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

Behind the magic of the CRM Customer Engagement Center MQ, 2014

by Michael Maoz  |  April 25, 2014  |  1 Comment

Kids in the western world from the Middle Ages on down would listen to magicians incant Hocus Pocus and Abracadabra before performing a feat of magic. They would wait for that key phrase Hocus Pocus and with slight of hand a ball would disappear or a dove appear – Magic. Of course the roots of the words Hocus Pocus and Abracadabra belie a long path of gathering forgetfulness, in the first case of Church Latin and the second, Hebrew (Hoc est Corpus… from the transubstantiation ritual in the Catholic Church, when Latin was taught to acolytes from the dwindling pool of the learned, Hoc est Corpus becomes slurred into Hocus Pocus, while Abracadabra likely comes from the earlier Hebrew/Aramaic Father/Son/Holy Spirit – ab/father, ben/son, ruach hakodesh/holy spirit).

Behind the magical incantations were rich, learned and deep literary traditions and scholarship, but in the wrong hands and understood poorly the words were gibberish. And it is with this trepidation that we release Gartner Magic Quadrants. In my case I released yesterday the CRM Customer Engagement Center (CEC) Magic Quadrant 2014 (if you are a Gartner client it is here: http://gtnr.it/1pxiW8A ), but if you are not it is bound to appear as a reprint from a software company on the Magic Quadrant.

The CEC Magic Quadrant is our second year of replacing that fragile raft “Contact Center” with the more comprehensive “Engagement Center” that embraces social media and an increasingly mobile customer looking for automated (yet highly intuitive and intentional) messages from the enterprise.  Think phone, website, communities, social media, chat, email, advanced search of highly contextual knowledge artifacts, delivered consistently across channels and devices, and with business rules pertinent to the customer.

The issue with the CEC MQ is not in the research but in the low level of understanding about what it means. A magic quadrant is the springboard for a conversation. The appearance or non-appearance of a specific software vendor or solution on the Magic Quadrant does not mean that said vendor is or is not the best choice for you. For example, Moxie Software does not appear on the Magic Quadrant, and neither does BPM Online or Transversal. They are, all three, good options for many clients. And a position as a Leader does not a Sui generis case make that the product is the best for any given client.

What, then, is the Magic Quadrant useful for? First, it is an ongoing, 12 month exercise in evaluating the fitness of all of the enterprise-class applications in the world to be used for customer engagement. The process attracts the best companies in the world and provides a no-cost / no-fee forum for them to express their positions and demonstrate their products and provide references regardless of status as Gartner client or non-client. All are treated independent of any relationship with us for purpose of evaluation. And evaluate we did. Throughout the year we performed over 400 reference checks on 30 vendors and in February and March 2014 surveyed another 400 references, receiving responses from 235 businesses via the internet and another 24 by telephone.

The result is that we have deep, rich, granular data on the fit-for-purpose of all of the magic products that can sit inside of a customer engagement center for almost any industry in any part of the world running any model of software – on premise or in the cloud or hosted or hybrid.

Still, for all of our research and effort, the Magic Quadrant can be misused and devolve into little better than magic if nothing but the graphic and dots are relied upon. The depth and meaning come through only in conjunction with careful reading of the text and a conversation with the analyst who performed the research. So: it is up to you – scholarship or magic!!

I hope that I see many of you in London next week 28/29 April at our Gartner Customer Strategies & Technologies Summit at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge at our  http://www.gartner.com/technology/summits/emea/crm/. We have such an amazing line-up of speakers and exhibitors – so ignore the Tube Strike, Keep Calm and Carry On!


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Category: Applications CIO Cloud Contact Center CRM Gartner Customer 360 Summit Innovation and Customer Experience Intent Driven Enterprise Leadership SaaS and Cloud Computing Social Networking Strategic Planning     Tags:

What Hemingway would say to the CIO on Customer Engagement

by Michael Maoz  |  April 23, 2014  |  3 Comments

The IT street beat has been a-drum with talk of data. During client enquiry it is a good habit to ask the folks on the call what their job titles are, though I eschew one for myself. Here is a list of the titles that I have not expected to creep into the conversation:

VP, Matching
Principal Scientist
Chief Analytics Officer
VP Decision Management
Chief Analytics Officer
Senior Analytical Lead
Global Subject Matter Expert
VP Analytics
VP Decision Technologies
VP, Data & Insight
Chief Data Scientist
Manager of Data Insight

