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Over the next five years, one of the most significant changes in retail will be the creation of stores that are designed around unique branded experiences. These experiences are proving to be excellent ways to engage shoppers, build strong brand loyalty, and increase sales.
In fact, during the recent 2018 holiday shopping season, brands from Facebook to Walmart used in-store experiences to target shoppers. Companies are increasingly turning to technology to help create unique and personal experiences, giving stores and brands a competitive edge. But your customers’ experience really starts with people, your front-line associates.
According to Forbes, businesses need to equip their employees with the right tools and training so they can achieve their primary goal: keeping customers happy through the use of technology. As modern retailers continue to find new and innovative ways to meet their customers where they are, empowering retail sales associates with the right technology has become a key component for improving the overall in-store customer experience.
How does technology empower retail employees to engage customers and maximize their experience? By making it personal.
The right technology makes it easy for retailers to support their employees and improve the customer experience like never before. Sales enablement technology includes the hardware and software that lets retail employees maximize their time on the sales floor and optimize the customer experience.
How does this benefit your customer and lead to increased engagement? By creating a more secure, reliable, and streamlined shopping process.
For retailers, having a technology-based solution that puts a bundle of powerful selling tools into the hands of their employees is a game-changer because engaged and satisfied customers purchase 50 percent more frequently. They also spend 200 percent more each year and are five times more likely to display brand loyalty. These fully-engaged customers result in 23 percent more profit, revenue and growth potential compared to the average customer.
Forrester found that customers who had a better experience with a company said they were less likely to go elsewhere and more likely to recommend it. Sales enablement solutions like CompuCom’s In-Store Selling Advisor equips sales associates with fast access to product information and the right knowledge to optimize their in-store interactions with customers. The result from In-Store Selling Advisor is the ability for you to equip retail employees with Apple Devices, on-board faster with sales enablement and training, boost performance with assisted selling tools and support employees with IT services.
Publish Date: January 21, 2019 5:00 AM
The modern retail revolution has pushed technological innovation to the forefront of retail priorities as brands attempt to keep up with enhanced consumer demands. These strategic investments can increase customer loyalty, provide cost benefits and open up new revenue opportunities. Appealing to the demands of the contemporary consumer, one who is drawn to a personalized, engaging, convenient and technology driven experience, is fundamental to success.
Implementing omnichannel, merging and blending online and in-store experiences and incorporating attractive and engaging personalized interactions are all avenues being pursued by some of the most innovative retailers today. Here are four examples of brands who are leading the way when it comes to successfully modernizing the shopping experience.
A leading beauty product specialist has executed an extremely successful omnichannel initiative which has bolstered both their online and in-store sales. They have effectively blurred the lines between the two by merging their ecommerce platform with their physical stores. This is essential considering that 75 percent of consumers expect consistent experiences across multiple channels (web, mobile, in-person, social), with 73 percent of customers likely to switch brands if that isn’t available.
The beauty retailer has achieved innovation by creating connected applications accessible in-store and on personal devices which allow the customer to engage with the product in a fast, fun and convenient way. While visiting the store, customers can engage with virtual reality technology which allows them to simulate trying on the product, while being presented with relevant information and other compatible product suggestions. The customer is also offered the option of connecting with social media, providing an opportunity to share their experience.
For grocery retailers, the biggest hurdles to customer satisfaction include scanning issues and checkout times. In fact, 88 percent of customers want their checkout experience to be faster. Implementing self-serve checkouts could potentially free up employees to focus on the customer, but these can have their own barriers. The same survey showed 45 percent of customers who choose not to use self-checkout do so because they have experienced technical and barcode difficulties.
Grocery brands also face pressure from online-only retailers who have rapidly entered the market. However, while these retailers have been successful, it is also true that 67 percent of customers have not purchased groceries online as they still prefer to pick fresh produce in person. For most retailers, this means finding a balance between online and physical.
One major grocery retailer is successfully overcoming the technological challenges disrupting customer experience by introducing an application that bypasses the checkout clerk altogether and allows payment to be made directly on the customer’s phone. Known as scan & go, this speeds up the checkout time and makes it easier for customers to get what they need from the store and get out quickly. Innovations at the checkout will continue to impact the retail industry as customers demand a faster and more convenient way to pay for their products.
Quick service restaurants have also had success implementing mobile apps to improve the customer experience and free up employees who would otherwise be standing at the cash register. One leading chain restaurant, having implemented a personal device application for payment, saw 27 percent of all transactions in-store being processed through the application in 2017. Since then, they have continued to implement new solutions, including recently introducing voice ordering and augmented reality in some locations.
Identification and involvement with the product is a crucial technique to gaining customer loyalty, as 80 percent of consumers desire to be engaged with the product they are buying and prefer to shop at brands which offer that. The brand’s augmented reality technology allows customers to engage and connect with the brand by being able to peer inside the production machinery and read details about the process. The brand further engages the customer by encouraging them to participate in collecting virtual badges as they experience the store and then share their experience on social media platforms.
Similarly, a specialty footwear retailer has taken personalization and engagement of their product in interesting directions. They have turned after-hour window display shopping into an interactive, informative process which allows the customer to browse through products on a display. This allows them to access information, see the products on a virtual interactive mannequin and to save products of interest on their smartphones for later. Behind the scenes they have made it possible for customers to personalize the product itself, allowing for selection of design features for online ordering.
