Portals: Content is king!

This post is the fifth in a series about building portals for teams and groups to interact with customers. If you’re interested in reading more please follow us on twitter or subscribe in the right-hand margin of this blog —>

Now your site is up and running and you can talk to your customers and they can also participate in discussions. What comes next to provide value?

Content.

Content is what your customers want. Some examples that they might be looking for include success stories, examples of how your department or team helps people and the systems and data your teams use every day.

Consider how much information your team has. Building an interface into that information can produce some pretty unique and innovative ideas, solutions and value.

Let’s say for instance your team runs a library at a medical device manufacturer. You have access to tons of resources that most people are going to want to access and skim quickly – as well as in-depth research.

Can you extend access to the catalog via a web portal, api or guest access?

This simple integration not only saves time on employee productivity (direct access to information) – it could also lead to a more disciplined approach to product management; which translates to less risk and more profit.

Extending the data your company, team or project already leverages, adds value to your customer when they can do it themselves.

Take another situation – if you’re a bank providing financial services, surely your service partners have access to information and value your customers are begging to get at.

If you, as a bank, can offer that information, you now have a way to differentiate yourself from other local banks. Another benefit is that your partnerships grow stronger. I’ve also seen some financial institutions giving away this kind of information as a marketing tactic to attract new customers.

These integrations aren’t particularly easy. It’s not always as easy as copy-pasting an embed code from youtube. Sometimes, though, it is!

So, I echo the same thing; GO TO THE CUSTOMERS! What systems, information or things do they call your team for all the time, that they could just look up themselves?

Once you discover those things, you’ll need to determine if your software, website, whatever can integrate well. At which point you will evaluate the return-on-investment of the integration (meaning how much will you impact productivity/revenue) and the total-cost-of-ownership for this integration. Does it require a license? How about staff? Once these considerations are made, hopefully a decision can be made.

Here are some examples of common integrations being added to portals:

  1. Systems of Record
    1. Employee directory
    2. Team directory
    3. Ticket portal
    4. knowledge
    5. databases
  2. Writing
    1. How-to
    2. Company updates
    3. Team updates
    4. Project updates
    5. Fileshare
  3. Checklists
  4. Links
  5. Downloads
  6. Events/Calendars
  7. Dashboard/Reporting

Each one of these topics has complexities and considerations. Join us next week as we start exploring the fire hose of enhancement requests you’re going to start getting.

Have you been reading along? Send feedback, get involved or let us know how we’re doing!

Customer Service Week

Don’t miss out on this year’s customer service week.

If you work in customer service, use it to make work fun. If you don’t, use it as an opportunity to say thank-you – or even offer more!

Here are some ideas:

Service

  1. Start at csweek.com – it’s the best resource and mostly free!
  2. Make sure you mark it on your calendar
  3. At the very least, bring in donuts
  4. Take the time to thank each member of the team
  5. Do an off-site meeting or lunch
  6. Host a happy hour
  7. Host a potluck
  8. Bring in a customer to say “thanks”

Non-Service

  1. Say thanks to the team
  2. Offer a cross-team training
  3. Bring them treats, donuts, lunch
  4. Print a big “thank you” sign
  5. Hand written notes of thanks
  6. Giant posted with thanks written all over it

Got more ideas? Leave them in the comments below!

Building IT Portals – what have we learned?

I was honored to lead a roundtable discussion at HDI Minnesota yesterday. Topics ranged from hiring practices to career paths for agents. Very involved discussion with a ton of experience and leaders in the room.

I loved being there and listening.

The topic I was ‘leading’ (which means asking questions) was on IT portals. Mostly every support team had a portal along with the challenges exist that have always existed.

However, I think our industry and software in general has come a long way to understanding the shortcomings of portals, adoption and experience.

I started off the session by asking who had a portal. And some hands flopped around uncomfortably. Maybe they don’t think their portals are good enough to call them portals.

