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

Good news for/from CustomerKing

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A really short post just to announce a good personal news. From October 1, I’m very proud to begin a new professional challenge in Decisyon, one of the most interesting enterprise with an outstanding Collaborative Decision Making & Execution (CDME) platform for rapid development and cloud delivery of operational analytics, planning, in-context collaboration and execution applications.

One of its main solutions, which I followed during the last years considering my interest on customer service evolution, is Decisyon/Engage, a social CRM tool strongly focused on social media analytics, social caring and monitoring which help businesses obtain sustainable competitive edge particularly thanks to the integration between customer data collected from outside and inside corporate boundaries.

And that’s the point for the next future of Social Customer Service, in my opinion. The capability to link data coming from different kind of sources in order to better outline and understand your customers from various perspectives, collaboratively find the best way to satisfy their requests and finally activate/execute the right corporate processes to induce mutual and shared value.

This is one of the biggest challenge Decisyion will face in the next years, thanks to the endorsement of important US Venture Capital firms.

This is one of the biggest challenge for the next social CRM phase.

So, good luck to me and see you soon.

A perspective on Social Media for Customer Service Summit 2013 October 22 – 23rd, New York City played host to the “Social Media for Customer Service Summit” where lots of powerful brands (MasterCard, FedEx, Best Buy, T-Mobile, Comcast, Zappos, McDonald’s and many others) joined to share useful and interesting best practices in the social customer service field.

The main topics covered during the two-day conference dealt mainly with customer service strategy evolution, customer experience impacts, social care team-building, integration with traditional customer service strategies and internal processes, proactive vs. reactive support, measurements and so on.

Among the attendees was Cosimo Palmisano, Vice President of Product Management at Decisyon (a provider of collaborative BI and performance management solutions with customers in USA and Europe) and creator of Decisyon/Ecce, complete social CRM solution – a Decisyon built-in technology – with well-focused social customer service features. Cosimo accepted to give us its personal overview on the summit and on its outcomes.

1. Hi Cosimo, thanks for your availability for this interview and for sharing with us your impressions. First of all tell us something about the summit from a global perspective: how was the location, the agenda, the sessions, the quality of speakers, the other services (catering, Wi-Fi access, etc.) at the event?

This was the 3rd annual Social Media for Customer Service Summit organized by “Useful Social Media”. While it was quite a small two-day event in terms of overall participation by vendors and clients, I believe it was extremely well organized. The main speakers were all key employees from organizations that have been using Social Media for Customer Service. Their perspectives regarding their individual “journeys” with Social Caring, successes, failures, false-starts and the on-going iteration process associated with learning what works and changing what does not work was not only to the point and enlightening, but in each instance validated to me and my colleagues that Decisyon/Ecce (Decisyon/Engage in the US) is ideally suited to this Business Space.

The conference was organized in 1 hour round table sessions with at least 3 companies and a technology provider on the panel. Each session was separated by a 30 minute break for networking. The themes were very narrow in the field of Social CRM and Social Customer Service and the speakers were all senior managers and VPs of digital, Marketing, CRM, Customer Service, etc. no young social media managers.

The location for the conference, which was at the New Yorker Hotel in New York City, was convenient and the conference venue and catering was appropriate for the overall number of attendees (under 200, combined companies and exhibitors). Wi-Fi Access was provided as part of the conference fee and the catering provided (Continental Breakfast and full lunch) was more than sufficient and provided an opportunity to network as well. Should the conference continue to gain support and the number of participants grows, it may become necessary for the organizers to choose another location. However, for what the Summit is today, the venue was excellent.

2. What do you think about the brand and the audience parterre ?

The brands represented as key speakers as well as the brands in the audience all represented “Marquis” names in their industries. One got the sense that from a Social Media perspective that on the ROI associated with Social Caring, they were all challenged with coming up with true business value.

100% of companies represented were in the Fortune 500 and they have shown great commitment in managing Social CRM and Social Customer Service, having dedicated teams and starting looking for a complete, one-stop technical solution for managing all social CRM processes from operations to data integration.

Speakers consistently voiced the opinion that determining ROI was difficult at this stage, however all seemed to agree that there was “no return on ignoring” their customers.

3. In general, which were your prior expectations about the event and its contents?

I had imagined that the organizations in the US would be much further along with their Social Caring initiatives and investment. And although this conference represents a small percentage of all organizations, I believe that my prior expectations were incorrect and that the North American market represents a significant opportunity for our organization to penetrate with Decisyon/Engage. I was expecting much more maturity in measuring the ROI of Social Customer Service and a higher degree of integration between social data and traditional legacy data. What we are doing with customers in Europe is really more advanced.