They have started implementing 3D printing technology that allows for on-demand production and avoids unnecessary overstock waste. The technology also has huge potential for tailoring their product to cater to the customer’s individual foot shape. This technology will make its way into stores soon, providing the ultimate customization experience and creating a competitive advantage over other brands.
Investing in strategic technology is a win-win for any retailer looking to grow and stay competitive. Technological innovation can benefit retailers in the form of increased customer loyalty and attachment with the brand, reduced costs and new revenue. The benefits are plenty, when technology is integrated with the customer in mind.
Publish Date: December 10, 2018 5:00 AM
For many companies, the ability to be flexible, agile and responsive is critical.
Business requirements change suddenly, and the companies who thrive are the ones who are able to adapt and respond the fastest to business unit requirements and issues 24/7.
This is equally true when thinking about your enterprise mobility suite. It’s not enough to simply take a “set it and forget it” approach when deploying new devices to end users. You need to have the right lifecycle service and support available and ready to deal with any request in real time.
The story of a large event planning company is the perfect example. It shows how enterprises benefit from working with a single source solution provider with 24/7 support.
In this case, the company needed support before, during, and after the deployment of hundreds of smartphones and tablets. The company also needed their solution provider to respond to an emergency request for devices without any delays. Here’s how the event unfolded:
The company needed a large number of end user devices for a major weekend concert. They needed to give staff connectivity before and during the event so that everything would be executed effectively.
Like other cyclical businesses, locking into a two-year contract for all the devices didn’t make sense, and the company didn’t want to have to manage each device after every event was over.
The event company needed help with the following:
Shortly after the devices were activated, the event organizer realized that there would be more people attending the upcoming festival than originally planned.
As a result, they would need to do more set up and provide more staff on site. On the Tuesday evening prior to the weekend of the event, the company reached out to their enterprise mobility partner requesting additional devices to be ready and shipped to the event by Friday.
For many providers and in-house IT departments, this type of rapid redeployment request would be impossible. Often these support services are not available on evenings and weekends. Then you would have to navigate pre-recorded messages and complicated telephone trees just to speak to someone who was hopefully the right person.
Usually, at this point, a ticket would be opened for someone else to respond to during business hours. This is not the type of responsiveness most businesses need, especially when the success of a project is at stake.
But with 24/7 live support provided by a trained mobility service and support technician, this type of request wasn’t a problem. The company was able to talk to a live, knowledgeable person within minutes to explain the situation.
Work quickly began at the distribution center to get the devices activated, configured, and shipped directly to the site. The result? End users had the devices in their hands within 48 hours of the request. Once the event was over, the partner company handled the deactivation and stored the devices until required at the next event.
With the ability to rapidly respond to changing business requirements, the company’s event was able to go off without a hitch. By working with a reliable enterprise mobility partner, the company gained the peace of mind of knowing that if anything went wrong with their enterprise mobility suite before, during or after the event took place, they would be able to get assistance immediately.
Paying too much for data? Find out how much you will save by moving to a Mobile Access solution.
Publish Date: October 17, 2017 5:00 AM
Operating a medium-sized business is a game of checks and balances. This is particularly the case when you decide it is time to look for an IT help desk solution.
On one hand, you are too large to rely on the “one-size-fits-all” solutions often most suitable for small businesses.
On the other, you are too small for an enterprise IT help desk partner to take you on as a client.
This sweet spot you’re in doesn’t feel so sweet.
You fall right in the middle – you have more sophisticated IT needs than the small company you once were, yet are a long way off from being large enough for enterprise-level providers to pay attention to you as a viable client.
You’ll be happy to know there are dedicated IT help desk options out there for your business. While it may be a bit harder to find help with comprehensive IT service desk management support options, once you do, keep these three tips in mind as you start to evaluate their services:
Just because you’ve grown as a company by keeping IT in house, doesn’t mean this is your only option for the future.
Open up to the possibilities of what the right partner company could do for you. One example of a starting place could be taking lower-level support tickets off your in-house team. This frees them up for more advanced and strategic IT work to help your company grow. Even the most enthusiastic help desk employee can lose motivation when stuck answering routine password reset requests day in and day out.
Partnering with a company to handle your help desk inquiries will not be a fixed cost – in a good way. Look for a company who will include real time analytics with their IT services that can help identify areas of improvement and cost savings.
By offering analytics within the solution, you will be able see much more than just what happened last month. This includes near-real-time details of the support inquiries, such as quantity, by department, region, resolver group and most common request.
You should also be able to monitor the details of the process and see variations and adjust as needed. For example, if there is unusual activity, you can easily identify if it is training related, system related or even simply educating your employees about lower cost contact methods (for example using the chat instead of picking up the phone for a live conversation).
Some partners who are too small to handle your support needs will do their best to win your business. An account like yours would look great on their customer list. And while it may feel good to be their largest client, the support, the value for your money and analytics you will be missing by not selecting a partner with a more robust offering will not be worth the ‘big fish in a small pond’ status you would have by choosing them. Your business growth is just too important to limit service at this stage.
On the flip side, some of the enterprise providers may be persuaded to offer you support, but there you’ll be on the opposite side of the situation. You’ll not be able to take advantage of all the services, support and cost savings because the solution will not fit your unique needs that companies have when they’re at the 250 – 3000 seat size. If you’re able to convince them to do business with you, you will likely be overpaying for their support.
