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 :)

Customer Service Agent, I don’t need you.

Ok, it’s a provocation. We’ll always need human intervention with complex problems but the aim of this article is to argue about social and self services.

I don’t know you but I’ve always thought and seen that 90% of the times people have a problem, they just give a huge relevance to resolution time. That’s because 90% of the times people believe that, following detailed instructions (few or many is not important), are able to fix autonomously issues. And that’s also because most of the times issues are not so difficult and/or complex to fix.

Nowadays, not considering this customer attitude entails different bad service experiences like long waiting time in the queues, high abandonment rate, very low customer satisfaction and, consequently, bad financial results. There are lots of parameters and costs to look after (training, incentive policy, communication infrastructures, free-toll numbers, etc.) in order to be aligned to customer needs, but we can always take advantage of concurrent utilization of a traditional and a new service approach to help the Customer Service organization: self-service and social support.

Social support

Customers are more and more used to find information thanks to the web. For lots of people it’s the first step before even trying to approach a Customer Service department through traditional channel like phone. Probably you first search in Google and magically you find a list of sites where people like you asked the same questions or expressed the same problems and someone else had spent his time to give one or more alternative answers. Sometimes the answer is formal cause the solver is someone from the company that sold you the “troublesome” product/service, but it’s surely increasing the number of communities trying to help members (and not members) to find solutions (based on their adoption experiences) by themselves. Many times you find these communities well structured, with hundred or thousand of members spending important shares of their time to help each others. What can you do to take advantage of this golden bulk of knowledge? You can try to “migrate it inside your firewalls” providing them with all necessary tools useful for their purpose. But pay attention. Your main goal is not to apply a “corporatization” of this social knowledge; it’s mandatory to understand that your role is to nurture and support the community, mainly to satisfy their (and not your) primary objective: sharing knowledge to help people with the same interests. You have not to sell anything nor playing with them without a transparent beahviour otherwise your punishment will be an empty or valueless community. Applying a correct behaviour toward the community will give you:

  • great awareness with customers and potential ones
  • fresh informal knowledge about your business to be integrated with the internal one
  • brand perception benefits
  • customer problems resolution (also potentially complex ones)
  • complaints’ volume decrease
  • lots of good ideas to improve your offering and to innovate according to your customer needs
  • reduction of direct costs for customer service infrastructure

Self-service

The good old self-service paradigm seems a little bit obsolete in these “social” times but believe me that using an IVR or FAQ or kiosks can be still useful. The current problem is that typical self-service solutions are designed not thinking to your customers. You normally believe that is easy to create a taxonomy of services and…you did it! Yes you did it but unfortunately your customers or prospects can reason differently. In the case of an IVR, a serious review based on direct feedbacks from your customers (survey, questionnaires, etc.) and behaviour (navigation) analysis could dramatically change the structure of the menu patterns cause the truth is that you have to design an IVR putting yourself in your customer’s shoes. So if you find high abandonment rate during recorded ads please cut them off, if you find out an upward trend for a new issue, please let the IVR be dynamic and the solution be as more reachable as possible, and so on. Everything is also applicable for an interactive kiosk and all the others self-service solutions available. Moreover, remember that a typical advantage for customers using this solutions is to “converse” with operational systems setting up real actions (remote device set-up, card activation, etc.) so, more than ever, the experience must be thought from a customer perspective. Applying a correct framework to desing your self-service offering will give you:

  • increasing customer and prospect satisfaction
  • brand perception benefits
  • customer problems resolution (also potentially complex ones)
  • complaints’ volume decrease
  • reduction of direct costs for customer service infrastructure

These particular propositions will allow companies to reach important business objectives (first of all cost cutting and high csat) providing at the same time excellent service level and a remarkable user experience.

But what about the poor Customer Service Agent?

As I told you human intervention is fundamental especially when handling complex problems for your customer base. But in a world whishing to be more and more social and self-sufficient you have to rethink your organization. You add real value investing on smaller groups of skilled and specialized agents that will cope with specific topics and/or customer segments. Talent scouting and in-depth training will be the key factors that will differentiate your service strategy and approach.