by Michael Maoz | January 28, 2014 | 2 Comments
Every winter for the past 12 I have begun researching the ideas that will go into my presentations for our Spring CRM-focused conferences. This year we have the Gartner Customer360 Summit, 19-21 May in Orlando and the Gartner Customer Strategies & Technologies Summit London 28/29 April in London. I love these events because they are intimate gatherings – 600 or so participants instead of 100,000 – and highly focused on how we as businesses, governments, schools, or non-profits can better engage customers. We look at the technologies and the processes and ask: where is greatness happening, and why does it happen there and not in other places? It helps others find a way forward.
All of the theoretical claptrap is fine, but uncovering the ‘why’ of what goes right when it does or what inhibits organizations from greater success is the ultimate goal of my talks. There are always going to be fabulous technologies and business applications, but like the best surgical equipment, it is only as good as the best surgeon. Usually I begin my research by reviewing the client calls that I have taken. There are clues to how the CIO and IT staff, or CMO or VP of Customer Experience think. After that I look at the cutting edge startup companies, and the best business consulting practices, and what is happening at the university labs. I also read gobs of what my amazing colleagues write – I am never finished being awed by my cohorts here at Gartner and their insights.
This time around I am struck by the vast chasm between the CMO and the marketing department, on the one side, and the VP of Customer Care/Service/Support on the other. The CMO has the funds, the power, and most of the glitter surrounding digital marketing, digital transformation and a dozen other very hot and in demand enterprise projects. The VP of Customer Care, etc., is fairly limited, with little access to innovative tools and budget. Lacking a direct budget of their own, they depend on an enlightened CIO, VP of Operations, or visionary CEO to help cut through the clutter and break through departmental silos.
If you don’t see this deep divide, search the latest slideware or podcasts or seminars on marketing. I recently spent two days reading the latest and greatest (external!) research on the future of marketing, and, behold, customer service and customer support and care rarely (and often never) show up in even the most thorough presentation on ‘the future of marketing.’
The two organizations have never had an equilibrium of power. Customer Support is always boxed into a corner as a ‘cost center.’ Remarkably, the most enormous cost center could be seen as Marketing, as sales does the selling, while marketing does the ‘make aware/spark engagement/make offers,’ without strict P&L accountability. Sales is accountable. Customer Service is a line item expense.
There are many remarkable companies where the CIO has emerged as the bridge-builder joining the largely disconnected marketing domain to the under-powered Customer Care / Customer Experience domain. Some have even merged them, but they are still a rarity. In honour of the passing of the US national treasure Pete Seeger, I will use his song, “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” where he deals with exactly this issue of responding to changing times. The song tells of the army leader who drowns, having been unable to listen to the voices and advice from his underlings in the field. The ‘big fool’ was….
Stuck in the old quicksand.
I guess he didn’t know that the water was deeper
Then the place he’d once before been.
Another stream had joined the Big Muddy
About a half mile from where we’d gone.
We were lucky to escape from the Big Muddy
When the big fool said to push on.
It is time for all of us to change direction, to forge links between Marketing and Customer Service, and for the CIO to assert his/her authority and wisdom to see that the streams are merging and that it is time to move on.
Thanks for sharing your examples of success with me! They are great to read.
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by Michael Maoz | January 23, 2014 | 3 Comments
Close your eyes and think about the Apps you enjoy the most.
Now open your eyes and write them down. They are going to be Pinterest and Twitter and Dropbox and Waze and Facebook (well, for some of us) and Instagram and Proust and Vine and Google and WhatsApp, or some similar list.
What will not be on the list are 99% of the business applications that you are forced to sit in front of at work. What will not be on the list are 99% of the mobile applications that businesses lobbed out there. What will not be on the list are 99% of the websites that you are forced to sit in front of when you do your banking or insurance or flight planning or income taxes or anything at all to do with the US Government or just about any other government on the planet. Maybe with the exception of the City of Cape Town, South Africa.
