Michael Maoz

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Michael Maoz
VP Distinguished Analyst
13 years at Gartner
26 years IT industry

Michael Maoz is a research vice president and distinguished analyst in Gartner Research. His research focuses on CRM and customer-centric Web strategies. Mr. Maoz is the research leader for both the customer service and support strategies area and customer-centric Web… Read Full Bio

CIOs start to taste the meringue and unload those pesky humans.

by Michael Maoz  |  August 19, 2014  |  3 Comments

It has been three and a half years since IBM’s multi-billion dollar Watson, an array of  supercomputing power, won the US television show Jeapordy. Despite some really funny errors, it did manage the very clever response to the answer: “A long, tiresome speech delivered by a frothy pie topping.” Its question, which it was the first to give, is now famous: “What is meringue-harangue?” Well before Watson we began to see contextual, semantic search improve, and rapid information tagging and retrieval. and new big-data approaches, we began to automate. But with Google’s Spanner RDBMS, Snappy, BigTable,  and other tools dribbling down into commercial applications, the world of self service will explode.

Everyone has a million personal examples of why most human jobs have to go. In the 1990′s world of call center outsourcing, we used to tell clients that this was an interesting intermediate step, but the true end point for most interactions was self-service. Outsourcing was simply whistling past the graveyard and buying time. On Sunday I was in an office supply superstore, because it was the last minute and I needed many things for one of my children who is soon to leave for school, and, of course, I needed them right away. Who goes in these stores otherwise, unless you are caught in the rain or overheated? I had been sent an in-store promotion that gave me a very nice discount. The marketing image was cute: “fill this bag and get an x-percent discount on everything!”

Well, as the offer was sitting on my iPhone and was to be scanned at the counter, why worry about the silly bag? To the store we went, filled the shopping baskets, and got to the register. There we met Keith. Keith, it would appear, is a stoner. Or pretends to be. Yet here we are with Keith, in seeming slow-motion, scanning each and every item. And we are not talking about listening to The Band playing for Max Fischer and Miss Cross at the end of Rushmore. Then again, CIOs should listen to the words: “I wish I knew then what I know now.” And then at the end I present my coupon from my iPhone and Keith looks up. “I’m sorry sir, but we are all out of those bags, so we can’t honor the discount.”

My daughter, suddenly enlightened as to the meaning of my Zen koan “Stay in school!” is baffled and can’t help blurting out, “Keith, dude, it’s a metaphor, its symbolic, its just an idea – we don’t actually NEED the bag. We don’t want a bag, only a discount.”

“Michelle, can you come help me at the front,” Keith speaks into the mouthpiece around his neck.

“What is it, Keith?” And he blithely relates our story about the bag for the promotion.

“Keith, they don’t actually need the bag, just give them the promotion.”

More of this unfolded, but I will save you, except the final crescendo: Keith is out of cash-register paper. The receipt won’t print. I tell him it is OK, it comes directly to me by email. What he says next now sets us into uncontrolled laughter, though he was not joking. When he realizes he is out of paper, but feels he MUST print the receipt, he stops dead in his already-glacial tracks and says, “I am out of paper. I am not physically or emotionally prepared to go through this.”

So here is the deal: let us scan it. Let us pay for it. Let us find the items with a kiosk. Let’s talk about uptime: your old landline was available 99.999%. Cloud apps are usually available 99.9+%. Robots are available all but 4000+ hours per year. Human are unavailable 6,880 hours of every 8,760 hours. And some work 20 years and then collect pensions for another 30+ years or more. And we like computers, and kiosks, and Google+ and search, and swiping, gesturing, and all around being in charge.

So, yes, we have made a good start at transitioning from carbon-based (humans) to silicon-based (computers), yet there is still 75% of the savings and improvements ahead of us. Are you inventorying everything that you can digitize? Move to the Cloud? Move to self service? Are you measuring the benefit versus the threat? Are you sharing it from the CEO and board all of the way to your line-workers? Automation will happen at a faster pace, and you don’t want pie in your face when you are questioned about how you have readied the enterprise.

As always, share your examples. We love the examples of self service and automation that you have sent over the past two years.

By the way, if you are trying to engineer the next generation Customer Service Center, I just published (for Gartner clients) the “Gartner Customer Engagement Center RFP Toolkit” to make it easy for you to find the right tools and vendors. (if you are a client, it is here: http://www.gartner.com/document/2822321 )

 

 

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Category: Applications Business Intelligence CIO Cloud CRM Innovation and Customer Experience Intent Driven Enterprise Leadership SaaS and Cloud Computing Sales Force Automation Social CRM Strategic Planning     Tags:

Looking for the Demand-Side CIO

by Michael Maoz  |  August 6, 2014  |  1 Comment

The spectacular CIO you suss out in about 90 seconds. She/he comes into the room (and 85% of the time it is a ‘he’ with CIOs) and there is no condescending, no need to mark the trees and bushes before sitting down. The CIOs one usually meets have been around for a while, and 3/4 of the time do not have a business degree or MBA. The CIO that is devoted to making a difference in the business is inclusive and likes people in the room who are as smart or smarter than themselves. There is some easy joking. The others are not afraid of the arbitrary or rule by fiat.

Meetings start with the normal scuttlebutt*, but in a good way – what is happening? How are people feeling? What is working and not working? Where are we seeing roadblocks or potential problems?

Then the difference between the good CIO and spectacular CIO kicks in: the direction and tenure of the conversation. There will always be the conversations about security, outages, bandwidth, costs, urgent network and website and tools issues – and they are there on the table but they are not the order of the day. The true direction of the meetings and the agenda overall is around what an economist would think of as the ‘demand-side’ of the business. It would look at the CEOs core goals to grow the business, and it would look at the IT projects around people, process and technology that relate to these goals.

“How are we doing on our customer-facing initiatives?

How do you know?

Which customers?

Do we have the right people in place?

Looking at our key metrics for success in reaching a new audience, deepening profitable relationships and retaining customers, how are we doing with each of these?

What are the urgent technology initiatives that we have overlooked?

That we have not invested enough time or thought or money in?

How are our key competitors responding to these same opportunities and threats?”

Do these questions sound familiar? If they do, you are very fortunate, because this is IT harnessed to business success and you are at the center of great things. If instead you are sitting listening to a grumpy autocrat scrapping for turf, polish up your skills and LinkedIn connections. Unless you have closet masochistic tendencies, in which case consider yourself at home.

(* If you sail or are into nautical references, scuttlebutt is a term that came from sailors on larger ships who would put holes [they 'scuttled/cut holes in] in a cask [AKA a 'butt]of fresh water to access it more easily. The cask, or butt, was a logical place to gather and exchange gossip – like a watercooler in the ’60s-’70s)

CEOs and Boards of Director are looking to shift away from the old CIO type who has a ‘supply-side’ mentality and are actively recruiting for the ‘demand-side mindest’ in every key industry, including Government and Higher Education.

When you find one of these dynamic CIOs, talk them up! They are a part of the great things happening with CRM projects, Big Data initiatives, and the move to value-based relationships with customers and shareholders.

Thanks for sharing your insights about the great CIOs you are seeing!

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Category: CIO CRM Innovation and Customer Experience Intent Driven Enterprise IT Governance Leadership     Tags:

Data Analytics’ splendid isolation from the customer reality.

by Michael Maoz  |  August 3, 2014  |  4 Comments

Empirical data, AKA ‘stuff that happens to us as ordinary consumers’ is a decent way to capture the state of BI, Data Analytics and Predictive Analytics across industries and continents. In the past six months our team members have been on business trips and vacation on five continents and 18 countries and 12 US States. Some of us added a credit card, had a child prepare to leave home, rented cars, bought furniture, sporting equipment, electronics gear, entered the market for a new car, and had changes to our medical insurance. From hundreds of transactions there was zero perceived contribution from BI, Data Analytics and Predictive Analytics tools in any part of any process.

Some examples: While adding a Credit Card, one of us shifted about $3,600 in monthly spending from one card to another. This is after 12 years of consistent, and very frequent, use of the charge facility.  After eight months the original credit card company has failed to acknowledge in any way the 85% drop in monthly charges. Neither the retailer whose compromised security system, nor the Credit Card provider who failed to inform or advise in time and caused the move to another Credit Card made a move, sent a notification, attempted to explain/reach out/persuade in any way.

