Tuesday, April 30, 2013

5 Steps to Successful Customer Experience Management

These days, customers expect companies to offer customer preferences in order to reduce the buying cycle time and increase the value. With the increasing number of channels and the need for consistent experience, we have been hearing about the ever-evolving ‘customer experience’ systems. This journey from CRM to CEM, marks a shift from an internally focused to externally focused solution to offer better customer experiences.

In the past, being internally focused gave more time for companies to adopt and evolve, but in the CEM era, companies don’t have the same time. The balance is between great customer experience that drives loyalty and ‘relevant preference’ that will drive commerce. According to a recent Business2Community article written by Ramesh Ramakrishnan, a marketing and organization culture enthusiast and author of www.futuristCMO.com, here are five steps to get the best out of CEM initiatives:

1. Build seamless interactions
Customers are expecting seamless interactions across traditional channels like in-store, call-center, online as well as new channels like mobile and social. Though technology can play a role in enabling this, employee (internal) based seamless interactions can really transform customer (external) based seamless interactions. 

2. Deliver consistent value
Consistent experience across channels due to end-to-end processes, functionality rich channel systems, de-centralization to harness channel incubation, management commitment offers a chance for customers to build trust. Flexible and functionality rich solutions across fast moving channels such as social, mobile will help companies deliver consistently in a fast paced environment.

3. Offer relevant preferences using real-time approaches
Connecting the customer transaction data, front line interaction information and non-enterprise data such as social, mobile can help companies to understand the current and future needs of the customer. Leveraging big data and analytics to come up with relevant preferences for customers will be a key differentiator considering the number of alternatives available. Real-time solutions through big data, analytics, In-memory and human intelligence will transform commerce and customer experience.

4. Develop a partner ecosystem that can collaborate
Customer experience management is a cluster of products that have to work together to offer a holistic solution. It’s critical to have the right set of partners who are innovators, have a good partner ecosystem, and are open to integration with other vendor products.

5. Implement Total Customer Experience (TCE)
In Total Quality Management (TQM), the quality of products is the responsibility of everyone involved in the creation and consumption ecosystem. So, TCE should be a philosophy across the entire organization. Customer experience is not just a front line issue as competition, delays across departments can badly impact customer experience. In the connected media age where customers immediately share more of their negative experiences than positive ones, such negative stories can impact commerce.

Overall, CEM will continue to evolve due to innovation and customer trends, so companies must create an agile ecosystem.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Difference Between CRM and CX is in the Customer

Customers are the most important people for any organization. They are the resource upon which the success of the business depends as customer satisfaction is at the heart of the selling process. The relationship between the customer and the organization is, therefore, an important one.

We have entered the age of the customer – an age where every company can tap into global factories and global supply chains. Brand, manufacturing, distribution, and IT are all table stakes. With online reviews, social networks, and mobile web access, it's easy for your customers to know as much about your products, services, competitors, and pricing as you do.

In this age, the only source of competitive advantage is the one that can survive technology-fueled disruption: an obsession with customer experience. As of late, customer experience has become an extremely hot topic. But, customer experience (CX) is very similar to customer relationship management (CRM). So, what exactly is the difference between the two?

CRM is a model for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers. Although it had been around in many forms for a long time, the term CRM became popular in 1993 when Siebel entered the market. It was later coined by Gartner in 1995 as a way to describe ‘front office applications.’ Meanwhile, CX has also been around a very long time as well. CX is known as the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier over the duration of the customer-supplier relationship.

Both terms talk about managing customer interactions and experiences over time, but the difference comes down to perspective. Business2Community recently shared a good example of the difference between CX and CRM. Say someone is refinancing a home with a large national bank. It is a possibility that it may be easier to handle the monthly payments with a checking account with the same bank, so the customer opens up a new account.  Then, say the agent asks the customer to fill out an account application and the customer wants the agent to reference his or her personal information based on the load number, but the agent doesn’t have access to that information.

From a CRM perspective, this is a successful transaction because the mortgage fulfillment team knows your information, and after opening a checking account, the branch knew your information. However, the mortgage team and the deposit team didn’t know about each other, so they relied on the customer to bridge that gap.

Customer experience, on the other hand, would have taken a different approach – one based soley on the customer. The reasoning would including: where are you in your life journey now, what do you need now, what are you going to need along with that, and what can we do to serve all of this at the right times?
So, the difference between CRM and CX is that one looks at the world from the inside-out (CRM), the other from the outside-in (CX).