One leader offered up his story about using Sharepoint as a portal and what that meant to the sharepoint service (when we upgrade we have some issues with our portal).

Several people noted that posting critical information on the portal was a huge win for both communication and contact avoidance.

Someone else noted that Knowledgebase access was a great feature to have (totally agree) – and went on to shock me that they even allow a forum feature for people to simply discuss anything (very innovative IMHO).

Then I asked the difficult question “what do your customers think about it?”  – – crickets.

“I don’t want another password” is what one end user cited for not using the portal.

Over the next weeks I will outline some of the heavy topics involved in department portals. I’m not going to focus on IT though, because I believe this is a challenge that all many-to-one relationships have. Meaning that any department, team, group, organization, or organization can learn from other groups’ failures and challenges to build an app to improve interaction, collaboration, service, and experience.

Subscribe in the right-hand margin to follow along ->

Or follow us on twitter to read as they are posted.

Kinetic Data Support Team

Any good relationship starts with introductions, so let’s get started. Here’s DSCF6621a bit of information on the four of us that handle support. Next time you contact support, hopefully you can have a better personal connection with the person helping you.

Name: Derick Larson

Years at Kinetic Data: 13 (worked for Insurance and Retail before KD)

Favorite Part of Support: Seeing the crazy things customers do with our products. A Time Tracking application using Kinetic Request is my favorite. Second place has to be taking inventory using hand scanners and Kinetic “Survey” templates. Continue reading “Kinetic Data Support Team”

Better Service Visibility = Better Delivery!

Service disruption occurs when change and release management collisions occur.

How do we prevent these collisions from occurring in the first place?

Even the most sophisticated teams are subjected to these problems; why?

No matter how much planning and automation you have, there are still outages!

Now the service desk is getting hammered with calls and a VP is irate over not being able to reach his “key” system. No one is happy. The world is on fire!

We planned. We strategized… We have GREAT tools! We have GREAT PEOPLE! We AUTOMATE!!!

Why? Why me? Why us?

While you may have planned accordingly, followed the good practice handbook to the letter and thought you understood the decisions in the CAB, you still had collisions. Why?

Because you made decisions based on incomplete information.

There are MANY systems of record that hold critical information related to service delivery. That information is often not all in a single database — such as your ITSM system.

Vacation and business event information? It’s in your messaging system (Exchange).

Customer specific case information? It’s in your CRM (Salesforce.com).

Release information? It’s in your ITSM system (ServiceNow).

If key data related to change/release decisions is not all in the same system, the effort to correlate it may be painful and time-consuming, but; ultimately it is worth it if service is improved. Figure out how to get it correlated — even if it is a spreadsheet. Reduce the risk by knowing what is what.

calendar-video-preview-1
1:56 — A demonstration of a unified calendar view.

We built Kinetic Calendar to enable real-time visibility into key data from multiple applications. it’s more important than ever to be able to cross reference data from those systems. Request a free demo here.

What’s New on Kinetic Community – May 2015

Kinetic Community is the information and interaction hub for users of Kinetic Data software. It’s the place to find and discuss product documentation, videos, presentations, training class materials, downloads, example service items, task handlers, bundles, bridges and more—as well as presentations from the 2015 Kinetic Enthusiasts Group (KEG) event. As John Sundberg notes in the video below, Kinetic Community is a fantastic asset.

Kinetic Community rocks - create, share, and smileHere is what’s new on the site since our last blog update: Continue reading “What’s New on Kinetic Community – May 2015”

What’s New on Kinetic Community – August 2013

Kinetic Community is the information and interaction hub for users of Kinetic Data software. It’s the place to find and discuss product documentation, videos, presentations, training class materials, downloads, example service items, task handlers, bundles, bridges and more.