What is going on? Have all of the great minds fled corporate IT? Are they all in a narrow strip between San Jose and San Francisco, Tel Aviv and Herzliah? Or is it that our precious IT staff is underfunded, our CIO tasked with too many projects with too few resources, and turning to large software vendors focused on the status quo?
I get around quite a bit, visiting businesses. There are also the nearly 600 phone calls that I had with clients in 2013 alone. And the 1-1s at Symposia and conferences. We all meet superb talent at all levels of IT. Brains and passion are not the problem. The issue is, and will remain, that innovation and investment in innovative ideas follows the money. Nobody believes that the next multi-billion dollar valuation is going to go to the company that builds a better customer-centric website application, or a brand new desktop for our dedicated and under-compensated customer support agents.
Corporate IT needs a shot in the arm from the CEO, and a bit more support, to take more risks that might be really cool, but not immediately translate into revenue. In the amazing 1994 film Don Juan de Marco, where Don Juan is telling Dr. Jack Mickler, the aging burnout played by a brilliant Marlon Brando, “You need me! For a transfusion, because your own blood has turned to dust and clogged your heart.” And Brando/Mickler stumbles for a moment and admits, in a moment of dawning awareness, “You’re right, my, er, my world is not perfect.”
Has the CEO asked the rank and file employee, or the customer, lately: do you love the tools and applications that we have put in front of you? Or has he/she been so beholden to shareholders that it is all about profit margins, squeezing the employee, and lip service to the customer? Rather than ask them, ask the employees, and ask the customers, and ask prospective customers – and then display the results on your corporate facebook page or website. (Please do not try this unless you a) like Siberia, b) are ready for retirement, c) have another job offer in hand.)
So: How can you become as great an app provider to your customer and employee as Pinterest or Uber?
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by Michael Maoz | January 21, 2014 | 4 Comments
If you are a CIO at a large corporation, you feel the pain of national governments that attempt to direct funds on behalf of the citizens of the country in new and innovative ways, only to find that almost all funds are mandated to existing programs. Maybe a few percentage points are up for real discussion.
A new wave of R&D is hitting industry in the form of sensors, monitors, networks, presence and location detection embedded in vehicles, equipment, structures, everyday objects and on humans. Triangulate these with ubiquitous smart phones and wireless connectivity and amazing things happen. Increasing R&D to leverage the technology is not necessarily the right answer. Take GM as an example, which cut its core R&D team by 25% about 18 months ago. Ask them why and they might tell you what you are experiencing yourself – innovation can be sourced from anywhere on the planet, and what does it matter if it is Detroit or Tel Aviv? Kansas or Kiev?
In the business software world, most profound innovations are not developed in the R&D labs of the major business software firms. Instead they buy. Just looking at a few vendors like IBM, Oracle and Salesforce.com illustrates the point. Collectively they have purchased nearly 100 software companies in the past seven years alone, and these are savvy tactics.
But as a CIO you look to the core for as much as you can as a way of developing the best systems of record for basic, essential processes. How do you marry that approach with the need to respond to the many innovations that are rarely the hallmark of the large application vendors? Just like enterprise knowledge that is easy to accumulate but difficult to purge, even when it is no longer relevant and likely a distraction, so is it difficult to unwind expensive home-grown software solutions or inflexible business application suites.
There is a good reason for innovation to come from outside of the large suites, in the same way that great art and literature come from the wild upstarts respectful of but not beholden to the established masters. It is as another outsider, Bob Dylan, sang in 1965 on the Highway 61 Revisited song, Like a rolling Stone: “When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.” When you have no track record, no core to maintain, no maintenance license to distract you, or a sales force that knows what it knows, and no consulting companies driving you to repeat the past until you run out of the present, you can innovate quickly.
There are phenomenal young technology companies and new ideas popping up all of the time. In the CRM space there are companies like Eudata and FacilityLive and Earnix and Personetics and dozens of others that look at every emerging technology like natural language, correlation of buying behavior and location, connectedness with others, affinity towards a brand – and mix those with connection to your mobile device – and help support the new consumer in a myriad of ways.
