Digital Convergence and How It’s Changing Technical Support: Part 2

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Author’s Note: This post is the last in a two-part series on digital convergence and what it means for the future of customer support.

Technical Support Today and in the future

Digital Convergence

In my previous post, I talked about digital convergence and its implications for technical support. When you’re having difficulty connecting your laptop to the Internet or your smartphone to your home WiFi network, where do you turn for support? More often than not, you’ll find yourself being directed between these groups for technical support and find yourself absent of a resolution outside of being reminded that there aren’t any issues with the core functionality of each device by itself (which still hasn’t helped you determine why your devices aren’t working together like they should).

As devices that provide these services have become integrated, so will (and must) the support components of these products and services. We have seen AT&T and Verizon’s single point converged service offerings in the market. On the cable side, Comcast’s planned CCAP Trial leverages a Layer-3 aware, fully converged cable access and combines a cable model termination system (CMTS) and edge QAM functions necessary in the transition to an all-IP infrastructure. An earlier “modular” implementation with a Packet to Access Shelf Interface (PASI) had been scrapped in favor of an approach that helps edge QAM suppliers develop CCAP devices without dealing with as many routing protocols present in a cable modem termination system. This means a single device interface that provides all of the correlating services in your home and no more disjointed TV and Internet technical troubleshooting. Somewhat similarly, Cloud services like iCloud (a stronger functioning replacement of its disappointing predecessor Mobile Me) are also beginning to make product utilization easier (e.g., download a song on your phone and it’s available to be listened to on your computer the same instant).

Technical support today and in the future

So as the service, delivery, and product worlds begin to come closer together, at least when the majority of a customer’s products or services are being provided by the same company, how these products function and get supported is beginning to converge. However, with all of the effort, thought, development, and evolution regarding how these products can function together (how many times have you heard “available on the iPhone and Android platforms”), the true importance is how these products, services, and the companies that provide them integrate and function with their users.

Although we are moving in the direction of digitally converged technical support through a single touch point, we haven’t arrived yet. In order to get there, the true conversation needs to change from products and services that companies are providing (and their respective segmentation and departmentalization) to products and services their customers are using. To think about this properly and contextualize it, put yourself in the middle of your digital world and contrast that scenario against the world you live in today (i.e., you contact a single group for technical support for all of your products or services provided by your cable company and contact another single group for all of your computer-related issues instead of calling (or getting transferred between) multiple departments within each separate company or provider.

You call each group separately today because they are separated within each of the companies that provide your services. In contrast, the digitally converged support scenario treats you as a single consumer with multiple services with a single point of contact. Digitally converged support also gives the providers of your products and services the opportunity to understand and correct issues and technical problems that arise from interconnected root causes and resolve issues that are related to each of these more complex causes. Just as you are one customer with multiple products and services, the digitally converged support world looks at the support you need in the same way: one customer, one service group instead of three services and three service groups. This strategy gives consumers the opportunity to get supported in the same way that they use products and services, and allows providers to streamline their support structure while providing a more customer-centric (versus product-centric) support mechanism to connect with customers and resolve their issues.

The contact channel component also arises here where consumers should be able to (and will soon demand the ability to) communicate with their service and product providers like they do with each other. Customers talk to each other over the phone, the Internet, chat, text, video, email, and social networks, so why should talking to the companies that provide the products and services that allow us to do so be limited or any different?

Channel agnostic support strategies make talking to OEMs and service providers just as easy—any way, anytime, anywhere. As support providers, companies need to start truly and completely looking at their customers as multifaceted digital users who are the focal point of the converged digital experience and need support for that experience and its functionality in the same ways they live that experience.

How can companies better integrate their support functions today? As a digital consumer, what would be the ideal technical support scenario for you? Leave a comment.

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Digital Convergence and How It’s Changing Technical Support: Part 1
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