Kinetic Community
Here is what’s new on the site over the past 30 days:

Implementing a Multi-Language Survey (August 21, 2013)

There are two main methods of implementing a multi-language survey, each with its own pros and cons, but making framework changes to support multi-language surveys is a bit more involved than simply cloning the survey and changing the displayed text. This article will focus on how to implement framework changes to enable multi-language surveys.

Arranging Checkbox Answers in Multiple Columns (August 20, 2013)

When you have a large number of checkboxes related to a single question, their arrangement on the page can become unwieldy and ugly. This solution article explains how to collect the answers in a multiple-checkbox List field and arrange them in parallel columns using JavaScript.

Putting Answers into Mobile-Friendly Tables (August 19, 2013)

The simple service item described in this article illustrates using a customer’s answers to build up a table in Kinetic Request.  This enables the customer to request multiple items (ex. Port details for a Server Add Request) without having to have multiple instances of the same field (ex. Port Type and IP Address) on the service item.

LinkedIn Handlers (August 15, 2013)

These two LinkedIn handlers allow you to post a comment along with corresponding web content to both an individual and a company’s profile. This web content url can be posted along with a Title, a Description, and an Image Url.

Twitter Handlers (August 15, 2013)

These two Twitter handlers allow you to post statuses of differing complexities to Twitter. One handler will post a text only status while the other one allows you to post a picture in jpg, gif, or png format.

Populating a Mobile-Friendly Table Using a Simple Data Request (August 13, 2013)

The service item described in this article illustrates using Simple Data Request to build up a table in Kinetic Request.  Once loaded, the sample service item uses the Simple Data Request framework to retrieve a list of User records and display a table of Create Date, Modified Date, Email, Login Name, and Full Name field values.

Data Pull (August 7, 2013)

This package contains the files necessary for displaying results from Kinetic fulfillment records (approval, work order) in the customer’s review request. This allows the customer to view fulfillment information without creating duplicates of all the fulfillment answer in the original request.

SMTP Calendar/Meeting Invite Task Handler (July 30, 2013)

This handler builds and sends an email with an icalendar meeting request invite directly to the specified email server specified by the associated task info values.

To learn more, check out all recent updates and resource additions on Kinetic Community.

The ROI of IT Support Improvements (Think Big)

It’s hardly news to point out that service desk improvements provide numerous benefits to an enterprise: happier employees, reduced downtime, more time for IT staff to focus on strategic priorities.

And it’s intuitively logical that improving support processes saves money. What may be surprising, however, is the level of cost savings that can be achieved across a large organization through even small improvements in support practices.

According to research from MetricNet, reported in the white paper The Economic Impact of Support, the average cost of an IT support ticket starts at about $22 for Level 1 (service desk) support and rises dramatically as issues are escalated, reaching $196 per ticket for field support and a whopping $471 for vendor support.

Costs of Service Call Escalation
Image credit: MetricNet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, some issues need to be escalated. But the white paper focused on the cost of escalating tickets that could have and should have been solved through first-level support. Such issues exist in every large organization. The good news is that, because of the steep cost rise as tickets are escalated, improving service desk practices to resolve more Level 1 issues at the service desk can yield enormous returns.

As the white paper notes, “The difference between the top- and bottom-quartile performers is a staggering thirty hours per employee per year! Put another way, support organizations in the top quartile are able to return nearly four extra days of productivity annually for every knowledge worker in the enterprise. When multiplied by thousands or even tens of thousands of employees in a company, the productivity gains and ROI delivered by a top-performing support organization can be tremendous!” In the case of the insurance company profiled in the report, the cost difference of being a top-quartile performer vs. a bottom-quartile company amounted to more than $6 million annually.

So how can an organization improve help desk processes to achieve that kind of cost reduction? One key strategy is to address gaps in service delivery processes incrementally. By making a series of small changes, rather than attempting a single “big bang” overhaul of IT support, staff remain motivated by achieving and celebrating a succession of small victories.

For more ideas, check out Five Steps to a Better Service Desk on KineticData.com.