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Prepare for the Proactive CXM of the Future

Today, enterprises are struggling to keep up with the ways consumers are accessing their products, through physical and digital channels. CXM (Customer Experience Management) often remains siloed within the organization, in marketing and customer service. It tends to remain reactive — dealing with problems presented to them instead of identifying progressive strategies that create a positive experience. So, according to Jayakrishnan Sasidharan, vice president & Global Head, Business Collaboration, Content and Customer Experience, for Wipro Business Applications Services, enterprises must prepare for the next generation of CXM, which integrates consumers, retailers and suppliers

By 2018, the next generation CXM will be proactive and engage the entire organization. It will strive to understand what customers are thinking and provide a consistent brand experience in all available channels.  According to Sasidharan, CXM in the future is about “channel independence.” Customers will use the channel of their choice to interact with the brand.

CXM adoption has been siloed, on a single channel focusing on product-based interactions and with customers. Recently, it has evolved to incorporate multiple channels and mature from being transactional to being interactive. But, many organizations have not transformed their customer experience.

“The next generation CXM will put customers first to drive customer satisfaction. It will engage them proactively before the product is purchased, and long afterward, to understand what they are thinking and create market-relevant products,” he said.

In fact, Sasidharan sees four trends that global enterprises are grappling with and how digital advances will affect the next generation of CXM including:

Engaging the customer proactively. Enterprises want to move closer to the customer with interactions that occur before the product is consumed. Future CXM will make that engagement event-driven and pull from every aspect of the organization.

Context-aware customer interactions with geo-location intelligence built into devices. Instead of an enterprise partnering with a specific app or adopting a specific solution, future CXM solutions could call for a sustained interaction with context-aware solutions within every interaction.

Immersive interactions.  Users gain control over how content is delivered, whether through touch, gesture, 3D visualization, voice-enabled biometric, or something not yet invented. In the next five years, he expects immersive interactions to be incorporated in home entertainment devices, in-vehicle devices, and increasingly smart mobile devices.

The multi-channel of the future. Even as new channels have emerged or replaced traditional points of sale, customer interactions remain siloed. By 2018, multi-channel for enterprises will transition to an omni-channel experience, meaning customers can browse through product information on any medium while conversing with friends on social media.

By the next five years, Sasidharan envisions a repeatable CXM maturity model that implies that an enterprise has synchronized CXM and IT strategies with an integrated roadmap — supported by an integrated training and communication plan. The key to reaching this repeatable stage is to pursue a CXM strategy across the enterprise, not one for every channel. So, enterprises must create original products and services; ensure integration across all stakeholders; change business models beyond silo solutions to enhance customer experience; and invest in digital technologies that integrate digital marketing, operations and digital commerce.

These days, companies are recognizing that digitally savvy customers can become influencers in their own social media circles. An integrated CXM strategy will give enterprises the ability to create a repeatable customer experience that can be adapted to future digital evolutions.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

How to ask for ideas from your customers. The Top 20 Customer Experience Management (CEM) Software Technologies

It’s all well and good to work on ideas and innovation by collaborating internally.  But if we want ideas from our customers we have to deliver that message, along with all the other important messages we communicate outside of the company.  Even if the message is that “we’re an innovative company”.  

Customer Feedback Wanted.  Here’s a fact, in case you didn’t notice…Large companies are trying to figure out how to engage with their customers.  They are asking the public what they’re thinking by using Customer Feedback Management (I wrote about that a few weeks ago here).  And they’re carefully managing how they communicate with their customers.  Customers must be reached where they dwell and they live for the most part in social networks.

Marketing automation used to be simple.  The channels were email, direct mail and phone.  Companies used these simple channels to reach out to customers (and potential customers).  You would pick the most likely prospects, and the best way to reach them and fire away.  Fingers crossed for 1 to 3% response. 
Social networks, where people tend to dwell now, and can be reached, is not just another channel.  It’s a whole new ballgame, requiring an interactive, sometimes real time, conversation between the people who work at your company and your customers.  If you’re lucky you’ll get those customers to be loyal and advocate for you.  

Why is Customer Experience Management important to the innovation inclined?  Two main reasons: 

     1.      You want to find out what your customers are thinking.

     2.     You want to periodically challenge them to provide their ideas.

There are too many social network channels, too many customers and not enough time to communicate effectively (and track the results) without good software.

