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

Interview with Paolo Bergamini (Genesys Lab Business Solutions Director)

Disclaimer: some weeks ago I’ve been invited by Genesys Lab Italy to attend the European edition of G-Force 2012 in Barcelona as a CRM blogger. I accepted this invitation first of all because it’s for sure one of the most interesting CRM vendor event in Europe and, more important, cause it’s a long time since I specifically dealt with the collaborative side of CRM that, in my opinion, is one of the main enabling part of a good CRM corporate strategy. So I seize the opportunity to have a talk with Paolo Bergamini, Business Solutions Director for Italy and the South Eastern Europe & Middle East area, to ask him about new business challenges and developments Genesys Lab is going through and facing.

Mr. Bergamini, first of all do you want to quickly introduce your company, its most recent story and the main services it offers?

I would say Genesys is a dynamic, sparkling and energizing company providing Customer Services enabling applications and services I have ever seen on the market, but I have to a bit more professional to give you a precise and effective picture of what we exactly are. Genesys is the world’s leading provider of customer service and contact center applications and services, with a 100% focus on customer experience and mission to save the world from bad customer service. With more than 2,000 customers in 80 countries, Genesys is uniquely positioned to help companies bring their people, insights and customer channels together to drive Today’s new customer conversation. Genesys software directs more than 100 million interactions every day from the contact center to the back office, helping companies to deliver fast, simple service and a highly personalized cross-channel customer experience. Genesys software also optimizes processes and the performance of customer-facing employees across the enterprise.

Genesys provides solutions through a worldwide Business Partners ecosystem that cooperates with us to design, deploy, operate and upsize the Customer Services processes of the Organizations. Cooperation is fundamental when we deal with complex projects related to Customer business objectives. In order to be able to guarantee a project’ success and high level perceived quality we always work together with our Business Partners in every phases of the project, starting from the business processes requirements analisys – with our Business Consulting unit – to the key deploying initiatives – with our Professional Services on field.

Which are the main business objectives’ changes and challenges you are facing after your handover from Alcatel-Lucent to Permira?

Today, Genesys is a newly independent company. Becoming part of the high-performing portfolio of Permira funds gives evidence the strength of the Genesys brand and the differentiation of our products. Genesys’s partners continue to be a significant part of our business and remain a key part of our overall growth strategy. The new Genesys potential is very impressive: analysts estimate our market at $9 billion, placing Genesys and our partners in an enviable position to gain market share and to serve our joint customers in even more valuable ways. Being independent allows Genesys to have a single focus on the customer experience area, as we take the expertise that built our company and apply it to define our future. With the full support and investment of Permira funds, our capability is stronger than ever. Last but definitively not least, Permira is a very clever fund and is supporting us – not substituting – in creating our industrial plan for the next five years, which will be based on 360° innovation, exploring new market segments, future communication channels and provisioning models. Many investments have already been done to let us grow in term of resources and knowledge, to increase and consolidate our leadership on Customer Service enabling solutions and services. Our CEO – Paul Segre – together with our financial investors Permira and Technology Crossover Ventures closed our last kickoff saying to us: new opportunities begin now, let’s grow together. How not being very energized with this happening to us while other companies in our segment are all struggling because of the heavy crisis going on?

Genesys has been recently positioned in the “Leader” quadrant of the 2012 Gartner MQ for Contact Center Infrastructure Worldwide (position shared with other big players like Cisco and Avaya). This is a big honour coming from your extended and consolidated experience in interaction and channel management, but Gartner has also enhanced your weakness in serving the midsize and small enterprises which can be seen as the most profitable market share in a context where large corporate market is quite satured? What’s your business model in order to target the midsize and small part of the market?

Gartner has been recognizing throughout yearsGenesys’ strong vision and its unique values like the ability to decouple contact center applications from telephony infrastructure and extending capabilities into unified communications environments and enterprise workflow beyond the contact center. However, Genesys has been the leader for large deployments and complex projects.For what may regard small and midsize part of the market, it’s a bit premature to give you a market disclosure now, but there will be exciting news soon.. Keep in touch with our news on twitter.com/Genesys_IT and facebook.com/GenesysItalia.

I really appreciate your vision statement “Save the World from a Bad Customer Experience”. In your opinion, how a collaborative CRM vendor like Genesys can really improve customer experience not talking about software, implementation and licensing?

