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

My personal review on G-Force EMEA 2012

Great time in Barcelona attending to the G-Force 2012 by Genesys. I’ve been invited here as a CRM and Social CRM blogger by the Italian Regional company, to have a look at what they are going to launch next months in terms of new solution features and best practices witnessed by their main customers. So I would like to report what happened there and to share with you my considerations.

First perspective: Who’s who

Genesys is a well-known worldwide B2B company, operating as a leader in the Collaborative CRM market, which mainly sell customer service software and contact center solutions for enterprises. Recently (02/02/2012), Genesys has been officially acquired by Permira Funds and Technology Crossover Ventures for US$ 1,5 billion, coming definitely out of the Alcatel-Lucent organizational structure and becoming again independent. This recent circumstance gives Genesys new opportunities to focus on its business having top management free to operate with its own strategic views and operational leverages unless Permira potential interference (but it doesn’t seem so); and in the current economic situation is a really important working condition.

Second Perspective: The event model

The 2012 G-Force EMEA event had a traditional structure with general sessions led by key managers and breakout session in which were shared case histories directly by Genesys customers.

Moreover there was a very rich and interesting booth area with business partner and Genesys suite demo stands available for customers and press/analysts.

Third perspective: So what? (a.k.a. the event contents that I liked)

Genesys is a market leader for their extensive offering in applications and service for interaction and channel management, and the last 8 months were crucial for the changes that introduced and which have forced the company to re-design its strategy roadmap.

Genesys CEO Paul Segre and his managers know it very well cause they’re leading their people towards a model of company which have to offer to their clientele the best and most complete contact management suite, helping them to provide the best final customer experience possible. Yes, because – even if it’s strange to hear that from a software vendor – the main message of the conference was “Save the world from a Bad Customer Service” (which is Genesys pay-off and I hope also corporate vision) and this perspective is really comforting cause is the sign that companies (or better some of them) are finally recognizing the long term value of a customer-centric approach (even in a B2B market).

Even if Genesys during these years has “failed” to analyze, interiorize and “productize” (sorry for the awful word) best practices in order to quickly apply them on new deployments, something is deeply changed in the ability to execute and the investments on research and development. After all, this is a mandatory approach when your new investors (which typically invests in high growth company such as Facebook (???), Groupon, etc.) ask you a challenging 22% as revenue annual growth rate. So the key drivers of this “new deal” must be:

– Rapid deployment (editor’s note: simplicity)

– Lower TCO

– Best practices productization

Four pillars of Geneysis offerBut don’t forget innovation and how’s changing the customer service world so, the four pillars on which the new Genesys strategy will be based, and R&D is investing, are:

– SIP (Session Initial Protocol)

– Big Data

– Cloud

– Social

Beyond the typical communication application business I found really interesting to see Genesys well aware of its role on topics like Big Data and Social, maybe because Collaborative CRM vendors aren’t typically mentioned in Social CRM discussions. Indeed I think that they have to conquer again their role after the partial loss of the social interaction market due to the entrance of social media listening companies. These ones, in fact, are now well beyond their primary scope of social analytical reporting, developing and deploying engagement consoles and/or integration capacities with main Operational CRM vendors (i.e. Radian6-Salesforce.com case history). So thanks to Social Engagement module, Genesys integrates traditional and social channels considering every piece of interaction as a tessera of the overall conversation picture and using proprietary semantic algorithm to route it appropriately to the right resource (after many year of tests on email text analysis). In this sense, the announcement of Genesys presence at the Dreamforce (look at the session title here) can be seen as a strategic path to a really profitable partnership.

Finally consider how data coming from interaction and channel attitudes can contribute to the Big Data subject and to the wealth of information necessary to deeply understand your customers…terrific!

Mobile and Web engagementNext topics on the stage? Obviously Mobile (Engagement) and a very interesting Web Engagement module which, based on navigation behaviors, indentifies irregular/atypical trends and triggers supporting alerts to help customers activating an interaction through different channels (i.e. chat).

So the dream of a real consistent cross-channel experience seems coming true and close at hand.

Fourth perspective: The case

Despite numerous sessions held by many customers and coping with their experience (I really appreciated the Akbank and Belgacom ones), on the main stage has been presented probably the most interesting case by Ben Kay, Head of Digital Strategy & Adoption at Everything Everywhere Ltd (the newco running T-Mobile and Orange in UK).

The most important step of his show were:

Route to a Social PilotMain ingredients for a social pilot – the fundamental activity of listening your people is combined to more internal aspects where a clear company ambition together with team building capacity and the will to work hard and honestly can let you succeed.

A simple and clear mission with few boundariesOrganizational aspects are leading components of a great social strategy because only investing in skilled people and nurturing them through empowerment, good engagement frameworks and a solid social media policy can help your company to reach a real sustainable edge. But what about the right metrics?