Customer Experience Management is a class of software on offer from big companies like IBM and Oracle as well as a slew of smaller companies.  Remarkably it’s somewhat of a level playing field.  No company owns the market and the slew of software options are difficult to compare.  It’s not that they’re virtually equal in competencies. It is just that so many have taken different steps to get there.

Some of these come from the email space, recently adding on software to communicate via the mobile channel, then tools to push out messages via Twitter and Facebook.  Other software vendors focus initially on the social channels and add on dashboards to give the bigger picture.  Still others take novel approaches, like providing technology to track contests or setup a social network.   With this blog post I’m endeavoring to take a look at what the choices are.

A List of the Top 20 Customer Experience Management Software Offerings.  Let’s take a look at the most well known, and widely installed Customer Experience Management (CEM) software offerings that can be used to manage the messages and calls to action you put out to your customers and the public. There's actually way more than 20 but that looked better in the headline :).   In all cases, I’m adding the company’s own description.

    1.     Empathica                  empowers employees and customers of leading brands to create places they love; turning transactions into great experiences, employees into owners and customers into advocates.

     2.     Satmetrix                    the leading provider of cloud-based customer experience software for companies worldwide.

     3.     Eloqua  (Oracle)         highly personalized and unified experience across channels 
     4.     Totango          combines big data analytics with powerful segmentation and engagement tools to allow online services to take the right actions with each customer, in realtime.

     5.     Shoutlet                      a social marketing platform.

     6.     SDL                              solutions for managing the global customer experience

     7.     Silverpop                    marketing technology provider with expertise in email marketing and marketing automation

     8.     ExactTarget                 a provider of on-demand email marketing software solutions.

     9.     Hootsuite                   social media management system for businesses and organizations to collaboratively execute campaigns across multiple social networks

     10.     Hearsay                       bolster brands across all the major social networks

     11.     Wildfire/ Google         social media marketing software

     12.  Vitrue/Oracle                social marketing solution

     13.  Involver/ Oracle            social marketing platform

     14.  Sailthru                        helping brands deliver individual experiences to millions of unique users in real time.  
     15.  Hubspot                       All-In-One Marketing Software

     16.  Lyris                             data-driven interactive marketing campaigns that facilitate superior engagement, increase conversions, and deliver measurable business value.

     17.  Thismoment                 powers dynamic brand experiences - online social marketing campaigns comprising multimedia-rich content, creative design and social conversations

     18.  Brickfish                      engagement based social media programs through contests

     19.  Dynamic Signal           provides a white-label platform for brands to run high-reach word of mouth marketing campaigns in collaboration with a trusted circle of brand advocates.

     20.  Moxie                            the most complete and intuitive social networking software for the enterprise for employee and customer engagement

     21.  Tongal a social content development platform that helps global businesses connect with global creativity

     22.  Expion                           a social software company with a centralized platform that empowers global brands, agencies, and retailers to localize and manage their social marketing efforts. 

These are more CRM systems, than Customer Experience Management, although CEM is typically a subset of the offering:

21.  Neolane                      provides the only conversational marketing technology that empowers organizations to build and sustain one-to-one lifetime dialogues
22.  IBM (via Unica or their EMM offering) enterprise marketing management software
23.  Aprimo                        delivers technology and insight that accelerates marketing productivity and the ability of marketing to document performance.
24.  Loopfuse                     a sales and marketing automation software
25.  eTrigue                          easy-to-use marketing automation, demand generation and sales acceleration Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications
26.  TreeHouse Interactrive  a leading SaaS provider of marketing automation and partner relationship management (PRM) software for companies that sell B2B, B2C or through partners.
27.  Act-on                         allows business users to integrate their customer relationship management efforts across a variety of popular tools in one easy-to-use interface.

Summary:  Idea Management Solutions are perfect for internal collaboration focused on innovation.  Compelling portals with easily administered security can be configured using existing internal idea management software solutions.  Specialized software exists designed to Challenge customers (and the public) to provide solicited feedback including ideas.  And these software products are perfect to communicate both brand messages and the message that your company embraces innovation.
About the Author

Ron Shulkin blogs researches and writes about enterprise technology focused on social media, innovation, voice of the customer, marketing automation and enterprise feedback management.  Ron Shulkin is Vice President of the Americas for CogniStreamer®, an innovation ecosystem.  CogniStreamer serves as a Knowledge Management System, Idea Management System and Social Network for Innovation.  You can learn more about CogniStreamer here http://bit.ly/ac3x60 .  Ron manages The Idea Management Group on LinkedIn (Join Here) . You can follow him Twitter. You can follow his blogs at this Facebook group.  You can connect with Ron on LinkedIn.

