Each year Coveo participates in Technology Services Industry Association’s (TSIA) bi-annual event, Technology Services World. This fall, TSW rolled into Vegas for three days of industry best practices around the theme: Aligning for Growth and Outcomes. In my past career lives, I’ve attended TSW events in Vegas but always with a call center or community management bent. This was my first time attending with a wider perspective through the lens of Intelligent Insights. There was a lot to learn but a few things particularly stood out as my top takeaways from TSW.

As always, lead researcher, John Ragsdale, assembled compelling keynotes (Emerson and Salesforce) and countless breakouts sessions with jaw-dropping benchmarking metrics and best practices. Below are my top five “ah-ha” moments from the week:

How to measure case deflection? Let me count the ways.

Measuring case deflection is like meatloaf. No one recipe is the same. It came up in every. single. session. I attended. One company measured case deflection by the number of customers who submitted a case, then found the information they were looking for, THEN went back to their support page to cancel the case.

Another global tech company used a generic ratio (in the absence of analytics) that follows a 10:1 rule: for every 10 knowledge articles viewed, one case was assumed deflected.

A more agreed upon approach involves creating a case creation page that dynamically offers up new knowledge as the case fields are populated by the user, and to track successful outcomes with usage analytics. Coveo’s resident case deflection expert, Jennifer Macintosh, dedicated an entire webinar and eBook on the topic. Check it out.

There’s a new three-letter acronym on the block: CES

Before Net Promoter Score (NPS), there was Customer Satisfaction Score (C-Sat). The metric du-jour at TSW was; customer effort score (CES). The score is derived from a simple question:  How much effort did you have to put forth to handle your request? The answer can range on a 5-point scale of “1 – very low effort” to “5 – very high effort.”

This survey can be implemented in a variety of ways but the favorites are post-interaction email or an immediate survey screen for self-service issues. Check out the Corporate Executive Board’s research behind the CES and why this metric has become a better predictor of customer loyalty than CSAT or NPS.

Mobile apps take a support backseat…for now.

Five years ago, providing differentiated support within a mobile app was the talk of TSW.  Countless marketing dollars and man hours were spent trying to build out support functionality inside the mobile app. The thinking at the time: build the app and they will come.

Fast-forward to 2016 and that realization never quite matured. The reason: mobile-responsiveness design proliferated. Development teams and support organizations came to the realization that defining a rock-solid self-service strategy that spanned the desktop-tablet-mobile spectrum better served their teams,and more importantly, the customer. That’s not to say your apps shouldn’t have a self-service strategy, but it should be an extension of your online self-service strategy – not a stand alone approach.

Swarming works, if set-up correctly.

If you’re KCS certified or work with KCS experts, swarming is likely part of your vernacular. It’s the practice of removing tiered support levels in favor of rallying the collaborative expertise of experts throughout the organization. This “swarm” of experts helps surface knowledge earlier and gives your employees the rewarding experience of helping a customer.

Unfortunately, many early adopters of swarming relied on human capital management (HCM) or human resources “people-finders” to identify employee strengths, expertise and areas of focus.  Whenever data for CRM is captured in an HCM system, well, you know it’s destined for failure.  Not to say those systems can’t integrate to each other, but it’s adding a layer of unneeded complexity.

The best way to identify experts is to understand what cases they’ve solved before and where they’ve been successful in the past. Solutions like Coveo are able to identify these experts and intelligently recommend the best experts based on the case context. No HCM system required!

Bottomline: Swarming works best when expert recommendations are based on what your employees have done – not what they say they know.

To authenticate or unauthenticate knowledge.

If measuring case deflection was the most talked about topic at TSW, how to post knowledge articles was a close second. Coveo doesn’t take a position on this because each industry is unique. A consumer electronics company with millions of customers will likely keep their knowledge articles open to all. However, a specialized industry like medical devices with closely held intellectual property, may want all users to authenticate in a community before any content is exposed.

The majority of TSW attendees are B2B technology and consumer electronics companies, where the trend seems to be open access for all. The primary reason cited is Google. The search engine has the ability to index authenticated content. If a user finds your answer on a Google search result and ends up roadblocked at a log-in screen, the customer experience suffers and customer frustration increases. And that customer effort score (CES) comes back to haunt you.

So what did you extract from three days and nights in Vegas – besides a lighter bank account?  See you in sunny San Diego in May.

About David James

David is director of product marketing for Coveo’s Intelligent Customer Service solutions. He has more than 16 years of experience in the customer support industry having served in various product marketing positions supporting CRM, contact center and community management solutions. David is a certified community manager and has penciled in KCS certification for 2017. He lives in Austin, Texas.

Read more from this author