I recently spoke at the Customer Relationship Management (CRM)/Support Services Conference that was held from Oct. 24-26 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. My presentation focused on an article I wrote for TechRepublic last year, “Seven rules to be a great help desk analyst.” Since help desk folks are always looking for good suggestions for improvement, we had a packed house, and fortunately for me, several people hung around afterwards to discuss their conference experiences.

The opinions of those I spoke with were mixed, and I’ve tried to present a balance of all their comments. If you are considering attending the next CRM/Support Services Conference, check out what attendees had to say.
For more information about the Fall 2000 CRM/Support Services Conference, check out Pat’s rundown of some of the latest technology that was on display.
Keynotes are on target, but vendors miss the mark
Cathy Whitaker from Warner Elektra Atlantic said she really enjoyed herself at the conference. She particularly enjoyed the keynote presentations because they focused on building a personal connection to the customer. For example, “Becoming a Customer-Centric Organization,” the keynote delivered by Martha Rogers, Ph.D., dealt with the importance of open dialogue and trust.

However, Cathy found that the conference vendors weren’t fully living up to the messages coming from the keynote speakers. “The keynotes are all about going back to being personal,” Cathy said, “but everything on the floor is still about being digital.” Are you listening, vendors?

Session descriptions misleading
Becky Klotz from Quad told me she attended the conference to learn more about everything related to CRM and support services. She and her team are building a help desk from scratch and need thorough research. Although this conference was the right place to obtain the information she needed, Becky found getting the answers to her specific questions a little more difficult than she had hoped.

“The session descriptions have been misleading,” Becky complained. “Your session was one of the few that actually followed its title.”

Frontline tech feels left out
Tom Payne, here for Group Health Cooperative, was disappointed in the conference. He felt that everything was targeted toward managers and “not for people in the trenches.” It’s true that most of the vendors and speakers were geared toward managers. In their defense, the majority of the people at the conference were managers, and these people are the purchasing decision makers that the vendors and speakers were trying to reach. However, it is good that several frontline techs like Tom managed to attend. There should be a mix.

A good guide for the future
Frank Prusick, a Team Leader from BP, was a first-time conference attendee and was very positive about his experience. “The greatest thing about this conference is they are giving me insight into where we are going to be five years from now,” Frank said.

Until next time
Hundreds of IT support professionals attended this week-long event, and while it would have been great to speak with all of them, I think Tom, Frank, Becky, and Cathy served as good representatives for the rest. Hopefully, their comments gave you a sense of both the positives and negatives of the CRM/Support Services Fall 2000 Conference. Stay tuned for my next article, where I’ll share my experiences from the expo floor.
Have you ever attended a CRM or Support Services conference? What did you like most? What did you like least? What would you like to see done differently? Let your voice be heard! Post a comment below or send Pat Vickers an e-mail.