Customer Experience improvement is definitely related to the correct relationship between caring processes and enabling applications. Too often Customer Cares are simply built around technology and without considering business requirements and Customer Experience quality targets. The main risk is to have best-of-breed technologies or even a high level of knowledge but not delivering the expected experience to Customers. Today there is a very complex mix of interaction channels between Organizations and Customers, each one with its specific semantic implying that they all should be considered and used into Customer Services. Another key element is to have the ability to leverage conversations, not just each single interaction, to manage relationships instead of single isolated channel requests and measure the overall communication quality level instead of quantity-related indicators.

So the Collaborative layer becomes a key element to succeed in delivering the expected communication experience, only if it has the ability to correlate heterogeneous interactions to the related conversation. Another critical success factor is the ability to leverage and improve the internal knowledge, to provide the best content in the timing that Customer expects. Last, everything must be measured by both an operative perspective and a service-oriented view.

As a key innovator, Genesys has driven this change and today the G8 Suite has the ability to manage multimedia conversations, enable workforce optimization processes (workforce management, training management, skill assessment, quality monitoring) and measure every significant indicator by both operative and business perspectives.

Moreover, as is not just a matter of technology, Genesys has improved its organizational shape with a Business Consulting unit. No other Collaborative CRM vendor has the ability to cooperate with CRM System Integrators during business requirements assessment activity, to ensure an homogeneous and consistent support to the Customer Service processes.

With enablers like Genesys – a Customer Care Business Solution Providers instead of Contact Center platform vendors –Organizations can provide to their Customers the best communication experience while measuring how to improve quality.

We’re now living in a world where interactions are dramatically and structurally changed. This is the era of social interactions that are more and more pushing companies in developing new ways of communication with their prospects and customers. Moreover, interactions are not only direct through traditional and social channels but can also involve brands through mentions in indirect conversations occurring on social communities platform. How Genesys is handling this “cultural” change? Do you have a specific business and technological framework to let your customers integrate and use all this kind of interactions, together with their specific characteristics?

There is a big cultural and communication change around Social Media and their influence on how Organizations and Customers will communicate each other. All CRM processes – marketing, service and sales – will be impacted. The thing that is already happening is that Customers are expecting to have a consistent experience also on Social Media and Organizations are starting to create and use some kinds of Caring initiatives around Social Networks. Quite often Companies just create a Facebook page or a Twitter account managed and monitored separately by the rest of Customer Care processes, relaxing consistency and homogeneity constraints. There are many technology provider that can offer very good solution to listen and react on Social Media but no one can cooperate or integrate with Contact Management enablers.

Genesys has a different view on this topic. Even if the Social Networks relationship with Customer Services is still under study and observation, Genesys has built a solution that Listen, Analyze and Prioritize the relevant interactions on Social Media, to route them to the right expertise at the right time in order to keep conversations consistent and channel-independent. Genesys strongly believes that Social Networks will change our way to communicate and for this reason considers Social Interactions absolutely into the Contact Management boundary.

Are you seeing a good market response in Europe about social CRM adoption?

I observe a lot of initiatives building up or already in place but very few really integrated into the CRM environment. Organizations know that they cannot be out of Social Networks and they are investing money on siloed projects. Let me say that to the Social Customer eyes this is very basic and in some cases it produces negative side effects mainly because of the lack of processes integration. So there is a lot of market potential to leverage in this segment.

Beyond the social paradigm there are other two really important aspects that are disrupting CRM as we know it: mobile and cloud. What’s your opinion about their importance and impacts on CRM strategies and implementations? What about your offering in these two fields?

Mobility is definitely another fundamental pillar of the Customer Service paradigm. It can be split in two main areas: accessing to Customer Care via mobile devices and using smart devices to connect with nomadic expertises. As an open software platform Genesys has a specific development kit that can be used to create mobile apps specifically designed to deliver a consistent Customer Experience on mobile device. On the other hand, Genesys Suite includes an application module engineered to connect experts or agents that are using smart devices because of their contract, their role or their knowledge. They are considered by the whole Genesys Solution as the other resources or, to be a bit more specific, as the other skilled target.

About Cloud the discussion is even more dynamic and sparkling. Cloud-enabled solutions require a completely different go to market paradigm. Other than having an application built to run in the Cloud, to fulfill the market expectations new licensing model, pricing and provisioning processes have to be put in place. So the focus drastically changes from features to simplicity and implementation speed. Genesys is going through important investments to play a leadership role also into the Customer Services in Cloud. At the moment the only thing that I can say is that during the forthcoming EMEA G-Force event that Genesys will run in Barcelona involving Customers, Partners and Prospects, there will be some important announcements around this topic.

