Enterprise Customer Experience, A Convergence

January 22, 2013 5 comments

Customer Experience is the superset of sensations, emotions and perceptions felt by your customers before, during and after product or service use. Enterprise Customer Experience represents the people, internal processes and technology required to listen, guide and engage your customers in the digital world; all towards creating better and enhanced experiences. Designing positive experiences begins with understanding needs and wants. Seems logical right? How else can you understand what your customer’s wants and needs, if you do not listen first?

The very next part is to prove that you are listening, if actions do not result, then it is not really listening at all. Yes, in this day and age, you do need to provide proof. For, example, if you do not plan to take any actions based on what you hear, are you really listening? That said, there are many ways to show that you are listening. The first is transparency, allowing people to see inside the organization where they can witness what you are doing, often at their bequest. The second, more interesting way is to specifically give people what they are looking for, as in information, service or a product enhancement.

To customers, being open means more than simply looking through the window, but being able to walk through the front door and participate. An engaging conversation is one where all voices are heard and respected and no one is simply listening, waiting to talk. In order to improve customer experience, you, your team and the whole organization needs to convert the listening to information that can be used to collaborate, co-create and engage at a personal level with your customers. This will take analyzing the data, providing relevant, consistent content, where and when your customers want it, need it and are expecting it.

It is time to move beyond what needs to be done and why it needs to be done.  Some parts of your organization are more advanced than others, some are ready and some are not.  The starting point should be clear. What is less clear is exactly HOW to progress in a uniform fashion from understanding what needs to be done, to actually doing it.  It is time to progress from departmental Social Media initiatives to organizational digital communication programs. These programs should have defined and coordinated objectives. As the team and understanding of the technology mature, Social CRM is next logical step, with both business and technical integration and a digitally aware customer data model.  Internally, CRM will have certain objectives, but it is time to add customer centricity, directed individual engagement and customer collaboration to those objectives. Finally, the end-game, Enterprise Customer Experience. Just my name for it, I suppose, but it seems to fit.

I put together a few slides where I tried to visualize some of my thoughts. The copy is taken from a white paper we just released as well. If you would like a copy of the white paper, please just send me an email mitch.lieberman – at – dri-global.com and I am happy to forward it along.

Social Media Initiatives are too often:

  • Departmental and Uncoordinated,
  • Loosely defined and with soft qualitative objectives,
  • Lacking strong guidance that aligns with corporate vision
  • Have little or no Governance or Oversight
  • Driven by metrics with unproven value (like, follow, +)

Now to progress from disjointed efforts to coordinated and structured efforts,

Social Communication Programs that are characterized by:

  • Multiple, linked digital initiatives,
  • Defined and Coordinated goals (across departments),
  • Agreed to processes for Content,
  • Modestly Mature Governance,
  • Data Capture and Burgeoning Analytics,
  • Tighter agility to act upon lessons learned.

It takes maturation of the organization to make this progression. It is important to not that up until now the discussion is much less about technology than it is about people and process.  Once the organization has matured, it is then possible to reach enhanced customer experience through Social CRM by further integrating more baseline technology, carefully and methodically.

Social CRM sets the course for creating better Customer Experiences, through:

  • Coordinated Customer Facing Communication Programs,
  • Both Technical and Business Level Integration,
  • Advanced Analytics that Improve Customer Insights,
  • Mature, Modern, Customer Data Model,
  • Personal, Customer level Interactions and Engagement.

Now things start to get very interesting. Just when everyone was comfortable with the buzzwords, we are now ready to dump the term ‘Social’. The team realizes that social is a characteristic of people. The term is dispensed with and for the purposes of Customer Experience, the CRM platform is now in charge of the digital data and used for specific purposes.

It is time to execute CRM, across the Enterprise:

  • Data, information and knowledge is universally accessible,
  • Content and digital assets are consistent and shared,
  • Back-office to front-office Collaboration creates efficiency,
  • Customer facing processes are repeatable and embedded,
  • Community and Customer Collaboration are part of the platform.

Finally, it is time to complete the

Enterprise Customer Experience vision:

  • Customer centricity is a reality,
  • Directed engagement at the level of the individual
  • Analytics are predictive,
  • Customer expectations are understood and met,
  • Communications are conversational and collaborative,
  • The organization is highly collaborative,
  • Organizational culture is mature and ready.

Context, the Difference between Information and Knowledge

January 18, 2013 Leave a comment

In my weekly routine, I try to strike a balance between academic thinking, practical thinking and the balance between the two.

Living in northern Vermont gives me the opportunity to create fun metaphors to think through complex topics, allowing me to add a bit of local color. December is typically a cold, dark and ‘stay inside’ kind of month around here. Yes, there is a little bit of last minute shopping to be done, but often the keyboard and Amazon suffice. However, there is typically little snow in December, thus no real good reason to go outside. As luck would have it, this year has been a little different, with 30 inches (75cm) of snow directly before New Years, kids sledding on the hill, me able to hit the slopes with my boys. This December was indeed, different.

What is the Right Amount of Information?

I am driving my daughter to gymnastics and present to you the following: it is 25 degrees Fahrenheit, snowing and there is 3 inches (~7.5 cm) of snow covering the road. I am traveling a meager 20 miles per hour. I ask, via twitter of course, if my foot should be on the accelerator or the brake, how would you answer me? Skipping the obvious, a stop sign or a car stopped ahead (It was a voice activated Tweet). Is the simple Tweet enough for you to answer my question?

What I am getting at here is that their are a few parts, first we have the data (temperature for example). Information then comes from assembling and analyzing the data. In this case, we have temperature, precipitation and road conditions. Knowledge comes first from putting the information together and adding context. It is snowing, the roads are covered and the temperature is not going to melt the snow. There is probably hard pack snow, on the roadway, underneath the freshly fallen snow. Wisdom is then applying experience and acting accordingly. I will try hard not to drive off the road, remembering that four-wheel drive is great for going, it does nothing for stopping.

In this situation, I am actually traveling up a hill, one way, (and down a hill on the return). This is an important piece of information, without it, an answer should not be given. So, it does depends which direction I am driving. If I am trying to make it up the hill, I need a little more speed. If I am going down the hill, I am hoping that the breaks do their job.

Translation to the Digital World

In the digital age, the difference between information and knowledge is important and it is going to become even more important. This is in no way an academic debate that I am trying to jump into, 20 years late. Many people, smarter than me, have given this discussion much more thought. What I am trying to suggest is that context is a critical piece of information, and without context all you are giving back is data, information at best. In order to present knowledge, information, data, insights and experience need to be in a continuous loop. This is especially true in the digital age of rapid communications. Teams need to think through as many scenarios as possible and make sure the context is carefully considered.

Looking at a Tweet, a Post, a Blog, a Picture or a Status is only one bit of information, usually in isolation and not enough. Some would say it is only one bit of data not even information. The capability to respond, engage or communicate on social channels requires access to information (what is the right answer), but beyond that is ‘How’. It requires experience, insights and, yes, context. What has not changed is that answers, right or wrong, travel far and wide. Context is the idea that the information shared is relevant, in both time and situation to meet the needs of the person asking. In the scenario above, telling me that the car is certainly capable of 140 miles per hour is not an incorrect statement, but it does lack relevance.

The call to action is to make sure that your people, processes and technology are up to the task.

Who is the Clutch Player on your Team?

January 17, 2013 1 comment

In sports, a “clutch” athlete is one who performs well in pivotal or in a high-pressure situation. This includes many instances where a good performance means the difference between a win and a loss. There is a bit of debate as to whether the player is acting above what they can normally achieve, but we can skip that for the moment. Whether it is a penalty kick, a three pointer, the winning putt or a diving save, the situation presents itself.

JW

In the business world, this is the master presenter, the sales person you bring in to close the deal, the cool, calm and collected, person who does not sweat and is able to withstand the most hostile beat-down and walk away with the the deal and their pride intact. The common thread is that given the chance, does an individual seize upon the opportunity of a pressure situation and ‘kill it’.

Now, here is where I take a little poetic license and change gears, literally. The mechanical use of a clutch is to match the transmission and power or motion needs between a power source and something spinning. Most of us know this as the 3rd foot pedal in a car (which if you are in the US, your parents or your younger self, drive). The key here is that there are two things moving at different that need some help to match speeds. If done properly,  the car does not feel like a bucking Bronco.

You need a Person who can do both

The pace of change in technology is moving faster than the pace of change of your teams ability to manage or adapt to it. Technology is moving so fast that Enterprises are struggling, culturally, to keep up. Often, it is a rough ride.  Your customers are also moving fast, their expectations are outpacing your ability to deliver. ClutchWho can bridge the gap?

This person will understand both the technology and your customers, they can make the diving save (think customer service and disaster avoidance).  This person can also help to match the speed between the technology and the culture, soften the blow. In the corporate world, matching speed is not easy, it takes a lot of patience. The gears will grind every once in a while, but we all need this person, and it may not always be the person you expect.

No one like to ride a bucking Bronco – well almost no one.

(First Image: http://www.nba.com/history/legends/jerry-west/index.html)
(Second Image: http://wannaspeed.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=83_97)

A Mashup, is it Possible?

January 14, 2013 Leave a comment

Clearly guided by a few musical mashups that I have been listening to recently, I wondered if it would be possible to create a mashup blog post. Thinking out-loud here, this could just be one long, run-on sentence that will make little sense in the end. It might be fun, or a bit of a waste of time. I suppose, you will be the judge of that – after all, the experience is yours to have, not mine to give. What it does for me is illustrate that as much as we would like to believe that things are getting simpler due to technology, they are in fact getting much more complex.

What was old is new again and the Internet of things is leading the charge in 2013. Everything is connected including people. Pretty soon a Facebook post by my wife, complaining about the cold weather, will turn up the thermostat in my house. Of course, if we move this the collaborative enterprise, then analytics and bigdata would need to be involved, and the temperature the office would need to be decision set by voting through streaming software, such as Yammer, Chatter, Connections or Jive. If we are talking about the temperature of the store, say Walmart or BestBuy, then of course, the voice of the customer would need to be integrated with the personal preference, the collaboration software as well as the input from Lithium, GetSatisfaction or Telligent. Thank you to Nest for making all of this possible, though I am not sure this is what they had in mind.

While we are on the subject of collaboration, it seems that email has nine lives and that the death of email has been a bit premature and/or greatly exaggerated. The amazing thing here is that the moment a new email thread is created with more than one person on the ‘To’ or ‘Cc’ line (no ‘Bcc’ here, please) then you have created an ad hoc collaboration event, which we have all been doing for years, little did we know (what is old is new again!). Another fun form of an adhoc collaborative event is the #hashtag. Now, these are not always ‘ad-hoc’ as TV and the movies are trying to push some out there, but during sporting events some do spontaneously pop-up, which are fun.

Now, if I want to make a conversation public, then I can share some of the thoughts Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ (where I can Like, RT or +1, respectively). If I decide to create more visually based sharing, then the sharing would need to be more along the lines of Instagram, Flickr or Multiply and if I am really adventurous then maybe even YouTube. I am not only thinking about the workplace, we are collaborating at home as well, think about music and movies, YouTube, NetFlix, Hulu, Pandora, Spotify; each an entertainment play, with stickiness coming in the form of, yep, social sharing, community or whatever your favorite name might be. Myspace fits in here somewhere, making a comeback of its own, though I am not so sure we will see a lot of Napster nor Friendster.

I do need better filters (sorry, not photo filters), so that I do not suffer from information overload. This filter will of course be cloud based, as a hybrid solution will not work, nor will a complete on-premise solution. As my information needs grow, the elasticity of the cloud will make sure that everything is just fine and all of the information will be seamlessly stored in either Box, DropBox, SkyDrive or a Google Drive. Once all the information is stored and I decide I want to write a crazy blog post (yeah, sorta like this one) I will be thankful that Evernote is close at hand, then I can transfer my thoughts from there to WordPress, Posterous, Blogger or Tumblr where I will link to from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and schedule all of this through Buffer – did I leave anything out? Yes, if I want to comment, Disqus is an important part, I suppose. funny that I have made it to this point without even a mention of the most popular protocols of all, Skype, Chat, IM and SMS. Where do they fit into the conversation?

Something I forgot is that I need something to create my word cloud for all of the topics that I hit in 2012, otherwise, my infographic will not look very professional! Going back to email, I need something to organize my inbox; you know, the 3 Gmail accounts, the 2Yahoo accounts, Live, Hotmail and the AOL account I will never admit in public that exists. The question is, in 2013 is it going to get better, or worse? Are we going to invent more terms, more niche platforms, more things to remember – yeah, probably, but it will be fun, right? Finally, we will be doing all of this, on a daily basis from at least 4 devices each, with form factors from 3×3 to 48×72 and operating systems including, but not limited to Android, iOS, Win8 and a few others, as well.

Excuse me, I need to run, the phone is ringing!

A Peek Over the Horizon

January 9, 2013 1 comment

 

2013 is upon us, budgets are locked and people are looking forward, with great anticipation to the rewards 2013 will surely bring. Many look upon a new year as an opportunity, a time to make adjustments, course correct, set goals and focus on the positive. In my house, one is graduating college, he will get a job (that is the plan, anyway). One is graduating high school, he will go to college and the third will be firmly entrenched in middle school (the teenage equivalent to purgatory).

As far as predictions go, if we really want to go out on a limb, we should focus on 2014, 2013 is too easy (it is after all, already here). Why look further out? A lesson learned from my dad when I first learned to drive, “focus a bit further ahead”, he would say,” it makes the experience much smoother for your passengers”. It makes logical sense, make slight course corrections as you go, but generally look as far out as you can. Much of what will happen for the next few months was determined by our actions at the end of last year. I plan to work hard in 2013 and try to keep the right as smooth as possible. From a predictions standpoint, I am going to skip 2013.

Where we will be in 2014:

  • Cloud becomes the default position, then we will all realize it is actually a hybrid model
  • We might stop arguing about definitions, buzzwords that fizzle
  • The FAA and FCC will decide that phones are ‘ok’ on airplanes, we will all complain
  • The CIO and CMO will be best of friends, like a shotgun wedding
  • Customer Centricity will be a reality, not just a Vision
  • Something not yet on our radar, will cause a major disruption

Cloud – Maybe, just maybe, we will realize that cloud computing is really an extension of a concept created in the 1950s, but the time has come. Everyone will realize that Cloud Computing is simply a metaphor for the things I need computers to do. I need storage, to store stuff, I need CPUs to compute stuff and I need to do both of these things a lot. Deciding to extend your enterprise (personal or company) to the cloud is a business decision that frankly comes down to economics, governance and law. Hence, this will be the job description for the CIO; to evaluate the economic and legal benefit of renting compute time versus buying a computer. The default position for IT will be Cloud first, then On-Premise.

Definitions/Buzzwords – Sadly, it will take another year or more before ‘Social’ will no longer be an important prefix to every business and technology term we have been using since the 1950s. This includes, but will not be limited to: business, customer, marketing, monitoring, networks, CRM and media. We will no longer feel the need to append the suffix ‘Cloud’ on: private, personal, hybrid, open, nor elastic. ‘Cloud’ might just going back to being something related to weather. ‘Mobile’, everything will be mobile, so it will lose its luster and appeal as a descriptor. Influencer will take a backseat to real world Friend.

Airplanes – We will fight for the use of mobile phones on airplanes and the wish we didn’t. We will most certainly become very annoyed with the ringtone in the seat next to us, almost as annoyed as with the person trying to have a conversation talking loudly and saying “WHAT” in order to overcome the engine noise. My last bastion of a ‘leave me alone’ place will be lost. This will make us sad, then angry. By 2015 is that certain flights (like New York/Boston or San Francisco/Seattle) will be designated as NO cell phone flights, like the “quiet car” on the commuter rail.

CMO/CIO – Hatfields/McCoys, Yankees/Red Sox, Barcelona/Real Madrid – ok, maybe not that bad, but you get the point. The CMO has a job to do and has enjoyed the freedom of SaaS. Shadow IT is still going strong, but the CIO is doing their best to gain some control, without appearing to be controlling. The CIO has a tough job, as does the CMO. The best path to success is to work together. The key driver here is going to be the sheer volume of data (buzzword avoided) required to gain a competitive advantage. The CMO will not be able to go it alone, they will need help. Yes, the CMO will have a much greater purchasing authority, possibly surpassing the CIO for technology; but they will need some help. Frenemies to the end!

Customer Centric – Companies who do not put the customer front and center, understand their jobs-to-be-done and learn to co-create value with their customers, through value-in-use will not be doing very well. This is what customer centricity is about. We will spend 2013 talking about it more, trying to understand it better and ready to execute in 2014.