One of us reserved a car for a Sunday morning in Paris this July from a global Car Rental company, let us give them the name der Schmerz. Despite being high on their Loyalty Program and a 20 year customer, and despite confirmations by phone to their global office, they cancelled the reservation because we were not at their downtown site within two hours of the window allowed. A long, long story, but after renting at least 100 times previously, and despite a perfect record of picking up cars, there was no notification, no reminder of the 2 hour rule, no mention of the rule in the phone conversations or in the reservation reminder email. And despite having cars available would only provide a car at an 80% premium over the quoted rate. And the customer was to blame for being ‘late’ though they were unawares.

The automobile example is equally interesting: owning five cars from the same manufacturer over 15 years, we are again on the market. Multiple generic promotions are mailed to the house. None recognize what might be of interest NEXT. No pattern detected, no hints as to what might the next best approach: Lease? Purchase? Finance purchase? Features? Timing? Gornisht.

Whether it is financial advice for a student, retirement savings for an adult, government services, telephone/internet advice on best bundle, consumer electronics, pick an area and you will perceive as a consumer an absolute lack of understanding of customer intent. No traction, no engagement, no anticipation, no concierged service that rings of: “We are looking out for you!”

The reasons are legion – Marketing is interested in the ‘top of the funnel’ and the job of customer support is keeping you happy though you have a problem. Sales wants new money. BI wants to understand what is happening. But whose job is it to provide the actual mechanism to anticipate the customer’s needs, value, and corporate real-time response? We need a Dalai Lama of Business Execution, someone to enforce the coda: If you want your customer to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. I know his Holiness will excuse the mangling of ideas, but the message is: who is in the line of fire to guarantee that customers are treated correctly? That all of the rhetoric about customer experience and customer blah blah blah finally comes together in a systematic set of processes of mutual value exchange? (in simple words: the customer hands over their money because they really perceive the value at each step in the CRM process.)

The interlocking corporate team members from across BI, CIO, and Lines of Business either hang together or the customer relationships hang separately.

Do you know of any companies (and do NOT say Amazon or Nordstrom or Sephora again, please) that can carry out genuine, predictive and proactive analysis on behalf of the customer to offer them germane offers and services that engender trust? Let’s hear about them - name names! And tell us who is running the initiative!

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Category: Analytics for Social CRM Applications Business Intelligence CIO CRM Innovation and Customer Experience Intent Driven Enterprise IT Governance Leadership Strategic Planning     Tags:

Fooling ourselves with an Internet of Things.

by Michael Maoz  |  June 30, 2014  |  3 Comments

In the northern hemisphere it is summer, and vacation travel in the United States and Europe has gotten into mid-gear. It is a time when there is an accelerated feeling of just how out of synch the “Internet of Things” and “Social Media” and “Digital Enterprise” have gotten from many real issues. Roads are still crumbling. Highways are no different than they were in the 1950s. Over 99% of homes are about as primitive as they were when they were built. Airplanes still can’t take off or land in fog, and when they do take to the air, the overall travel time has not changed since the mid-1960s.

There has been a change in the nature of service. Now no one does anything for you. The job of customer service has been outsourced back to the customer. You want to find a product, YOU find the product. You want to pay, you establish your credentials, enter your information, and track the transaction. Want to fly? Stay in a hotel? Borrow an apartment? Rent a car? Book a place in a restaurant? (the list goes on and on and on) – don’t expect a human. And when you do, if you do, they will be less informed than you are, and not as commited or motivated to help.

What are CIOs working on? Are we, as IT leaders, finding ways to better engage customers, make their lives better, relate to them where they are, as they are, for whom they are? Even the term, “Internet of Things” focuses on the anonymity of the transaction: take in signal, compute signal, respond to signal. Antiseptic, clinical. If one were to say an ‘Internet of Engagement,’ then it might show that the intention is not to digitize everything, but to exploit the power of digitisation to drive better understanding of the customer, prospect, and partner to improve business results.

Internet of Things is not a bad start. Not a great start, but not a bad start. It is time to move past ‘things’ and into business outcomes, into deeper engagement with the customer or more intelligent work on behalf of the customer. Drones delivering pizza or gifts and driverless cars and a hundred other initiatives are wonderful academic experiments with serious potential to improve the supply chain. But for the average business, and the average customer, are you sure that you have found the best value in an internet of things, or is it time to look at an internet of engagement?

