All I Want for Christmas is...Customer Service

by John Horodyski

Since its publication in 1946, Dong Gardner’s “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” has remained a favorite song for the Holidays. Its lyrics are festive, frivolous and frisky, evoking a sense of silliness over what might rather be identified as a significant loss:

“Everybody Pauses and stares at me
These two teeth are gone as you can see
I don't know just who to blame for this catastrophe!
But my one wish on Christmas Eve is as plain as it can be!
All I want for Christmas
is my two front teeth,
my two front teeth,
see my two front teeth!”

Gee, if I could only have those two front teeth back, then all would be okay. Right?

In this season of wish lists, my thoughts turn to something I’ve heard and read too many times over the last year: a longing for quality customer service. Many Digital Asset Management (DAM) customers are decrying a loss of engaged, effective support from DAM vendors. It should be expected, as DAM customers pay for it. Too frequently though, customers feel frustrated and defeated and are left wishing and longing, just like the kid yearning for his two front teeth.

What is going on? Where did the customer service go? DAM vendors, are you listening? All we want for Christmas is customer service! Is that too much to ask for?

Customer Experience Starts from the Beginning

“If we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will." - Unknown

The ability to deliver customer service is the cornerstone of delivering positive Customer Experience. Too many vendors over-promise and under-deliver when it comes to supporting their customers. Promises are too often made, setting expectations that are never met. Innovative technology leaders understand that delivering value to the customer is essential for any business. In a rapidly changing world, the most effective organizations are collaborative networks, focused on engaging with and delighting their customers.

In Customer Experience, conversions and user adoption matter deeply, especially to the executives and corporate champions who own the overall DAM strategy of their business. Conversion is the outcome that has real implications for the success of a DAM program or system. Focus must be placed on both good design and user experience, as well as providing a positive experience for IT teams supporting those users and day-to-day operations of the DAM.

Google, and other remarkable tools, have set high standards for what DAM Customers consider a “good user experience”—redefining the expectations of the best in breed. DAM Customers are expecting some, if not all, of the functionality to cross over into their work systems. And why not? Some of the best customer experiences are found using consumer technology, retail driven or otherwise. Time and time again I hear customers express laments such as, “I thought the Search functionality would be like Google,” or, “I thought we could use auto-fill when using keyword search,” or, “I thought it would remember me and know what I was looking for,” DAM, like any content driven marketing technology, is caught in the divide between what is wanted and what is available. The expectations are certainly there, but are the technology and data catching up?

More common and more troubling than the failure to meet high expectations is a failure to meet expectations that are perfectly reasonable, agreed upon, and paid for; not an expectation, but an absolute requirement. Supporting users with great expectations are technology teams who keep systems running. Wooing users to a system is challenging enough when they must accept what feels like a less-than-optimal experience. If that experience is further hampered by system crashes, slow navigation, and other performance hiccups, there is no hope of gaining the conversions necessary for a system’s success. When faced with technical challenges, beleaguered DAM support teams rely on customer service from the vendor. Without committed engagement and the conversations necessary for real trouble- shooting, solving those technical challenges becomes frustrating, poor system performance drags on and users run away. 

This last year I have heard more and more from DAM champions and supporters who feel all but abandoned by their vendors when they need them most. After rallying the organizational support to prioritize DAM, invest in technology, and inspire the excitement (or at least willingness) of users, they find their initiatives stuck in the mud. Pleas for help with performance issues are greeted with on-and–off engagement from vendor, or quick answers that don’t acknowledge the complexity of DAM systems. So what’s happened? Has everyone become too comfortable in his or her sales success stories this past year? Has customer service not become a priority for you all? The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that to “engage” denotes there is involvement – whether via interest or attention – with someone. It is a process that requires action.

Customer service must be about listening, learning and responding to your clients. Anything less is worthy of the “naughty list” this Christmas. There will never be any issue with communicating with your customers … so do it and do it often! It requires more than an automatic email reply or the placement of customers into a service queue. It is understood that a technology vendor can’t engage in deep dive conversations for every customer questions or issue. Self-service support is essential - if you are not doing it, start now! That said, effort must be made to provide deeper support to those who need it. Technology vendors: listen to your customers and work to understand what they need for they are truly making a list and checking it twice. Apathetic support and under performing systems leave long lasting memories, so you better be good, for goodness sake!

A Call Out to DAM Vendors

DAM technology consumers are crying out for better support and customer service. It takes an effort to do it and do it well, and it seems that effort is chronically a low priority. So in this Holiday season, I call out to all you DAM vendors to pay attention to your customers and start delivering better customer service in 2016. Your customers are watching and judging you more than any “Elf on the Shelf” will ever do. And to remind you of what you need to focus on, read carefully:

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me,

Twelve change requests unnoticed,
Eleven copyright lawyers piping,
Ten change management requests a-leaping from poor Governance,
Nine metadata fields dancing with no controlled terms,
Eight user-experience scenarios a-milking the design team for more,
Seven servers crashing … yet, again,
Six search strings a-laying no results due to no synonyms,
Five golden file formats … if only we knew what they were,
Four calling vendors with “we can do that” solutions
Three integration plans that work (ho ho ho),
Two turtle dove taxonomies touting ontologies (what is that?)
And a DAM solution that works in our company!

Happy Holidays and let 2016 be a DAM good year for us all! 

John Horodyski


John Horodyski is a Managing Director with Optimity Advisors with 19 years of management strategy experience in Information Management including Digital Asset Management (DAM), Content Strategy, Metadata and Taxonomy design, MarTech, Content Management, Governance, and Rights Management.  John is a world leading expert and has provided strategic direction and consulting for a variety of Fortune 100 and 500 clients in Consumer Packaged Goods, Media & Entertainment, Pharmaceutical, and Insurance. John is also an adjunct faculty at San Jose State University where he teaches a graduate course in Digital Asset Management. In addition to regular training and public speaking on digital media and metadata, John is a Board Member and Metadata Editor of the Journal of Digital Media Management and is a monthly DAM content contributor to CMS Wire.


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