These are in addition to the usual roles that have been around forever, such as VP Customer Support, Care, VP Operations, Customer Experience. What is remarkable about all of these new folks is how little contact they have with the actual end-customer as the customer speaks to a support agent, or walks through the store, or uses the mobile device, or interacts with the website or partners. Rather, they sit and analyze from afar. How do they, in fact, learn to really listen to the customer. Still stuck on my Hemingway flow, he wrote in Across the River and Into the Trees  that ”When people talk, listen completely. Don’t be thinking what you’re going to say. Most people never listen. Nor do they observe. You should be able to go into a room and when you come out know everything that you saw there and not only that. If that room gave you any feeling you should know exactly what it was that gave you that feeling.”

Try to move outside of your role as an IT person, or BI, or Data Scientist, or CIO, for a moment, and put yourself in your civilian clothes talking to your bank, or consider the products, services, offers, or treatment that you have received in a clinic, or a retail store, or car dealer, at a government office or a university. Does it feel like they have been ‘listening’ to you across the years as your needs have changed and your income gone up or down or family situation evolved? If you are anything like the author, the answer is, ‘no.’ A resonding ‘no.’

So a suggestion: as you apply all of these new and brilliant data scientists to the job of improving the business, think about how they are helping you to become more intentional in your interactions and engagements with customers. Do you know not only what they want this moment, but what you could and should know about them and their wants/needs that you actually don’t? And what additional information and business rules are required to assist the customer or your employees?

Get your data folks across the IT river and into the customer trees – get to where you treat your customers as you would hope to be treated AS a customer.

By the way, I will be in London at our Gartner Customer Strategies and Technologies Summit with over 15 of my colleagues discussing these exact topics. I hope you will brave the Tube strike and come meet us! Here is our hashtag – #gartnerCRM

Hope to see you there!


Category: Analytics for Social CRM Applications Business Intelligence CIO Cloud CRM Gamification Gartner Customer 360 Summit Innovation and Customer Experience Intent Driven Enterprise Leadership Strategic Planning     Tags:

For Earth Day 2014 take a moment to think about the Mobile Revolution

by Michael Maoz  |  April 22, 2014  |  2 Comments

I was taken by an uncle to an Earth Day rally as a little kid when some granola-crunching type folks still adored Rachel Carson and admired US Senator Ed Muskie for his passion on the environment. Today I have been monitoring loosely the daily stream of emails and have yet to receive any that mention that today is Earth Day. Sorry, earth. Cloud computing does not take you into consideration, neither do mobile strategies or social or crowdsourcing.

IT does look at power consumption and there are so many incredible plusses to moving into the digital age – reducing paper and truck routes and travel to offices and meetings and reduced energy consumption in buildings and planes – amazing. Companies like EMC and IBM, GE and even Gartner, Inc. in our small way are focused on carbon footprint. But what about the major social media software companies? And CSPs (communication service providers – i.e., phone companies) and mobile handset and PC and tablet makers and the entire industry? Where do they stand? I still look for upfront advice from them when I buy a tablet, and especially a mobile device on SAR – or specific absorption rates of radiation. How much do they produce under what situations? For some mobile phones you have exceeded recommended threshholds of radiation exposure after talking for 30 minutes. When is the last time your mobile device warned you the way it warns you of a flight delay?

Where do you see information on the quantity of mercury, lead, chromium, lithium, and other poisonous material that has been let loose on the environment? Or connections between cell towers and the depletion of certain bird species? Or any other correlations of danger signs? I’m looking on websites and…. hmmm, all quiet on the mobile front.

One key aspect of the digital industrial revolution is that we crow about the Green Effects, but we whistle past the graveyard when it comes to any discussion about the deleterious affects, damage, or negative contribution to the environment that any of the Mobile Revolution is supporting. Some new age.

If you are connected to the mobile revolution, think about asking your environmental officers, or any organization your company is connected to, about the positive and negative impacts your company’s products are having on this delicate blue-green ball that we float in space upon. The earth depends on each individual doing the right thing, right? So let’s celebrate what we do well, and fix what we don’t.


