Last week I attended the VRM West Coast Workshop and one of the many impressive folks I met there was Joe Andrieu of Switchbook. In a recent blog post, Joe describes the The Identity Quartet – the key services that allow user to express their identity in online services. It’s one of the most clear descriptions of the identifier issues I’ve read. Joe even makes the point:
The Identity Quartet pattern isn’t rocket science. In fact, it makes things simpler when it comes to security, maintenance, and user control. The Quartet makes systems more flexible and more secure while giving users more freedom to manage how they interact and present themselves online. It is one way to turn user-centric Identity services of OpenID and Information Cards into truly user-driven Identity.
[From The Identity Quartet]
His post is recommended for anyone wanting to start understanding the issues of identity and security in internet applications and services. Check it out!
I’m not sure I like “4th party” as a description. We spent way too much time at the VRM West Coast Workshop wrangling over the naming of firs, second and third. But when you get past all that, this key idea is really something big:
VRM is about enabling the first party. It is also about building fourth-party user-driven (and within that, customer-driven) services, which make use of first-party enablement.
Fourth parties will provide many services for first parties. In fact, VRM should grow large new fourth party businesses, and give new work to large old businesses in the same categories. (Banks, brokers and insurance companies come to mind.) Native enablements, however, need to live with first parties alone, even if fourth parties provide hosting services for those enablements.
Fourth parties also need to be substitutable. They need service portability, just as the customer needs data portability between fourth (and other) party services. That way whatever they can provide can be swapped out by the user, if need be.
[From ProjectVRM Blog » VRM and the Four Party System]
The combination of service portability and data portability doesn’t just put the user in charge, it also makes the data better. Companies should be very interested in that.
This week, Ross Mayfield makes an interesting point about the level of service experience at the Apple Store. It’s a brilliant post and poses some great follow-on questions, but the thing I liked most was this point about support knowledge:
But I think Apple gets something more than the value of customer experience. According to the Consortium of Service Innovation, there is an iceberg effect for product knowledge. 90% of conversations about supporting products never touch the company. Only 10% touch the call center. And 1% of this service and product quality knowledge are assimilated.
Sometimes this distribution is purposeful. Support is viewed as a cost center. Time to resolution (which we’ve decreased by as much as 30%) often trumps customer satisfaction or capturing knowledge. Worst practices are often employed to incent contact center reps to avoid contact.
The problem is far worse with multi-vendor support. Multi-vendor issues take 3-4 times longer to resolve. So almost all vendors explicitly do not support these issues at all. There is some promise in Vendor Relationship Management, or communities that address systemic needs through the demand side supplying itself, but only the beginning of promise.
[From Ross Mayfield’s Weblog: Service and the Fifty Percent Rule]
How is your performance? Do you even measure knowledge creation rates? Do you know how many of your support center cases are already solved in the knowledge base, but customers aren’t finding it?
Perhaps more importantly, have you moved past “call avoidance” to embrace Customer Engagement the way Apple has in the Apple Store?