The place where the Customer counts

Free thoughts on CRM, Business and the next big thing

The place where the Customer counts - Free thoughts on CRM, Business and the next big thing

Do you want collaboration that works? Find the right business drivers

purposeFew days ago Bertrand Duperrin wrote an interesting blogpost on social collaboration and on what’s wrong with it. Now that “digital trasformation” has get the hype over “social business” we are experiencing a reduced interest on internal collaboration, and main causes are – for the author – attributable to:

  1. customer relationship which as a topic drives more investments than internal collaboration because of objective correlation with business opportunities (and revenues),
  2. political contraints that make the transition to innovative organizational models more and more sticky,
  3. human factors or in other words “people” that are always reluctant to change their working habits, especially when knowledge sharing paradigm, from an individual POV, is considered a loss of power,
  4. lack of purpose, especially with regard to the internal collaboration discrepancy with customer relationship.

All these drivers have a deep impact on internal collaboration acceptance and success, but in my humble opinion, the main one in which few efforts and even fewer discussions have been done is the last one: lack of a business purpose.

We all know that customer relationship is leading the business wagon (after all, as Duperrin says, customers bring money in).

We all know about organizational barriers that impede innovation flow.

But, are we well-aware that – often – social collaboration projects don’t have the right “links” with business purposes? Unfortunately, this situation is caused also by inappropriate technology which lacks aforesaid links.

“Collaborate” and “share” are beautiful verbs but if you don’t associate them with the right context there’s no value inside. Context is everything and you can’t avoid it otherwise it’s only lipstick on a pig.

Facebook context is peer relationship and it’s cool. But what about when you want to make collaborative an enterprise? Which are the main components of its specific context?

Here my 2 cents.

As Duperrin said, enterprise have to connect collaboration to customer relationship because here is the money (unless you’re a NPO). But how? Data and processes. Data and processes are the basement on which business collaboration can be built.

Data is the “iota” of decision-making process. Managing data, analyzing data, discussing on data through internal engagement and contribution sharing, helps decision-maker to select the right option because he finally has the more meaningful information in support of the following execution phase.

Processes are the suits of enterprise. You need to change them when context changes. And context, here, is your end-to-end customer experience. When you intercept and collect signals about this dynamic experience, you have a stream of elements to rethink your processes through internal engagement and contribution sharing. And when I say “rethink” it means that you have the instruments to modify them in order to support customer relationship.

So building collaborative solutions around data and process can help your organization focus on real business objectives and create a connection to economic results.

What do you think? Please leave your contribution

Social Business Forum 2011: qualche considerazione finale

Quella di mercoledì è stata una giornata veramente particolare. Se da un lato la riduzione ad un giorno del Social Business Forum ha causato il mal di piedi a molti partecipanti che, per seguire tutti gli speech di altissimo livello offerti, hanno dovuto scarpinare per i vari ambienti messi a disposizione , dall’altro credo di aver partecipato ad uno degli eventi più ricchi in termini di esperienza professionale sul Social Business sotto forma di nomi altisonanti e internazionali ma soprattutto di contenuti.

Avevo in stand-by questo post sin dal rientro in treno ma oggi Mauro Lupi (con cui ho avuto l’onore di dividere il palco per il panel sul Social CRM) ha anticipato a grandi linee con un suo pezzo quanto volevo dire. Spero quindi che non si “offenda” se ci sono delle analogie.

A parte l’alto livello qualitativo di praticamente tutti gli intervenuti al Forum mi vorrei soffermare su quelli che mi hanno più colpito e su quello che mi ha visto coinvolto insieme al già citato Mauro Lupi (Ammiro Partners), Stefano Vitta (Connexia) e Mitch Lieberman (SwordCiboodle).