Freeing your existing IT staff from level one support tickets, gaining insight through analytics and knowing there are IT help desk support options specifically for the unique needs of your business can open up the throttle on profitable growth for your company.
Did we miss anything? Comment below with anything you might be looking for in a SmartDesk solution.
Publish Date: September 12, 2017 5:00 AM
The deployment phase of a new enterprise mobility solution is the most critical step for IT departments to get right. What may look to be a nuts and bolts process is actually one of the easiest to get wrong. End users demand mobile solutions that are as easy as their personal devices. If the tools you provide don’t work right away, they may be left unused forever.
If that happens, all of the planning, strategy, and effort done up to that point is wasted, along with any potential cost savings or other benefits expected to be gained from the new solution.
Recently, one major convenience and fuel retailer was looking to deploy over 300 iPhones in just 8 weeks. End users were located in stores and offices across the United States, and could not afford to be without their devices or data during the transition period.
The IT staff did not have the internal resources, time and expertise to fulfill this business unit requirement, and needed to focus their attention on other strategic projects. To make this project vision a reality, they turned to CompuCom to be sure the project was completed on time and on budget with limited disruption to users.
Leveraging more than 30 years of experience working on large scale deployments and enterprise mobility lifecycle solutions, CompuCom was able to:
The retailer was able to get the new devices into the hands of end users and execute on their enterprise mobility strategy.
The end users receiving the new devices were busy, and they relied on their phones to receive their daily work requests and alerts in order to complete their day to day jobs. The new devices needed to be introduced with as little disruption as possible while maintaining all of the user’s existing data, applications and information.
Before the replacement took place, all of the end user’s data was backed up in the cloud and then loaded onto the new device so that it was still accessible. CompuCom then migrated the existing phone number so that the user would not miss any important work requests, calls or messages, and assisted with setting up voicemail, PIN codes and other user settings. From the end user perspective, the only thing that changed was the device itself, and they still had everything they needed to go about their work.
The actual delivery of devices can be the most challenging part of an enterprise mobility deployment. With offices and end users located across geographic regions and time zones, it can be very difficult to get the right device to the right employee within a tight schedule.
Devices must be stored until they are ready to be shipped, packaged and prepared to go out, and delivered to the right user. Otherwise, all of the work kitting and configuring will have gone to waste.
Many office mailrooms simply aren’t equipped to handle this type of volume. We were able to efficiently and effectively deliver over 300 devices within the client’s 8 week timeframe, amounting to more than 40 devices a week.
As a result, no end user was left without their device at any time, and the IT team was not forced to manage the complex logistics that come with such a large project.
Deployment doesn’t end after the initial delivery. Replacing devices for end users requires many of the same steps, and often has tighter time requirements because the user is without access to their phone.
Ongoing maintenance, repair, and emergency replacement can be especially challenging in environments such as retail, where devices tend to take more abuse and need to be replaced or serviced more frequently.
CompuCom continues to provide lifecycle service and support for the retailer’s end users, including Advanced Exchange. An automated replacement request portal was set up so that a new replacement unit can be set up and delivered from the nearest distribution hub as soon as possible.
The broken device is then shipped back to CompuCom for repair or proper disposal. Not only does this help to mitigate downtime and keep end users happy, it also reduces the burden on the IT team who can focus on other initiatives.
Despite appearing to be a nuts and bolts process following the strategic work that goes into building a new enterprise mobility solution, this major retailer recognized the importance of a successful deployment after making such a large investment.
By working with CompuCom, they were able to seamlessly transition users from the old devices to the new ones, manage the logistics of getting the devices into the end-users’ hands, and handle ongoing maintenance and replacement requests without drawing on their in-house IT team.
Find out how to save more on your enterprise data use. Take the Mobile Access Calculator challenge.
Publish Date: August 24, 2017 5:00 AM
For nearly a decade, search engines were the preferred tool to connect workers with solutions to their technical questions and issues. Today, millennials are starting to take a different turn.
Of all generations in the workforce today, millennials have shown the highest desire to resolve technical issues on their own. This new generation of workers has cut its technical teeth troubleshooting gaming consoles and apps through online threads, Wikipedia pages and self-help articles. More and more, service desk providers are recognizing the need to evolve in today’s digital world by arming users with tools to troubleshoot workplace technologies on their own, in a way that’s meaningful to them and relevant to their work environment.
As an IT executive or professional seeking to stay ahead of the curve, consider the following key aspects in a self-service knowledge base.
A user base infused with young professionals benefits from self-service articles that are quick to consume and provide straightforward instructions to solve technical issues. These articles do not need to be overly technical; in fact, they are more effective when they are simple and visual. The most commonly used articles often rely on screenshots so the reader can easily follow along.
Self-service knowledge bases should cover an array of topics to accommodate users across different applications, operating systems, legacy systems and devices. To achieve this, the knowledge base must retain older, but applicable articles, while constantly updating and adding new ones to stay relevant.
Knowledge bases no longer solely function as repositories of information. They are becoming smarter and smarter and have developed ways to better engage the user. One of the most effective features in a knowledge base is a natural language search, which makes finding suitable articles a no-brainer. Users can type their stream of consciousness into the search window without having to manually parse through ideas, expediting and simplifying their quest for a solution.
