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

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!

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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.

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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.

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