Comincerei con lo speech introduttivo di Bill Johnston, Head of Global Community in Dell: è sempre un piacere vedere come da un passo falso si riesca a costruire qualcosa che superi le aspettative tanto da diventare un punto di riferimento e di eccellenza come nel caso di Dell. Così da un classico caso di #epicfail dovuto a scelte produttive errate e ad una scarsissima attenzione al livello qualitativo offerto dal Customer Service si passa per il commitment di un CEO illuminato che segna la strada per cominciare ad ascoltare la vera voce dei clienti e soprattutto ad agire in conseguenza di quanto imparato dalla fase di ascolto (ricordate la formula “Listen -> Understand -> Act -> Measure”). E così questo simpatico “ragazzo” (perchè in questi casi tipicamente l’età media negli Stati Uniti è sempre inferiore a quella europea) ha accompagnato per mano la Dell lungo un percorso che ha consentito in qualche anno di introdurre sostanziali stravolgimenti nella modalità con cui gestire la relazione con gli utenti in Rete. E quindi abbiamo visto la nascita del Social Media & Community Team (SMaC), dell’elaborazione di principi e regole da adottare quando si gestiscono i clienti attraverso i social media, dell’adozione di strumenti e piattaforme che consentono innanzitutto di ascoltare ed agire ma anche di collaborare internamente per raggiungere la soddisfazione del cliente, del coinvolgimento dei clienti e dipendenti nel processo di idea proposition, ecc. Per uno sguardo più di dettaglio inserisco di seguito la presentazione originale utilizzata durante lo speech.

 


 

A seguire introduco subito un’altra interessante presentazione che riassume il caso di successo di GiffGaff, un MVNO che opera sul competitivissimo mercato inglese e che si contraddistingue in particolare per:

  • condivisione di alcune scelte di marketing con la community di clienti
  • processo di acquisto online al 100%
  • una gestione del Customer Service quasi completamente demandata ai superusers della community di clienti.

 


 

Una delle cose che mi è piaciuta di più è una frase nella presentazione fatta dalla brava e bella Claire Kavanagh, Crm manager di GiffGaff:

“We are not a company with a community. We are a company that could not exist without its community

 

Per quanto riguarda invece il panel sul Social CRM riepilogo a grandi linee le domande che sono state fatte dai moderatori e le risposte che ho dato:

“A partire dallo scorso anno il termine Social CRM ha acquistato sempre più dignità e si è contraddistinto sempre di più nelle discussioni in Rete e nelle principali conferenze di business. Ma dietro questo termine si nasconde l’ennesimo hype o c’è qualcosa di più? E quale sarà la sua naturale evoluzione?”

Credo fortemente che il Social CRM sia molto più che un hype semplicemente perchè oggi si stanno realizzando le condizioni affinchè in generale una strategia di CRM tradizionale si concretizzi come purtroppo non è mai successo nei decenni precedenti. Presi dall’euforia di implementazioni tecnologiche ardite e costose è stato perso il significato più profondo del concetto di CRM ossia la costruzione di una relazione proficua sia per il cliente che per il business. Oggi le tecnologie non proprietarie ma pubbliche di condivisione e partecipazione consentono alle persone di esprimersi e palesarsi per quelle che sono ossia esseri sociali con in più la possibilità di influenzarsi a vicenda e di far sentire la propria voce alle aziende che d’ora in avanti dovranno tener conto degli effetti che la comunicazione e l’interazione con la propria e clientela (e non solo) induce sul proprio business. E il driver che consentirà un’evoluzione di un modello di business compatibile con questo scenario sarà sempre di più la Customer Experience Management. Ma bisogna anche ricordare che così come i dipartimenti customer-facing (marketing, sales e customer service) costruiscono e gestiscono direttamente la customer experience, così i dipartimenti interni supportano i primi nella gestione della stessa e solo attraverso una reale collaborazione interna si riescono a raggiungere risultati che eccedano le aspettative regalando un vantaggio competitivo netto sulla concorrenza. E quando i due mondi si sovrapporranno, in maniera armoniosa, arriveremo al Social Business di cui tanto si parla e a cui tutti adesso vogliono tendere.

“Da un’analisi di IBM è emerso il cosiddetto Perception Gap ossia la distanza con cui le aziende percepiscono le esigenze dei consumatori nel momento in cui decidono di interagire con esse. Siete d’accordo ed eventualmente quale strategia suggerireste di adottare per colmare il gap?”

