experience you expectIn addition to my Workforce Institute responsibilities, I also manage the voice of the customer program at Kronos.  The image to the right expresses our core service message.   We do a great job with customer service at Kronos, and have the awards to prove it.  We keep it that way by by actively and constantly soliciting feedback through multiple channels.  We receive over 20,000 customer surveys a year - and we review all of them.  Of course we hear about problems through those surveys, but we hear a lot more feedback like this:

"Your representative was very easy-going & informative - made having to call in about the ticket a pleasant experience. Has very good customer service skills!"

We use this feedback to identify and prioritize improvements needed in our products, services and processes.  We help different parts of our business do ad hoc analyses to dive more deeply into specific areas.  Today, I got a question about what constitutes the ideal cloud customer experience.  Here's my response - the top ten expectations I believe that cloud customers have of their vendors.

From what I've seen from Kronos customer feedback, my own experience as a VP of products and services for a SaaS company before I came to Kronos, and my experience as the manager of two SaaS vendor solutions for Kronos, the following are key expectations of SaaS customers:

  1. If there's a problem with my environment, tell me.  Don't make me stumble across it.
  2. When there is a problem, tell me when and how you're going to fix it.
  3. Your privacy and security measures meet objective standards and protect me and my organization from any compliance issues.
  4. Upgrades are friction-less events; i.e. no disruption in my environment.  Adding new features that become available in a release should be up to me  and easy to configure.
  5. The more I can control my environment through self service measures, the better.
  6. It should be easy to get my data out of your solution - for reporting, integration, or other use cases I need to support within my environment.
  7. I am likely to be a non-technical user.  Speak to me in my language.  I probably don't care how you make the sausage, I just want it to work - all the time.
  8. Provide me with a test environment so I can vet new features, and so I can update training and documentation materials that support user adoption of your solution.
  9. You know how I'm using your system, you have my data.  Can you provide real time analytics to help me use your solution more effectively?
  10. You have lots of people's data. Can that be used to help me benchmark my organization against others like mine?

Do you use cloud solutions?  What criteria for a great experience would you add to this list?

If you follow this blog, you know we're investing heavily in moving our customers to the Cloud at Kronos.  And not just Cloud, but smartphones, tablets and snazzy time clocks that take advantage of the growing consumer preference for always on information technology and connectedness.

That transformation from product provider to service provider is huge - moving from intermittent contact with your customers to an always on service delivery machine requires changes in every aspect of our business.  We need to anticipate and head off problems that might interrupt customer service.  And we're connecting a lot more of our employees more directly to our customers' experience as we create new jobs to support this transformation.

I spoke to a group of leaders last week about how to think about changes we're driving with a customer-first point of view.  These are all senior leaders with plenty of technology development and delivery experience.  And all agree that the Cloud is different and drives us to up our game.

Recently, I spoke with our board members Sue Meisinger and Bob Clements to discuss the growing importance of the cloud in human resources.  Among other topics we discussed:

You can listen to a podcast of our conversation here: Bob Clements and Sue Meisinger Discuss Cloud Strategy for HR Leaders.

I was pleased to join Bryan Wempen and William Tincup again Friday on DriveThru HR.  It's always fun to shoot the breeze with them, and hopefully their followers enjoyed our chat. You can listen to the broadcast here.

We were talking about the politics, moving to the cloud and the fallout over Marissa Mayer's decision to order Yahoo telecommuters back to the office.   Our poll shows 67% of respondents don't think she made the right decision.  The media coverage varies from “How dare she!” to  “she made the right decision for her company"; i.e. did the job she was hired for. I think she could have taken a more nuanced approach - determined where individual initiatives called for more presence and implemented changes accordingly. As Maureen Dowd wrote last week,  "Mayer has a nursery next to the executive suite. But not everyone has it so sweet".

You can see some representative media coverage below.  Read on...