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

The age of the senses, moving from marketing to service.

by Michael Maoz  |  April 17, 2014  |  2 Comments

Perhaps less a backlash to the Digital Age than a result of, more companies are latching on to the primal role of the senses in driving the brand. In full disclosure, one of my daughters is a marketing Wunderkind at Sephora in San Francisco, the epicenter of the sensorial. Walking through the way they have created a story that revolves around our elemental encounter with the olfactory, the tactile, and the visual to create a sense of beauty is amazing.

And the Sephora story is not isolated. Almost 20 years ago, Mo and Mark Constantine started Lush out of the UK, and now there are over 800 stores around the world selling the senses – mix your own scents into soaps, gels, conditioners, and all of the other stuff that I never touch.

Burberry extends it into the tactile, in addition to the visual and auditory (adding multimedia through sensors in store items that tell the provenance of leather bags, for example). Or think about Singapore Airlines, where their patented Stefan Floridian Waters permeates everything from the hot towels, lounges, and flight attendant perfumes. Or Starbucks, where the music, scents, coffee tastes and even type fonts are identical across much of the globe.

We are going forward by going back in time when the sensorial was already a magnet. Ernest Hemingway wrote a scene in For Whom the Bell Tolls that surfaces the amazing ability of some of our senses to remove us absolutely from our current position, which, for the narrator Robert, happens to be a job as a dynamiter during the Spanish Civil War. He meets Maria and this is a bit of what he remembers, “there was the smell of heather crushed and the roughness of the bent stalks under her head and the sun bright on her closed eyes and all his life he would remember the curve of her throat with her head pushed back into the heather roots and her lips that moved smally and by themselves….”

Unless you are an insentient bivalve, this passage is redolent of a certain climate, light and touch. The list of companies that has tapped into the senses extends way beyond retail and airlines. Just think of Apple. Or Mercedes.

The next extension of the sensorial may be coming to customer support. We see the Kindle Mayday as an addition to flat chat and voice, and virtual assistants like those from Next IT and Creative Virtual add the sense of a character, and a new generation of natural language processing and high end analytics tools extract relevant information and deliver them to you. And the Quantified Self – the wrist bands and other wearable devices that extract respiration rate, heartbeat, motion, and direction.

Customer support has been a fairly boring domain of “Problem/Resolution,” without concern for an engagement of the senses. Maybe the next five years will usher in a change. What do you think? If you haven’t thought about this, now may be a good time.


Category: Applications Business Intelligence CRM Gamification Innovation and Customer Experience Intent Driven Enterprise Leadership Social CRM Social Networking     Tags:

All that a CIO needs to know about CRM was said already by the Dalai Lama

by Michael Maoz  |  April 8, 2014  |  2 Comments

I am about to release the draft of the Customer Engagement Center Magic Quadrant 2014 for review to software vendors. This is the MQ that was formerly known as the CRM Customer Service Contact Center MQ. For two years we’ve been writing about Customer Engagement Strategies, and this new MQ focuses on the role of the agent - the human voice and/or face of the business that the customer and prospect and partner interacts with. There is no beginning or end to the Magic Quadrant – it is not a cycle with a beginning, middle and end. It is not a novel or story with character, setting, plot, problem and resolution neatly bent around a beginning, a middle or an end. Nor are the dots random positions of Brownian Motion. Positions grow, decline, evolve based on the readiness of the market and the prowess of the software suppliers and the consultancies and integrators to bring the vision into reality.

And here the thoughts that I heard long ago from the Dalai Lama, who will be 80 next year, are helpful. (I know, right!) He emphasizes that, as much as we might like, we cannot control all of the variables or conditions in the world. For my clients, that is the reality that the current software and hardware environment, the maturity of knowledge, the embrace or fear of process change are what they are. The results of the CRM vendors’ solutions cannot be better than the customer they serve.

In the process of running an MQ we uncover many aspects of the vendor’s nature, and success or limitations in the MQ process often stem from the vendor’s motivation in engaging us in the process. This is another piece of advice from Tibet: Everything rests on the tip of motivation. It is clear within an hour of working with a vendor if their motivation is to be as disengenuous as possible while remaining truthful, or laying it right on the line candidly.