EE Social Business FrameworkEE social business framework where a physical central management capability (The Social Hub) assures control of 5 work streams which deliver the social experience, acts to achieve its business objectives, monitors this effort through a set of predefined KPIs; striving to the realization of EE vision.

The Social HubFifth perspective: The chat

I had also the opportunity to meet with Keith Pearce and have a chat about his role in Genesys as VP Customer experience. And once again I found really inspiring to understand that a Collaborative CRM vendor like Genesys is enriching its portfolio trying to offer added value through business consulting practice which design optimized customer experience to its customers. It’s hard to do it in a context where consulting partners help Genesys to sell its products but who knows Genesys potential better than Genesys? Who can really configure Genesys products/services optimally once the customer journey is mapped? I wish Keith good luck for his job and I hope his little “baby” will grow big and healthy as soon as possible.

Last perspective: My final considerations

Lots of things during the G-Force had inspired me and others let me a little bit confused. I think that a 22% Revenue AGR is very challenging even for a leader like Genesys. The main point is that its product/services are complex and specifically focused on enterprise market which is quite saturated, giving room only for a bloody battle between giants. As Gartner said in its last MQ for Contact Center Infrastructure Worldwide, it’s time to raise the bar and begin to compete in the midmarket with new products/services tailored for this kind of organizations and needs (and I think that in the short we’ll have some good news).

Then I’d sincerely like to suggest Genesys to improve their product’s user experience cause interfaces looks to me a little bit “oldie”. Nowadays, visualization is quite an art mixed with science and, for sure, an important piece of an application’ success. Besides, even if I’m not the biggest fan of this kind of practice, I can see great potentiality in the application of a gamification approach in the design of this class of UIs.

Finally I’d expect new developments on Social Engagement module aligning it to social media monitoring best practices, particularly improving its scraping capabilities and number/type of information sources.

What I really liked during these 3 days were:

  • the new business vision based on a customer experience approach more than a mere product promotion (value vs. usual stuff)
  • the possible development of a business consulting practice inside Genesys that can give more value to its offer
  • a complete solution that really want to offer the enabling factors for a real cross-channel experience
  • real interactions between customers with different experience, sharing information and best practices
  • exhaustive real-time demos held by qualified and professional experts.

Acknowledgments

A special thank you goes to the Italian Regional company and precisely to Paolo Mariottini, Paolo Bergamini, Aida Mazzitelli, Stefania Covatta and Carlo Rossi that invited me to this special event, creating a professional, transparent and genuine relation with me and the other blogger Luca Conti.

Why CRM and listening are more than brothers

Do you know which is the most valuable thing that we need especially in this period of “whatever-you-want-just-do-it-social“?

Time

It’s always been preciuos in our lives but now, in a world over-connected, over-informed and over-dependent where your personal and customer experiences are deeply influenced by and based on networked communications, you are forced to make smart selections of what you really need in order to extract real value from information and activity streams. Otherwise you risk to drown in a huge social noise data ocean. And if your time have to be optimized, when you’re connecting to the world, you want companies to interact with you in the most profitable and pragmatic way.

A recent IBM report and a brilliant Mitch Lieberman’s post found out and explained the existence of a perception gap between companies and consumers reasons that drive them to interact each other.

Also Social Media expert and analyst Brian Solis just wrote a post where makes some considerations on another study (registration required) conducted by Exact Target in which there are really interesting surveys asking for the main reasons people “unlike” brands on Facebook or stop following them on Twitter. Here are the results.

Ok, let’s try to draw some conclusion:

  1. brands are not listening people not only directly but also indirectly through professional studies and reports outputs;
  2. brands know their customers and fans as I know about theoretical philosophy (and it’s a pity for me);
  3. brands insist on using social channels to post irrelevant information for customers and fans (not only cause it’s merely promotional but also cause it’s not matching the real needs of people);
  4. brands don’t mind about people’s time scarcity and overload their life with useless messages losing the opportunity to be more coherent and effective in engaging them.

It seems to look at the same concepts explained in Seth Godin‘s Permission Marketing book where the only way to have a relationship with your customer, fighting the plague of the interruption marketing, is to ask for a permission to enter in their life and help them to have their jobs done.

As Brian Solis stated in the aformentioned post:

“What we learn from these two studies is that it’s not about the content, the profile, or publishing information regularly; it’s about understanding and delivering what customers want.”

And companies have to remember that to achieve these goals they need to follow a formal process well described in the Stefano Mizzella‘s last post (it’s in italian but translate it cause it really worth).

What I’ll try to do here is to give some syntetic and pragmatic suggestions mapping them into the customer experience funnel (click on the image to enlarge).