Republished by Permission from The Front End of Innovation Blog.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Idea Gathering: Worst Company in America

Not just hearing but translating innovations and insights is a huge part of the value of the Total Customer Experience Leaders; Our unique idea gathering wrap-ups between sessions facilitate alignment of customer strategy inspirations with business relevant actions and have been one of our most highly rated features in the past

Here on the blog, we'll be presenting weekly idea gathering wrap ups of some of our favorite customer experience strategy, design and alignment news and views.
Consumerist worst companies in America

Consumerist.com performs an annual ranking of the worstcompany in America with the winner (or really the loser) taking home the “golden poo” award.  Companies are sorted into a March-Madness like bracket where they go head to head with another company. Whichever company receives more votes  advances to the next round, just to clarify: getting votes is a bad thing.

Many names on the list are somewhat predictable: Comcast, Carnival, and Bank of America just to name a few. Others are a little more surprising such as Apple, who was voted worse then Microsoft in the first round.

So who was voted by consumers to be the worst company? For the second year in a row, EA took the crown. EA, the massive video game producer, is known for suffering flop after flop due largely to a business plan that tries to squeeze every penny out of their customers.  EA has a reputation for rushing out incomplete games and then charging their customers for downloadable content that customers feel should’ve been a part of the game in the first place.

Their recent highly anticipated game “Sim City” performed such miserable sales and reviews that it had to be temporarily removed from Amazon and now ranks as one of the worst rated products from the retail giant.  The game performed so poorly because they designed it to be “always on” meaning that the only way to play the game was online.  This move made little sense as none  of the previous Sim City games required this, and in fact there very few games at all require this. Many speculate this move was strictly for DRM or digital rights management and a way for EA to have complete control over the game

However Paul Tassi of Forbes magazines speculates about EA’s ranking saying,  “Is it deserved? No. If we’re being honest, it’s not.” Tassi believes this rating is just a snapshot of “how annoyed the internet is with a certain brand at the moment”.  Tassi could certainly be right, but that doesn’t mean EA or Bank of America, Comcast, and Ticketmaster who rounded out the final four, shouldn’t all take it to heart.

The entire ranking is an example of why customer experience and customer experience management is such a crucial factor to all businesses. Tassi is correct in pointing out that there are certainly worse companies in the world. Some might argue that the environmental damage energy companies create or the borderline inhumane practices at many large food companies are far worse then what EA has ever done. But provide customers with a poor experience and this is the way you are going to be received by consumers, and this is what’s going to happen to your brand.

Jeffrey Marino is a contributing writer concentrating his focus on Business Administration, Management Information Systems, and Tech Innovations. He blogs at Fordham Nights and can be reached at JMarino@iirusa.com.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Idea Gathering: T-Mobile Stops Selling Contracts

"The Uncarrier" no longer offers contracts

Not just hearing but translating innovations and insights is a huge part of the value of the Total Customer Experience Leaders. Our unique idea gathering wrap-ups between sessions facilitate alignment of customer strategy inspiration with business relevant actions and have been one of our most highly rated features in the past.

Here on the blog, we'll be presenting weekly idea gathering wrap ups of some of our favorite customer experience strategy, design and alignment news and views.

T-Mobile recently announced that it would stop selling traditional two year contracts with its phones, a move setting them apart from the other big names in the cell phone industry. In a public event T-Mobile CEO John Legere blasted these carriers including the company that just months ago almost acquired T-Mobile, AT&T. Legre stated that "Customers don't need another AT&T, customers need someone to stop acting like AT&T”.

It’s no secret that people don’t like the long term contracts big carriers make you sign. Many people do it just to have access to the latest phone, as Legere said “Customers love smartphones, everyone hates contracts”.  These two year contracts originally came around for carriers to subsidize the cost of the phone upfront but customers are beginning to wonder if they’re really worth it.

Cellphone contracts are something which many consumers have begun to grow wary of and according to the New York Times the percentage of no-contract phones is expected to increase from 18% in 2008 to 30% by 2015. What’s the driving force behind this change? The biggest issue is definitely cost. 