So the third thought from the Dalai Lama that a CIO and CRM project leader and vendor can keep in mind is ” The true value of an action is not measured by whether it is successful or not, but in the motivation behind it.” Ultimately the Magic Quadrant is a reflection of a moment in time, captured to guide the direction of thinking about both the software/service and the company behind it. Our motivation is not to reward or not reward a vendor, but to frame the discussion around the needs of the Gartner client. You, as a client, are in a specific industry, and have a specific process flow, and hardware/software environment, integration and regulatory requirements and a geographic location.

The MQ is best used when the motivation of the client is to seek, without fixed preconceptions or predetermined outcome in mind, the best match between enterprise need and vendor offering. It is a good thing to remind ourselves of regularly.

We would like to thank the over 250 companies that took part in the 2014 Customer Engagement Center Magic Quadrant process. You have enriched our understanding in so many ways through your honesty and candor. Soon you will also see the results!

Until we meet in London (http://www.gartner.com/technology/summits/emea/crm/ ) or Orlando (http://www.gartner.com/technology/summits/na/customer-360/ )….


Category: Applications CIO Contact Center CRM Gartner Customer 360 Summit Innovation and Customer Experience Intent Driven Enterprise IT Governance Leadership SaaS and Cloud Computing Strategic Planning     Tags:

What every CIO could learn from Tufts University about understanding the customer experience.

by Michael Maoz  |  March 19, 2014  |  2 Comments

Tufts University, with a campus on the outskirts of Boston filled with bright, eclectic students, has introduced an amazing program that every CEO should consider for their CIOs hoping to understand the business better.  Full disclosure: Tufts is a family Alma Mater. They do not excel at most sports. They do have a statue of a PT Barnum circus elephant in the courtyard that serves as the mascot (all that is left of the original circus elephant are ashes from the accidently-cremated Jumbo, lovingly and whimsically kept in a peanut-butter jar). And they have a deep, renaissance commitment to learning.

Their commitment is to great depth in a discipline, while creating the Renaissance person – the polymath – young women and men who can tap into insights from multiple disciplines to solve a problem. Now to our CIOs: Tufts has launched a program where incoming students have the option of applying for a “Gap Year” prior to beginning their studies where they see another part of the country or world. You can see details here: http://bit.ly/1kYXkP6, but they are not the point. The point is: Imagine if our CIOs had the opportunity to be paid to spend a year living on the front line serving the customer?

In a popular US television show, CEOs go out and see what it is like to be a lower-end employee. The point there is to see what it is like to be an employee. But what is it like to be a customer? How does the customer perceive your channel strategy? Do they live the experiences the way that you engineered them? Do they love your mobile apps the way they love Uber or are you as quirky as Cloak, or do customers want to use your mobile chat the way that they do WECHAT (China) of Nimbuzz (India) or Kik (Canada) or Kakaotalk (Korea)? Do they love you on Twitter like Mashable? Is your Facebook site as active as Upworthy? As likeable as the Huffington Post? Does anyone love the technical grooviness you offer the way that they love Twitch? Would anyone compare your iPad app to Houzz? Or the level of great advice to Betterment.com?

If you, as a CIO, do not know all of the sites that I listed, you are already in trouble. Why? Because you do not have any idea what the best sites and apps provide. It also means that you are stuck deep in various forms of techno- and process- bias. A bit of Confirmation Bias and a bit of Overconfidence Bias (don’t trust my explanation – see http://bit.ly/1ejYWiq and others), leading you (as we all do!!) to prefer your own information, and to see information as confirming your world view.

So: out into the world you go, dear CIO – live at the end of the road where your technology touches the end customer. We’ll pay you for the experience. Keep carefull records. Take pictures, record voices, write notes, kick the tires of the competition.

The world is an endlessly changing place – process, likes, technologies, customer habits. I just got off of a plane from Tel Aviv, where I met over 75 companies in seven days. Techno-Speed Dating. I experienced marvels like 24-year-old PhDs who’d completed university at 15, and secret military projects that look like social networking startups. Geeks in green. And a City Hall where anyone can enter their apartment number online and receive the building layout, apartment size, location, taxes, local building permits planned and outstanding, average taxes for like-real estate across the city, and more. All without leaving your iPad. And insurance companies like AIG with a “Safe Drive” program where sensors inside of your vehicle determine your driving patterns and compare them to what is legal, and then rebalance the cost of your insurance accordingly. Today that is “Wow.” Tomorrow it will be a standard across the world.