Connecting people with the customer service departments is your business, but improving customer experience means also helping them solve their requests and this can be achieved only when there are no organizational silos and the processes can flow in a dynamic and adaptive way through different departments. Do you have (or aim to have) solutions that integrate your services with enterprise collaboration tools?

From the Customer perspective the internal shape of the Organizations is really not relevant. Everyone of us has to deal with divisions, units, responsibilities, roles and so forth once we are Customers. This effect strongly impacts the perceived Customer Experience and it is the main cause of Customer complaints. So the Genesys Suite has not only the ability to receive, prioritize and route heterogeneous interactions and work tasks with the intelligent Workload Distribution module, but it is also able to leverage technology enablers like SIP and Presence to connect with collaboration tools and consider a possible Customer Care resource every employee, overcoming technology constraints or limits. This delivers to Customers a company-wide answer to their needs and a positive impact on service quality and experience consistency.

Can you give us a “sneak peek” of the next G-Force agenda?

G-Force has always been a time to share the Genesys vision on improving bottom-line business results and engage our customers, prospects and partners. The upcoming EMEA G-Force event held in Barcelona will prove exceptional because we will be unveiling create the new conversation – a fresh, focused, forward-looking way of engaging with customers and partners. During the event agenda will get through innovation directions, how to create value from Customer Service and above all what does concretely mean being the new Genesys.

Thank you very much Mr. Bergamini for your kindness and see you soon in Barcelona.

Social Business Forum 2012 – Big data bring big value to the Social CRM

Here it is, my presentation at the Open Conference in Milan at the Social Business Forum 2012. Great experience, great people, lots of insight and lots of new points of view about the evolution of topics like Social CRM, Social Business and Analytics. I need some time to handle all this information and to elaborate some thought to express on a new blog post (stay tuned cause outcomes will be surprising ;)). A big “thank you” to the deus-ex-machina Emanuele Quintarelli (that I called the Event Man), Emanuele Scotti and Rosario Sica and all the OpenKnowledge guys for their invitation.

In my speech I wanted to give to the audience – even if the topic was maybe a little bit “tough” – some information about a topic that, from a hype phase, is now consolidating and that I’m sure will bring lots of value to various aspects of your business strategies and, in particular, to Social CRM.


What’s it all about?

Big data is about technologies and practices that allow us to handle huge amount of data coming from a variety of sources typically in a stream structure. The phenomenon of social platform adoption and people collaboration together with a new set of antennas/sensors embedded in different products and contexts (first of all mobile phones and Rfid) let these data explosion become a reality giving new challenge to the companies hungry of infomation about their customers. The three drivers that typify Big data are volume, variety and velocity. These respectively bring with them business opportunities and risks as well: richness of information and lots of noise, completeness of information and too many sources to be handled, up-to-date information and risk of information loss.

Big data sources inside Social Business ecosystem

In a social business ecosystem where all actors exchange information of all kinds, everyone is characterized by three classes of attributes.

  • Myself: all data typically defining my unique profile.
  • Myworld: all data representing my experiences with products/services I typically use for personal or professional use.
  • Myrelations: all data identyfing my membership to different communities (friendship, interests, hobbies, professional links, etc.).

Let’s get a Social CRM definition

How Big data are useful for Social CRM? Before we have to give a definition of Social CRM and the most appreciated one was given by the most famous CRM expert Paul Greenberg which highlighted the strategic perspective of CRM (social or not).

The shift from CRM to Social CRM

Starting from the three famous CRM pillars (collaborative, operational and analytical ones) we can see that shifting from a traditional to a social approach we have gained, for sure, more channels where conversations occur (direct to the companies or within people excluding a direct invovment of companies), new activities and multi/cross-channel operational approaches and, finally, what about analytical improvements?

The Big data funnel for Social CRM

Now we have the opportunity to start from the real human experience that, interacting with different touchpoints, leaves tracks in the shape of raw data (i.e. transactions, interactions through traditional channels, web & social, location-based). The challenge for modern companies is to take these continuos data streams, transform them in information (giving meaning to data) and make insight (extract piece of information that is relevant for the business cause is actionable).

Now we are plenty of “human” data

From a customer perspective the three classes of attributes Myself, Myworld and Myrelations can give us a really complete view on his essence (more than traditional profiling and transacational attributes).

