by Michael Maoz | March 3, 2009 | Comments Off on Gartner European CRM Summit: Focused Concentration is the Message
I am in London at the Gartner CRM Summit. I presented three times today, and my first went over the least well. I made the mistake of not wearing a sufficiently long face. I have a habit of smiling when I speak on stage. It isn’t a supercilious grin. In today’s economic environment, the scowl is the coin of the realm. No ‘clappy happy’ as the locals call it. The ironic part is that for the past five years I felt like the lone bear in most rooms. If I could share the number of times I was told that I was ‘old school’ and ‘didn’t get’ the ‘new economics’ we’d be here all day. That makes any perception of me as too optimistic just funny.
But I caught on quickly, and by my second presentation I was positively phlegmatic. I spoke about prolonged downturn and spun the technology scenario with an eye to “what happens if your businesses don’t back for ten years? Then how will you change your customer interactions, analytics, processes, and software purchases?” That level of darkness resonated. Now people were engaged. Now they were listening.
The feeling was that we are all going to cut budgets, cut personnel, reduce project scope, reduce service levels to customers, and monitor what happens.
It is going to take some real strength on the part of business leaders to shake their department heads and say, “We are still commited to customer excellence.” I just published a Spotlight with seven pieces of research focused on better processes, technlogies, and business models that will help drive out costs but also help improve customer and agent satisfaction. Take a look if you can. It was a cross-organizational research effort. I’ll say this another one hundred times this year: customer service is the last thing you want to mess up. If you cut staff you will likely lose the knowledge of best practices, lower morale, and harm productivity. I’d rather you sat with your staff and gently let them know that you are on an economic war footing. You can and will fix broken processes. You can and will come up with innovative and lower cost solutions to improve the customer experience, but improve them you will.
Oh, and it is ok to smile. You may get suspicious looks, but a scowl isn’t the best look for everyone. And any little success should be shared with your team, your peers, and your executives.
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