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Social Media Study, Customer Care Benchmarking

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is The Marshall Tucker Band's first album, cleverly titled The Marshall Tucker Band. It appears we have a law 'n' survey theme going today, so let's get to it:

PSS Systems, which sells legal information governance products, has announced new software bundles designed to provide Global 1000 companies with a legal and EDRM product in a single offering.

The company announced Atlas Legal Governance Solutions, Atlas for IT, Atlas DCF and Atlas ERM which combine to help companies address legal information management, legal holds and discovery across the enterprise. They "help address the root causes of increasing legal and IT costs which result from bloated data retention and compliance," says Deidre Paknad, President and Chief Executive Officer of PSS Systems, and founder of the Compliance Governance and Oversight Counsel.
She says because the Atlas products share a common enterprise governance map and a single code base, "companies can synchronize legal, IT and records management functions across the enterprise to reduce risk, defensibly dispose of data, and materially reduce costs."

Discovery cost has gone from just a small portion of litigation costs to the vast majority of those costs, yet forecasting practices haven't kept pace with this sea change. A lack of scenario modeling tools has made it difficult to routinely predict cost or negotiate production scope and, as a result, companies resolve matters more slowly and at higher total cost. The Atlas product is designed to address this, as it now embeds continuous cost control into the litigation workflow, eliminates manual data gathering and enables complex analysis.

"When custodian, volume and price data are readily available and corporate attorneys have tools to continuously forecast costs, they have the potential to reduce scope and avoid substantial expense. Built-in discovery cost forecasting is an exciting, timely breakthrough," says Tom Lahiff, director in PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory Practice and a former corporate litigator. PwC is an Atlas delivery partner.
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Auckland-based commercial and tech-focused law firm Simpson Grierson has reported the completion of one of the most successful firm-wide IT implementations it has ever undertaken, rolling out the BigHand Digital Dictation workflow system in 2009 to 220 lawyers and 90 secretaries.
Full return-on-investment has been projected to be reached well within 12 months of the start date of the implementation.

Simpson Grierson initially ran a head-to-head pilot between the Winscribe dictation system and BigHand's 3rd generation workflow software. BigHand's voice productivity technology was chosen, with users reporting the interface more intuitive and its features more complete and easier to access.

Valerie Fogg, Information Services Director, Simpson Grierson, says aside from lost or wiped tapes, "one of the main problems with our old analogue-based system was that we couldn't see the workload pipeline or manages our resources effectively. Whether a tape had one or 15 client documents on it was a mystery, and the urgency of each doc was impossible to judge against other client files. As a result we had to operate with more resources than we perhaps ultimately needed in order to account for peaks of work, and we also relied too heavily on temporary cover."
Another big positive has been the control on overall output quality, Fogg says: "Those earlier in their career often feel they are better off typing themselves, but they often lack the production skills to put everything in a consistent corporate style or format. We have seen younger lawyers now embrace the digital technology, even if they also send a portion of text they have typed themselves, as they can then accompany that file with voice notes or further instructions regarding formatting. The lawyer can then use the workflow to track the job or task through the system, and will be automatically notified when it is completed. So the task management aspect comes into play nicely too for those who are not your most prolific users of dictation."

Typists in each office can also work on dictation for their national work group unconstrained by physical location.
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Los Angeles-based Passenger, which works in private online brand communities, has announced research data and an accompanying white paper by Sector Intelligence analyzing how companies are currently using social media as part of their corporate marketing and product development strategies, finding that "interactive communities provide deeper insight into customers' needs than traditional market research."
The white paper "examines how 16 Fortune 500 food & beverage, financial services, automotive, retailers and sporting goods brands are involving customers directly in the planning and development of company products, services and marketing initiatives, as well as the corporate social media strategies themselves, via private online communities," according to Passenger officials.
The study found that interactive communities have also "increased customer advocacy and loyalty, and can help avoid consumer backlash as companies develop their public social media presence."

"Never before has the impulse for consumers to connect with brands been expressed and acted upon on such a large scale, and never before have so many disparate individuals come together to help produce products and services that would be in turn distributed on a mass basis," says Craig A. Honick, managing partner, Sector Intelligence. "The brands we interviewed in this study documented that direct conversations through private social networks are improving the climate for innovation in tangible ways."

Samantha Skey, general manager, Passenger, says the survey demonstrates that "private online communities are shifting the way brands think about communicating with their customers, and the dialogue that results from these communities is proving to be a catalyst for significant change within organizations."

The study's highlights include findings that 86 percent of respondents report that private online communities provide richer insight into customer needs, 33 percent report that the community input alone has actually changed product designs and marketing plans and 43 percent report they use fewer focus groups as a direct result of engaging in collaboration via the private online community while 36 percent report conducting fewer surveys

Sixty-four percent say the community has improved the context for decision-making within the company, and fully 96 percent report that their marketing department is deriving value from collaboration with customers, with 71 percent reporting the same for market research and 66 percent reporting a positive impact on product development.

Sector Intelligence drew the conclusions that word of mouth is likely to become a more central part of a company's future marketing strategy as they learn to integrate loyal customers into the brand strategy, conversations happening in private online communities are unique from other forms of research such as focus groups, some of the more conservative brands have shied away from public social networks because of the risks involved, companies are investing in tools and services that will help them listen to and learn more from their customer base and private online communities can enhance internal collaboration within larger brands in diverse sectors.

Sector is continuing to develop the Brand-Life Continuum Report and the Brand Sustainability Index, tools which measure and benchmark the nature and depth of how organizational and personal brands are integrated in the daily lives of target market groups. The tools make extensive use of ethnography, word of mouth research, and quantitative modeling and are often paired with social media applications that track and analyze online consumer conversations.
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Customer Operations Performance Center, a consultancy on customer contact centers and vendor management operations, and Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals, a professional society of customer care consultants from the Fortune/Forbes 1000, have released results of what they say is the first ever multi-industry benchmarking study for customer care.
The findings, according to officials of both firms, reveal detailed customer satisfaction data for the household and personal care, food and beverage, retail and consumer goods, pharmaceutical and medical devices and the travel and hospitality industries. Since 2005, COPC and SOCAP have conducted similar annual customer care benchmarking studies of the automotive industry.

Participants in the survey include over 40 companies across five verticals with combined annual revenue of over $170 billion. It looked at ten customer satisfaction and operational categories such as complaint management, quality monitoring and operational metrics.
According to the results, 98 percent of the firms provide customer service or post sales support (which were the two percent, he wondered idly), and 80 percent-plus use more than one support type. Twenty-one percent don't measure customer satisfaction, 24 percent measuring customer satisfaction do not consistently achieve defined performance targets and 65 percent have an external customer service center.
And while 95 percent have a quality monitoring process, 89 percent do not use offshore support sites and 33 percent use "temporary" agents to reflect the degree of seasonality in their business.
"We will supplement the SOCAP member findings with global benchmark findings and best practices from our 1,200+ audits in 50 countries," says Cliff Moore, chairman and co-founder of COPC.

COPC officials say they will present the results of the customer care benchmarking study this week during the annual SOCAP Symposium in Chicago, and that each of the survey participants will also receive a detailed benchmarking report.

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