Get out there. And have your CEO read this! You are in your role because you are razor smart and love how technology and process meet. Don’t let them dry you out!

Seen any good CIO programs to get you out into the world of the customer? Let us know….


Category: Applications Business Intelligence CRM Customer Centric Web Gamification Gartner Customer 360 Summit Innovation and Customer Experience Intent Driven Enterprise iPad Leadership Social CRM Social Networking Strategic Planning Twitter     Tags:

Knowingly or Unknowingly, the CIO is Building toward an Intent Driven Enterprise.

by Michael Maoz  |  March 4, 2014  |  1 Comment

Ten years ago I had the wonderful opportunity to be a Gartner Fellow. What I did during that fecund two-year period was develop a concept that I termed, The Intent-Driven Enterprise. I began to talk to my colleagues, talk to IT managers, heads of customer support, sales leaders, and software vendors about the idea. Some really got it, but most didn’t see the value. In 2005 I published my first papers on the topic, and created the first presentations. Here was the opening of the first paper (which is still archived on Gartner.com as http://www.gartner.com/document/485578 , The Next Phase of CRM Is a Customer-Intent-Driven Organization)

Building an intent-driven organization requires more than just matching the intent of the customer during an interaction with the intent of the organization. It requires integrating the organization into the customer’s life so that the intent of the organization (typically revenue and profit growth) is met, while pleasing the customer. Understanding the context of the relationship and each interaction within that relationship is critical to redesigning the organization’s processes. Move beyond standard business processes into the mass-customization of organizational processes to align with the needs of the customer.”

Looking at the great trends in Smart Machines, Personal Virtual Assistants, Haptics, Internet of Things, Big Data analytics, personalization technologies, social media analytics and Digital Marketing technologies, we might be on the edge of returning to the concept of the Intent-Driven Enterprise – of aligning corporate / enterprise (even governments and higher ed – heck: all Education!) processes such that they maximize serving the customer in line with revenue goals.

What we suggested then seems to resonate today:

“The necessary change is not to replace product centricity with customer centricity, but to recognize that customer-facing aspects of operations require different approaches than core back-office functions. Test whether the approach that has been taken toward the customer and customer-facing processes is correct, based on customer feedback. Ask customers and yourself, “Do we consistently identify the intent of the customer (their need) and then build processes that match these intents in a way that meets the needs of the organization?” This is the challenge organizations must meet if they wish to sustain customer centricity.”

So, ten years later, are you ready to build an Intent-Driven Organization? Who will run it? Marketing? Maybe a collaboration between the CIO or Chief Digital Officer and the Chief Marketing Officer?

How do you see this playing out?

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

Hey, Marketing leader, isn’t it time to share your social media strategy?

by Michael Maoz  |  February 27, 2014  |  2 Comments

We just published our 2014 Social for CRM Vendor Guide (if you are a Gartner client you can view it at  http://gtnr.it/1ft8B8o ), and among the interesting insights is our survey that shows that Marketing controls Social strategy in 41% of enterprises, compared to 8% IT and 7% Customer Service. The more interesting evolution of social media strategy is the tactical transition that is going on wherein Marketing is reaching over to Customer Service and asking them for a hand.

What is behind the phenomenon? Marketing has done a good job of seeing the power of Social Media, and ran fast to seize the initiative and engage customers in new ways. Amazing things are happening with keyword analysis and crowdsourced reviews and recommendations, and plain old engaging in conversation. Kudos to marketing. And now something else is happening. As marketing engages more deeply with customers, you move beyond the ‘dating phase’ and sort of settle into a relationship. Who picks up the laundry, and did you take the dog to the vet?

In the case of social media engagement, this is: “I told you that I was unhappy with your service on Twitter, but when I called in, or logged in, there was no knowledge of my Tweet. What’s up? Or, you saw my post on Facebook (or in a forum, or in a community), and you said how sorry you were, but the same problem is still there. What are you doing about it?”

Marketing does not have the trouble ticketing systems, or case management systems, or problem resolution software, to capture an issue, associate the issue from Facebook with an existing customer record, generate a case, solve or escalate the case, split it in two, route it, close it, reopen it, join two cases, set triggers or attach support links, documents or videos (oy, you’re saying, enough of the details on customer support!).

