Product Supportability Planning
Customer support organizations can be the heart of a company’s customer feedback process. In its position as a scouting outpost, spanning the company’s boundaries, no other group:
- Interacts with customers more
- Develops relationships with customers more bonded through trust
- Knows how customers truly use (or misuse) the product
Yet, the full strategic value of customer support is frequently missed.
Many company have service planning functions, but this is a one-directional information flow. Service representatives attend selected product planning meetings and learn what engineering and product management is throwing at them to support. That’s important, but it misses the point that customer service is a true knowledge center about product use and support. Armed with the this knowledge, customer service can contribute to the product planning itself.
Great Brook has performed seminal, groundbreaking research that has helped many support organizations:
- Become active listeners to the “customer’s voice”
- “Scout” for more meaningful data (product quality feedback and feature request information)
- Capture & report that data in more meaningful ways
- Become more tightly integrated into the product development process.
By becoming a strategic partner within their companies, these support organizations have improved the supportability of their companies’ products, resulting in
- Improved future product quality
- Reduced support costs through lower call rates
- Increased customer loyalty
- Increased employee loyalty
Many customer interaction systems (CIS — known also under various other three letter acronyms) have developed defect tracking modules that automate the sharing of data among customer support, product development, quality assurance, and product marketing. However, implementing technology alone does not guarantee success. Organizational impediments to collaboration are likely far more serious obstacles than technology.
Great Brook is uniquely qualified to bring the benefits of an enhanced strategic role to your support organization. Great Brook recommends a multi-stage improvement process:
- Educate cross-functional management about the opportunities
- Perform a diagnostic of current state of feedback processes, including inter-organizational relationships
- Develop an action plan to advance current practice
- Assist with or manage its implementation
- Audit the results to demonstrate the value of the efforts