But here is the rub: how to free up IT budget to innovate, and one key might be cutting out parts of your current spend and targeting at the new. It is not easy. We’ll have to rethink the impossible: return to our core software suppliers and re-open contracts, and replatform some applications in the Cloud, and get the Marketing department to lean-in.
The first step is to inventory the application portfolio and keeping a bright red line under the components that could be considered of lower value and what bits are missing. Get someone in Marketing to work with someone on your team to scout out the leading edge new technologies that could help the company differentiate products and services, and map out how to shift a small bit of investment over to these innovative technologies. To succeed you will need a CEO that allows you to think like the wild upstart, not beholden to the status quo, as though you were doing this for the first time, with nothing to lose.
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by Michael Maoz | January 10, 2014 | 3 Comments
It is hard to comprehend, but tomorrow it will be just ten years exactly since Mark Zukerberg registered his domain, THEFACEBOOK.COM. There was just about nothing of a social network before that. And smart phones? Even seven years ago we were tied to our laptops and desktops and non-smart mobile phones, and there was not much to do on social networks. Only in 2007 did most smartphone technology begin to emerge. But very much like an avalanche triggered by nothing more than a rifle shot gains momentum and speed and mass with incredible swiftness and devastating force, so has the power of networks buried most of our CRM strategies. Today as never before in history, the closer we get to the customer, the more cutting edge the processes and technologies must be.
The simplicity of this is empirically shown in a way that David Hume would appreciate. Look at the connectedness of the average consumer and/or business person: Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Waze, Pinterest, text messaging, Facetime – and we haven’t gotten to telephone or email or chat or self service interactions.
Given the dauntingly complex skein in customer communication and engagement, how can an organization hope to create a meaningful path through the business or enterprise or department for the customer? How can contextual communication happen when so few of the threads are understood or owned by the business?
And how can any sense of a CRM Application Suite emerge to ‘manage’ the seamingly unmanageable? How can we begin to understand where in the experience journey our customer is at at any given place, time, or channel? Or what mode they are in? Not mood: MODE. Are they on business or not, stressed and hurried or relaxed, shopping or just looking, loyal or on the fence or upset and untrusting? Do they prefer to do everything themselves on their mobile device, or are there parts of the process where they want your help? Where are they failing?
Can any supposed ”CRM Suite” map the customer experience, the touchpoints used, for which process, the success of the engagement/interaction, and create, analyze and store these as metrics used to generate profit and launch the next step in the process?
The customer processes will only continue to splinter across more channels, and no software vendor will succeed in the next four years to deliver the technologies to support the key customer processes. The vendors can try – and they are trying: just think of the dozens of acquisitions in the CRM software space that have happened in the past three years. Just this week there were several more, including Microsoft’s acquisition of Parature (if you are a client you can see that here http://gtnr.it/KMV6n8 ) and Verint’s intended purchase of Kana Software.
For the CIO, the concept of ‘buying’ a ‘CRM Suite’ will be, to reference the character Pierre in Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, a cauchemar, a nightmare. The alternative? Look at the best of the applications to handle core sales, marketing and customer support, while looking to best of breed applications and custom tools and processes for the customer engagement bits that are changing fastest, such as customer communication, knowledge management, analytics, and social media engagement.
What do you see happening? As always – thank you for your emails and insights!
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by Michael Maoz | January 2, 2014 | 2 Comments
About 90% of my overall shopping experience is online. I imagine it might never go higher, as I was reminded this week shopping for a new Carry-on flight bag. There are hundreds of sizes, colours, styles, pouches, attachments, wheels, and prices, and running the endless combinations on the internet is less than efficient. Especially as I found myself on the east side of Manhattan, not far from the most popular retail shopping mecca in New York City. It was a great experience, replete with lugubrious commissioned sales people plying the latest and greatest luggage.
