Lessons from running a global team

Every business has its inspiring leaders and I was fortunate enough to sit down with one of HP’s recently – Aileen Allkins, Vice President for Worldwide Support. Computer Weekly recently named Aileen as one of the UK IT’s 25 most influential women. And, over the past four years, she’s led 1,600 people worldwide to exceed customers’ expectations with HP Software Support. Aileen gave me some great insight into: the improvements that have been made to HP Software Support and how to inspire global teams, a sneak preview into her future vision for HP’s Support organisation, and how Software Education can assist in delivering it.

 

Susan: Aileen, what challenges faced HP Software Support?

 

Our business had many acquisitions. Anyone who’s worked in a company growing this way will sympathize with the challenge: you need to marry different systems, cultures and services quickly. This was even more of an issue for us because we provide 24X7 follow the sun services with sites across the world including Costa Rica, Bulgaria, India, China and more. In such a time sensitive business, customers have little empathy if internal integration issues impact their services. We went through a period of transforming our support organisation into a single worldwide team and raised our standards to be meet industry best practices as defined by the TSIA. I’m delighted that we’ve just achieved the “Certified Support Staff Excellence Center” designation. This recognises our work in developing our people through the TSIA’s learning programme to deliver superior customer service.

 

Susan: So how did you go about transforming the Support operation?

 

Three of the more important things include:

  • Improving collaboration: As our teams pass on customer issues to one another across time zones to follow the sun they must implicitly trust and respect each other. We therefore took our managers off site, many of whom had not worked together before to ensure that we’re pulling in the same direction, we all share the same goals and we promote best practice. We now run these sessions yearly.
  • Exceeding Expectations: To define our goals we asked our managers what was the industry norm and what would be seen as world class support services – aiming to achieve the latter. We built the right management team to inspire our people and committed to our customers that we’d Exceed Expectations by delivering world-class support.
  • Empowering people: We gave our people power to make decisions. For example, if an engineer feels that they need to go on site to resolve a problem they can make that case and go do it. Giving people this freedom has really helped deliver our vision.

 Of course this business never stands still and we’re now looking at how to we can take support on to a new level of performance.

 

Susan: How will Support change?

 

We want to move to ‘touchless support’. This involves our engineers looking to proactively resolve issues, before customers are aware of them, and, better sharing our expertise so IT teams can quickly self-resolve more issues. This means that our knowledge base, documentation and support forums must be a dream to use. The idea is that if we can proactively solve a higher proportion of issues before they become problems, we can free our engineers to focus less on troubleshooting and more on delivering higher value services. What’s more, if a customer has a critical issue we’ll have more expertise free to swarm all over it. 

 

Susan: What role will HP Software Education play in future?

 

Educating people to use our Software is vital to our vision – the more people know about their software and how to use it, the less likely they are to need support for “how to” issues.  And one of the things we’re doing well now is advising customers on the education services that could help them get the most value from their software. We’re basing this advice on analysis of customer contact logs and the insights our engineers gain as they work to resolve problems. As we look ahead we’ll expand our collaboration with Education. For instance, we run some very popular “Meet the Expert” sessions where customers can chat to R&D teams and engineers. The sessions include presentations on resolving common problems and we’ll be adding to them by involving experts from our Education team.

 

Susan:  We also know that the touchless experience will be enhanced if we include education courses in our knowledge base and links to “Meet the Expert” sessions from our Education searches. We’ll be making this change in future so it’ll be easier for customers to find the right enablement for their people.

 

 

Aileen:  I’m a passionate believer in the power of education to help people better use their HP Software and my team will continue to work with HP Software’s Education experts to find new ways to improve our services to customers.

 

 

What changes would you like to see in HP Software’s Education and Support in the next 12-18 months? 

 

Related Links:

- Find out more about HP Discover: http://bit.ly/19unum6

- HP Software Education Homepage: www.hp.com/go/softwareeducation   

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