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Category: Business Intelligence CIO Cloud Innovation and Customer Experience Intent Driven Enterprise IT Governance Leadership Social Networking Social Software Strategic Planning     Tags:

CIOs face choiceless choice for complicated CRM projects.

by Michael Maoz  |  June 19, 2014  |  4 Comments

Two of my colleagues just finished a tour of client visits in Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Singapore, Taiwan and parts of China (or other parts, depending on ones politics). Their observations are in line with what we are seeing in most parts of the world: when it comes to building a next-generation CRM desktop, mobile interface, or Customer-Centric web portal with strong capabilities for customer engagement, the choices are extremely limited.

To start off, the idea of deploying a product from a single software company to unify Web, mobile and Agent experience is unavailable for most companies and organizations in most parts of the world. Building a unified customer support interface with the right features (single view of the customer, including social media presence, business rules, next best action advise, multi-channel integration) for any but the most trivial of uses will reduce the “Choice” of vendor to one or none. Banking, medical insurance, airlines, universities, utilities – what do they get to choose from? Maybe one vendor. To build the solution that you really want requires a bit of the very new and a bit of re-animation of mostly dead matter, Victor Frankenstein-meets-IT, to get the system that is required.

What is the business owner, and the CIO, to do in order to get a project moving forward? For a large and complex customer support center, or a Customer Engagement Center, the best option can often be working on key, tactical issues that will have high value to the business without commiting IT to a new architectural choice. Amongst these are five high-power projects:

  1. the support of consumers/customers on mobile devices
  2. improving agent visibility into the true ‘state’ of the customer: emotion/sentiment, current projected lifetime value, past experience and likely intent for calling
  3. Better agent access to knowledge / information about the situation: articles, data, links, policies or answers
  4. A more responsive and intuitive web experience for the customer on your website via better customer search tools, better navigation, integrated chat features, video-based answers, and virtual assistants
  5. Agent connections into social media to ‘listen’ to customer experiences in social media, with an ability to engage

For each of these areas there are several excellent vendor choices, measurable benefit, and little impact on future IT direction.

So: the big projects may have to wait a bit as Cloud-based CRM software matures for complex customer engagement centers, but there are plenty of great reasons and software to excite a CIO to get something going on behalf of the customer.

Sometimes leadership and vision are best focused on small, tactical projects that collectively create a strategic position for great customer experience.

That is what we are seeing. And you?

 

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Category: Applications Business Intelligence CIO Cloud Contact Center CRM Customer Centric Web Innovation and Customer Experience Intent Driven Enterprise Leadership SaaS and Cloud Computing Social CRM Social Software Strategic Planning     Tags:

Could your customer strategy make you as engaging as Cristiano Ronaldo?

by Michael Maoz  |  June 13, 2014  |  2 Comments

The digital marketing age that we are in poses more than a small challenge to the enterprise in that we want to be more engaging with fewer – far, far fewer – humans in the corporate ranks. Marketing is using more sophisticated algorighms to understand and target the right person at the right time in the right place with the right offer. And then Marketing finds out that the bean counters who really run the joint found the plan wanting. Just look at most airline or hotel chain scams: first you run after their credit card or loyalty program to get the free nights at the hotel, and then in year two they re-classify your favourite Category 4 hotel to a level 5 that does not accept points. By re-paving the parking lot, or adding a business lounge. And the airline that merges or sends you the offer RIGHT AFTER you purchase that ticket, because they know you bought the ticket and it is safe to dangle the offer in front of you when you cannot re-book to meet the terms because the availability and price have changed. Technology to destroy loyalty.

But the eradication of carbon-based life forms continues unabated at companies. The new smart business is hygenic and clever. Tablets built into surfaces, menues beckoning, wireless invisibly throbbing.  It is imperative to drive growth and improve margin.