It did not take long to sort through the myriad choices to the one or two bags that fit my needs, including eight-wheels and upright. And the most fun of all: what would I pay? There was the price tag to guide the conversation – and a 40% holiday discount. But there was tax and there was shipping, and one of them had to go. Haggling with a sales person in the Cairo’s Khan Al-Khalili souk off of al-Azhar street is one thing (entertaining and romantic), but on Lexington and 59th in 2014 we do things differently to shift the conversation: remove the iPhone and start to tap in words……
Suddenly I am Lex Luthor holding Kryptonite in Metropolis, and the salespeople look to one another and huddle together for a moment. (“Maybe he’s not a hayseed, Doug…”).
“Sir, (now I am sir, nice.) we can ship this from our supplier free of charge, and we have an additional 15% discount that we can apply to the purchase today.”
All great, and I got the luggage, delivered to the house, at the price that I wanted, and used the retailer for more than a showroom. But why the drama? Why not cut to the chase and provide me with the best deal. Here is the deal: in the original formulation of caveat emptor, ‘let him beware,’ it was translated as ‘let the buyer beware’ because it reflected a time when the one selling a product knew more than did the one purchasing. But the tables have turned, and now let the seller beware: the buyer knows as much, and often far more, than the seller.
To get to an enterprise that respects the buyers expectation to buy with trust, the enterprise will need to preempt the haggling and preying on buyer ignorance, as, sooner or later, the customer will figure out that they are not getting the best deal. Not only will they sulk and shop elsewhere, but they will take untold shoppers with them.
Let’s get ahead of the trend and sell differently – as partner with the buyer. For the times they are ‘achanging.
Are you there yet?
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by Michael Maoz | December 31, 2013 | Comments Off
Everyone is off on holidays, making this a thank you to those of you in abstentia. Michael Bloomberg, who serves his last day as Mayor of NYC after twelve years, summed up his time as Mayor in a speech to city leaders – not the politicians – this way:
“I have always been envious of you, because you work at the real level where the real problems are.” …“At my level, you talk about them, you look at the grand scheme, you look at averages, you have to deal with big numbers. Big numbers are easy to deal with. It’s much tougher when you deal one on one, looking at a person right in the eye who has a problem.”
Every working day I have the honour to work with amazingly talented IT professionals and Customer Support, Sales, and Marketing people who care deeply about the level of excellence that they deliver. This includes technology choices, process analysis, profit-and-loss, attrition rates, employee well-being, budgets, training, and measurement of business outcomes. It is work that their CEOs rarely appreciate fully. Even the CIO or COO is hard pressed to understand the commitment, day in, day out, year in and year out, that so many of my clients bring to their jobs.
I see it, I hear it, and it is truly impressive. There are people out there who are innovators and pioneers and risk-takers who make the difference to their companies or government offices. They are what Odetta was in music, or what Bracciolini was to the modern world, or Norman Borlaug to farming. Movers, makers, sometimes recognized but more-often not.
So…. as we enter 2014, may we all take a moment to celebrate what we have been given, what we have given, and what we are yet to give, to make the customer journey a more exciting journey, perhaps having fun along the way.
A final Owen Meany THANK YOU to all of the hundreds and hundreds of people who worked with me in 2013: you transform what could be just a job into a fantastic and rewarding experience. You are the ones who “work at the real level where the real problems are,” and without you we would be so much diminished.
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by Michael Maoz | December 18, 2013 | Comments Off
When Dickens opened A Tale of Two Cities with “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” he could have been speaking about the massive opportunity and challenge of changing CRM strategies and technologies. The dissonant chorus of banshee from the Cloud-vendors cries out about the demise of on-premise software, while their maenad counterparts in marketing rave about the all-is-possible capabilities of SaaS anything. No matter that it is still traditional on-premise software running nearly 100% of all complex ERP, complex billing, complex order management, and retail customer service and support desktop – look aside at reality and rush into the SaaS-Breech.