Who does have the systems, processes, and skills to manage customer issues? Customer Service and Support. What has been seen as the lowly cost center by the majority of businesses, but viewed as the gem by the small visionary and enlightened companies, is now stepping up to advise marketing on best practices, and expanding resources and tools to handle social media engagement as part of the processes traditionally handled by the contact center.

The expansion of the brief / mandate of the customer service area is what is driving interest in our newest research on the Customer Engagement Center – the next generation of Contact Center. We have had overwhelming interest in the research, though we know that it will take time for the concept and term to catch hold. But the expansion of the contact center into a center that reaches our on social media, or detects issues from a vehicle, or the home, or equipment, and reaches out to advise and assist, will drive the transformation of contact center into Customer Engagement Center.

Marketing’s increasing partnership with Customer Service to engage customers more systematically and holistically across all channels – social or other, is opening up new opportunities for the business (or government or university!), and creating new challenges for IT, Marketing and Customer Service.

We are only in the first phases of this transition, and your insights have been helpful – so keep them coming!


Category: Analytics for Social CRM Applications Business Intelligence Cloud Contact Center CRM Customer Centric Web Gamification Gartner Customer 360 Summit Innovation and Customer Experience Leadership SaaS and Cloud Computing Social CRM Social Networking Social Software Strategic Planning Twitter     Tags:

Customer Strategies engineered to solve yesterday’s challenges, or, “Why does the cable company hate us?”

by Michael Maoz  |  February 11, 2014  |  1 Comment

One of the most prescient lines I have ever heard came from a Financial Services firm’s head of customer experience. It is a line I have repeated numerous times over the years. We were discussing how it was that I could be three different answers from the same company. They have a travel group, a rewards points team, a billing team, and a fraud team and general customer service team. They never seemed to know what one another was up to or had said to me. Then came her answer: “Yes, they are they, and we are we, and though they and we are us, there is no us.”

I was visiting a young couple in San Francisco last week. They are a part of a demographic / psychographic that is very successful, well educated, and tech-savvy. They also are a new breed who, though they have high incomes relative to the overall US population, could never afford a place to live in San Francisco, and instead rent. They also do not own a car. Who needs a car when you have Uber and Zipcars?

One of the couple was just getting off of a phone call, looking very flustered and slightly apoplectic. I could hear the torrent of words, and there tone became increasingly frustrated. The issue: returning a Cisco cable box to the cable provider. The box was perfect, just that they consolidated from two apartments to one, and now they needed only one box and one service. Simple, eh?

Simple in the same way that neural brain connections are simple. Only with the human brain there are 100,000,000,000,000 connections, while with the cable company, they just want to return the silly box.

Said Cable Provider spends tens of millions of dollars on social media each year. It employees hundreds of people listening to Tweets and posts. It does social network analysis. It hosts a community. It surveys. It has a blog. But what it does not have is a basic understanding of one of the new consumers. Essentially, they have engineered today’s customer service processes for yesterday’s challenge.

For example, this couple made nine calls to ‘the company.’ In saying ‘the company’ it is to capture the discovery that, in fact, it is two companies: the Cable Provider and the third party that retrieves the boxes. And that company does not ‘get’ that a significant urban population is mobile, but may not have cars, or time to waste, or an understanding of your Kafkaesque bureaucracy.  

How do you return a cable box in San Francisco? You can have it picked up (for a fee), or you can deliver it to a return office, or you can ship it. Simple, right? Except you cannot have it picked up from any place other than where it was installed. But you don’t live there anymore. And if you go back there, you can have a four hour time window. So: kill six hours of your work life. And you don’t want to schlep a 20 pound piece of hardware in a taxi eight miles through traffic. So you will ship it! You call and ask for a carton and a shipping label. You get the carton and a shipping label for a 2 pound item. But yours is 20 pounds, and they knew that. So you call again. This time they ship you more cartons, but no label. You call again. This time they send you more boxes and two more shipping labels for two pounds each.

This time you call and ask if they couldn’t just PLEASE pick it up at your office. Then they tell you that “They” can’t make exceptions. Why not? Because ‘they’ are not the cable provider. Could you transfer me to the Cable Provider? Sure. Now you start explaining everything from scratch because the two ‘theys’ do not share context of calls. Can you enter the issue on line? No.