But a strange thing about humans is that they love other humans. If you are watching the World Cup, you know Cristiano Ronaldo. Twice the number of people follow him on Twitter as Beyonce and six times more than the Pope and three times more than the Dalai Lama. And all of those folks are more important to people than your company. More people are concerned about tendinitis in his left knee than are thinking about your company – or will ever care about your company – ever. Ever. Compare that to the number of people following his Portugal national football team – he towers over the team as a team. It is #7 the forward, not the team that interests the fans. It is often, maybe usually, that your personnel, not your corporation, that are the make-or-break in a relationship.

For some of us this is OK. If you are Apple or Google or Alibaba. But beyond the 1%, a personal face to the customer is critical. The waiter, or receptionist before the MRI, the clerk at the courthouse, the surgeon, the shopkeeper. Small example: I was replacing a broken pane of glass for a very old light fixture, and I went into the only store in my area that actually cut glass to special size. It is a family-run business called Goody’s. I walked through the front door and a man immediately asked me how they might help. I told him, and he pointed to the back. As I walked, I heard a second man speak into an intercom, “John, I have a customer for cut glass.” When I got to the back, there was John ready to cut my glass. For $3.29…. Ready in four minutes.

I asked John, “Shouldn’t I buy a second pane in case I have another one break?” and he said, “No, I wouldn’t recommend that.”

I asked him, “Why not? It’s only $3.29!” His answer? “Well, I wouldn’t recommend it because we would love you to come back to the store.” So human. So engaging.

When your software can match John of Goody’s, make the switch. Until then, maybe a blended strategy and measure, measure, measure satisfaction and engagement.

By the way, maybe you watched to opening kick at the World Cup (ok, so I booked off a bit of work time!)? A young paraplegic man used an exo-skeleton to kick the ball that he used his MIND to operate. THAT is technology. Go Duke.

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Category: Applications Business Intelligence CIO CRM Gamification Innovation and Customer Experience Intent Driven Enterprise Leadership Social CRM Strategic Planning Twitter     Tags:

CIOs never fail at Mobile CRM initiatives (because they don’t do customer strategy).

by Michael Maoz  |  June 12, 2014  |  3 Comments

Back after a month of quiet, mostly recovering from a mad quarter of travel, conferences and research on mobile CRM. It has been eye opening to see the complacency around most businesses around mobile. The view is: Digital Marketing is doing a fabulous job with customers. IT doesn’t consider customers customers in any case. They are just consumers of the products and services. The ones who pay us the money. But ‘my’ department heads and division heads – in HR, in Logistics, in Merchandising, in Support, in Sales – THOSE are real customers!

Here you cannot avoid recalling Steven Wright’s line, “If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.” And what makes this tough is that there is no “You” who is looking out for the customer who is transitioning to a mobile device for more and more of their needs. Who will design the mobile applications with customer support built in? To ensure that the same advanced search, or Chat option, or bi-modal capabilities (live Chat while doing an action in self-service, for example), or consistent process design, or analysis of mobile application usage – time in app, path to app, success with app function…..? Who is the “You” who owns the mobile customer experience?

I just finished a piece of research about this, and if you are a client you can access it at http://www.gartner.com/document/2759117 . It is called ‘Six best practices to deliver powerful mobile consumer-facing applications.’

In the next few weeks we will publish an overview of 18 research notes that take a comprehensive look at the Mobile Enterprise. For now, the key finding is that Marketing has done an awesome job, and still – Mobile is an island. Customer support is inconsistent with other channels. It is still a separate channel. Support agents are blind to who the mobile customer is – in real time – and what they are looking for, what they have looked for, and how to help them NOW.

Everyone points to the brilliant mobile applications, but there is little emphasis on the failure of the mobile applications in the hands of customers. Maybe it has to do with the expression, phrased many ways, that success has many fathers;  though failure has none. Under 1% of businesses we’ve spoken to Jan-May 2014 had an ‘owner’ for the overall mobile experience.

Great companies are getting the mobile metrics in place, understanding the ‘state of the mobile customer,’ and establishing the baseline measures of success. This is not something that the CIO is sometimes involved with, but increasingly the VP of Customer Experience or the like is ascendant.

Continue sharing your experiences with me – they have been very helpful and inspiring.

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Category: Applications Business Intelligence CIO CRM Customer Centric Web Innovation and Customer Experience Intent Driven Enterprise Leadership Social CRM Social Networking Strategic Planning     Tags:

Lessons to the CIO on Customer Experience from Henry the Fourth, Part I, Act 3

by Michael Maoz  |  May 14, 2014  |  2 Comments

I need a minute to work up to my point, so breathe.