Su questo specifico tema ho esordito dichiarando una certa scetticità sui dati presentati. Non per motivi di malafede ma perchè, avendo letto lo studio, non mi piaceva il fatto che fossero stati aggregati dati appartenenti a settori e mercati differenti. Ci sono prodotti e servizi che si distinguono da altri per i loro processi di acquisto e di utilizzo complessi che quindi portano ad un tipo di relazione molto particolare con le aziende (insomma, un po’ per banalizzare, siamo sicuri che se voglio interagire con la Porsche lo faccio con l’intenzione di chiedere uno sconto?). Sono però d’accordo con il senso intrinseco dell’analisi stessa ossia rendere evidente come ad oggi le aziende, anche molte di quelle che si sono buttate a capofitto nel rutilante mondo del social business (questa volta senza capital letters), non abbiano ancora capito quanto sia fondamentale la fase preliminare di ascolto grazie alla quale è possibile successivamente impostare la propria strategia di relazione ed engagement.

“Ad oggi tutte le aziende hanno deciso di cominciare a monitorare ma si scordano che monitorare non è la stessa cosa di ascoltare, e limitarsi a contare le @mentions non è la stessa cosa di fare insight. Siete d’accordo?”

Anche qui mi sono in qualche modo ripetuto, ribadendo che l’atto di ascoltare è primario per la definizione di una strategia relazionale e a questa segue la fase di comprensione, di azione e di misurazione. In particolare è bene considerare che l’ascolto può e deve avere ulteriori declinazioni: quella finalizzata all’assistenza soprattutto nel momento in cui si interagisce su canali proprietari, e quella finalizzata all’osservazione – supportata da un’attività di partecipazione attiva – secondo un’accezione etnografica. Infine ho voluto porre l’attenzione al fatto che aldilà dei KPI, come ad esempio la share of voice (assolutamente fondamentale), e al sentiment che ad oggi soffre ancora di uno scarso livello di accuratezza e che obbliga a un pesante intervento umano per la valutazione finale delle conversazioni, è utile cominciare a parlare seriamente di tutte quelle soluzioni analitiche avanzate legate al text mining che consentono agli analisti, attraverso sofisticate tecniche come la link analysis e le association rules, di riuscire a classificare in maniera ottimale le conversazioni riuscendo a focalizzare il loro intervento su sottoinsiemi più significativi semanticamente parlando. Questo soprattutto perchè andando avanti i volumi di dati non strutturati continueranno a crescere a dismisura rendendo indispensabile l’utilizzo di queste teniche per poter agire nei tempi richiesti dalla clientela stessa.

“Molti oggi dicono che, sull’esempio di casi come quello di Zappos, il Customer Care è il nuovo Marketing delle aziende. Siete d’accordo?”

In quest’ultimo caso mi sono allineato alla posizione di Mitch Lieberman che ha riconfermato un pensiero che aveva espresso anche in un suo recente post. Il Marketing fa il Marketing, il Customer Care invece fa e deve fare il Customer Care. L’unica cosa che mi sono sentito di aggiungere però è che spesso il Service ha il grosso della torta delle interazione con la clientela e poichè ogni cliente lascia sempre una traccia quando interagisce con un’azienda, è secondo me essenziale considerare il patrimonio informativo a disposizione del Customer Care che opportunamente analizzato e correttamente convogliato può essere visto come un input di primaria importanza per azioni di cross e up selling o in ambito di innovazione di prodotto o servizio.

 

Per concludere (quasi) sono stato anche molto felice di aver rivisto/incontrato/conosciuto vecchi e nuovi amici di Rete con cui ho avuto modo di scambiare opinioni e considerazioni varie. Tra questi sicuramente:

Infine un grosso grazie e complimenti a tutto lo staff di Open Knowledge, che tra le altre cose mi ha dato la possibilità di partecipare attivamente a questo incredibile evento, e in particolare a:

  • Emanuele Quintarelli
  • Stefano Mizzella
  • Emanuele Scotti
  • Rosario Sica
  • Stefano Besana
  • Andrea Pesoli

Grazie ancora di tutto e all’anno prossimo 😉

Interview with Keith Swenson on Adaptive Case Management

Let me introduce Mr. Keith Swenson that will attend Social Business Forum 2011 (Milan, 8 June 2011), one of the main european event – organised by Open Knowledge – on the adoption of social and collaborative methodologies / frameworks inside and outside the business ecosystem.