Managed Content as a Service (mCaaS) platforms have the capability to improve results with every search. Over time, the system will recognize a specific user’s search trends, and can therefore better understand the user’s needs and provide more relevant, specific results based on profiles and preferences. Not only does this save the user valuable time, but also it frees service desk agents to perform more strategic initiatives.
A key differentiator of knowledge bases is the secure user experience. In traditional search engines such as Google, search results are hosted by infinite sources, making it very difficult to know where the results page links will take you. Effective knowledge bases keep up with today’s cybersecurity requirements by hosting all articles on their own site and ensuring all knowledge is federated, secure and updated in parallel with application enhancements and software launches.
Self-service knowledge bases are the future of independent IT problem solving. Placing the power of resolving technical issues into users’ hands reduces agent-assisted service desk tickets, lowers costs and streamlines the upgrading, migrating and moving processes. Remote employees especially benefit from these solutions since they don’t have the luxury of quickly asking colleagues for help.
Support your employees and their diverse needs by investing in a service desk provider that offers self-service knowledge bases.
How much money can you save by moving to a self-service knowledge base model for your service desk? Go to the SmartDesk Solution™ Savings Calculator to find out. I invite you to ask questions or leave comments below.
Publish Date: May 22, 2017 5:00 AM
Today’s employees are empowered to work remotely, and use laptops as well as mobile devices to complete their tasks. An increasing percentage of their work is being done on tablets and even smartphones. In fact, multiple surveys show more business and personal email (54 percent in 2017, according to Litmus) is read on a mobile device than on a laptop or desktop.
Based on the growing adoption of mobile devices, it only makes sense that your service desk solution should be available on a mobile application to accommodate your employees and to meet the demands of their role. If your existing provider does not offer a mobile solution, you should consider finding one that does, so that your employees and IT team can be productive whenever and wherever needed.
A good mobile app services solution essentially provides users and their employers with five primary benefits: mobility, simplicity, efficiency, productivity and information.
Here are some tangible examples of the benefits of providing your users with a service desk mobile app:
One of the biggest advantages of having a service desk mobile app is the ability of your employees to efficiently and effectively solve their own problems 24/7 with a robust knowledge base or by unlocking their own passwords. Users are also empowered with quick links to help with submitting tickets, receiving updates and even chatting with an agent while on the go. Whether they are at a customer site or riding the bus or subway, your employees can get the support they need to stay productive, regardless of their location or the time of day.
Tailored for smaller screens, service desk mobile apps should offer simple-to-use interfaces that display the most frequently used tools and basic fields that can be filled out quickly and easily. The more intuitive an interface is, the more likely an app is to be widely used, because of the effective and efficient user interface it provides. Also, mobile apps often make self-service options easier to navigate, enabling employees to troubleshoot issues on their own any time during the day (or night) without needing to request service, which can save your business money. Similarly, you should also provide flexibility in terms of which contact methods you offer, so that you can direct users to lower-cost self-help versus higher-cost calls to the service desk.
Users of a mobile service desk app provide integrated information upfront that agents can instantly access when their assistance is requested. The employee’s identity is verified and the agent will be able to help more quickly. There’s no need to answer questions about who is calling or provide a history of service requests. The agent will automatically be able to access the employee’s basic information when they receive the request.
Finding the help ticket location is one challenge, but submitting it can be another. When there are many fields to fill out, employees may procrastinate on submitting their support ticket until their problem escalates and they need immediate assistance. Mobile service desk solutions can negate this issue by auto-filling saved fields in each ticket. When an employee is signed into his or her account on a mobile device, the basic fields are already captured. This means employees spend less time away from their work filling out forms, and can use that time to be productive and drive the business forward.
Emails are constantly flooding your employees’ inboxes, so how do you effectively keep users updated on the status of their tickets? Mobile service desk solutions should have the option to give employees notifications on their mobile devices so they can stay up-to-date on the status of their tickets. Employees can opt for text messages to alert them about updates instead of, or in addition to, emails. This also helps employees respond more quickly to an agent if follow up is required.
You can provide round-the-clock benefits of a service desk in the palm of your users’ hands by offering them a robust, yet easy-to-use mobile app service desk solution.
How would such a solution impact your organization? Check out the SmartDesk Solution Savings Calculator to find out. Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Publish Date: April 24, 2017 5:00 AM
In today’s world, things move quickly and people are juggling numerous tasks on an increasingly tightened timeline and budget. To support the demand for heightened efficiency, more and more companies – regardless of industry – are moving toward a service desk model that enables end users to get the IT support they need in a timely manner.
Therefore, live chat – where end users enter text into an integrated desktop or mobile chat window to notify the service desk of an IT issue – is in ever-greater demand as a contact method.
Live chat is one of the fastest, most efficient ways for end users to enter their tech support requests. It empowers them to multitask as their ticket is being resolved. It also enables service desk agents to work on multiple tickets and access various service desk tools, so that they can offer the best knowledge and support needed to get users back up and running quickly.
Here are three reasons why live chat is a must-have contact method for end users.
In a world where we’re always feeling squeezed for time, implementing contact methods that create efficiency for users is a must. Live chat enables end users to stay productive and efficient regardless of the technical issue.
Does your service desk provider offer live chat? If so, do you find it beneficial? If not, what suggestions do you have that would benefit your end users? Please submit a comment below.