The primary residual gift of a university education is the people you meet. The secondary residual gift are the events that one attends, from Bacchanalian parties to concerts to theatre. And one such theatre event was at Mount Holyoke College where Shakespeare’s Henry the Fourth was having a brief run. Soon I heard a dialogue that would haunt me and inform my world view up to today, and it is between Glendower and Hotspur. There are about ten people on the planet who know that the Lincolnshire-born Henry IV lived his brief 46 years as the tenth king of England pretty lush, thanks to his mother’s enormous Lancaster estates. I tell you this in case you are watching the ’24′ series and want to understand some of the references, like restaurants and Tube stops.

OK: the point about customer experience! Glendower and Henry Percy (Hotspur) are like IT and Marketing – forced to live in the same environment, but not really a good match, and both hold their own skills in higher esteem than the other believes is warranted. Neither trusts the other, but each tries to show up the other.

Here is their dialogue:

Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?

Glendower: Why, I can teach you, cousin, to command the devil.

Hotspur: And I can teach thee, coz, to shame the devil—
By telling the truth. Tell truth and shame the devil.

Glendower is a lot like an IT team running a customer experience project – from a technology perspective, they can do anything: “I can call spirits from the vasty deep.”

But as we have learned over and over and over again, technology is the easy part. This is the big moment when I hear Hotspur’s Question! “Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?”

We should always be asking Hotspur’s question: Will they come when you do call for them? Will customers be drawn to you because of the technologies that you put in place? Can our mobile Apps be as seductive as Uber or our sites like Amazon or our delivery like UPS or our stores like Sephora or Burberry? How do we know? Who finds them seductive? Who should be in charge – Glendower or Hotspur?

 

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Category: Applications Business Intelligence CIO CRM Gartner Customer 360 Summit Leadership Social CRM Social Networking Strategic Planning Uncategorized     Tags:

Note to the enterprise: CRM program success comes from the philosophical, not the technological.

by Michael Maoz  |  May 13, 2014  |  2 Comments

A trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles (or DMV) in just about any of the US 50 States is an eye-opening experience. I was only surrendering license plates and making a transaction, but as the line of citizens grew and snaked its way outside of and around the building, I knew I was about to hear a story or two. One gentleman was standing in line just to ask a question about a traffic violation in the nearby state of New York. The obvious question, since we are in Connecticut, is: why not call the DMV of New York City. Well, that set off a 15 minute run of apoplexy. He had been caught in a speed trap on the interstate by a local NYC police radar. It was an empty, clear, straight stretch of road, and he had the iPhone camera shots to prove it, but should he fight the violation and reduce the fine and ‘Points’ or plead ‘Guilty?’ Two wasted hours later, he had failed to reach any of the NYC Department of Traffic Safety’s eight (8!) phone numbers. None of the eight lines answered after two hours and 20 attempts. So he went to the website. The search engine and his own further wasted tour of the website found nothing for “out of State” or any other rules that might apply to him. Finally he found a lawyer in New York who suggested that he put himself out of his misery and just go into the DMV and ask in person. And here he was, missing hours of work. And I wondered, looking at his photos of the open, empty road, wouldn’t BI / analytics told the local police that perhaps, just perhaps, there were better ways to guarantee ‘road safety’ than to find an empty patch on the highway and trap out-of-towners just trying to get home? Just saying – aren’t resources constrained and expensive?

The stories went on and on. I was in an hour-long queue which led to a clerk who gave me a number to stand in another queue. So this first hour of waiting was to earn the right to queue in another line. And the young woman behind me was waiting for a driver’s test, and she showed me the mobile app for the DMV which was more DOA (dead on arrival).  Not navigable. Unhelpful. And then she showed me the website to register for the test via her iPad, and that was all happy and upbeat and “Make an appointment any time Monday – Friday between 8AM – 4PM!” with a web link. And when she pressed the link, it takes one to another site that warns, “the best time to call is Thursdays from 11AM – 2PM.” aaaaaaaaargh, and eye-rolling. Welcome to adulthood.

