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.

Interview with Bian Salins (British Telecom)

Bian Salins is the Head of Social Media Innovation and Customer Service for British Telecom. She comes from a previous editorial experience and now, having introduced the Social Customer Service concept and strategy in BT, she has won the UK Customer Satisfaction Award 2012 for Best Use of Social Media. We’ll see her on the next Social Business Forum in Milan with the speech “From Service to loyalty – the BTCare story“.

 

BT Customer Service is known as one of the main examples of how to properly use social media in Customer Service through different social channels. Can you tell us what did you find, at your arrival in BT Customer Service department, in terms of Service and Feedback strategy?

When I first took up this role, I soon came to realize that like most brands that were dipping their toes in the water way back in 2009 – we’d set up a series of channels but had no clear strategy on how we’d grow them, operationalize them and embed them within the wider customer experience. Social operated very much as a silo where the agents were not being performance managed and we had no metrics or knowledge of who we were servicing. So a large part of me coming into BTCare (which is our service brand) was to set a clear strategy that would sustain within our customer service vision and put the infrastructure in place to make it business as usual.

What aspects of your previous job’s experience did you find useful for the new role?

My background is in journalism but also in digital (I started out as a journalist for India’s first online venture Rediff.com) so coming into customer service was both a culture shock as well as good challenge. I realized that call centre culture for a start didn’t really cater for a successful social media strategy. For example, agents are encouraged and managed on ‘closing’ customer cases while social encourages and needs conversation to allow for relationship building. I also realized that agents tend to rely heavily on tool sets and scripts due to things like compliance but social support demands a new kind of service – one that treats every customer like an individual and every conversation as a unique experience. My background in content, technology and collaborating with people towards a common goal enabled me to demonstrate how by applying new techniques and technology coupled with pure honesty and transparency – we were able to change our reputation as being a poor service brand to becoming an open brand.

Did you integrate your social customer service job with a more traditional feedback management methodology like VoC or others? If yes, how did you proceed?

Our first challenge was to discover who were talking to on social channels and what their previous experience with our company had been. So I worked with a social web analyst to use existing survey methodology to begin asking our customers key questions. We then began to feed that insight back into existing programmes within our traditional functions like voice. What we found was that the insight didn’t tell us anything new when put together with existing analytics but the real time feedback we were getting in relation to products, services, outages and marketing campaigns was invaluable to the next steps we took as an organization. We’re now integrating our social media dashboards with our wider customer insight dashboards across our consumer business.

What about impacts of your job on the organization (i.e. change management)?

Social media has kick-started a lot of transformation within our business. For example, our call centres are trying to replicate operational models and success we’ve seen from our social media teams especially around ownership of our customers. We’ve launched a customer effort score and programme across our business to make things easier for customers. We’ve built our super-user programme into our product development programme ensuring that our super users try/test and feedback on experiences before we release them into the market. We’ve also built social media communications into our real time communications operation – ensuring that social acts as a signal for emerging crises as well as acts a core channel for keeping customers informed during crisis situations. Since we’ve demonstrated the power of social within our Customer Service, we’ve now delivered a social business strategy to the MDs and senior management which looks at how we will transform into being a social business where social is core to every aspect from marketing to product to our digital estate. But the most exciting of all is how we bring true enterprise collaboration to the way our advisors work and service our customers which we’re developing this year.

Which are main KPIs you use in order to measure BT Customer Service success?

We use

  • Response time
  • Customer Effort (what we defined as net easy)
  • Churn
  • Satisfaction
  • Fully resolved (has the agent fully resolved your issue)
  • ROI

We also have soft metrics which include number of super users, engagement, views, positive mentions etc.

In your opinion, which are the main strategic pillars to implement a social media strategy in Customer Service practice?

Based on my experience, the pillars I created for my strategy were:

  • Empathy and efficiency: Creating objectives and metrics that will empower empathy within service but equally, keep it efficient because efficiency is crucial when you have millions of customers all wanting quick answers.
  • Industrialisation: I don’t like the word but it’s a core pillar for me because if social is here to stay and brands want to add social channels to their contact mix, then we can’t expect to be treated special. We’ve got to make it scalable and work it so that it’s business as usual.
  • Visibility and effort: One of my main gripes is that we don’t make things easy for our customers. According to a recent research from Harris Interactive, 86% of consumers have quit doing business with a company over a bad customer experience. One of the reasons, consumers turn to using social channels to air their frustrations is because they want a reaction and to be heard. We’ve found that apart from live chat, social channels coming out on top when it comes to effort – so make your social support channels core to your contact strategy and customer experience. If you want to drive people from voice to social then let them know you’re there. Also, embed the experience in your product design – take your service to your customers so they don’t have to come looking for you.
  • Innovation and transformation: Finally, I think we don’t innovate enough when it comes to servicing our customers. We have a lot of technology that is emerging to enable good service but sometimes, service environments are not brave enough to adopt new ways of working within call centre structures. It’s not about what’s the next new shiny object – it’s about how can we change the experience for our customers and for our advisors. Decision makers need to innovate all the time to find a better way. I seriously think that to change, you need a vision and yet, without change, you cannot achieve or aspire towards a vision for your company. (They go hand in hand).

It’s about three years that, in various conferences, we talk and listen about benefits of social media to support customer-facing processes. Do you think that corporate are practically taking note of this opportunity?

