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

The importance of a real customer understanding for (Social) CRM

How many times have we read about Social CRM stuff and on the importance of creating an engagement environment correctly supported by technology along the main customer-facing perspectives (Marketing, Sales, Service and – last added – Innovation)?

Maybe too much and also this blog, I admit, committed this sin. Now we have more case studies to show and tell to enhance the intrinsic benefits of a Social CRM approach in business but we have also noticed the potential pitfalls of a new CRM “failure” due to tech stuff predomination on business strategy and analysis.

Maybe there is a lack of structured framework to support a social business model or maybe it won’t ever be and we’ll see an everlasting battle between strategy, organization, process and technology business components.

In this situation what I think is becoming more and more important for organizations, to understand the real drivers for the change, is a real understanding of their customers. And what you need to understand them? Tipically:

  • quantitative analysis of customer behaviour through “transactional” measurements that track the way they interact with your business landscape
  • qualitative analysis of customer thinking through a wise mix of human and automatic analysis of content produced during formal (i.e. VoC, speech analysis or survey outputs) and informal (free opinions expressed on social media) interactions

While the quantification of customer behaviours is quite a normal output for structured organizations which use descriptive and predictive analysis on data coming from customer/prospect databases where all their lifecycles’ information – produced by legacy and CRM platforms – are archived, the second task is just at the beginning of a hard path to walk even if it’s the “dark side of the customer moon” which we need to know to have a complete and 360° comprehension of the people that exchange values with your companies. And it’s a hard task first of all because we are just beginning to handle big data from social communication platforms (private or public) but, mainly, cause we’re not well prepared to extract sense and meanings from them.

The biggest challenge, in fact, is to map coherently your customers journey in order to formalize collected data and help you to get through the information-insight-knowledge funnel where:

  • information –> data are re-organized in order to be intelligible
  • insight –> pieces of information are correlated to specific entities (the analysis linchpins) gaining meaning
  • knowledge –> meaning elements become the leverages which support action and change

So, typical output from this kind of activities can support your organizations to decline operationally your social business strategy identifying:

Process –> how are you serving your customers? where do you excel? where do you need to re-design processes with a more customer-centric perspective?

Organization –> where do you have to create osmosis between silos to make easier and fluent the knowledge exchange? do you need to re-think you internal structure to help your resources with their job-to-be-done?

Technology –> which are the essential features mandatory to support the organization and its ecosystem to reach their objectives of mutual benefits?

Not easy at all, but now it’s really time to help analysts with their “comprehension” task and the only way you can support them with a scalable solution in a world of big data (big volumes, high velocity and extreme variety) is investing in semantic tool capabilities (I’m not talking about sentiment with it’s accuracy problems) which can filter and categorize entities, concepts and their correlations in order to give more “sense” to your informative assets.

What do you think? Must these new features be one of the foremost area where you need to invest?

Una roadmap operativa per una strategia di Social CRM

Grazie ai ragazzi di Digital Accademia lo scorso venerdì si è svolto, nella loro sede di Ca’ Tron a Roncade, un workshop sul Social CRM. Non è la prima volta che mi capita di collaborare con loro ma in questo caso l’evento si è rivelato molto interessante per la ricca partecipazione da parte di aziende provenienti da tutta Italia e, soprattutto, per la presenza di docenti di tutto rispetto nel panorama italiano che, a torto o a ragione, credono fermamente nel futuro del Social CRM e del Social Business: Stefano Mizzella (che, oltre che promotore e deus ex-machina del workshop, ha introdotto la classe al tema del Social Customer), Emanuele Quintarelli (che ha evidenziato l’importanza capitale dell’adozione di una corretta strategia per diventare una Social Enterprise), il sottoscritto (che ha cercato di proporre una non esaustiva lista di attività fondamentali per cominciare ad approcciare una strategia di Social CRM), Emanuela Zaccone (che ci ha parlato dei Big Data e delle opportunità di business che scaturiscono da una corretta interpretazione degli stessi), Giorgio Soffiato (che ha introdotto l’annosa questione della misurabilità del ROI nei contesti social) e infine Cosimo Palmisano (che ci ha presentato come funziona una piattaforma tecnologica di Social CRM, mostrandoci una demo della sua creatura Ecce Customer con cui è riuscito a “racimolare” ben 15 milioni di dollari da un round di venture capital).

Nel mio piccolo condivido con voi il mio contributo inserendo le slide del mio intervento.


Mi piacerebbe sottolineare rapidamente i principali punti descritti nelle slide:

  1. Ascolta: è il passo basilare su cui si deve basare una strategia di Social CRM in quanto solo provando a comprendere come si comportano e si relazionano i mercati si può capire come adattare la propria offerta e più in generale il proprio modello di business alle mutevoli dinamiche sociali che caratterizzano la propria clientela attuale e potenziale. Ma bisogna sempre ricordarsi di integrare la visione che emerge da un ascolto in rete con quella che è presente nei nostri sistemi aziendali e che caratterizzano alcuni importanti aspetti relazionali con l’azienda (mi riferisco quindi ad un’integrazione del digital listening con i risultati ottenibili da analisi sui dati presenti nei propri sistemi di CRM e quelli derivanti da attività più tipicamente legate a iniziative di VoC)
  2. Analizzare: una volta predisposti all’ascolto bisogna dare un senso a tutte le informazioni acquisite declinandole rispetto ai propri obiettivi di business (che il paradigma social non muta se non per l’aspetto di creazione di mutuo valore quindi anche nei confronti della propria utenza). Solo allora sarà possibile comprendere realmente quali sono i principali canali e le specifiche modalità con cui interfacciarsi verso l’esterno avendo anche l’accortezza di predisporre un set minimo di regole che ogni comunity manager deve seguire per affrontare la maggior parte delle casistiche di interazione con cui si dovrà confrontare.
  3. Interagire: affacciandosi al mercato e cominciando ad interagire si può cominciare a relazionarsi e a gestire le proprie community soddisfacendo le loro specifiche esigenze come descritto nelle relative slide.
  4. Comprendere: l’attività di relazione con le proprie community consente di acquisire un enorme mole di dati a partire dai quali, integrandoli opportunamente con quelli presenti nei propri sistemi, l’azienda potrà e dovrà analizzare i punti di forza e di debolezza che caratterizzano i cosiddetti moments of truth ossia quei contesti in cui, durante le varie fasi del suo ciclo di vita, la clientela ha modo di interagire con l’azienda attraverso i diversi touchpoint. Questo lavoro può essere svolto grazie a strumenti come la customer journey map che consente di evidenziare le informazioni fondamentali per avviare la suddetta SWOT analysis.
  5. Adattare: una volta emerse le opportunità e criticità su cui un’azienda deve lavorare per migliorare il rapporto con le proprie communityè fondamentale mettere mano alle logiche interne (dal punto di vista del proprio modello di business piuttosto che di quello dei processi interni o delle logiche organizzative in ottica collaborativa) per riadattare la propria struttura allo scopo di adeguarsi alla prospettiva (ed aspettativa) della propria clientela.

Naturalmente sono ben accette le vostre considerazioni.

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.