As I spend quite a bit of time speaking to government agencies around the world, the US government websites stand out in their massive silos. Every country, city, State, and branch of the Federal Government has its own website format, search tools, process flows, font selection, and consistency or lack of consistency with the other channels. Web does not match mobile app which does not match in-office kiosk, or employee portal.

Living next to Yale University allows access to some serious Grey Matter. Asking some of the scholars in government and Public Policy why there couldn’t be more uniformity in user interface, process flows, shared terms, tools, and applications to engage customers/citizens, I realized once again why they call academics Ivory Tower denizens. “Ah, you don’t understand the fundamental rights granted, for example, to Connecticut dating back to 1639 and the Fundamental Agreement of the New Haven Colony….” and you, I thought, do not understand the lyrics of The Times They are a Changin.’ Government IT leaders know this, yet their hands are tied, to an extent.

As with so many organizations, companies, and enterprises, the bigger issue comes down to philosophy: what is our purpose in existing in the first place, and how is that shaped by our ethics and values? Let’s call it Ontology meets Axiology. If the government is to serve the people, then it would create Personae that match the different constituents and engineer the systems from the citizens’ different perspectives. Social Security would be different from DMV and the Courts and Taxes and Fishing Licenses, and also for the different types of ‘customer.’ The systems would not be designed based on an internal understanding of what the ‘customer’ should experience. And there would be measurement, measurement, measurement to continually test how well the government is doing.  And we would think beyond the cobwebs of precedent into the possibilities of the Inferential of ‘for the people’: what are the needs of today’s citizens, and how can governments think like Consortia – are there shared elements of design and process flow and technology choice and persona that could be shared?

It is all a reflection of values. The technology solutions are there, right now.

OK, time is up. Two hours later and I’m at the front of the real queue to accomplish the five minutes of interaction with the clerk.

We will be discussing many of these issues of customer engagement and customer experience next week down in Orlando, Florida (19-21st May). If you can, get there! Two + days of great speakers, great content, and great peer-interaction…. http://www.gartner.com/technology/summits/na/customer-360/ 

I already know that I will see many of your there.

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Category: Applications Business Intelligence CIO CRM Gartner Customer 360 Summit Innovation and Customer Experience iPad Leadership Social CRM Strategic Planning Uncategorized     Tags:

CRM vendor differentiation with the all look just the same

by Michael Maoz  |  April 30, 2014  |  3 Comments

Listening to clients as they search for the best software solutions struggle with the sameness of description that the software providers use to describe their wares. A refrain from the Pete Seeger song from the 1960′s (but written by Malvina Reynolds) comes to mind. (If you are one of the rare individuals not to have experienced the existential melange of glee and dread that comes from listening to this brief strum, then here it is… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUwUp-D_VV0). But here you get the idea:

There’s a pink one and a green one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And so off we go as prospective users of systems for multi-channel and cross-channel consistency, and omni-channel capabilities, and look at customer experience suites, customer assistance, social customer engagement, and customer engagement and on and on mining for gold but mostly facing the giant mullock heaps of non-differentiation.

Here is what would be nice: rather than the suppliers just listing their capabilities and products, maybe instead the prospect could create a ‘day in the life’ description of their issue: the business outcomes, the locations, the preferences for specific models (on premise/private-cloud/public cloud/hybrid delivery), the number and type of users and their locations. And then using the vendor-supplied template and some configuration logic, Presto, an ‘outside-in’ response to the client/customer/prospect issue.

That, the vendors would say, would be really hard. And then we look at new sites like roomsurf ( www.roomsurf.com/  ) where a half-million US rising university students find roommates by completing surveys about their wants/needs and then finding a match, and then you ask yourself: how hard would it be, really? What would it cost compared to the massive Marketing budgets put in place to obfuscate even as they pretend to reveal uniqueness?

This only happens when prospects become more demanding. Many of us are highly influenced by the company whose messages appear most prominently and most frequently and have the awareness and tacit approval of the CIO/CFO/CEO. Then the incredibly talented smaller providers end up spinning their wheels attempting to get a space at the table despite great products.

So, dear CIO and VP of Sales or Customer Experience or Support/Care, are we ready to demand more focus on an ‘outside-in’ set of messages from vendors, or do we keep humming Little Boxes?

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