Publish Date: February 21, 2017 5:00 AM
What’s your first thought when hearing the term IT help desk?
With anything to do with enterprise mobility, this typically means calling the carrier.
If you’re like most people, you are already preparing yourself for a lengthy recording and automated responses followed by slow response times, half-solved tickets, re-routing your call to another department and being on hold for a lengthy time. In the end, your problem is not resolved. Sound familiar?
Or, instead of calling the carrier, your end users contact your in-house IT help desk for assistance.
This is not going to be much better, as most IT departments are already under-staffed, lack the specific knowledge required to properly assist end users regarding mobile, and mobile carrier requests take a back seat to other IT-related tasks.
These requests may not be seen as a priority, even though it may be key to closing a sale or supporting an existing customer.
So much for the promise of the mobile enterprise delivering on anywhere/anytime productivity.
When choosing an enterprise mobility solution, look for one that can truly provide a holistic solution. This includes seamless help desk support 24/7/365 – but minus the lengthy recordings and automated responses that increase your frustrations when dealing directly with the carriers.
I’m not just talking about email support or leaving a voice mail, or having to talk to a third-party support team who doesn’t ever seem helpful. This is what I mean:
Here is a typical scenario in the enterprise: Say it is 7 p.m. on a weekday, and your employee needs his or her device activated.
With most help desks, the employee would send an email or open a ticket with the IT department’s IT Service Management (ITSM) tool…and wait until the next business day when IT is in the office and sees the ticket.
IT would then forward it to the appropriate people/carriers for processing and activation.
This means someone in IT will have to first get the carrier to activate the device, then provision the enterprise security on it. Can you see the delays starting to happen? The point is, in a typical scenario, IT needs to interface with a lot of different suppliers to get this one action done.
However, with a well-rounded mobile enterprise solution, that 7 p.m. request for activation would be handled by one source and by 7:15 p.m. the same night.
The device will have been provisioned, activated and ready to go. The help desk staff in this scenario is part of the mobile enterprise team, knows the contract, the details and supports the request with a great attitude and with the same level of consistent, helpful service.
Beyond just being convenient and pleasant to the employee to have a fast response, this kind of turnaround is absolutely required if your employees are deployed in extreme situations like a natural disaster.
Ask yourself these three questions:
A comprehensive enterprise mobility solution is a cost effective and sanity-saving alternative; if your IT staff does not have the time, knowledge and resources to spend consistently interfacing with carriers and end users, then it is time for a better enterprise mobility solution.
What you need is a mobile enterprise supplier with an end-to-end solution specializing in coordinating implementations with device manufacturers and telecommunications service providers. A solution that will negotiate discounted deals on your behalf, thanks to a better bargaining position with vendors.
Taking managed services one step further, a single-source solution provider can also provide kitting and configuration services including device lifecycle, device repair, security control (Mobile Device Management Client) according to your company policies, and disposal of legacy hardware.
With this option, technology management is entirely taken care of for your mobile enterprise.
Your IT department can focus on its most strategic projects without getting pulled into work requests that can be handled by an experienced enterprise mobility partner with a holistic solution.
For instance, imagine that your marketing team committed to hosting a large trade show and needs IT support for 150 booths as in this example.
In that scenario, the right mobile enterprise partner can take the request off your in-house IT department’s hands, and help your marketing business unit with its project.
This provides a win for IT and a win for the business. It frees up your dedicated IT staff to focus on the biggest-value projects to the organization and lets you rest easy knowing that a trusted partner will adhere to the proper enterprise security provisioning.
Read about the “no contract” enterprise mobility suite to learn how to keep your mobile costs under control and identify new ways of doing business. Please leave your comments and questions below.
Publish Date: January 17, 2017 5:00 AM
It’s no surprise the rapid advancement of technology has transformed service expectations and the way users want to interact with their service desk. Today, the user demands more, and you need to provide answers to their IT questions – fast. Why? Service desk support is not one-size-fits-all, and different users prefer different methods of support. Fortunately, with today’s technology, a number of customer contact options are available to help address the needs of your employees. Here are a few that are in demand today:
Self-service: Did you know that the most common service call is for a simple password reset? By providing secure self-service tools, password resets and unlocks can be expedited on-demand by the user, while enabling your IT team time to focus on more strategic initiatives.
Another option for instantaneous self-service is for users to have access to a thorough and regularly updated knowledge base that also includes answers specific to your environment. Knowledge articles should provide quick resolution to users who prefer to resolve their IT issues themselves.
Chat: Chat provides one of the most efficient use of users’ time — they can get fast answers while multi-tasking. Using chat provides users with quick responses, often at less than a 60-second wait, without pulling all their attention away from being productive.
Digital: A convenient and easy-to-use method to communicate IT questions is to provide an integrated button to send email inquiries to your service desk. Alternately, web-based ticket submissions provide another convenient and integrated option that users can leverage. Both methods are familiar to users, easy-to-use and provide quick resolution.
Telephone: Contacting a service desk directly by telephone is a traditional option, though it is often the most expensive. However, it remains one of the best options for those with urgent needs and provides resolution, even to workers who may not be able to access the internet.