4. Which are the topics that you were more interested in following and deepening?

  • The goals of Social Caring leaders to leverage Social Data and to combine that data with their legacy CRM one inside the firewall, thereby transforming data into a company asset. This, of course, is something that Decisyon is capable of doing; in fact, Decisyon offers our “Social Integration Server” (SIS) that is designed to accomplish that integration of Social Data with Legacy/CRM Data.
  • The goal of creating a technological infrastructure that enables Real-Time Collaboration between organizational business units, for example Customer Service and Marketing. Decisyon, by providing a Real-Time Social Collaboration platform, is offering today what seems to be one of the next steps on the Social Technology roadmaps many of the speakers referred to.

5. Which of the case studies that were exhibited impressed you the most?

That is a difficult question to answer because all of the presentations provided excellent perspectives and insights. I’d have to say that the presentation from Capital One Bank was the most impressive. Their goal is to “harness the voice of the customer” by creating a “Social Command Center” and leveraging what they term a “Social Virtuous Cycle” in which they “Listen—Engage—Support—MeasureLearn”. They acknowledge that in order to be successful with that strategy, they’ll be required to capture customer insights from Social and populate their Enterprise CRM. They mentioned some integration projects in order to correlate social customer behaviors with the sales cycles.

6. Tell us something about the most relevant results that emerged from the summit? Did you find significant ideas for your next product developments?

The most significant take-aways from the summit can be summed up as follows:

  • Social Caring provides opportunities to transform ordinary moments (issues, challenges) into Extraordinary Public Wins.
  • Social Customer operations cannot be externalized to agencies.
  • Although there is a huge proliferation of social networks, Facebook and Twitter are the ones with the numbers and relevance for social customer service.
  • Though marketing departments were the early adopters of leveraging Social, it has now become evident that Social Customer Service should be a major driver. The Social strategy should not be “owned” by one or the other but rather be approached in a collaborative environment.
  • Integration of social data with legacy systems is mandatory to achieve a positive ROI.
  • Prior to engaging in Social Caring, a Customer Service escalation process should be in place.
  • Social Media initiatives for Customer Support and Service are growing rapidly.
  • Customers desire in-channel problem resolution as opposed to deflection.
  • Social Caring engagement/communications should be similar to one friend speaking with another rather than a Corporation speaking to a customer.
  • Collaboration between teams (Customer Service — Marketing— Product Development) is imperative.
  • The customer expects rapid acknowledgement of an issue by the organization. Great customer service does not simply provide a competitive advantage but is, in fact, an absolute necessity.
  • Sentiment analysis is useless if the first aim is to engage customers in Facebook and Twitter. The ability to automatically infer sentiment in short conversations, with links and multiple languages is still a utopia.

7. After your summit attendance, how do you foresee the next developments in social customer service?

First of all the number of dedicated agents on social customer service will increase. As long as the CEOs will experience a lower number of inbound phone calls, and managers will show the ROI of Social Customer Service the companies will reinforce the message and the teams.

Social Customer Service as part of a multichannel strategy needs to be processed together with the traditional channels. It will be necessary to compare channels but also to get a unique customer view independently by the channel. So far, companies will ask for technologies that are not just social marketing tools but big data platforms that are able to store, analyze and connect different sources of data coming from different departments and functional areas.

Finally yet importantly, social customer service can become the first mandatory step to drive and enhance lead generation. In our experience companies that are able to leverage technology and a social caring process via collaboration, are able to increase the number of prospects and customers that instead of complaining, will ask for upsells and new quotations.

Another relevant aspect not discussed is the B2B side of Social CRM. In the next few years this will become even more compelling for companies to involve the whole value chain in the social processes.

8. Finally, being a multinational social CRM vendor, do you perceive specific differences, between US and European customers, in awareness and consequent adoption of social media for customer service strategies?

Excellent Customer Service is a major differentiator for organizations in both Europe and the US. The Social “Genie” is out of the bottle and regardless of purpose-driven Social Caring being in place, the voice of your customers will be heard. Of course, the way I view this is that it represents an opportunity, not only for Decisyon but for our clients as well. I was expecting a major difference between the two markets. Social Customer service is a major issue. In US the percentage of companies with a dedicated teams with more than 20 agents 24/7 is higher than in Europe. Worldwide we share the same aim of multi-channel integration and social data integration with legacy systems. In both areas it is becoming recognized that this kind of integration cannot be performed in the cloud but must occur inside the company firewall.