Keith Swenson is Vice President of Research and Development at Fujitsu America Inc. and is the Chief Software Architect for the Interstage family of products. He is known for having been a pioneer in collaboration software and web services, and has helped the development of many workflow and BPM standards. He is currently the Chairman of the Technical Committee of the Workflow Management Coalition. In the past, he led development of collaboration software MS2, Netscape, Ashton Tate and Fujitsu. In 2004 he was awarded the Marvin L. Manheim Award for outstanding contributions in the field of workflow. He’s considered an expert on Adaptive Case Management (main topic of this interview) and has the most important book on this argument to his credit (Mastering the Unpredictable). You can read his insightful posts on his blog at http://social-biz.org/.

 

Question 1

First of all thank you very much Mr. Swenson for the opportunity to have this interview and to explain something about Adaptive Case Management (ACM) and its conceptual and practical interactions with Social CRM and Social Business. I’d like to start this interview asking you to give us your personal definition of ACM and its relation with Business Process Management.

Keith Swenson

ACM is more of a concept than a product category. I think it is best to define it as the software the knowledge workers use for themselves to get things done. Knowledge workers were not being served by traditional BPM, because knowledge work is unpredictable. I hesitate to compare ACM to BPM because BPM means so many different things to different people, but one thing I think we agree on is that BPM is a management practice for defining and continually improving business processes over time. To make a predefined process, the work has to be repeatable, but knowledge workers never do the same thing over and over the same way. ACM has a very different goal. ACM is not about making processes which execute the same way every time. While both BPM and ACM have the purpose to support people in the workplace, BPM is for supporting routine work for which a predefined process can be defined, while ACM is for knowledge work where the worker figures out every time what to do for this particular situation. Many of the underlying technologies are similar: many people get tripped up because they see that ACM and BPM are made out of many of the same components, and indeed often interoperate with each other. Many BPM vendors also provide ACM capabilities, but BPM and ACM are used in different ways by different people.

 

Question 2

Which are the main benefits in adopting an Adaptive Case Management framework? And the most demanding challenges?

Keith Swenson

Case Management itself is not a new discipline. Knowledge workers have been using a Case Management approach for many decades, for instance Sherlock Holmes would be an excellent example of how to do case management. A case is just a folder, a focal point for collecting all the information to achieve a goal. Putting cases online for electronic retrieval has been used for years. The “Adaptive” part of ACM refers to the use of the latest techniques for collaboration. For example, social network techniques help case managers collect and manage a network of contacts and associates to help communicate to the right ones at the right time. A second example is the ability to create tasks and assign them to people, and for those tasks to appear on worklists that remind those others of things to be done. A third example is the ability to reuse lists of tasks over time from case to case, allowing people to “adapt” the technique used in the last case to the next. A fourth example is the ability to automatically collect and mine the history of the cases to discover trends and patterns that might be otherwise hard to see. These are the benefits of ACM: not to constrain the worker to a predefined path, but instead to help the worker go in whatever direction is needed for the case, and still to be able to mold and grow their own personal capabilities over time.

The most demanding challenge seems to be a cultural one: we have deeply held beliefs that work should be automated. This is combined with a belief that processes should be simple. Automation normally requires that all decisions are removed from the worker, but in the case of knowledge work, this is the critical aspect that worker brings. There seems to be a general under-appreciation that the expertise that a knowledge worker brings (e.g. a trial lawyer) is so extensive and specialized that it cannot be replaced by automation. The biggest challenge seems to be to get management in general to understand that letting knowledge workers have control over their own work patterns is a good thing, not a bad thing.

 

Question 3

Which are the organizational and operational assumptions to the ACM framework adoption inside the enterprise? I mean, the mindset change from a serial process steps completions to a business goal-oriented approach of knowledge workers must rest, in my opinion, on a consolidated collaborative internal culture supported by social collaboration platform, mustn’t it?

Keith Swenson

You touch on a very important point. The internal culture of an organization is something that we are not always aware of, and is very hard to change. Experienced case managers have no difficulty in using the technology. However, it is hard to get people to take a “social technology” approach to exchanging information. Email was available for decades before it achieved widespread use, and now it seems that all office workers want to email everything to everyone. Remember how FaceBook brought the idea of writing on a person’s wall, and how this was considered quite odd by those familiar with email. The challenge is to get people to stop “sending” documents to another person, and start bringing the people into the case. I am participating in this year’s Social Business Forum precisely because I think the main barrier to use of ACM is to learn to use Enterprise Social Software. Once business cultures have shifted to adopt this way of communicating, I think people will use it to a large extend to accomplish ACM.