Why offer multiple options? The benefits of offering multiple contact options, such as those listed above include:
Empower users with choices: Workforces are comprised of a broad mix of age groups, various workstyles, and multiple work environments. Providing numerous contact methods empowers your end users to choose the communication option that best suits their needs at any given time. For example, chatting about a service desk request is a practical choice while in a meeting, rather than announcing a problem over the phone, when the whole room can overhear it.
Cuts costs: Different contact options vary in the amount of effort required to support them and therefore vary in price. Choose a service desk provider that proactively helps you shift users to lower-cost and faster contact methods with ongoing analytics and user education.
Save time: “Time is money!” We’ve all heard that phrase before. Providing multiple contact methods empowers users to choose the most expedient method to suit their need at the time. Select a service desk provider that offers ongoing analytics and user education to help shift your users to faster (and lower-cost) contact methods. This will save your users time and help your business reduce costs over the long term, so your organization has money for more strategic initiatives.
Today the user is in control and anytime, anywhere workforce enablement is the norm. It’s all about the user experience. Providing multiple contact options empowers users to solve their IT issues or reach out for help in the most effective and expedient method possible, while efficiently saving your company money and returning users to productivity.
Is there a contact option that you prefer? Comment below – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
Publish Date: January 12, 2017 5:00 AM
Ahh, the old reliable point-of-sale (POS) system. It’s familiar, it’s comfortable and it works. For retailers, the thought of replacing their entire network of POS hardware and software can be an uncomfortable proposition. Not only is it sometimes unclear where the return on investment is, but also it impacts deployment, training, support and maintenance. No wonder retailers end up sticking with what they already know.
The problem is that out-of-date POS systems quickly become an inhibitor and don’t line up with the larger omnichannel retail strategy. Older systems, both hardware and software, were designed solely to handle transactions. Modern POS systems are designed to handle relationships. This key difference puts the retail POS system at the center of an omnichannel retail strategy.
Customers don’t see channels – they see a brand. And they expect the same experience each and every time they interact with a brand. Whether online, mobile, in-store or through other channels, customers don’t differentiate the same way retailers do.
That’s why many in the industry are starting to adopt the term “Total Retail,” which views the customer holistically no matter where they are shopping. But whether you call it omnichannel retail, unified commerce or total retail, the objectives are the same. You need to capitalize on new sales opportunities and grow revenue in a highly competitive retail market.
So where does the POS system fit into this? Today’s POS systems are the center of the entire retail ecosystem, and have the capabilities to bring together every channel to form one complete picture.
Retailers are finally starting to blur the lines between the digital and physical worlds. Deloitte, for example, found that 43 percent of consumers plan to use click-and-collect programs during the 2016 holiday season. Other initiatives, such as buy online and return in-store, ship-from-store or endless aisle capabilities are all becoming popular. Old POS systems are unable to track interactions outside of the direct transaction, making these programs difficult to implement. Instead, retailers can install a modern POS ecosystem that tears down existing silos to make for a seamless shopping experience.
Store associates are the front-line staff that customers deal with every time they go into the store. As the role of the store changes, the role of store associates needs to change with it. With mobile POS systems based on smartphones or tablets, retailers can shift their employees from a cost-center to a valuable asset that helps customers and facilitates sales. In a world where 70 percent of consumers want in-store recommendations, bringing employees out from behind the counter and onto the floor to speak face-to-face with customers is a huge opportunity. Not only can this help your brand stand out from the crowd, but also it can improve conversion rates as employees finalize the sale on the spot with ease.
Few things in life are certain. But one thing that is for sure is that people hate waiting in line. PWC found that 46 percent of customers said “ease of checkout” was the number one factor that would make the in-store shopping experience better, and 44 percent of holiday shoppers said long lines were the biggest reason they avoided the store. Modern technologies such as self-checkout, combined with new POS hardware and software, are designed to make the checkout experience simpler and easier for the customers, while collecting more data for the retailers. If retailers can’t get customers through the line, they won’t get customers through the door.
Upgrading the entire retail POS system is definitely a large investment that can open up new challenges for retailers. With the critical importance of keeping the POS system running at all times, retailers are often hesitant to move from something they know to something unfamiliar. And the concern is valid. One U.S. retailer recently reported a 12 percent sales drop as a direct result of a poorly implemented POS system.
But the truth is, modern retailers must move away from transactions and toward relationships. Enabling full omnichannel retail capabilities requires retailers to upgrade to a modern POS system that integrates all channels and becomes the central point of the entire strategy. Done right, it can turn employees into valuable assets, decrease wait times and enable new capabilities, so that your customers are happier and your sales grow.
Leave a comment below about how you think retail IT can help your company gain the edge needed. Learn more about using IT as a strategic advantage.
Publish Date: December 6, 2016 5:00 AM
When an experienced professional, John, needs to contact your service desk, his preferred method is to call. However, his colleague, Laura, fresh out of business school, favors having self-service options to be able to solve the problem herself. If necessary, she’d like to be able to immediately contact a support team member via chat.
A generational shift is happening in the work force – from Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials to the iGeneration (workers born in 1994 and later). Along with changing demographics, a shift in desired service desk contact types is becoming more obvious.
How does this transition affect the service desk? It’s simple: In today’s workplace, you need to provide multiple contact methods to satisfy your users’ varied preferences – and provide flexible pricing too.
Here are three signs your service desk provider is serious about the workplace of today, and the future.
