SumTotal Blog

Mohammed Ajouz (1 Posts)

Mohammed Ajouz

Mohammed M. Ajouz is the senior vice president of Global Customer Service & Delivery for Skillsoft and SumTotal.

Why I believe we need to rethink how we measure Customer Support Services


“The doctor of the future will give NO MEDICINE, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” –Thomas A. Edison

About 7 years ago, while on a flight from Frankfurt to Orlando, I ended up sitting next to a gentleman who although dressed in civilian attire, I knew by his attitude and demeanor was a military man. When I opened my laptop to start working, he asked me what kind of work I did. I told him that I ran a global customer support organization and we ended up talking about how to measure success and the metrics typically used to drive a support organization.

It turned out that he was a Brigadier General in the US Marines responsible for one of several hospital units in Germany. While most of his peers ran their hospital units like a support organization measuring incoming volume, the MTTR (Mean Time to Recover) of patients, bed occupancy and any backlog of patients; the general’s unit took a different view.  Instead of measuring how quickly they healed sick, injured or wounded soldiers, his unit focused on making soldiers more battlefield ready. Using physical and psychological training, diets and supplements, his goal was to make each soldier more battlefield ready. He believed that, “the growing population of not-medically-ready soldiers has begun to erode the readiness of the military.”

Think about it.

What would happen if the World Health Organization (WHO) focused 90% of its resources on illnesses without any focus on prevention?

We would not know about life expectancy and root causes.

We would not have awareness campaigns about tobacco & alcohol.

We would not have cancer detection programs.

We would not have centers for Disease Control and Prevention or vaccines.

We would know only about sick patients; not about how many were saved.

This was an epiphany for me.

In traditional Support Services the focus is always on solving customer problems. All our metrics and measurements are around that single currency. But what if we changed the focus and started measuring how successful customers are when using our software?

In other words, our new currency in Support should be Customer Health and not Customer Problems.

There is a long journey ahead of us to achieve that goal. Going back to the General’s story again, the service trigger is always somebody falls sick or gets injured. Traditional support then focuses on sickness recovery management, and we use bed turnover rates, time to recovery, quality of diagnosis and treatment as the metrics.

In the new world of Support, the trigger is now a healthy person and the focus is on Health Maintenance. The push in the new Support is to maintain health and well-being through awareness, preventative medicine and regular checkups; while the metrics and measurements are frequency of known illnesses, life expectancy, health care cost to individuals and quality of life.

Over the next few months I will be talking about the Skillsoft/SumTotal journey into service excellence. About how that to be successful on such a journey, the first focus must be customer context: the need to build deeper connections with customers by understanding more about them, their projects, how they are trying to leverage our products, and what are their key business drivers. Information we can then use to draw a complete picture of our customers’ ecosystems enabling us to provide a higher level of service for customers.

As you join me on this journey, feel free to comment.