 

Question 4

I personally believe that in a business context, roles like sales or service agents are surely eligible for an adaptive work environment. Do you think that a realistic trend shall be more and more integration and/or overlap between ACM and Operational CRM/SCRM?

Keith Swenson

Yes. A sales person in most fields it a knowledge worker. Sales people who were simply “order takers”have been replaced by a web application long ago. If the sale is large and complex, you find that every sale is accomplished slightly differently, and an effective salesperson needs the flexibility to approach each customer in a different way. In a very real sense, CRM is case management for a specific purpose. Social CRM takes this a step further to allow others outside the principle organization to be involved directly through social network like features. I believe that CRM will pick up some of the adaptive capabilities that we talk about in the book, and that ACM will provide those same capabilities to verticals beyond sales.

 

Question 5

Which are, for you, the best case studies and/or industries where ACM can unleash its potential?

Keith Swenson

The four main industries which have traditionally used case management are: law enforcement, legal, medical, and social cases. In these vertical you will find many good examples of how ACM can help. But for me, the more interesting case involves executives in any industry. Consider a board of directors making decisions on the direction of a company. Someone will have to put these directives into action, and there are no predetermined processes. For example, the board might decide to merge company A with company B, and that will trigger a lot of work that is particular to the two organizations involve; it may require things that no one in either organization has ever done before, nor will they expect to do them again later. This work is important, expensive, and unique, and that is what makes it exciting.

 

Question 6

From a technological point of view, and according to your experience, which are the most interesting solutions in the marketplace and by which main functionality/capability they distinguish themselves?

Keith Swenson

While Case Management is an old field, ACM is still very young, and because of this I would hesitate to point to any particular offering today and hold that up as the example to strive for as a generalized realization of adaptive case management. The reason that I am particularly interested and active in Social Business Software field, a.k.a. Enterprise Social Software, is that I believe the offerings in these areas give the most flexibility and support for knowledge workers to achieve whatever confronts them on a given day. Take a look as Asana which is making “software that helps people work together more effectively.” But I don’t think that the people at Asana have ever heard of ACM per se.

I tend to look for tools that are providing good collaboration at the code, and offerings like Jive, SharePoint and Lotus Connections offer significant capability for the knowledge worker, but they lack specific features that are needed for ACM, particularly in the area of “planning”. An ACM product must have the ability to natively express goals and to track accomplishments. There are a number of product that are trying to bring everything together, like Action Base, ISIS Papyrus, Singularity, Global 360’s Case Management product, IBM’s Advanced Case Management, and Fujitsu’s Interstage BPM. Some of these are starting with a strong planning aspect, and moving into the collaboration space. Overall, at this point, there is not really a single product offering that clearly encompasses the full vision of Adaptive Case Management.

 

Question 7

Finally, can you give us some anticipation on your next keynote at Social Business Forum 2011 (Enabling quantum organizations as a new level of effectiveness)?

Keith Swenson

The central theme of my talk at the Social Business Forum is about our assumption that all work can be predefined to a very precise degree. Much of the work in IT for the past two decades has been to eliminate humans from doing jobs that can be automated. This has been to a large degree accomplished. Many traditional jobs, like typing pools, mail clerks, typesetters, etc. have been largely eliminated. We are approaching a limit to what can be automated. More and more of the workforce is performing knowledge work which cannot be predicted, is not repeatable, and therefore cannot be automated. The next decade will not be how we eliminate humans from routine work, but instead how to leverage true human intelligence. Before we accomplish this, organizational culture needs to adopt some new principles that appear paradoxical. You see, it was Newton who crystallized the idea that everything might be explained by a few simple formulae. People are today looking for the simple formulae to base their organizations on. But there are no simple formulae to be found. Everything effects everything else and you cannot abstract a part away from the rest. Instead of giving up, there is hope, and there are technique that organizations can use to not only survive, but to thrive, in a world of less mass production, and greater customization.

 

Thanks again to Mr. Swenson and see you soon at the Social Business Forum 2011.