The group of industry leaders discussing the new metrics framework for customer support met for the third time on Friday, January 15, to drill down into two of the six high-level metrics: Financial Health and Value. Given the intense focus on these two dimensions by support leaders, we would have assumed that there would be quite a few known and recommended metrics that came out from this discussion. This wasn’t the case, but the discussion identified a wide variety of options and raised several interesting key points:

1) the need to shift from a purely cost-centric approach,

2) how to mitigate the different perspectives of profit-based, non-profit based, internal/external support organizations, and

3) how to change the perspective of the conversation to an outside-in perspective and look at the new framework from the customer’s point of view.

In the end, the group agreed to combine the financial health and value metrics into one and identified time to value – customer perspective and time to value employee perspective two executive level metrics that warrant further definition and discussion.

Some of the key points around the three observations are summarized below.

First, how to avoid a purely cost-centric approach. The term financial health presented a number of challenging questions, arising not exclusively from the lack of current measures and metrics in this category, but from the recognition (and consensus) that existing metrics focus on cost – to the detriment of most organizations. The group concluded by meeting’s end that support leaders and executives have concentrated on support cost as the primary measure for some time and don’t need further direction on that measure. While cost is big factor, we need to think more about customer perspective and value of business to the customer, which is an emerging measure. It is time to rid leaders from “the tyranny of cost.”

Second, how to mitigate the different perspectives of profit-based, non-profit based organizations. Other challenging questions emanated from the different perspectives that customer-facing, profit-based support organizations have from internally-facing, non-profit/governmental organizations. By combining the financial health metric with the value metric, some of the tension can be mitigated. However, the discussion is not over on that point.

Third, how to change the perspective of the conversation to an outside-in perspective. Several points about value were echoed in the group, summarized here. First, companies are very focused on looking at the value metric inwardly. For example, unit cost is an efficiency metric, which is an internal view. The group agreed that we don’t do enough from the outside-in perspective, ask our customers what they measure and then figure out how to deliver toward that?  Consider the client journey (or client life events). What is the time to value, recognizing that the client will define different success factors at different points in that journey. If customers get onboarded in 10 days, how could you do it in 9 days? At other points, the question might be, “How do we get customers through these life events quicker, e.g. how we get people back to normal business after a major upgrade.

The group discussed a variety of metrics you could around put those life events and recommended adding a customer lens to the mix because clients are the unifying piece across silos. They also agreed it was relevant to look in the mirror: How effectively are we moving customers along within the organization? Look at the number of interactions it takes to close a customer, the number of hand-offs in a professional services engagement, how many feedback loops it takes to transition a customer in support?

Join the discussion.  Let us know what value means to your support organization and how you measure it.

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