When is the last time that you read about a business leader complaining about a failed SaaS-CRM implementation of any complexity? Can we submit that there are two possibilities, both of which should give one pause: either it is because there are so few complex SaaS-CRM software deployments (global, complex business rules, model-driven design, multiple backend system integration, real time feeds…) to point to, or a virtual gag-rule is stifling access to failures.
“Complex” is still the realm of on-premise, hosting, BPO, or private-Cloud.
Success is still less because of the architectural model or delivery model, and mostly about good process design, great consulting and integration services, a top-notch relationship between the business/end-users and IT, oversight and control from the top, with innovative ideas from the bottom, and design simplicity.
As we head out of 2013, if you are a company focused on processes to support retail customers with complex sales and service needs, look before you leap. The pressure to believe should not outweigh your instincts to rely on a fact-based set of decision criteria on how to move your CRM technology program forward.
Thank you for a tremendous 2013!!!!
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by Michael Maoz | November 25, 2013 | Comments Off
The beauty of the new-age publishing process is that every word, thought and recommendation that we write for our clients on Gartner.com can be anonomously rated. Generally you hope for better than three stars – four or five are ideal, as it implies that you got their attention and they thought it was better than average. One Star is about as rare as hens’ teeth – it means you either offended someone, up-ended their holiest beliefs, or got them in trouble. And that is what I found when I looked at my newest research on the limits of Cloud Computing for complex customer service environments. Someone dropped in a “One Star.” (If you are clients, you can find the document here and judge for yourself: http://gtnr.it/IbU2rb [The Top Three Impacts of Cloud Computing for CRM Customer Service and Support]). We all learn the most from when someone finds a piece of research challenging – understanding the root issue yields great insights into what is a client’s reality. So…. Cloud for the Complex Customer Engagement Center in businesss-to-consumer…. what did I write?
For those of you who can’t access the research, here is the net of what I am saying: I have looked around the globe for a large, virtual multinational / global contact center supporting customers in a business-to-consumer setup such as global banking, telecommunications, hotel, airline, utilities, or BPO for consumer support, and come up empty-handed. I have asked businesses, I have asked outsourcers, consultancies, software vendors and fellow analysts. Everyone comes up with a reason why they believe it will eventually happen, and then point to global business-to-business, or local business to consumer outside of the complex, or works-in-progress. It is Eco’s The Island of the Day Before.
The other point I’ve made is that the hidden costs of SaaS for complex service and support are under-estimated: consistent mobile support, telephony integration, real-time integration with legacy systems, disaster recovery, customization, data cleansing, data privacy (outside of the US), consistency with social media channels (facebook, twitter, forums, communities…), training, analytics: these are routinely pushed aside as inconsequential.
Here is the challenge: it would be terrific to be found out incorrect – failing fast and often and keeping a sense of humility is what allows for change and progress. If I’ve gotten it wrong: let us know!!!
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by Michael Maoz | November 19, 2013 | 2 Comments
A few weeks ago, out in San Francisco, I attended a technology conference that had the zip and appeal of the Skoda Garda that my brother drove back in High School. Today I am back in San Francisco speaking at Dreamforce 2013 (and if you are at the event, it is Wednesday morning, 9:00am 0 10:00am at the Palace Hotel, Grand Ballroom – come join 850 of your cohorts to explore Customer Engagement and the Future of Customer Service http://bit.ly/HWROeV ). There are over 100,000 attendees, and whilst I don’t smell the wind through the trees at Woodstock ’69, there is a lot of the Yasgur’s farm vibe for the New Cloud age about the Moscone Convention Center.
Mad Money’ Jim Cramer interviewed Salesforce.com CEO, Marc Benioff, out in the courtyard (http://cnb.cx/17FBHJn ), and later Marc spent 15 minutes demonstrating the ServiceCloud, which is emerging as a $1 Billion revenue stream for the company. The themes of the new business are all here: Cloud computing, mobile applications, connected devices and connected people.
