SupportSoft Service and Support Automation

SupportSoft continues to make inroads into a crucial yet often-overlooked area — support automation — as customers increasingly expect solutions to their problems that are fast, effortless and personalized.

Looking to lower support costs and improve services to clients, enterprises are shifting away from labor-intensive help desks and call centers toward more flexible service offerings, says Karen Smith, research director at Aberdeen Group.

Quick Reflexes

“We look at specific environments and types of problems, and we apply technology to maximize returns,” said Scott Dale, SupportSoft cofounder and chief technology officer.

Key to that is ensuring that support becomes a forethought, not an afterthought, Dale told CRM Buyer Magazine. “We consider ourselves a leader in proactive support, self-help, self-service support and assisted support,” he said.

SupportSoft’s Resolution, Service Automation and Customer Satisfaction suites are designed to speed problem resolution using technology that is Web-based, cost-efficient and scalable.

The Resolution Suite helps corporate enterprises and government organizations reduce the number and duration of calls into support centers. Options include self-healing to correct problems proactively, mass healing to eliminate problems before they become enterprise-wide, self-service to cut down on calls to support analysts, assisted service using automated intelligence gathering, and management analytics to help enterprises gain insight into their support processes and make beneficial adjustments.

Subscribers Take Charge

The Service Automation Suite helps broadband service providers and telcos automate subscriber assistance from installation through ongoing support. The offering personalizes the repair and assisted-service functions for the subscriber’s personal-computing environment and aims to eliminate calls about network-related issues. The subscriber can take charge of what information is passed to the service provider and proactively solve its own connection problems.

Meanwhile, the Customer Satisfaction Suite helps insurance, financial and retail companies provide more efficient online customer support through both self-service and assisted-service channels. The technology offers a single, self-service infrastructure for customer service that is context-sensitive. It also provides seamless escalation to live support when needed, along with scalability to accommodate a growing customer base.

Support Automation Catching On

Aberdeen expects that by 2005, about 68 percent of software support incidents within enterprise organizations will be resolved using support-automation tools, Smith wrote in a report.

“Service demands are expected to increase as end users continue to exploit the connectivity of the Web and become increasingly comfortable resolving issues and conducting business online,” Smith wrote. “Although it is difficult to establish and maintain a trusted personal relationship over an Internet connection, the mechanisms exist, as suppliers such as SupportSoft are demonstrating.”

Integrating ERP

More than 150 companies, including a large percentage in the Fortune 50 category, use SupportSoft’s offerings, Smith wrote. They have cut their support and operational costs and boosted user satisfaction through more proactive support and communication and through more efficient problem tracking, diagnostic capabilities and problem resolution, the report says.

SupportSoft has designed its offerings to integrate with leading ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM applications from Clarify, Computer Associates, PeopleSoft, Peregrine/Remedy and Siebel.

Despite its broad approach, SupportSoft encounters other contenders on some fronts, Dale said. BroadJump and Netsurfer compete with SupportSoft’s SmartAccess installation product for broadband service providers.

Similarly, providers of remote-control solutions, asset-discovery solutions and knowledge-management solutions could be positioned competitively with parts of SupportSoft’s product suite. For example, Control F-1 provides limited “remote diagnostics.”

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