Gartner CRM 2008 Summit

I was just going thro’ some reports on the Gartner CRM 2008 summit. There are some highlights which I  saw was not new or earth-shattering but definitely makes a lot of sense to reinforce once more:

  • Act on feedback, deploy changes and communicate actions to employees and customers – companies should view every contact with customers as an opportunity to deliver brand values and standardise on the business feedback management tool across the organisation and for all communication channels.
  • Design processes from the outside in – most process redesign is done with the objective of improving operational efficiencies rather than to improve the customer experience; which requires the organisation to identify which processes matter most to customers then set about identifying what to improve: an outside-in approach.
  • Act as one organisation to ensure consistency – the customer may interact with many parties as part of his or her business with a company. The challenge for the company is to ensure that information gleaned at one interaction is not forgotten in the next channel.
  • Be open – organisations that want to improve the customer experience often become more open. Being more open may just mean opening up more channels or opening hours but it can mean much more. For example, some firms establish an environment where customers can support, promote, defend or refer their products and services through an online community.
  • Personalise products and experiences – some personalisation options are simple, such as a website that enables customers to monogram products, while others are more complex, such as tailoring and personal pricing.
  • Alter attitudes and employee behaviour – employees’ actions are often the most powerful improvements in a customer’s experience. Companies can alter employee behaviour in three primary ways: recruit the right types of employees, ensure standards such as policies, procedures and governance structures, and create training programmes and incentives that can modify employee behaviour patterns.
  • Design the complete customer experience – many organisations have no plan or design for the customer experience. Companies with a focus on selling experiences focus on designing experiences. Customers of Disney, for instance, told it that difficulties in leaving the amusement parks often spoilt the experience, so the firm has worked to improve parking and traffic at its facilities.

My View:  The key question really though, is how do we enable all of this in organizations – to me it is about execution-employee focus. I think there is only a small mention on how do we reward, appraise and evaluate employees who should make this happen. This is really where the pieces begin to fall. There are conflicting KRAs in different departments and hence there are no compelling reasons to deliver a consistent customer experience. To put it bluntly, "if it does not hurt, it does not matter!"  This is where it needs to begin and end as the puzzles in the middle are put together!

1 Comment

  1. “Nothing new or earth shattering” – bang on !
    Recognize that the customer has limited observations. I say where it comes to innovation that seeks to improve customer experience and satisfaction levels, marketers place excessive reliance on flaky customer feedback. Systems that process high volume customer data have thrown up just a handful of insights because most feedbacks have been repetitive and predictable. Is customer equipped to dictate what enterprise *could* offer? She can at best define what she thinks is critical or at best, what is nice-to-have. But that isn’t clearly enough because of weak sample size and her limited knowledge of higher realms, other possibilities. For insights, search inside the enterprise – not necessarily R&D or marketing – for oracles (no pun here!) gifted with originality, creativity and clairvoyance.
    Ask Nokia and other cell phone makers that swear by them. The first few customers of wireless mobiles were certainly happy with just the mobility feature. They never asked for images, video or data streams. It’s the enterprise that advanced those innovations and exposed customers to those richer utilities. Later technology helped cut handset/call costs that led to wider adoption. Now they find it is easier to upsell high margin variants and value added services to them and users gladly pay for those utilities. So my bet is on insider insights than on customer feedback because I believe “Fix it even if it ain’t broken” is the new credo.
    How to enable it in organization? Same goes for employees too. The bane of modern management is its excessive reliance on abstract concepts like KRA of individual employees that goads them to stop the buck where they willed, giving them leeway to shirk responsibilities. Management in its anxiety to mask their own insecurities (or even idiosyncrasies) add several layers to employee terms to lock them down, often forgetting the dictum – the more you elaborate, less you exact. So don’t cut it to the bone. Just drop broad hints on enterprise goals and let them map their own plan of execution. They will come back with sharper solutions because they know since they had authored it, they are compelled to act it out.


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