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

Odio il digital marketing

http://savidgereads.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/i_love_hate_you_by_teigiser.jpgLo 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 :)

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.