It seems like almost every technology retailer now offers some kind of in-store, in-person support facility. The model is well suited to modern life: customers are able to choose when and where they get support for the products they own. It’s easy, it’s convenient - it’s service on the customer’s terms.
It’s a win for the retailer too: customers who use in-store support tend to be more loyal and buy more. This all depends, of course, on the experience being a good one. Every time.
In a bid to stay relevant and keep pace with modern expectations, many corporate IT departments are starting to invest in similar facilities. Tom Kaneshige of CIO.com recently wrote a very informative analysis of this emerging trend, which I'd thoroughly recommend reading.
The logic of offering a better, more aligned service to your customers seems obvious; but will it work for every organization? How do you know if you’re ready to branch out and build a concierge bar?
Read all about it
Earlier this year, we produced a free handbook and accompanying SlideShare presentation for those planning to build a concierge bar. Both pieces are very pragmatic and practical in their approach and invite you to think long and hard about your decision to invest in face-to-face support.
Like any other project, building a concierge bar has to have a projected return for the organization and must also be built on a foundation of operational readiness. The first half of the handbook guides you through an assessment of your motivations, the prospective return on your investment and an appraisal of your process maturity.
In the second half, the handbook turns to the details of planning, staffing, building and operating a concierge bar. For many organizations, this is a fundamentally new operating model and so it’s important to understand the different challenges and best practices at play with in-person support.
For most face-to-face facilities the customer’s requests span simple ‘how to’ through to light repairs or component swaps. More complex cases are referred to second or third line teams, just as they would be in the more traditional service desk model.
This pattern translates as a relatively high volume of simple, repeatable requests that still need to be tracked and measured.The book therefore argues that your core incident and service request process and supporting technology need to be up to scratch.
The moral of the story? Building a concierge bar won’t fix a flaky process, no matter how flashy you make the seating area!
Another important concept from the handbook relates to staffing your concierge bar. Perhaps unsurprisingly, getting face to face in IT support requires both technical understanding and well developed social skills.
While many helpdesk agents are competent and confident on the phone, quite a few won’t fare so well in-person; especially when the going gets rough with a difficult case or when their first tricky customer shows up.
Think about the skills you’d need to a handle a prickly executive who was actually the cause of their own technology problem. Enough said.
How deep is your love?
The concierge bar promises many efficiencies, particularly when it comes to the rapid resolution of the simpler, more common issues and the effective use of time that an appointment approach delivers. But there’s something more interesting going on, something the retailers value greatly in terms of the deeper relationship that face-to-face support can engender.
With the relative anonymity of telephone or online support removed, employees from the business and IT build a very different kind of relationship. This closer integration of a key IT operation into the wider business environment is one of the key benefits the handbook describes.
For many IT organizations who have recently adopted this model, transforming their relationship with the business was in fact their primary driver for investment.
Want to know more?
The handbook covers the themes above in much greater detail and gives practical guidance on many more additional themes and concepts too. It’s free to download - no forms and no fuss.
How about your organization? Maybe you’re like us here at BMC having recently opened your first concierge bar. How did it go? Any lessons to share?
Or perhaps you’re more skeptical or wary about making the investment?
Whatever your story, I’d love to hear more in the comments section below, or you can find me on Twitter as @messagemonger