Working with a service desk provider that offers several contact options, to satisfy the different generations and preferences within your workforce, is a necessity. While Baby Boomers may prefer to use the phone or email for support, Millennials and the iGeneration are more likely to want to communicate via chat or email, or take care of their own IT challenges via self-service options such as knowledge-based articles.
Did you know that, in general, roughly 30 percent of all service desk calls are related to password resets? You should select a provider who tracks why your employees contact them, so that any simple requests can be efficiently managed, such as offering self-service assistance for or automating those problems in the future.
Also, choose a provider who offers insight and recommendations on how your employees prefer to contact the service desk, with regularly updated analytics. This type of data and advisory partnership will help shift your users to flexible and accommodating, lower-cost contact methods.
For example, offering a self-service system for employees to reset their own passwords is an efficient, low-cost way to serve them. However, even more beneficial is receiving ongoing data to see which contact method your users prefer, along with service desk-provided communications to help shift your users to lower-cost contact methods.
With monthly analytics and marketing support, your service desk provider and IT department can collaborate on ways to shift users to faster and lower-cost contact methods.
Many providers still demand a flat fee or per-user price. You should seek out a provider that offers flexibility, including options for scalable pricing based on the contact methods your users prefer.
For example, if your workers use self-service options 60 percent of the time, you should pay less than an organization whose workers use self-service options only 20 percent of the time.
Moreover, a service desk provider who can help shift your users to lower-cost services – through marketing, simple training and education of your employees – is one worth pursuing.
Are you seeing a generational shift in your tech support users? Have any trends emerged in terms of how your users contact your service desk? Share your thoughts below, and let us know what suggestions you have for your users’ favorite or requested alternate contact methods.
Publish Date: October 27, 2016 5:00 AM
Enterprise mobility can be a massive expense for companies and IT departments to deal with. A recent survey found that US companies spent $1,840 per employee each year to provide them with mobile devices, with 48% of that going to carrier charges for mobile access with data services.
Unfortunately, many companies have limited flexibility in providing the proper mobile access for end users and are paying for data that they aren’t using, or are stuck paying overages due to going over their allotted data limit/s. This inefficiency is the result of long term contracts with cookie cutter rate plans that do not fit the Clients business requirements and needs. This leads to mobile access that does not scale with the business resulting in wasted IT budgets that prevent companies from investing in new technologies or growing their business.
Everyone is familiar with the idea of contractual lock-in. When you go to purchase a new smartphone, you’re usually forced to choose between various two year plans. Choosing the right one is often a very difficult decision. You start to ask questions like - “How much data will I be using in two years?” “Will a new smartphone come out between now and then that I would want to switch to?” “What if I need to switch plans part way through?”
Scale this up to the enterprise level, and these questions become even more critical. In today’s fast moving corporate shift to digital business world, two years is a long time. Growing companies need the ability and flexibility to scale up quickly to add new employees or adopt new applications that increase productivity. In some cases, seasonal sales cycles mean employees will have varying data usage throughout the year.
Trying to account for all of these factors can lead to spending way too much on data that employees aren’t using, while underestimating usage leads to overage charges and fees. And if an enterprise ever tries to switch plans or carriers, they are hit with early termination fees. No matter how you look at it, the lack of flexibility in traditional contracts ends up costing the enterprise thousands of dollars annually.
Nearly all direct carriers track the data usage of each individual employee within the enterprise. This means that, for the company as a whole, data is being used incredibly inefficiently. Some employees may constantly go over their data limit, leading to surcharges and overage fees, while others may hardly use any data at all.
If taken on aggregate (Average Rate Per User), the total data usage of all employees ends up being less than their combined limits, but the company still ends up paying more. Scale that up to hundreds or thousands of employees, and it quickly becomes clear how much is wasted in this way.
Enterprises who try to account for this by having different plans depending on the employee’s role or position open themselves up to billing headaches. Having multiple contracts from multiple providers ends up wasting time, resources and money while creating unneeded complexity within the organization.
These common challenges can be overcome with flexible Client specific Unlimited Talk/Text with Data, Data Only and Connected device/s plans that allow enterprises to scale up or down as determined by their business needs. Companies and IT departments can scale mobile access to meet business and end user requirements seamlessly and better allocate budgets to new technologies that will drive the business forward. With the right plan in place, enterprises can stop looking at mobility as a costly expense and start looking at it as a productivity tool that helps employees get their jobs done.
We've done the math for you. Click through to see an example of monthly enterprise mobile data cost savings.
Publish Date: September 15, 2016 5:00 AM
The middle child. The middle seat. The middle of the road. It’s tough being in the middle — as any midsize company can tell you. Your smaller counterparts are faster and more agile. Your enterprise rivals have greater resources and bench strength. Meanwhile, you have to compete with both.
The same is true of your IT resources. Small businesses can get by on a shoestring. Corporate behemoths have the funds for best-in-class infrastructure. Midsize companies are expected to field a world-class IT capability — yet on a midsize (read: really tight) budget.
Nowhere is this more relevant than in end-user technical support. You need to squeeze every advantage out of your IT investment. You need to coax all the focus and productivity you can from your employees. But you can’t allow IT service management to become complex and expensive.
IT service providers have been slow to recognize the gap in mid-market managed services. But there are technical support solutions designed specifically for midsize organizations. The key is to find a solution that’s right for your organization — and that will deliver a tangible competitive boost to your operations.