The latest from Kara Swisher who broke the story: http://allthingsd.com/20130227/cfo-goldman-says-mayer-regime-has-been-improving-quality-of-life-at-yahoo/

Yahoo came out and basically admitted to what everyone suspected: this was not an indictment of working from home, but an acknowledgement that it isn't working for Yahoo right now:

http://money.cnn.com/2013/02/27/technology/yahoo-work-at-home/

One perspective on how working from home is not the answer for moms: http://healthland.time.com/2012/07/06/about-that-atlantic-article-why-working-from-home-isnt-the-answer-for-working-moms/

Strong defense of working from home: http://www.tlnt.com/2013/02/28/no-more-flex-work-are-you-freaking-kidding-me/

Lisa Belkin weighs in: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-belkin/why-work-from-home_b_2774794.html

It's such interesting timing with Sheryl Sandberg's new book coming out…there is something here about how harshly women leaders are judged, I think, by men, but also by other women. When Jack Welch publishes a book, people don't question about what he is doing for the cause of men everywhere…it feels like for women like MM and SS it really is a no-win situation in some ways….

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joanne-bamberger/sheryl-sandberg-marissa-mayer_b_2760331.html

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-02-28/carly-fiorina-on-marissa-sheryl-and-women-in-tech

Other Articles of Interest Last Week:

Turnover is Turnover: What Churning Employees Says About Your Culture http://ow.ly/i1k2q via @TLNT_com

Keep on Trucking? Not if Canada Doesn't Hire More Truckers http://ow.ly/i1mb4 via @WSJ

Sheryl Sandberg's Lessons to Succeed and Savor Work and Life http://ow.ly/i1mLT via @HuffPostWomen

Train Your Brain to Be Optimistic http://ow.ly/i1o2z via @Inc

Why You Need to Vote For TLNT For Best Human Resources Blog http://ow.ly/i2iUU via @TLNT_com @johnhollon

Can a Little Relaxation Increase Your Employees' Productivity? http://ow.ly/i3QIl via @blogging4jobs

RT @williamtincup: RT Failure Is Not an Option - Shallow Motivational Tip 3 http://ow.ly/i8ZKe @TomBolt

Love this piece written by @ChinaGorman on the Yahoo work from home issue. http://ow.ly/i8ZHz. Good for Marissa Mayer & Jackie Reses.

Same Train, Same Track: You Gotta Be Honest to Build Better Engagement http://ow.ly/i5TYe via @TLNT_com @TimSackett

Unhappy Employees Are Not Disengaged Employees http://ow.ly/i8bJG via @hrbartender

Kronites are writing about:

New Time Well Spent #Cartoon: http://ow.ly/i1i1T #openshift #snowball

RT @simonmacpherson: How Mature Are You? Part 2 http://ow.ly/i8ZNq

RT @SmarterCafe: A project is like a life... Ask every question you can. http://ow.ly/i4an5

Yahoo in a gray flannel suit? Is forcing the telecommuters home a recipe for success? http://ow.ly/i6PQY

Quote the Raven “Perfect Paycheck” http://ow.ly/i8cEh via @ToddBlackHRMS #HR #Payroll

How Mature Are You? Part 3 http://ow.ly/i8aFa via @simonmacpherson @KronosUK

RT @smartercafe: If Belle was a #Kronos customer, you know she'd seek out every training opportunity! http://ow.ly/i8WLD #KnowledgePass

Limited time savings on Kronos Workforce Ready just for you! Get the details: http://ow.ly/i1iBP #SMB #WFM #HR

The @WF_Institute at #Kronos Explores How The #AffordableCareAct Will Impact Organizations http://ow.ly/i1lJw

#HIMSS13 Attendees; Schedule a meeting, join us at our exclusive party – or both – & we'll be happy to tell you more! http://ow.ly/i1oEl

Follow @Work4Kronos to learn about the latest on jobs & culture @KronosInc and @KronosUK.

