Gene Alvarez

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Gene Alvarez
Research VP
11 years at Gartner
28 years IT industry

Gene Alvarez is a VP in the Gartner CRM Research organization. Mr. Alvarez has more than 30 years of IT experience in business impact assessment, vendor management, project management, software development and delivery of complex...Read Full Bio

Making the last mile easier remains a challenge

by Gene Alvarez  |  February 27, 2014  |  Comments Off

OK so I’m sitting here waiting for a rescheduled delivery of a rug that was shipped with a signature required. Well why am I sitting here you ask, I missed the first two delivery attempts. The first miss was because the site didn’t send me a tracking number that would have enabled me to track the progress of the shipment and then coordinate to be home when it got there. Instead that turned into a post-it notice on the door and no rug. However there was an action I could take. The post-it said that if I signed the back and left it where they could see it that they would leave the rug at the door. So I gave that a try. Well that failed to work. The delivery agent wrote down on another post-it that it must be signed for “in person”. So I went online and paid a rescheduling fee ($5) to re-scheduled it for today and I’m sitting here waiting and waiting no knowing when for this rug to be delivered but its been out on the road since 5:08 AM (I now have a tracking number).
This all got me thinking about others that may be experiencing this and who do you think the consumer would blame and punish for this? The carrier? The retailer? Well I believe it will be the retailer. Why? Because I can’t choose the carrier the retailer did that for me.
The next thing that came to mind was this past holiday season and all those orders that never made it to customers on time and how Amazon.com had to apologize with vouchers for their shippers’ issues.
There is a lesson to be learned here. When it comes to customer experience organizations need to take into account all aspects of the customer experience including that, which may be handled by a partner. This includes the setting of service level agreements that are in line with the seller’s brand. Yet many organization view shipping and returns as “been there done that” and mobile and social selling as “the next big thing” both are of equal value to the overall customer experience and it is the sum of all of the events a customer goes through that drives customer satisfaction that can lead to loyalty and even customer advocacy. How important is the last mile to you when you shop online? Do valentine roses smell as good to your partner on 2/15 than on 2/14? What are your views?

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Category: CRM e-commerce Uncategorized     Tags: , , , , , , ,

The quest for a new helmet and website capabilities.

by Gene Alvarez  |  February 19, 2014  |  Comments Off

My son took up skiing this year, which is great, but now I needed a new helmet since he was now using mine. We’ll my helmet is a XXL which turns out to be a hard size to find. So after trying a skis shop I thought that the web is the easier way to fine this rare item. Little did I know that it would take me on the road to research and site evaluations.

My first attempt was to Google a local skis shop chain and hit their site’s helmet section. Once there I found I could look for helmets by brand and price but not by sizes in stock. That left me with going helmet by helmet only to find none and abandon the site.

Next I tried the “ski helmet” Google search and that took me to a few sites. One site’s helmet link took me to bike helmets mixed with ski helmets. So I had to wade through sorting helmet types and look a teach one to see if they had my size. Another site had a link for helmets and goggles that served me up helmets and goggles so it was the same as the other site and I could still not look by size and in stock.

So back to Google, this time I tried “XXL Ski helmets” and found a site that promised to have helmets in L-XXL only to find that they didn’t have any on the site in XXL.

On my last site this site was like the others no search by size availability, only by brand and price but I managed to find a helmets in my size with a stock availability of 2 and a warning to buy quickly. So I selected my color and size and hit the add to cart button. Thinking my adventure was getting to a close. I then went to my cart to checkout only to find that the helmet was not in the cart. I tried adding it to the cart again and then a third time and then a forth (Please sell me this helmet – Pretty Please) we’ll no success. Now I went to Amazon and put in “XXL Ski Helmet” the look a head type came up with “XXL Ski Helmet in sports & outdoors” and “XXL Ski Helmet men in sports & outdoors”. Once on the helmet page I had options such as selecting by color, brand, helmet size, customer reviews, international shipping, condition, price, discount and seller. Well let just say that Amazon impressed me by making my search easy enough that next time I would just start there. That is how organizations get on the road to customer loyalty.

Now after reading this are you wondering about your organizations web experience? Are you wondering if their are people like me that want to buy something for personal or business reasons that can’t get to products and services your organization sells? Because if you aren’t then you should be, because bad site experiences never get the customer relationship started and you can lose them to those who provide a better online experience.

Ever have an adventure like this? If so tell us about it.

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Category: CRM e-commerce Web and CRM     Tags: , , ,

Digitalization of Commerce and Customer Experience the road to 2020

by Gene Alvarez  |  January 28, 2014  |  Comments Off

Well because of my addiction to the ease to tweeting it have been a while since I have blogged. However, my new years resolution was to get back out there and mingle among the blogging community. During this winter I have been gathering information for presentations that I will be giving at a collection of Gartner events. This year I’ll be at several key Gartner events and they are the Gartner CIO Leadership Forum, 23 – 25 February in Phoenix, AZ, the Gartner Enterprise Information & Master Data Management Summit 2 – 4,  April  in Las Vegas, NV, the Gartner Customer360 Summit, 19-21 May in Orlando and the Gartner Customer Strategies & Technologies Summit London 28/29 April in London. I love being part of our events because it gives me a chance to get together with attendees via keynotes, sessions, workshops, one on one meetings,  the expo floor, meals and much more and I love the discussion and the ideas that come from these interactions. (Also its never a bad thing to expand your social network and have some fun too.)

