Of all the questions discussed in the developing of a mobile business intelligence (BI) strategy, the question of support infrastructure is often left to the end or even considered the least important. I often hear the argument: “If we can’t deliver it on time, nothing else matters. So, let’s not worry about it now.”
Although this may be true in theory, keep in mind that no one starts a project or an engagement with the expectation it won’t succeed. Therefore, the strength of your support infrastructure will be a determining factor in the end.
Support Starts before the Go Live Date
When people think of support activities, they typically consider the post-Go-Live time frame. I believe support – in a holistic view – starts before you Go Live. Whether we’re doing beta testing or entering the UAT phase, we’re already interacting with real users, or at least, we should be. This is an important opportunity to test not only your support infrastructure, but also your rollout documentation and any other artifacts that will supplement your support strategy.
As a best practice, you want to include as many of the real users of your mobile platform as possible. Moreover, for multi-audience solutions, you want to include as many roles and regions as feasible. In mobile BI, this could mean different regions to ensure different networks, local customizations, and so on are tested and validated.
In addition to power users, you want to plan to include end-users (sometimes referred to as consumers). They typically make up the largest portion of the overall user base and therefore, play an important role in the testing. The important thing is that all of these users will go through all the steps (download, installation, setup, configuration, etc.) that the remaining users will follow during implementation. As a result, you should consider this a tremendous opportunity to reduce your risk and improve your chances of success. To do that, you need to stress your support infrastructure and evaluate any shortcomings.
Contacting Support Should Be Simple
Contacting support should be as simple as using the Google home page: fast, easy, and one-click away. Think about it for a moment – there’s a good chance that users are already frustrated before contacting support. This may be true even if it’s a simple question to obtain more information or seek clarification. They probably come to the table with existing biases born out of negative experiences in their personal lives. It’s not a good idea to utilize some of the consumer products/services centric tactics to provide a never-ending list of options to choose from or to create queues. Unless you have an established support infrastructure that you’ll be using, take the opportunity to create a new one that gives your program the edge.
Support Should Be Easy to Find
Whatever option you decide to provide – telephone, chat, online, e-mail – make sure support is easy to find. This means that it’s easy to get to (no more than two clicks), and is clearly marked on:
- All landing pages (typically the first or “home page” when the user starts the mobile app or accesses the website)
- Main views (and, if feasible, subsequent detail views)
- Community/collaboration pages
Abundantly communicate the instructions on how to contact support. In addition, create a simple e-mail account, alias, or distribution list that users can use. This provides coverage for the existing support channels when they work and acts as a backup when one (or all of them) fail.
Support Equals Customer Service
When it comes to support infrastructure in the integration of business and technology, don’t think of it as solving a technical issue, instead think about customer service.
In customer service, everything matters:
- How you greet the customer
- How quickly you acknowledge the request
- If you properly follow up
- What your team’s attitude is
- If your team is willing to go the extra mile
The list is too long to cover here completely. As I wrote in my last blog, Talent Management, you want to develop teams with customer empathy and focus, especially for the customer-facing roles such as support. I often hear companies use the small size of the support team as an excuse for poor customer service. But there’s no excuse for a lack of proper acknowledgement and follow-up with timely updates, even if you aren’t able to resolve every issue or influence other teams that you may depend on for a resolution.
Bottom Line: You Need a Solid Support Infrastructure
As anyone who works with technology knows, the best solutions, even when designed and implemented perfectly, are liable to face challenges at some point. Technology, by its nature, is bound to fail or be misunderstood by some users. And when this happens, the support infrastructure – online or offline – will keep it alive.
The longevity of a mobile BI solution relies on a solid support infrastructure that is consistent and predictable. This leads to trust and increased adoption, which results in a solution that can survive and flourish.
What do you see as the biggest challenge for your support infrastructure?
Stay tuned for my next blog in the Mobile BI Strategy series.
This story originally appeared on the SAP Analytics Blog.