Logical incrementalism is just about the most common pitfall to stymie innovation around the customer experience. The CIO, in an endeavour to make things better, cheaper and simpler, ties the company more deeply to a single vendor for each major application building block. Each incremental decision makes sense in the grander scheme: better integration, lower risk of a vendor disappearing or ending support, and a clear migration path. But what about the user experience? What about customer excellence? The reality as articulated from the mouths of end users in customer service centers across the world is that the software that they sit before each day fails them. Clunky. Non-intuitive. Lacking features for collaboration or social media. Rigid. No built in intelligence. Poor search capabilities for retrieval of relevant content. Slow. Business process flow absent.
What is happening? Isn’t there a revolution going on in Cloud Computing and Social Media and Big Data and Mobility? A Nexus of Forces? If so, then why are end users feeling so underwhelmed? At some point the CIO has to take responsibility. To fall under the spell of the large business application Scheherazades, who for One Thousand and One Nights spin stories of the next compelling version of the product coming right around the corner, is to sell your company, and your customers short. (If you are unfamiliar with the story of Scheherazade, or Arabian Nights, you are missing a wonderful chapter in literature – http://bit.ly/P4YA3A).
Efforts to modernize the contact center, for example, (or what we feel is a better approach – the creation of a customer engagement hub) are halting and expensive in large part because the major vendors who had focused on this space were acquired and their products lost development momentum and/or failed to make the transition to SaaS. It is that simple. Some companies that might have created revolutionary new customer service interfaces have found it more lucrative to focus on low hanging fruit like analytics, databases, and sales and marketing systems. Who can blame the vendors? Accept that it is more than a little bit of Mittäterschaft – we could demand better, but we don’t.
What continues to stand out is the relative absence of hard data regarding the efficacy of investment in business applications overall. When looking to invest in new classes of CRM-oriented software, whether it be desktop replacement or Social CRM tools, or business intelligence or real time decisioning, neither the line of business (Customer Support) or IT or the CFO or CIO or the vendors have a solid financial case in hand.
In the absence of compelling arguments, we go with what is in fashion – which is Status Quo at the core, and a few bright objects on the edges. Unless you work for Jeff Bezos or Mayor Michael Bloomberg, or Kathleen Taylor (Four Seasons) or Angela Ahrendts (Burberry) in which case you don’t come to the table without your facts straight on how each task you undertake ties back to a better customer experience. I could list 50 leaders like these who commit and recommit their organizations to excellence, and energize their IT staff – and everyone else – to better serve the customer. So we know it is within our grasps.
Let your software vendor know what you want, and how much you want it. Let everyone else know as well. It could make a difference.
Category: Analytics for Social CRM Applications CIO Cloud Contact Center CRM Innovation and Customer Experience Leadership SaaS and Cloud Computing Social CRM Social Networking Social Software Strategic Planning Vendor Contracts Tags: