Anthony Rodio from SupportSoft

logo It’s time for another interview on Service Untitled. This one features Anthony Rodio, the Chief Marketing Officer for SupportSoft.

Besides making enterprise customer service software, SupportSoft is the company behind Support.com (which we wrote about here). This interview is going to be a three part interview that will run on Monday, Wednesday, and wrap up on Friday. For those interested in how software and tehcnology ties into the customer service experience, this is a must read interview.

In part of the interview, Anthony talks about what SupportSoft does, a bit about their products, Support.com, and why the company has chosen to differentiate on technology.

Click the “read more” link to read the interview.

Question: For those that aren’t familiar with SupportSoft, what does the company do?
Answer: SupportSoft is a company that has been around for 10 years now. Founded in 1997. It was founded to build software to solve computer problems. They started the company trying to figure out how to solve PC problems and then sold that software to enterprises. We went public in 2000. For the past 10 years, what SupportSoft has done as a company is sell toolsets to large organizations that help make their helpdesks or their support organizations better. About 30% of the Fortune 100 companies like Microsoft are users. We also have a product line we sell to digital service providers for their data business. We have 7 of the 10 biggest service providers in the United States like Comcast, Verizon, etc. That has been our business for the past ten years before we launched Support.com at the beginning of this year, which is the consumer side.

Question: What is your bestselling product among big companies? What about among smaller companies?
Answer: That is an interesting question. Usually, the companies that buy our tools buy our full suite of offerings. It also depends between service providers and the enterprise they use for their helpdesk. Where we are best is a combination of analyst tools and client code. What the IT organization would do is deploy the client codes on the desktops and that helps with the pro-active service that helps with the self-service thing. We have a full toolset that includes ticketing, remote control, everything you would need to run a helpdesk. But the actual tools that we give their analysts to solve tech problems is probably what we’re known for the most.

Our approach has been shift left for the past few years. Essentially, that has been helping new customers drive their employees or their customers to self-service, pro-active service and channels that don’t always require assisted service.

Question: What is Support.com?
Answer: Home technology, pay for market if you will is a market that has been around for a long time, but is more of a cottage industry in many ways. It is almost like what people did with their VCRs or their TVs 10 or 15 years ago – they would put it in their car and drive it down to the local repair shop where it would be fixed. In some cases, that local repair shop would come in their house and fix it for them. What Geek Squad / Best Buy has done is taken that model and put it on steroids. It is still fundamentally that model where you drop your computer off at the store or they will come out and do something for you. If you have a really good technician, you have a great experience. If you have a bad technician, you have a bad experience. There is always the goal of trying to get you to buy some more CE [consumer electronics] products and service as well.

What we decided to do was take our technology that so far has only been available to large organizations and bring that directly to consumers by combining that technology with what we like to think is a friendly, empathetic, knowledgeable what we call solutions engineers.

We have 7 patents in our portfolio for the kind of problems we solve. We also have a large knowledge base from dealing with enterprises for 10 years. We want to differentiate in this market on technology, which is a different approach from what everyone else does.

Question: Why differentiate on technology? That is a lot easier to copy than people powered service.
Answer: The people part is inextricably linked to the technology. But why we think it is an advantage. You have used our TuneUp product once. You can see it is more of an assisted workflow for the analyst. It is more than just working around the computer and trying to optimize settings.

We can deliver that TuneUp service in under 30 minutes if everything goes smoothly. On average, those calls run well under 40 minutes for us. Our competition, even with their remote services, whether it be Geek Squad or Firedog, or the other folks, it takes them about an hour and a half to two hours to deliver a TuneUp type service. Beyond giving us a competitive advantage from a labor/cost standpoint, we can deliver 2 to 3 tuneups in the time it takes them to do one – the consumer feels like they’re getting a productized experience. They see the client framework on their machine. It automatically goes through all of those settings and optimizes it. The consumers feel like they got something that they paid for instead of just watching their mouse go through Windows and do something they could do on their own. And we can deliver the service in a much shorter time.

It gives us a cost advantage and it gives the consumer a feeling of more value. Most importantly in many ways, though, it allows a more consistent service delivery. We eliminate the good tech does a good job and a bad tech doesn’t do as good a job because our tools provide an assisted workflow.