SMBs Turn the Corner on Service Profitability

Best-in-Class Service Organizations Increase Customer Retention by 21% and Annual Service Profits by 13.5%

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - March 17, 2009) - Small and midsize service organizations (or SMBs) continue in their transformation from cost centers to profit centers, with 60% of SMBs currently operating as profit centers (in contrast to 55% in May 2007) and an additional 18% planning to operate as profit centers with financial and operational goals within the next 18 months, as indicated in "Service Management for SMBs: Employing a Strategic Approach," published by Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company (NYSE: HHS). To obtain a complimentary copy of the report, visit:

The idea of strategic service management entails that customer service is embraced as a key differentiator, so customer-driven pressures are usually the top priorities for profit-oriented service organizations to address. However, in Aberdeen's benchmark survey of over 150 small and midsize service organizations, it was found that these days rising cost pressures trump the customer demand for faster service call resolution, and the need for improved data capture and information for management insight rounds out the top three pressures. In response to these pressures, leading firms were more than twice as likely as all other firms to have embraced technology solutions to improve operations and 1.5 times as likely to have a senior service chain executive to oversee operations.

"Fifty-five percent (55%) of the Best-in-Class have made purchases of post-sales service automation solutions, and 17% more will be making such purchases in the next 12 months," said Zack Westenhoefer, Research Associate at Aberdeen. "While just 24% of all other SMBs have to this point invested in post-sales service automation solutions, 43% are actively seeking to make improvements through technology within the next 12 months. It has become widely accepted that the ROI generally makes such investments worthwhile, so it seems that for these SMBs inevitability of purchase is only a matter of time and money."

"Technology is integral, but remains just one piece of the puzzle," adds Sumair Dutta, Senior Research Analyst at Aberdeen. "Building a leading service organization requires a holistic approach, combining a host of strategic actions, organizational capabilities, and enabling technologies that encompass the various aspects of service management."

Westenhoefer recommends that service organizations consider the following strategies to help spur the necessary performance improvements:

--  Change business processes to align with customer needs and
--  Give field service technicians the ability to access service schedules
    and see their work order queue
--  Increase the frequency of performance measurement
--  Offer tiered service-level agreements and contracts

A complimentary copy of this report is made available due in part to the following underwriters: ClickSoftware, Inc. and Single Source Systems, Inc. To obtain a complimentary copy of the report, visit:

For additional access to complimentary Service Management Research, please visit

Aberdeen's Service Management Research Practice will host its annual Chief Service Officer Summit, the global meeting place for service, finance, supply chain, and operations executives seeking to accelerate strategies for post-sales service transformation. For more information or to attend, please visit

About Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company

Aberdeen is a leading provider of fact-based research and market intelligence that delivers demonstrable results. Having benchmarked more than 30,000 companies in the past two years, Aberdeen is uniquely positioned to educate users to action: driving market awareness, creating demand, enabling sales, and delivering meaningful return-on-investment analysis. As the trusted advisor to the global technology markets, corporations turn to Aberdeen™ for insights that drive decisions.

As a Harte-Hanks Company, Aberdeen plays a key role of putting content in context for the global direct and targeted marketing company. Aberdeen's analytical and independent view of the "customer optimization" process of Harte-Hanks (Information - Opportunity - Insight - Engagement - Interaction) extends the client value and accentuates the strategic role Harte-Hanks brings to the market. For additional information, visit Aberdeen or call (617) 723-7890, or to learn more about Harte-Hanks, call (800) 456-9748 or go to

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Contact Information: Media Contact: Zack Westenhoefer Aberdeen Harte-Hanks (617) 854-5354