Monday, August 31, 2009

Customers 1st 2009 Podcasts: A Conversation with Deb Nelson, Hewlett-Packard

As we get gear up for the 2009 NACCM: Customers 1st Event this year, we're going to be interviewing and getting to know the speakers and sponsors who will bring their perspectives on customer service to you. We recently sat down with Deb Nelson, the Senior Vice President of Marketing, Technology Solutions Group, Hewlett-Packard, and is responsible for worldwide marketing of HP’s services, software, servers, storage, and networking. She will be presenting her keynote speech, "Preparing for Customer-Centricity 2020: How to Evolve the People, the Process & Technology to Meet Future Needs," on Thursday, November 5. Download the NACCM:Customers 1st Brochure to find out more about the program this year.

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Deborah Nelson is responsible for worldwide marketing of HP’s services, software, servers, storage, and networking. She leads marketing across five global business units to deliver technology solutions that help medium-size and enterprise organizations achieve better business outcomes.

Previously Deb was responsible for world wide marketing of HP’s personal computers, work stations, hand held products, and mobile and wireless solutions. Deb has held a broad range of marketing positions over her 20 year career. Her experience spans management of software, service, hardware products, channels, and partners, marketing communication, marketing research and business development in HP’s America and European Gail and worldwide organization.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your roll at HP.

Deb: So, as you may know, HP sells technology and technology solutions to consumers and businesses around the globe. In fact, just over a billion people around the world use our technology every single day. I am lucky enough to run marketing for HP’s enterprise business and we sell to businesses and governments around the globe. Our portfolio is a combination of business and IT services. This means different support services, consulting and outsourcing, as well as software, particularly around helping customers better manage their IT processes as well as information. And then a number of products ranging from servers to storage and networking.

What changes have had the biggest impact on customer centricity over the past few years? What do you think will change the most in the future?
Deb: Today, technology plays a fundamentally different roll in business. Technology today isn’t just supporting the business, but powering the business. Think about any business process whether you’re taking an order, replenishing inventory, even communication. It’s all powered by technology. And that means that today our customers, so CIOs, Chief Information Officers and their teams, they’re not just running IT projects, but they’re running business initiatives. They’re not just managing silos of applications and operations and strategies. They’re really managing and integrated IT platform that drives business change. That means that they need to measure technology results by the ability to either accelerate a company’s growth to help lower costs, something everyone is really interested in right now, or mitigate risks. And that means technology decisions today are really business decisions.

Now for the future, we think that customers will have even more choices about how to get accesses to different business services. And we refer to this trend as “Everything as a service.” And that means that anything from just raw computing power to a business process to personal interactions, I mean, think about your consumer life, whether that’s email or other services that you get out of the cloud. That everything will be available to you whenever and however you want it. That means that customers will get to choose based on the best value. And therefore understanding and really anticipating customer needs and preference are will be very very critical.

Why is it so important for a company to have two way communications with their customers today? How has this relationship changed?
Deb:In today’s environment, we are lucky to have so many options to have a two-way dialog with customers. It’s not mass communications environments of previous decades. Today the explosion of media channels really gives the ability to have a true two-way dialog with customers. We don’t have to guess what customers want anymore, they’ll tell us. Social media has given us so many more listening points that where we can get feedback and have interactions with customers. This means it’s really critical for any organization to be enthusiastically engaged with all of their stakeholders and be a part of these dialogues going on. In fact, for us, we know that our target audience the enterprise business it buyers are actually some of the most active users of social media. We actually did research with Forrester that looked at all the different roles that people play in social media. And they said that our customers are actually off the chart as far as social participation, whether it’s someone who is creating content, so publishing a blog or publishing our own webpages, all the way up to one who is just reading and accessing information through this wide plethora of media we have. So at HP, we’re responding to our customer’s adoption of this exciting set of new social media and we’re changing how we engage with our customers whether that’s through different online interactions, blogs and podcasts such as this. We’re changing how we buy media, we’re changing the breadth of people that are participating in that so that we have the folks inside of HP that customer want to talk to like our technical engineers and presales folks. (This is so these employees can ) directly interact with customer about the technology and our technology solutions. And our goal is to have business conversations that lead to business.

Tell us a little about what you’ll be presenting at NACCM this year.
Deb: My talk is about preparing for customer centricity over the next couple of decades. And I’ll share some ideas about what you can do today to help get people, processes and technology ready for whatever the future brings. As a part of this, (I’ll be speaking about) deploying effective strategies for listening to customer and communicating with them in ways that meet their needs now and in the future. And I’ll talk about what a company needs to focus on to achieve customer satisfaction and loyalty, which has changed rather dramatically over the last five years, and will continue to change. Before, in our space, quality, deliverability and reliability were the number one drivers of customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. But today, these are really just the anites to enter into the game. So I’ll talk about what HP is doing to increase and measure customer loyalty. And finally, I’ll discuss some of the things we’ve learned at HP about when and how to stick to business basics and when to embrace new methods and technology to maintain a strong customer focus.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Deb: It’s been a pleasure talking to you Jenny, and HP is a whole company that is really focused on delivering great experiences to customers. In today’s environment, we have a lot more tools to do that and to be able to have a two-way dialogue. I often hear about how some organizations feel threatened by social media, or feel that it’s a risky journey. But we really view it in a different way. We think it’s a super opportunity to be engaged real time to find out what’s on customers minds. And I’m really excited about speaking at the Customers 1st Conference in November, and it’ll be a great opportunity for me to hear from others to hear about what they’re doing to be engaged with customers.

We’d like to thank Deb Nelson for speaking with us today and a very special thank you to our listeners. Be sure to follow us on Twitter at

See you in November!

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