So with all of these events I’m off to a busy start for the year. But why is that? Well a lot is changing for organizations and it is changing faster than many can keep up with never mind getting ahead of the curve. As we look towards 2020, the road ahead is filled many trends that are reshaping many things that we have been comfortable with for a long time. Customers are armed with consumerized (if that is even a word) technology that enables them to outwit your organization’s best laid plans. They expect fantastic customer experiences, that work anywhere at anytime and understand them while protecting their privacy and much more.

Moreover competitors are coming at us from industries we never expected never mind planed for (Did anyone think Apple would become a payments supplier or Amazon would go into industrial supplies?.) Even our customers can become suppliers of goods and services (Take a look at Airbnb, what about home 3D printing?)

It is trends like these are changing e-commerce into digital commerce as models of business-to-consumer (B2C), Business-to-Business (B2B) continue to blur into business-to-individual (B2I) approaches of driving sales. As we look towards 2020, the organizations that do the best at meeting an individuals customer experience expectations for commerce of any type will be the winners provided they know how to be innovative and to capitalize on the interactions of multiple trends and to turn them into new business models that disrupt the old ones. So that is where I have been this winter. Now what are your thoughts on the road to 2020?

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Category: CRM e-commerce Web and CRM     Tags:

News on The Customer 360 Summit, Early Bird Discount Deadline is Coming Near

by Gene Alvarez  |  February 2, 2011  |  Comments Off

 

The time is running out fast on our early bird discount which expires on 2/4/2011 and I wanted to let you know that we have put together an agenda for a premier event that will enable CRM business, marketing and IT leaders to succeed in this ever changing environment of technologically empowered customers.  I’ve worked with my track leaders on the Gartner Customer 360 Summit, March 30-April 1, 2011 in Los Angeles, CA at the JW Marriott LA Live and we have five tracks that will enable attendees to learn how to create powerful CRM strategies, leading-edge strategies for customer experience, leverage a multitude of customer data to gain a better understanding of their customers. We also have two tracks that enable CMO’s and marketing directors to see the latest industry leading trends in integrated and digital marketing.  To view the full agenda, review our speaker lineup or download a PDF of the brochure, go to gartner.com/us/crm 

Also if you want to follow Gartner Customer 360 via twitter look for this hash tag #GartnerCRM or join us on Linked in: search for the “Gartner Application Strategies (Xchange)”  and select the sub-group “Gartner Customer Relationship Management (XChange)”

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Category: Applications CRM e-commerce Social CRM Uncategorized Web and CRM     Tags:

E-Commerce Rational Exuberance

by Gene Alvarez  |  January 17, 2011  |  Comments Off

2010 was one of the busiest years for e-commerce since the dotcom boom with many organizations upgrading or launching new e-commerce sites. These organizations were driven by the economy and by moves made by leaders such as Amazon, eBay and others and by a desire to enable business owners to control many aspects of thier website’s content, product catalog, pricing, promotions and other customer facing content. Moreover, these organizations want to reach out into new geographies for grow and to level new mediums such as social media and advancements in mobile phones and tablets. One key thing that is different than the last dotcom boom is that all organizations are build strong business cases with actionable ROI. Therefore 2011 and beyond will be the age of ”Rational Exuberance” for e-commerce. Is your organization ready for this?

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Category: Applications e-commerce Uncategorized Web and CRM     Tags: , , ,

People Are the “Killer App” of Social Software

by Gene Alvarez  |  July 21, 2010  |  1 Comment

After reading “Facebook, MySpace Get Failing Grade on Customer Satisfaction” in PC Magazine http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2366730,00.asp I started to think about what is it that I like or dislike about my favorite online community. What I discovered was the stickiness of my favorite online community was communication with people that I am interested me and that I wanted to stay in touch with them.

However because of this desire, I or we often put up with an ever changing and confusing user interface that is coupled with privacy settings that are cryptic and confusing. Moreover, when I do try and organize people into groups that task can take hours for existing friends. If fact when I polled some of my friends I found that some had simple created on profile for work and one for the rest of their real friends.

Yet I (and perhaps we) still returned to use the site. I found myself putting up with all shortcomings in order to stay connected. Now it could be that the cell phones may have altered my behavior as I have grown accustomed to hitting redial after a dropped call. Or could it be that PC software got me used to this because every fix involved a reboot of my PC. Or could it go as far back as electricity and the blow fuse. Who knows?

But perhaps it can be best represented in an equation (Alvarez’s Law, Axiom, or just a cool tweet).

Success is achieved for any technology that can create a desire to have, use or participate that is greater than the sum of all problems created whether these problems are known or unknown.

