Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Everyone has the same technology

It's true. Everyone has the same technology, or access to the same technology. So why do some self service web sites and IVRs fly like champions with their customers, and why do so many fail? Well, of course part of the reason is the way the technology is designed. It's the way the pieces are put together. You would expect a designer to say something unprofound like that.

Part of it, the part that's neglected too often, is the governance around the web site or the IVR. It's the ongoing commitment by everyone involved to make the site as good as it can be, given the limitations of the technology. That means breaking down institutional barriers that prevent different teams from working together to improve service. It means putting the right metrics in place, metrics that actually drive organizational behavior. It means lots of things that need to happen after the site goes into production. There are too many widowed web sites and IVRs out there - stuff that got pushed into production and then forgotten.

I worked at a company that invested huge sums in developing self service applications, but did little follow up afterwards. After a big project was over all the experienced people were released to new projects. When the self service didn't meet expectations the management's reaction was almost always the same: "The technology is no good. Let's get better technology." It was almost impossible to engage managers in a discussion about their ongoing responsibilities for improving the performance of the self service systems. "That's the service area's problem. They'll deal."

It was very wasteful. And frustrating. Getting the most out of an existing self service application helps ensure a good ROI.

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