Odio il digital marketing so lo so, il titolo è sicuramente molto provocatorio ma d’altronde lo è anche questo post. Vorrei però dichiarare che in realtà adoro il marketing e soprattutto le sue declinazioni nel contesto digitale. Il nocciolo delle mie considerazioni verte più sulla presa d’atto che in un periodo di grande entusiasmo ed interesse riguardo gli indubbi benefici che la digital transformation sta apportando (o apporterà nei prossimi anni) alle aziende, c’è in Italia un’oggettiva ed eccessiva focalizzazione prettamente su tematiche di marketing e comunicazione a discapito di quello che, a mio avviso, è il vero cuore di ogni business sano e longevo: il servizio alla clientela e la customer experience correlata. Certo lo sappiamo tutti che il marketing è fondamentale per spingere in maniera molto decisa liquidità ed investimenti su innovazione e creatività e lungi da me il pensare che un buon marketing non sia assolutamente essenziale per acquisire nuovi clienti e per mantenere alto il livello di engagement con i propri utenti (non solo clienti ma anche shareholder, stakeholder, partner commerciali, ecc.), ma quello che mi stupisce è la completa assenza di discussione sul momento successivo alla fase di acquisto, un mondo pieno di opportunità e di rischi che determinano marcatamente la durata del rapporto azienda-cliente. Tutti i principali articoli e post che vengono diffusi in rete sono sempre più orientati a spiegare framework, tecniche, modalità e modelli a supporto dei CMO e degli esperti di marketing per sfruttare pienamente gli strumenti digitali a disposizione.

Eppure il marketing, a pensarci bene, ha un obiettivo molto chiaro: minimizzare le tempistiche del processo che porta il potenziale cliente dalla fase di awareness all’acquisto. Vince chi capisce meglio come catturare l’attenzione, in un mondo dove questa è la principale risorsa scarsa, e come coinvolgere efficacemente e conseguentemente convincere il prospect (e di certo anche qui la l’experience design ha un ruolo fondamentale).

Il servizio alla clientela invece ha un obiettivo a mio avviso molto più sfidante, ossia quello di massimizzare il tempo che intercorre dalla fase di acquisto al possibile abbandono. Un tempo che, proprio perchè deve essere il più lungo possibile, è potenzialmente caratterizzato da un numero impressionante di interazioni che da un lato devono soddisfare la clientela e dall’altro devono essere l’occasione per incrementare la conoscenza della stessa da parte delle aziende.

Qualcuno giustamente potrebbe obiettare: “ma tutto questo è colpa del marketing?”. Ovviamente no (e qui stava il senso provocatorio del titolo). Probabilmente, aldilà di una chiara ed evidente superiorità del marketing nell’attrarre l’attenzione degli esperti di settore, penso che le cause di questo “vuoto” potrebbero ricadere:

  1. nello scarso numero di influencer o esperti nel settore che trattano il tema del customer service,
  2. nell’eccessiva attenzione, tra chi si occupa di customer service, al prodotto/tecnologia a discapito del metodo,
  3. nella difficoltà oggettiva nel disegnare e gestire la customer experience in questo specifico lasso del ciclo di vita del cliente.

3 potenziali cause di una scarsa attenzione verso quel mondo complesso e variegato che è alla base del successo di ogni azienda. Mi piacerebbe quindi che in Italia fossero maggiormente analizzati e sviluppati, tra le altre cose, temi che vertono sul come:

  • intercettare e raccogliere al meglio tutti quei frammenti di informazioni che vengono generati durante le interazioni sui canali digitali,
  • creare dei legami logici strutturati tra i dati provenienti dai canali digitali (comprendendo in particolare i social media) e quelli già presenti in azienda perlopiù legati agli aspetti transazionali (contatti, ordini acquisiti, prezzo medio pagato, fatturazioni, metodi di pagamento utilizzati, modalità di spedizione prescelte, ecc.),
  • definire un modello di profilazione del cliente secondo un’ottica cross-canale allo scopo di avere una vera visione a 360° della relazione con l’azienda,
  • disegnare l’esperienza relazionale di ogni specifica persona per poter identificare i diversi moments of truth sulla base dei quali determinare le principali azioni migliorative (e qui l’integrazione tra canali nuovi e vecchi è un aspetto a dir poco sostanziale),
  • ripensare l’organizzazione e investire sulla formazione continua dei dipendenti al fine di poter rispondere efficacemente e prontamente alle esigenze della propria clientela, qualsiasi sia il percorso multicanale prescelto,
  • ripensare il ruolo del knowledge management in un contesto dove la conoscenza è sempre più spesso dislocata anche al di fuori delle aziende stesse (interessanti alcune proposte sull’argomento da parte di un esperto come Esteban Kolsky),
  • integrare profondamente il momento del contatto/interazione con tutti i processi interni che devono essere attivati per soddisfare l’esigenza del cliente,
  • costruire un sistema di metriche che finalmente porti a correlare le azioni sui diversi canali con i veri risultati di business conseguiti,
  • strutturare un framework di miglioramento continuo che tocchi iterativamente i punti precedenti per riuscire a migliorare dinamicamente l’approccio alla clientela.

Questi sono appunto alcune delle questioni di cui purtroppo vedo parlare poco ma su cui mi piacerebbe ci si soffermasse di più. E voi cosa ne pensate? Sono forse io che mi perdo qualche preziosa fonte di informazioni in giro per la rete o credete anche voi che sia necessario evidenziare questi argomenti mettendoli maggiormente in risalto?

E adesso, uomini del marketing, potete anche sbranarmi :)