Consumer Reports compared the costs of owning a 16gb iPhone 5 on a two year contract with big carriers or pre-paid with no contract and month to month charges. The winner of the competition was Smart Talk, a company which specializes in pre-paid, no contract cellphones. The initial cost of the phone was a whopping $650 but with two years of unlimited data at $45 a month the total cost was $1,730. 

Sound like a lot? 

It’s actually a savings of $1,110 compared to AT&T, who also caps data at 4 GB per month instead of providing unlimited data like Smart Talk. For a Verizon plan which would cap data at 2 GB per month the cost is still a little less then a thousand dollars more over two years.

Also just the idea of being locked into the same phone and company for two years is something difficult to get excited about.  Logan Abbot, president of MyRatePlan.com explained that in a no-contract system the carrier knows you can easily be gone the next month making you more valuable as a customer which (should) make customer service better.

It will be interesting to see how T-Mobile fares and if more customers begin to take Mr. Legere’s words to heart and end their contracts for the freedom and flexibility of pre-paid phones.

Jeffrey Marino is a contributing writer concentrating his focus on Business Administration, Management Information Systems, and Tech Innovations. He blogs atFordham Nights and can be reached at JMarino@iirusa.com.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Customer Experience Experts Podcast: Jeff McKenna of Chadwick Martin Bailey

In anticipation of our 2013 event, I recently spoke to Jeff McKenna of Chadwick Martin Bailey about his involvement and experience with the Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit.

We discussed the what Jeff is looking forward to in the program, what case studies he will present and what is key to building a successful customer experience program.

Jeff McKenna of Chadwick Martin Bailey by IIRUSA

Join Jeff as he presents our Idea Gathering sessions at the 2013 Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit. As a reader of this blog, we’d like to offer you a 15% discount off the standard registration rates, use code TCEL13BLOG.

Visit our website to download the 2013 brochure, learn more about the event, or register.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Looking at Leaders: Thomas Feeney, Safelite AutoGlass

In anticipation of his upcoming keynote address on Driving Good Profits by Building a Customer-Centric Culture, Thomas Feeney, President & CEO, Safelite AutoGlass, sent us these insights below:

Thomas' Story

I began at Safelite AutoGlass®, which is the nation’s largest provider of vehicle glass repair and replacement, services 25 years ago and have served in a number of roles ranging from operations to sales. When I was named president and CEO in 2008, I recognized the company had great potential for growth.

To seize the opportunity to become the only true national auto glass brand in the industry, I worked with other senior leaders to introduce a new vision for Safelite® supported by two core principles: People First and Customer Delight.

No matter what is happening in my day, I will always take a call from an employee or a customer.

On Customer-Centric Culture

During the Total Customer Experience Leaders’ Summit, guests will learn a little bit about the journey Safelite has embarked upon to become a customer-centric journey. Are we 100% where we want to be? Not yet. Were there growing pains along the way? You bet.

Our hope is that by sharing our leadership and communications efforts to evolve our company, others will learn how to make a vision a reality.

I’ll talk about how we’re moving from good to great… how the Net Promoter Score has been a key driver in our change, and how important PEOPLE are to the customer experience.


The customer experience has always been important to me. What keeps me inspired are the thousands of letters we receive each year from customers praising our technicians, our customer service representatives, and our store managers for providing a customer experience that went above and beyond.

I contact each of those technicians, CSRs, and managers and personally thank them for representing Safelite® and our vision. Hearing their stories inspires me to keep moving in the direction we are.

The Future of Customer Experience

The use of better data analytics will help us improve the customer experience. For example, in late 2012, Safelite® added the Customer Effort Score to our Service Recovery survey to better understand what it’s like to be in the customer shoes. Are we easy to work with or not so easy? This new question sounds simple but it help Safelite® understand if future customer programs really add value and if they are appreciated by our customers.

We are also focused on learning more from the data customers provide to Safelite® and are developing analytical models that tell us what makes a measurable difference in the customers experience and what drives that result. Is quality priority #1? Speed of service? Friendliness? Reliability? The more we learn from the information the customer has already provided us, the better Safelite® and the customer experience will be.

Both of these are initiatives under Safelite’s next cultural transformation, which involves moving from our “People First” principle to “People Powered,” and also continuing our journey to be customer-driven.