not do:

  • Don’t directly challenge someone who has a complaint and is angry. Even if that customer is wrong, don’t attempt to prove it. Your goal is to solve the problem, not to enter into a debate on the merits of the complaint.
  • Don’t let the conversation wander or get off the topic. Solve the crisis at hand without looking for – and finding – additional problems.
  • Don’t participate in faultfinding. Shifting blame doesn’t help anyone.
  • Don’t let your personal feelings get in the way. Stay cool, and use courtesy and tact to diffuse the situation.

When you successfully handle irate customers and their complaints, you will be rewarded with a satisfied customer – a customer who will be loyal to you and your organization. That loyalty will have a positive impact on your organization’s bottom line – and make you look like a hero.

John Tschohl, the internationally recognized service strategist, is founder and president of the Service Quality Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Described by USA Today, Time, and Entrepreneur as a “customer service guru,” he has written several books on customer service and has developed more than twenty-six customer-service training programs that have been distributed throughout the world.

Help Desk Pain: Trouble with Passwords

March 31, 2012 2 comments

Password management is without doubt the number one ill that help desk technicians have to deal with. Lost and forgotten passwords are responsible for a majority of  frantic help desk calls in many an organization. According a recent survey, password issues are responsible for upward 44% of calls to the service desk.

Each company has a different way of handling the password problem. Some offer centralized password management tools to employees. Others encourage employees to find their own solution.

We came across this recent article in NetworkWorld, providing a review of 7 password manager solutions. If you’re a help desk manager seeking ways to streamline the password management problem, or simply an individual looking for a better way to manage your personal passwords, be sure to give this review a read.

You may also want to check out this effective password manager tool offered by our site sponsor (ManageEngine) – Password Manager Pro.

Enjoy the review!

Excerpt from NetworkWorld:

Review: 7 password managers for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android

1Password and KeePass lead the field in features, flexibility, browser integration, and ease-of-use

Password vaults, aka password safes or password managers, help solve this problem. They give you a central place to store all your passwords, encrypted and protected by a passphrase or token that you provide. This way, you have to memorize a single password — the one for your password vault. All the other passwords you use can be as long and complex as possible, even randomly generated, and you don’t have to worry about remembering them.

If having your passwords in a single encrypted store were all you needed, then a password-protected Microsoft Word document would do the trick. There has to be an easier way. One of the reasons I looked at these password vaults — a total of seven — was to see how easy it was to work with them over an extended period of time. If they didn’t provide much more convenience over simply copying and pasting passwords from a text file, they’d hardly be worth using.

Here’s what I found. To keep the list manageable, I’ve focused on programs that have both a desktop and a mobile version available, with the desktop taking precedence.

KeePass and 1Password stood out as the best of the bunch for slightly different reasons. KeePass is free open source software with a large community of users and add-ons behind it. But most important, KeePass has been written with a good sense for how people need to interact with the program every single day. 1Password, priced at $49.99, is even better in that respect. It’s polished, powerful, closely integrated with your browser, and easy to keep in sync with your mobile devices.

RoboForm, a longtime presence in this field, is a close contender for the top choice as well, thanks to many of its unique features, such as an intelligent form-filling function (for name/address forms) and the ability to work with other kinds of applications apart from Web browsers.

LastPass, available in a free version or a premium version that costs $12 per year, is a close runner-up, falling behind KeePass and 1Password only because using any mobile version of the product requires the paid account. That said, what it provides even in the free version is hugely useful, as long as you don’t mind working directly in a browser to manage your passwords (I imagine most people won’t).

The other password managers reviewed here are less compelling. Password Safe isn’t bad, but it falls short in a lot of little ways compared to KeePass and especially 1Password. SplashID and Keeper are the weakest of the bunch; SplashID is only slightly more useful thanks to its Internet Explorer plug-in.

Read the full article on NetworkWorld!

It’s a “Social” — How to Get Your Help Desk Into the Party!

September 10, 2011 17 comments

We here at have been talking about the social/support paradigm — i.e. Facebook, Twitter — for quite some time now. We believe social sites like these provide an excellent forum for IT and CRM folk to augment and enhance their go-forward customer support strategies.

Be it internal help desk support or external customer care management, social site integration — as part of the overall support mission and strategy — is now critical. Users engage with these sites every day…in fact several times a day. Engagement begins where the users are…and the easier you make it for your users to engage…or complain…communicate…or simply report an issue…the better a job you’ll have in mitigating frustration and increasing response time and user satisfaction.

There’s a reason why help desk and CRM providers are increasingly integrating social support and integration into their software and platforms.  In fact, many vendors have already begun to introduce smart phone apps — for users and help desk technicians — taking social integration — and help desk support in general — mobile! As a help desk manager or software buyer/evaluator, it’s important you consider this increasingly important channel — social and mobile! — when making updates and changes to how you provide your support.

We came across the following article in InformationWeek and thought we’d share it as part of this quick write-up — How Social Can Improve Customer Service: Expert Advice. We suggest you give the article a read to get some interesting insights and perspectives into social site usage and how it’s changing…if not bettering…the help desk.

Here’s a quick excerpt:

Kate Leggett, senior analyst at Forrester, said it’s important for organizations to understand what communications channels customers want to be interacting on, then develop a social networking service model from there. For example, “once you have established that Facebook is the right medium to engage with your customers, you can offer customer service either from a separate tab on your Facebook page or by listening to comments on your Facebook page and engaging customers who need help.”

Leggett added that there is no right way to set up customer service presence on a social network, but that there are some basic tenets companies need to follow. For example, if you do decide to leverage Facebook, “ensure that your customer service services are tied back to what is offered by your company on your site, and ensure that you follow the same business processes for inquiries routed over Facebook as what you offer from your company website [so] that Facebook is not seen as a backdoor to your customer service organizations.”

Social networks can provide important data on the problems customers are having most often, as well as the products they would like to see changed (and how)–but only if you listen.

>> Click here to read the full story!

>> Click here to visit

Hot Off the Presses!’s Summer Edition Newsletter Now Available

Welcome to the Summer 2011 edition of’s quarterly newsletter — The Service & Support News — the premier newsletter for help desk, CRM, and IT professionals.

Our feature “story” this month isn’t so much a story, but rather a spotlight on our new interactive column “Ask the Coach!”, which features real-world Q&A on critical help desk related topics. Enjoy!

Here’s a preview! For the full edition, click here


Help Desk Q&A: Ask the Coach!
The ‘Help Desk Coach’ is’s new column, courtesy – that features real-world help desk agent Q&A questions


Ask the Coach!Excerpt:Help Desk agents worldwide have either submitted these questions to or asked these questions during customer service training for helpdesk agents, as presented by Donna Earl (The HelpDeskCoach).

See real-world questions and answers on such topics as: How to handle rude or obnoxious callers? How to more effectively help users to ‘help themselves? How to say ‘no’ to unreasonable support requests, especially those involving “illegally” downloaded software?

And best of all, you can submit your questions and receive professional advice and feedback free of charge. What could be better!

Help Desk Software TO THE CLOUD!

July 4, 2011 6 comments

The proliferation of “the cloud” has touched every major business function, including HR, Finance, Marketing, and of course internal and external IT Customer Support.

Most major — and not so major — help desk software and CRM vendors now offer cloud-based solutions.

The appeal of the cloud is simple to understand, with benefits including:

  • Remote hosting — no “messy” installations required
  • Affordability — at least in the shorter term, you’ll pay less for ‘cloud’ vs. ‘physical’ software
  • Scalability — the cloud makes this very easy!
  • Automatic updates/maintenance (you’ll always have the latest version at the ready,  if you opt into auto updates)
  • Newest technology — with cloud software, you’ll be getting the ‘latest and greatest’
  • Reduced staffing requirements — a big plus for leaner organizations

Of course, tangible ‘real world’ software also has its benefits. Cons of the ‘cloud’ include:

  • Less control — you won’t ‘own’ this software
  • Increased third-party dependencies — it’s up to the ‘cloud people’ to take care of you…to a certain extent
  • Performance — connectivity  and bandwidth issues can impede speed and program execution
  • Security concerns — a real concern, so be sure to check your cloud vendor carefully on this

Do cloud-based help desk and CRM packages include all the great things you need to manage your internal/external support requirements? Yes!  Ticketing, call tracking, remote alerting, backoffice integration, ITIL support, and more, are available through many cloud-based solutions.

But like with any business critical solution, be sure to do your homework and research the vendors on your shortlist carefully. The ‘cloud’ isn’t exactly a new technology or phenomena…thought IT marketers would like you to think otherwise! Software-As-A-Service (SAAS) has been around for years now, but only in the last few years has the ‘cloud’ emerged as a recognized and better understood and trusted ‘platform’ for serving critical business solutions.

For more help desk articles, news, vendor listings, and more, check out our website at! Thanks for reading this, and we look forward to your feedback.

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