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Industry Research Research:
The 2012 Service & Support Snapshot: 5 Support Trends That Will Change Your Business in 2012 conducted an annual survey examining the state of enterprise customer service and support in November of 2011. This year's survey, sponsored by Citrix Online, found the following:

  • Renewed growth in support volumes and budgets after a long period of economic stagnation.
  • A decisive shift in support channels.
  • Continued weakness in customer adoption of social media in support.
  • The clear establishment of cloud-based solutions and remote support as standards in the industry.

This year's survey represented a very high-end group of support professionals, with over 70% at the management, executive, or CEO level, and the remainder drawing from the ranks of team leaders, supervisors, consultants, and help desk analysts. Nearly half had support budgets in excess of US$500,000, with a plurality (37.1%) representing budgets in excess of US$1 million, while 21.9% came from small support environments with budgets under US$100,000. In terms of support volume, just over one-third handled fewer than 1000 incidents per month, while 12.3% handled over 20,000 incidents per month.

The survey shows that while this industry has matured on many fronts, 2012 will represent a year of continued substantive change. The industry has turned the corner from traditional telephone hotlines to a world of online services, cloud-based tools, and collaborative environments.

Here are some of the key highlights:

Growth in alternate support channels. Perhaps the biggest story of the 2011 survey is strong growth in support channels such as web chat, remote control, and web-based case submittal, and a concomitant decline in phone support. Use of each of these online channels is up roughly 12 percentage points versus 2010 and usage continues to grow as well, as the industry continues to evolve to both a more online and multi-channel environment.

Happy (and busy) days are here again. Nearly half of participants report increased support budgets. Over two-thirds report increased support volume.  And in the process, more than 70% say that customer satisfaction levels have stayed the same or increased, with a 40% plurality showing increases.

Social media – tune in again next year. One of the most hyped new support channels over the past two years remains one of the most underutilized as well. Only 22% of participants offer social media as a support channel, a miniscule 1.9% handle more than 10% of their transactions via social media, and the percentage of support organizations using Facebook and Twitter remains stuck in the teens.

We're in the clouds. This year – for the first time ever – a majority of participants are using cloud (i.e., SaaS) applications in their support center. Thirty percent of participants not using cloud support applications plan to implement them within the next year.

Remote support and the bottom line. More than half of participants state that remote support capabilities successfully resolve problems and avoid an onsite or deskside visit more than half of the time – and nearly a third share they do so more than 75% of the time.

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