Get Sold on Training Incentives http://ow.ly/i2er0

RT @AronAin: @KronosInc in full planning for our summer internship program. Energetic, bright & motivated should apply. Follow @Work4Kronos

RT @WF_Institute: Making another appearance on @drivethruhr Friday 1PM ET. I'll talk about what #Cloud & Politics have in common... #dthr

#SupplyChain #Technology: The State of Labor Management Systems http://ow.ly/i8au9

Kronos customers like Coca-Cola bottling company are putting their trust in us to manage their Kronos environment for them in the cloud.  As has always been the case with technology solutions, organizations need to be clear on their own objectives and priorities before moving to cloud solutions, but increasingly that's what they're deciding to do.  Most organizations' IT staff are operating under a crushing burden of bread and butter maintenance work, and welcome the opportunity to exchange these  prosaic duties for more exciting projects.

Cloud,  SaaS, PaaS, IaaS - these are all newfangled terms for work I was doing in 1983 for Control Data Business Information Services.  I was a Systems Engineer, responsible for developing business applications for insurance companies and banks that we hosted on our network of mainframe computers in Ohio.  Customers accessed their systems through super-cool-futuristic acoustic modems like the one pictured here that delivered data at a whopping 300 KPS (kilobytes per second) .  In fact, we actually used this Anderson Jacobsen model.  The "portable" computer and modem I carried to customer sites to do demos weighed about 50 pounds.

A lot has changed for me and my Cloud in twenty years.  Then, I was stomping around in skirted suits, closed-toe pumps with 3-inch heels (no "toe cleavage" allowed per the employee manual) and sporting shoulder pads like those pictured below on Princess Diana.  Those shoulder pads that look so ridiculous now made our hips look smaller and gave us the confidence to believe that we really had "come a long way baby".  Now, the shoulder pads have given way to pants, flats, and mobile devices that weigh a fraction of my old Anderson Jacobsen modem and give us secure access to everything from books to banking in the cloud.

I don't miss those slow dumb dinosaurs we used to access the network, but you know those shoulder pads weren't all bad.

Our board member, William Tincup, frequently has a provocative point of view about the human resource issues of the day.  Here he takes on "the Cloud" and specifically, how potential buyers of technology need to evaluate whether cloud solutions are right for them.

When my smart phone doesn't work I'm sure the random Verizon mall employee, ahem professional, could explain why the network failed me, or why the device I'm using is out-of-date, or why the applications I downloaded are burning up my phone, etc.  I would listen to any and all explanations, maybe even understand some of the cell gibberish, but at the end of the day: I just want my phone to work.  After all, I'm a simple man.

When my new Mini Cooper doesn't start I'm sure the expert mechanics at my local dealership could explain that the summer heat in Texas is making the sensors in my tires light up like Christmas trees, or why they really prefer super unleaded gas in the car at ALL times, or why driving 110 mph with the sun roof open affects my average gas mileage, etc.  I would listen to any and all explanations, maybe even understand some of the new car ownership gibberish, but at the end of the day: I just want my car to work the way I want it to work.

When my fancy digital cable TV doesn't work. I'm sure Larry the Cable Guy could explain why network outages in my neighborhood are rare but they do happen, or that I have an older model receiver box thingy, or that the DVR box needs to be "on" all the time, etc.  I would listen to any and all explanations, maybe even understand some of what Larry is telling me, but at the end of the day: I just want my TV to work.  The thing is humungous... people from Mars can see my TV... that said, I just want the damn thing to work all the time, every single time.

We've come to expect technology to just work.  And work all the time.  As a society, we're getting really greedy in our zest for having it our way.  Meaning, the tech in our lives has to fit around our particular needs.  Which brings me to our collective fascination with the cloud.  Before we all fall madly in love with the cloud - and I feel that we should fall in love with the cloud - we need to stop and remember: It has to work. It has to work for us personally, professionally, via our workflow, via our workforce, in our businesses, etc.  Work for US.

I think some software companies want to focus too much on how the technology is delivered and NOT enough on how their technology would work within a particular work culture.  In my humble opinion, there is too much hype around SaaS and/or the Cloud.  I think the buyers and users of technology need to really think deep about what works best in their organization.  Because, and I'll stick by this: It has to work.  Which might be a cloud solution, or it might not.

At Kronos, we are seeing rapid growth in the adoption of our Cloud solutions among our customers.  We offer multiple options because to William's point and like the pictures above, the right Cloud for one organization isn't necessarily the best for all.

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