Midsize Service Desk: Fair to Middling?
The middle market is often referred to as the growth engine of the U.S. economy. In 2015, midsize companies expanded sales by 7.4 percent — compared with 2.9 percent for companies in the S&P 500, according to the National Center for the Middle Market. They also added jobs at a 4.3 percent rate, more than twice big business’s 2.1 percent.
But midsizers are worried, says a recent Deloitte study. In fact, among the top-five obstacles to growth is the cost of keeping up with technology, along with other top-of-mind issues such as an uncertain economic outlook.
Providing top-notch IT service management is a big part of keeping up with technology, because it directly impacts both operational expenses and employee productivity. Effective technical support can make or break your IT return on investment. And happy, productive workers are key to your organization’s ability to innovate, respond and succeed.
The trouble is, enterprise-class helpdesk solutions can be costly, and they don’t typically scale below 5,000 end users. Consumer-level options are more economical, but they aren’t robust enough for the mission-critical operations of fast-growing organizations.
Standardized Support, Big Results
As a midsize company, you need to identify an IT service management solution specifically designed to meet your unique needs.
First, look for a managed service desk that’s packaged and priced for companies that have 250 to 3,000 or more employees. Then, be sure it offers these essential capabilities:
While the solution should be focused on the mid-market, the results should be enterprise-class. Look for these metrics:
“Middle” and “medium” are often associated with negatives: average, ordinary, mediocre. But you’d never think of your midsize company in those terms. And you shouldn’t have to approach your IT service management from that perspective, either.
Midsize companies often occupy the sweet spot of their markets: solid, yet flexible, established, yet dynamic. You should be able to get an end-user technical support solution to match.
Please feel free to post a comment or question here.
Publish Date: August 12, 2016 5:00 AM
In The Terminator, the fictional Skynet computer network became self-aware, gaining “artificial consciousness” and realizing it was smarter than the humans who created its Artificial Intelligence (AI). Skynet then set out to eradicate all humans on Earth, as it perceived them to be a threat to its existence, and launched a nuclear strike which became known as “Judgment Day.”
While the “Judgment Day” portrayed in The Terminator hopefully will never come, “Judgment Day” for both providers and consumers of services in the Infrastructure and Operations space is at hand. Those who don’t quickly adopt a strategy around the adoption of intelligent automation are going to be left in the fallout of those that do – and given the pace with which this is likely to occur, they may never be able to catch up.
The benefits of intelligent automation are well-known and numerous, from significant cost reductions (some analysts estimate between 25-40 percent) to increased reliability of services. My colleague Sam Gross, CompuCom’s CTO, noted in a blog post that robotics process automation (RPA) “use cases and applications are infinite and…(not) a day should go by when CIOs are not promoting the idea that employee job satisfaction is at least as good an argument for RPA adoption as the potential for reducing labor costs.”
Of course, there are some who compare the hype around intelligent automation and the coming maturity of AI to the hype that surrounded the emergence of the cloud in recent years. While it’s true the full impact is still years away, contracts are being closed today with 30-60 percent reductions over a contract term using autonomic toolsets. That being the case, does it really matter if it’s real today? What matters is that it will be real by the time those cost savings contractually come due, and, according to the analysts, those purchasing those services today simply cannot ignore the savings.
Additionally, there are those who argue that the impact of AI to the job market won’t be as devastating as others are predicting. (If you haven’t seen it, please view the video, “Humans Need Not Apply.”) Many believe that humans won’t be replaced but rather will be freed to perform more strategic tasks, which is a strong benefit of automation. With outsourcing, we’ve seen jobs go overseas — not tasks — but those tasks may be coming back. This means service providers are going to get a chance, through automation, to reclaim the work (tasks) that can be done more efficiently and cost-competitively for clients.
In short, intelligent automation can be viewed as the labor arbitrage of tomorrow. No longer will jobs move overseas to save money — smart providers will automate that work and keep it onshore. As a matter of fact, they will have no choice. Why struggle to save 10 percent by offshoring, when you can save 20-40 percent by automating and reap even greater benefits by enabling people to focus more on enhancing your end-user experience? The labor-based service models used by most service providers today will become passé as the industry migrates to outcome-based models that focus on Intelligent Automation and deliver a true digital workplace.
The best definition I’ve seen of a digital workplace so far was a workplace that leverages cloud-based solutions to enable the user to securely use multiple devices, apps and applications (personal and corporate), enabling location-agnostic productivity. It shifts the centricity from IT and technology to the user through smart-machine-enabled solutions, enhanced automation and self-service capabilities, empowering the user to decide when and how to get service.
Smart-managed service providers will embrace this challenge of delivering two generations of services bimodally, and by doing so, automatically create bimodal operations inside their clients’ organizations. Part of the organization will be focused on delivering the services that are in place today via traditional methods, and the other part will focus on transitioning those services to outcome-based service models required in the new digital workplace.
The strength of our renewable economy has always been the fact that, historically, we are innovators. We find a better way to build a mousetrap, perfect it and let the rest of the world inevitably commoditize it. Then, we find the next new and innovative thing. I would submit that it’s that time again. We can lead the foray into the age of intelligent automation and enjoy the economic success that comes from returning to our role as true innovators.
What are your thoughts on the future of intelligent automation? Post a comment or question here.
Publish Date: July 19, 2016 5:00 AM
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