Yes, I do think that brands are waking up the power of supporting customers through social. However, a lot of them are doing this as a surface level experience. You often find brands that just use their twitter profiles to sign post people in the right direction rather than owning the customer and actually helping. Or, you find that some brands have social support channels but nobody knows they’re there – which means they haven’t thought about it as part of the multi-channel mix. So I think this is the year that brands stop playing around with social as a form of support and start to think seriously about how it can used to transform their businesses.

Can you give us some “sneak peeks” about your next speech at the Social Business Forum in Milan?

Some sneak peeks would include how the brave step of one employee set us on our social journey; how we’re organized for social success; the challenges we’ve faced as an organization and the ROI we’ve gleaned from using social as a form of support.

 

Thanks a lot Bian Salins for your kindness and see you soon in Milan.

CRM Idol: Paul Greenberg EMEA judge interview

Paul Greenberg is the author of the best-selling CRM at the Speed of Light and President of The 56 Group, LLC, a consulting firm focused on CRM and Social CRM strategic services. He is a founding partner of BPT Partners, a training and consulting venture composed of a number of CRM luminaries. Paul is the Executive Vice President of the CRM Association. He currently is the Chairman of the Board of Advisors of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management CRM Centre of Excellence. He has been a Board of Advisors member of the Baylor University MBA Program for CRM majors, and the co-chairman of Rutgers University’s CRM Research Center. He has also developed strategies and helped define CRM and social CRM products for all the major vendors in CRM and in social media. Paul is considered a thought leader in CRM, having been published in numerous industry and business publications over the years. He was elected to CRM magazine’s CRM Hall of Fame in 2010 – the first non-vendor related thought leader in its history.

He’s the inventor and primary judge of the CRM Idol international competition.

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/pgreenbe

Blog: http://the56group.typepad.com/

 

 

Welcome to Paul Greenberg and thanks a lot for this interview. Now Round 1 of the CRM Idol contest is just finished and all semi-finalists (America and EMEA) have been chosen for the next step. This means the end of a preliminary phase of hard work for the judges who had participated to all demos, worked out their reviews and finally made their choice. First of all – my curiosity – how did you manage the countless CRMish/SocialCRMish main products’ features to articulate your judgment?

Actually, it was kind of difficult to do that given the categories that were there for qualification. CRM or CRMish meant thousands of features to think about. But since this was more a contest about the company than the products, it became manageable, because even if one company was focused on hardcore traditional CRM and another on enterprise feedback management, we were judging the likelihood of success of the company in the markets that they targeted and that meant the features of the product were just a marker for the likelihood of success of the company as opposed to something we compared company by company. So we could handle the categories a lot easier, since this was about the company not just the product and companies have a lot in common they have to consider regardless of products they provide.

Tell us about your experience with this amazing panel of experts and colleagues.

Well, I had the pleasure of working with three people, Silvana Buljan, Mark Tamis and Laurence Buchanan, who I consider not only three of the leading CRM experts in the world, but also three friends. It made for one of the most rewarding experiences I”ve had in a long time. I learned a significant amount from the three and just had a great time with three friends besides. How much better could something get?

I think it’d be really interesting to have your overview about this first phase of the contest. In your opinion, which are the European participants’ overall strentghs with regard to their corporate visions and products?

Their strengths were the strengths that I found in both segments of the contest – both EMEA and the Americas. Some of the participants had powerful products with deep functionality and they were well engineered products – in fact one or two of the EMEA contestants products, i would say, were among the best I’ve seen even when taking more established and some larger vendors into consideration.

And what about their overall weakness?

Again, the weakness we saw in all the contestants throughout the both segments. Because their resources/finances were scarce, most of the companies had spent the bulk of their money on development and either completely ignored or for the most part did little marketing. The reason that this is a weakness is that regardless of how great your product is, you’re competing with other potentially great products and you have to have the presence to be noticed as something different than your competitors and known to the customers. Without marketing, that won’t happen.

Which aspects have driven you to make the final choice?

Those that we can say publicly have to do with the overall balance of the company – meaning the quality of their product, their vision, their mission, their experience, their road maps, their ideas on the markets they want to address, their maturity in terms of dealing with the marketplace, their corporate culture, their long term outlook, etc. That’s the ones that we can reveal. it was a rigorous process. As I said early on in the overall competition – it was easy to enter but hard to win.

Working on the two sides of the project (America and EMEA), which are the main differences resulting from a comparison with american participants?

As you can tell from the responses above, the differences weren’t all that manifest. When it gets down to it, the only differences were the differences that you would see in things other than this competition too. The cultures of the companies were appropriate to the countries that they were founded in.

Geographically (and frankly) speaking, which are the more promising countries and which the ones that disappointed you?

This is not really a good or fair question. First, the entries were first come first serve so which countries were represented had nothing to do with the geographies but more with the speed to entry of the companies that got the slots. Second, its never a matter of a country. Countries are the places where the companies exist and there might be some cultural impact on the staff of the companies, but geography has nothing to do with the quality of the company – good or bad. That has to do more with the factors I mentioned above in how we determined who were moving on to other places in the competition.

Can you give some suggestions for the CRM and Social CRM vendors that will try to participate to the next year CRM Idol contest?

Make sure that you sign up early and get your slot. We had a waiting list of almost 40 this year globally. Make sure that you respond exactly as you’re asked to in the submission form including the references that you offer. Make them solid. Make sure that you conduct yourself as a member of the CRM Idol community rather than a jealous suitor in the contest. This is very important. Keep in mind there are other factors than the demo that matter though I’m not going to reveal what they are or how much weight they carry. Finally, make sure that you are WELL prepared on the demo. I won’t say more than that. But don’t mess up.

Thanks again to Paul for his kindness and time.