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Category: Uncategorized Web and CRM     Tags: , , ,

The Changing E-Commerce Landscape – IBM and Sterling Commerce

by Gene Alvarez  |  May 24, 2010  |  2 Comments

Over the past month there have been several announcements in the E-Commerce market. These announcements range from vendor partnerships such as demandware’s Link partner community to the purchase of minority a interest in a competitor such as  GSI Commerce’s deal with Intershop Communications AG, and more. However, the biggest to date is IBM’s announcement to purchase Sterling Commerce for 1.4B in cash.

Gartner is already working on a consolidated response to this event. However for the e-commerce market this is an interesting event from two points of view.

The first one is that two e-commerce Magic Quadrant vendors are consolidating into one (IBM a leader and Sterling Commerce a Challenger). Provided the deal closes without any interference, this event could signal other acquisitions of smaller e-commerce vendors by larger vendors. I believe that these acquisitions will seek to take advantage of the growing e-commerce market as organizations make investments in the web sales capabilities.

Secondarily, the e-commerce market is evolving and this evolution is well beyond those changes driven by a desire for new user experiences such as social software and mobile (more research on this coming out soon). This evolution includes much more than business-to-consumer functionality; it includes global business-to-business e-commerce with industries such as manufacturing, distribution and telecommunications seeking to improve their online self-service sales capabilities. This is where this deal will be one to watch in 2010 and beyond.

Can we see another Dot.com 2.0 with plenty of e-commerce announcements in 2010 and beyond? Yes! We still have Internet Retailer and our Gartner CRM Summit events in June. So stay tuned.

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Category: Uncategorized     Tags: , , , , ,

Should you help customers with using your website?

by Gene Alvarez  |  January 29, 2010  |  Comments Off

One of the things I have noticed over the years is that websites continually change their UI without much notice. This common place practice follows what many software firms have done to their enterprise customers. However, today I visited a site that did something different. Http://www.corporateperks.com/ offered a Guide-bot (after logging in) that asks if you would like to be shown around the site so that you can take full advantage of the site. I thought this was a great way to be customer centric when introducing new UI features to your web sites. It is based on the idea that not everyone using the web site is in the IT field or is willing to figure it out on their own. Perhaps you may disagree with me or know of more sites like this but I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the subject. How much should we help the user when we change our sites UI?

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Category: Uncategorized Web and CRM     Tags: , , , , ,

So what is in your Web 2.0 toolbox?

by Gene Alvarez  |  September 21, 2009  |  3 Comments

In a discussion with others about whether to Tweet or Blog, and if tweets are of value to the followers, I came to the realization that it is not the value of one individual social tool (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, eblogger, etc). The value is in the collection of tools one uses to communicate with their community of friends and associates and the content delivered via the tool.

For example, a while ago, I posted an entry as to whether to tweet or blog and my followers told me that some preferred the blog because is was a little “meatier” while others preferred the tweet because of the brevity of the response and a feeling of interaction and then my YouTube followers liked the see and listen format. Because of this, I use tweets, blog posts, and YouTube posts as well as my Facebook, Plaxo, and Linkedin status line to keep my followers up to date on my research and other activities.

These thoughts then lead me to think that social tools are just like tools in a carpenter’s toolbox where one saw is used to cut rough framing material and yet another for fine molding finish work and it is the carpenter that delivers the value to the customer.

Accordingly, is your organization taking a toolbox view of social tools or is it just trying to build a relationship with only one type of saw in it’s toolbox?

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Category: Uncategorized     Tags: , ,

How do you rate reviews?

by Gene Alvarez  |  June 24, 2009  |  1 Comment

An interesting story on a court ruling that enabled students to rate teachers sparked an equally interest discuss discussion around reviewing people performance.

As the e-commerce person here, I have been talking with clients about product rating for years. It has been my belief that with all product review ratings the reader should apply the “grain of salt theory”.

Ratings or reviews are only part of the customer (in the case parents and students) evolution process and are subject to gaming by many parties.

Moreover, one rating alone does not tell the whole story; have you gone to move just because it says “Excellent Movie…” NY Times on the poster – Most likely not.

However as the producer of a product or service once should be aware that people has a public forum to use and that anyone with an opinion can shout it out on the internet. Even if that person never even used the product or service, they may just not like the company for instance. Therefore, I thought I would list some attributes that bring value to ratings.

  • Depth – How detailed is the rating? – Only the word “great” or did the writer provide information on their position?
  • Number- How many are there only one or thousands?
  • Timeliness or the rating – Are the ratings current or three years old?
  • The profile of the rater – Do they do many ratings on these types of products or services? Are they an avid user of these types of products or services? Simple things like are the male or female can also help, for example male skiers will rate ski’s differently than female skiers, also rating can vary by age of the reviewer.
  • Belief in the rating quality – Ever read a rating the looks like the product manufacturer wrote?

Therefore, product reviews are only a guideline they are not law and with all things – “Caveat emptor”.

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Category: Uncategorized Web and CRM     Tags: , , , , ,