Back and forth this went, and you need not know the outcome (unresolved). But the company has no flexibility because it does not want to. The third party is just that. Their only interest is following orders at the customer’s peril. Is there follow up? Not so far. Was there a satisfaction survey? No.

Who will detect the problem? Had they Tweeted and added their lonely voices to the digital cesspool of fetid complainers, many authentic, many malicious, some genuine, differing in type and kind, what would have happened?

Social Media has become the Star Wars Space Based Defensive Shield – invest enough and all problems will be solved, while the real enemy of great customer service has shifted. Now it is time, convenience, agility. Not the right to complain. Who wants it to come to that?

Rather than focus on the Cable Provider, we need to look at ourselves and our organisations and ask how our customers are truly experiencing our marketing process and sales process and on boarding and billing and customer service – across the partner ecosystem and across all of our engagement channels. And not “The” customer, but across different age groups, or economic, or education – a breakdown on the level of specific customer personae.

How are you doing at this?

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Category: Analytics for Social CRM Business Intelligence CIO CRM Innovation and Customer Experience Leadership Social CRM Social Networking Social Software Strategic Planning Twitter     Tags:

Building a Customer Culture Means Less Hair Trigger and More Thoughtful Response.

by Michael Maoz  |  February 6, 2014  |  Comments Off

I mentioned that for the past many years I have sat as a judge in the Gartner CRM Excellence Awards.  This takes an enoromous amount of time, but the reward is that, in reviewing the 22 entrants for great customer service and support, there is such insight into the range and variety of approaches to the topic.  The role of the software supplier is almost an afterthought. What is separating this group of companies (and governments, universities and hospitals…) is a deeply held belief that the well-being of the employee, and a focus on understanding the true state of the customer’s situation are the foundation of enterprise success.

It is humbling to read the submissions, just as it is humbling every day to listen our clients search for solutions, search for processes and technologies to better reach customers, assist customers, guide customers, and measure the outcomes in KPIs. The position of judge is not new to me as an analyst: I am doing that currently in the evaluation process for my CRM Customer Engagement Center Magic Quadrant. So much data is required, and so much analysis. It brings me back all of the time to Pope’s, An Essay on Criticism where he opens with:

‘Tis hard to say, if greater Want of Skill
Appear in Writing or in Judging ill,
But, of the two, less dang’rous is th’ Offence,
To tire our Patience, than mis-lead our Sense:
Some few in that, but Numbers err in this,
Ten Censure wrong for one who Writes amiss;
A Fool might once himself alone expose,
Now One in Verse makes many more in Prose.

In retrospect, the fact that I would have studied this in the dark days of my High School years at the age of 15 makes apparent the enormous shift in the world, language and interests. It would likely be fair to say that not one in a hundred English speakers under the age of 25 reading those words today would have even the slightest notion of how to parse the meaning (which is: most critics are borderline incompetent, but regardless of that risk, we still need standards and for critics to weigh in on those standards… [why didn't he just say that, right?]). In the same way, the leaders designing customer support processes today are applying thinking that, though it may have been leading edge when they started out on the customer excellence journey, no longer holds and the customer has changed. From Pope to Beyonce. Which is why the best entrants are reaching across the enterprise to Marketing, IT, Consumer Affairs, Digital Media, and Customer Support – to keep the vision fresh.

To understand Alexander Pope in 2014, as opposed to 300 years ago when it was written, requires a combination of education, desire, and patience. And that, to return to the point, is what sets great businesses apart: IT and business leaders with the combination of customer knowledge, passion, and patience. In an age of the business executive and employee and customer always-immersed in variably-refined information sludge, a great many experiences are based on hair-trigger thinking and reacting. Projects should be sprints! Change should be quick! Feedback should be instant!

Well, sometimes projects should be quick, but not all. Change takes time. Sometimes many years – just think of hygeine in hospitals or the use of pain reduction during childbirth.

The winners of the CRM Excellence Awards won’t be announced, or even finalised, for many months, but for this analyst, they are all winners – amazing CIOs, Chief Customer Officers, rank-and-file customer support agents – working with small budgests and under great pressure for less than royal compensation – and delivering value on behalf of the customer every day. Thoughtful, measured, sedulous, evolving initiatives. Pretty cool stuff.

Thank you for sharing your examples of customer excellence, now and throughout the year.

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Category: CIO CRM Innovation and Customer Experience Leadership Strategic Planning     Tags: