• 07:00:27 am on June 23, 2008 | 2
    Tags: , , , ,

    With lots of interest I’ve been watching the web 2.0 worlds evolve and gradually replace our notion of collaboration. It’s been even more curious to watch this evolution in support. We are infatuated with forums and communities – how to establish them, what to do with them, how to leverage their content, and that this is where and how collaboration happens. For sure, forums and discussion groups are places where great things happen:

    • Where questions are asked and (maybe) answered
    • Where extended discussions happen
    • Where members use the collective knowledge to make purchasing decisions
    • Where participants can become part of the social fabric and extensions of the company
    • Where the community collectively grow the extended a body of knowledge

    But this is a specific kind of collaboration. If you have to produce work … If you have a software system down, a prospectus to deliver, if you have a significant insurance payment to approve or challenge, you need tools that help you get the work done — and collaboration is a supporting activity in that endeavor. If you go into support centers that are anything but ultra high frequency centers, most of the time is spent producing resolutions to questions or problems. Communities, IM, email are not the best tools for this. We need collaboration environments that allow us to work on our problems, but support awareness and presence information, and interaction tied to the work product so we can more easily collaborate ON the work and perhaps maintain a history. The point is that while communities are empowering in many situations, the biggest chunk of time in support is spent on creating new answers and solutions. Here, collaboration is intended to support the work, not the thing we are doing.

    In the right configuration, wiki’s might be a solution. Most are text based, but a few, Socialtext and Jive are beginning to support more forms of work — spreadsheets, presentations, and code and with presence information, groups, reputation and discussions tied to the work build into the wiki. We have a long way to go, but by looking at the main activities inside support organizations, we can see what activities need to be supported and that we need to broaden our notion of collaboration.

    What is your experience? Are you using these new tools in an innovative way? Let me know…

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Comments

  • Haim Toeg 2:41 am on June 24, 2008 | # | Reply

    Andrew,

    I am curious about your statement that “the biggest chunk of time in support is spent on creating new answers and solutions”. Is there a case study you can share?

    In my experience, most of support’s time is spent attempting to get to root cause or applying existing knowledge repeatedly rather than creating new resolutions. I’d stretch it and say that if this is the case then something is either going extremely well or very badly.

    I’d be interested in your opinions.

    Haim

  • Andrew 7:24 pm on June 25, 2008 | # | Reply

    Haim: I don’t have a case study (though I should write it!) and I think we are closer to agreeing than not.. However, over the last few years, I’ve been in well over 100 different call centers. What I find most often is the process of ‘answering’ — that is root cause analysis, diagnosis, problem solving, gathering information, collaboration in high tech and discovery, information gathering, data and situation exploration in Financial Services, drives costs up. It’s not searching and writing up and answers – it’s the process in between. Precisely the place where there is less support, technology and process for the representatives. If I had to guess, I’d say search based research is 5-15% of the time of a case, CRM activities are 10-15%, then there is some general administrative time. The rest of the time is troubleshooting / understanding the question and generating the answer, not creating the solution.


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