It is exciting for me, as my research has been on the engaged customer, employee, partner and products in what I have been calling a Customer Engagement Hub. It won’t all be about Cloud. My amazing colleague, Andy Kyte, points out persuasively that the five pillars of delivering capabilities remain:
- Buy and Configure
- Buy and Customize
This makes a CIO’s job ever more complicated. And they are here in abundance this week. Whereas in previous years the overwhelming mass of attendees were in Sales, and then five years ago began a shift to Customer Service, now the spectrum of Marketing, Sales, and Customer Support are here, along with the technologists – the latter providing the adult supervision. Why? Because though innovation flows from the bottom to the top, decision making and prioritization flow from the top down. Never has the role of CIO been more critical, and their attendance here this week is validation of that. For more, see my colleague Tina Nunno’s fantastic work on the CIO. (You can even downloaded her new book to your eReader http://amzn.to/I2FWJ3 !)
The world of CRM applications is searching for its common platform, and for businesses selling and marketing and servicing other companies, Salesforce.com is the leader – upwind and downwind. In the business-to-consumer world where operations are much more complicated, disbursed, and real time, solutions remain partial.
What is emerging is a picture of connected devices, especially mobile. Mobile becomes your social interface, the way you manage devices, a set of business services, and much more.
Devices themselves begin to require the same level of connection and orchestration, and software/hardware providers like ThingWork, Digi, Axeda, Jasper Wireless and FitBit are telling us about our health, the health of our businesses and equipment, and even manipulating objects to tune them for best use.
Gartner has been leading on Cloud, Social, the Connected Enterprise and Social, and it is great validation that the largest CRM event in history is exploring these themes.
If you are at Dreamforce, what do you think of this Customer Idea Bazaar?
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by Michael Maoz | November 12, 2013 | 2 Comments
Though CIOs may be expected to support internal Business Intelligence initiatives, the idea that we must also treat our customers with respect by supplying them with key data points is overlooked. There is a certain BI paternalism that says, “we know what is best for you,’ that leaves customers in the dark.
It is nearing that time of year when I am required to re-enroll in my current health care plan, or select another. For those of you living in countries differently enlightened about health care, here in the United States the citizens of the country do not support universal health care. (As a sidebar, the notion goes something like this: it would be too expensive for the Federal government and would be a drain on the population. Yet per capita spending on health care in the US is about 75% higher than almost all other Western countries, and the US dedicates a higher percentage of GDP to healthcare than anyone. And for all that life expectancy in the US does not even make the Top 25 in the world.)
What would a customer investing a not-insignificant amount of money in a health care plan want to know in order to make an informed decision about next year? What did I get from my health plan last year and over the past several years? What is the benefit for dollar spent? How did the version of the plan that I chose for 2013 compare to the three other versions of the plan that I might have chosen? How often were my claims accepted? What percentage of each claim was covered, and which were not? What were the reasons? How has my consumption of benefits changed year over year? How do I compare to my cohort group? How do I compare to other demographic segments? Do I have more claims, or more types of claims, or higher bills, or higher deductibles than I require? Which physicians in my location are ‘in-network’ who also have the highest Patient-Rating?
Basically, whether we are talking about health insurance or taxes, or power consumption or rental cars or hotel stays or bank fees, consumers receive extremely limited data about the performance of their products and services and how they might better invest, purchase, or consume. What is fairly standard for wealth management sites is almost completely missing in other industries: a true statement that honestly reflects the benefits of a relationship with the company/enterprise/government that you are trusting to provide you goods and services.
The result of BI living in an internal bubble, primarily accessible to business managers and C-Suite, is that customers rarely feel confident that the products and services that they consume served them well. Instead they rely on memory, and memory is skewed to recall the negative.
Let’s do ourselves all a favor: push the boundaries of business intelligence tools beyond the enterprise and into the hands of the customer. They just might trust us more.
What do you think? Too much risk for too little reward?
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