Moreover, listening activity is more then what I just described here and if you want to know more about my opinion on this topic you can read also this post.

Last hint: not everyone faces the brand engaging with it through discussions or commenting in social media. There are engagers and also lurkers (or spectators as Forrester would say) so you have to intercept also the last ones integrating knowledge that companies can extract from their internal systems, analyzing their behaviour through different places (not only social), asking them directly thanks to specific surveys.

Top image: Krystn Palmer Photography

Survey bar graphs: Exact Target Research

Il Social Service è realmente il futuro del Social CRM?

Mi è capitato recentemente di leggere un interessante articolo della CNN in cui veniva effettuato un confronto empirico da parte di Fortune.com tra canali di Customer Service, per verificare se effettivamente un media come Twitter risultasse superiore ai classici canali di interazione cliente-impresa (sono stati presi in considerazione come alternative il telefono ed il sito web). Insomma per farla breve il risultato “spiazzante” è che nella maggior parte dei casi, alla fine del processo di gestione della richiesta fatta dal potenziale cliente, Twitter risulta essere un canale poco adatto per il supporto.

E adesso come la mettiamo? E’ la fine del Social Service e del suo genitore Social CRM?

Beh adesso non esageriamo, sicuramente però è necessario fare una riflessione su questo tema visto che l’eccessiva enfasi sulla parola “social” probabilmente ci sta facendo perdere di vista l’obiettivo finale del buon manager ossia l’offerta di una superlativa customer experience alla propria clientela.

Assunzione di base

Gli esseri umani sono sociali indipendentemente dal canale di comunicazione che hanno a disposizione.

Lo ribadirò fino alla morte che sono l’insieme delle caratteristiche dei canali e dei possibili vincoli legati al sistema di comunicazione nella sua interezza (come ad esempio la propensione all’ascolto da parte del ricevente il messaggio) che definiscono complementariamente la capacità del messaggio di propagarsi e di essere potenzialmente recepito / capito creando le basi per una condizione di engagement. I social media e un doveroso interesse a tener conto del potenziale di questi canali da parte delle aziende più lungimiranti permetterà sicuramente di raggiungere dei risultati migliori di quelli attualmente conseguiti con un call center messo in piedi con una logica di gestione volta esclusivamente a contenere i costi, misurando il successo operativo con un indicatore mediocre quale l’average handling time legato alle chiamate piuttosto che ai singoli casi gestiti ed eventualmente risolti.

Ma è anche vero che in un’azienda in cui la formazione continua e l’empowerment dei dipendenti sono al primo posto dell’agenda del top management, il contatto telefonico diventa a mio avviso quello privilegiato per soddisfare in maniera autentica e completa le esigenze della propria clientela. E sfido chiunque a dire il contrario.

Dunque il valore aggiunto di un social media risiede sicuramente nella conoscenza dettagliata delle sue specifiche caratteristiche e nella sua corretta integratazione all’interno del panel di strumenti a disposizione per permettere una correta e proficua comunicazione cliente-azienda, ma ancor prima nella propria strategia di service experience.

Fermo restando che, a mio avviso, spesso ci si ritrova a che fare con un atteggiamento, da parte degli utenti, narcisistico volto ad instillare nell’azienda una sorta di timore di potenziale rischio reputazionale e che quest’ultima si senta in dovere di rispondere a tutti i costi per dimostrare a sua volta di essere alla moda e sempre attenta alla cura dei clienti senza però tener conto della qualità del servizio finale offerto, mi preme ribadire quanto sia importante analizzare preventivamente la propria clientela e la specifica customer (service) experience map in modo da comprendere il migliore modello relazionale da adottare con i suoi SLA e capacità di gestire i differenti livelli di complessità delle richieste (questo valeva prima dell’avvento dei social media e vale ancora adesso).

Nello specifico, ossia continuando a parlare di Twitter come di canale adatto al supporto, non bisogna aver timore di far capire ai propri utenti che questo servizio, nella maggioranza dei casi, dà il meglio di se reindirizzando il cliente verso canali più appropriati o verso una knowledge base in continua evoluzione che venga manutenuta non solo dagli “esperti” del support aziendale ma anche da community proprietarie condivise con gli utenti stessi (vedi il caso GiffGaff).

Detto questo rimango dell’opinione che alla gestione del service in modalità reattiva (come nel caso appena descritto), debba essere sempre associata una gestione proattiva che utilizzi le community esterne (quindi proprio Twitter, Facebook, i forum, le discussion board, Q&A, ecc.) per attivare azioni di monitoring e listening che consentano di ascoltare la voce del mercato e tra le altre cose di recepire in anticipo potenziali disservizi o richieste in procinto di essere espresse tramite i canali ufficiali.

Voi cosa ne pensate?