What’s pratically changing?

Segmentation practices must change cause we can enrich our understading of customers through new information that characterize them not as simple targets but as beings that naturally express themselves belonging to communities (or tribes if you want).

So it’s time to really understand your people

Now you have the opportunity to really understand customers’ attitudes, experiences, emotions and opinions. You are more close to understand their real nature as human beings.

How can we handle it?

But there’s a problem. Big data, with their specific characteristics, make difficult to address our attention to the right information, and “right” means useful for your customers and your business. Mainly in the case of unstructured data handling (i.e. text) you need human intervention for decision making but because of our cognitive limitations we need more and more some help to support us in processing, understanding and selecting information.

What’s in it for me?

Thanks to descriptive and predictive analytics we have all the methods and analysis that can support us in many businessapplications, especially in a proactive way.

Can we trust Analytics?

But lots of companies are suspicious about analytics accuracy and think that only high values of accuracy bring significant outcomes. Wrong. First of all people confuse precision with accuaracy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precision_and_recall) and that can create dangerous misunderstandings but, more than that, the impact of analytical errors strongly depends on the business contexts and priorities so it’s normal that you maight focus your attention only to some kind of errors and drop others depending on your business objective.

An example for Social Customer Service

Well, it0s clear directly seeing the slide that correct analytical handling of structured and unstrctured data can provide proactively more information at your CSRs in order to better serve your customers fulfilling their expectations and improving their satisfaction.

Great opportunities but pay attention to the issues

Finally you’ve to remember that big opportunities bring also big potential issues that you must address. First of all about policies (liability, security and privacy), access (not every data is transparent and available so it’s mandatory to find trustworthy approaches to incentivize data sharing) and technologies (framework like hadoop are necessary to support massive parallel and distributed application processes). But be sure to spread inside your oganizations an analytical culture and to find the best analytical talent that must have not only strong analytical skills but also great expertise in decision making to support top and middle management in this important phase.

Social Business Forum 2012 – my personal agenda

Here we are, few days more and the Social Business Forum 2012 will start with an astonishing list of speakers and experts. For those who are interested I post below my personal agenda which will be mainly focused, essentially for the premium conferences, on the customer service side of Social CRM. And yes, there also are my two speeches on big data and analytics :)

If you’re in Milan next 4 and 5 June, use the occasion to attend to one of the most interesting event on Social Business in Europe. See you there.

4 JUNE 2012

10.15 – 10.45 From Social to Business OpenKnowledge

10.45 – 11.15 From Stress to Success – Pragmatic pathways for Social Business John Hagel

11.15 – 11.45 Enterprise gamification to drive engagement Ray Wang

11.45 – 12.15 Embracing social. Why Europe’s ahead of the curve Ram Menon

13.30 – 14.00 From Service to loyalty – the BTCare story Bian Salins

14.00 – 14.30 The Web cut out on me: taking the end user’s point of view in proposing a digital experience GianLuca Giovannetti, Marco Magnaghi

14.30 – 15.00 Big Data bring big value to Social CRM Andrea Incalza

15.30 – 16.30 Using social to serve customers not transactions Frank Eliason, Mark Tamis, Esteban Kolsky, Bian Salins

16.30 – 17.30 Building the future of customer service. Paths and expectations from the trenches. Elisabetta De Grimani, Leonardo Mangiavacchi

5 JUNE 2012

10.15 – 10.45 @YourService. The business world has flipped and small business can capitalize Frank Eliason

10.45 – 11.15 Engage or lose! Socialize, mobilize, conversify: engage your employees to improve business performance Christian Finn

11.15 – 11.45 Transforming the workplace with radical management Steve Denning

11.45 – 12.15 Social, Connected, and Collaborative – will employees and customers build the future enterprise together? Esteban Kolsky

14.00 – 14.30 Social CRM – Insight into the customer decision journey Mark Tamis

14.30 – 15.00 Innovation by Design Stefano Mizzella

15.30 – 16.00 Network to Customers. The net at the customer’s service Alberto Ferrarotto

16.00 – 17.00 Measuring what matters. Leveraging analytics and KPIs to grow social business initiatives Rawn Shah, Andrea Incalza, Jerome Colombe, Mark Tamis

17.00 – 18.00 Going from social to business to benefits individuals, organizations and the entire society David Bevilacqua, Luca Colombo, Andrea Sasso