Disruption – Something not even on our radar will cause major disruption. It is hard to say exactly what this is, or will be, but it is lurking, waiting to pounce. If I knew exactly what it was, I would be planning for it.

My focus for 2013? Context…

The word for 2013 is ‘Context’. Context will help (me at least) in the transition from what and why, to how. I will be spending a lot of time in 2013 working to understand the proper context of, data, information and timing; mostly to determine relevance.

If you would like some help getting from here to there, feel free to give me a call!

My Selfish Reasons for Blogging

January 2, 2013 2 comments

I took a bit of a break from writing and blogging and I suffered because of it. I was less participatory on Twitter and on other people’s blogs, again, it was my loss. I could invent some excuse about being busy, but I will forgo the excuse route. My ego would like to suggest that in my writing I am imparting some kind of knowledge to others, the reality is that I do it as a focused way to dig deeper on topics. If others can learn a bit along the way, all the better. This actually causes me an issue, which I will try to correct in 2013. The issue is that my writing is too academic and often lacks practical ‘Now What’.

8327461277_bf1b878851_zIn 2013, therefore, my focus will be much more about advancing the ‘Now What’ discussion. In other words, we have been discussing the ‘what’ and ‘why’ for a good long time know, it is time to move on.. What will be hard to avoid will be some discussions and conversations that might appear to be a bit academic – like ‘Information’ versus ‘Knowledge’ or ‘Customer Experience’ versus ‘Social CRM’. In these types of conversations I am really trying to understand the perspective of a broader audience of people (CMO v CIO, for example), as we seem to have certain names and concepts stuck in our head and need to move beyond the names and do a bit of lateral thinking. Definitions are not the’ be all and end all’, but they do serve as a baseline. In way, they are like rules, there as guidance, sometimes in need of breaking.

For example, in my bit of research on the topic of ‘Knowledge’ versus ‘Information’, what I found missing is ‘Smarter’. That is actually my goal, to become smarter so when clients ask the tough questions I have a better chance of offering an an answer, or at least knowing where to look. If knowledge is putting information to use, then being smart is understanding when a particular bit of information is useful. Being smart is also knowing when you do not have nearly enough information to be knowledgeable, therefore the best course of action is listen a bit longer.

If I were to consider a word that described 2012, it would probably be ‘Social’. The word for 2013 is ‘Context’. Context will help (me at least) in the transition from what and why, to how. I will be spending a lot of time in 2013 working to understand the proper context of, data, information and timing; mostly to determine relevance. Bear with me, as I will certainly make a few mistakes along the way.

Happy 2013!

Categories: Uncategorized

Some Thoughts on Cloud(s)

November 26, 2012 Leave a comment

When business people discuss ‘Cloud’ they think Salesforce and maybe Citrix or Microsoft, while technologists think Amazon, Google and Rackspace. Business owners want and believe that they can swipe the credit card, and ‘the system’ is ready tomorrow. To technologists, it is a bit more complex than that, but they too want simplicity. To the IT organization if there are no physical goods, servers, tapes, power supplies, then it is not real. To the line of business, they are tired or asking IT for permission, giving IT the upper hand in business application decision making. Therefore, what it really comes down to is this: To the business it is about gaining control, the IT department it is about losing control. Do not underestimate the emotional elements that go into the decision making process surrounding ‘Cloud’. I did not bring up the most important person, the CFO who has read the first half of the Op Ex v Cap Ex article talking about how Cloud is cheaper (the second half is not quite written yet, but it will say that depending upon the application the cost lines cross at between 4 and 6 years).

Everything is Perspective

Cloud is an overused term, all started when we were too lazy to draw lots of servers and explain what was outside of our firewall – we drew a picture of a cloud. Which, back in the day, was meant to represent the ‘Internet’ – Yes, the whole thing. Lots of people, including myself at a point in time, used the electricity model to describe cloud. To the uninitiated, this works just fine. To others, the metaphor begins to break down and then everyone starts picking it apart. To those folks, I simply say “relax” it is, after all, a metaphor. The detailed oriented among us start to go on the attack and say “well, no security is required for electrons”. Yes, that is true, you win. The simple idea is that companies need a way to innovate, adapt, move and grow at a much faster pace. Having one less thing to worry about, to many people is a good thing. There are those among us who would suggest that Cloud is one MORE thing to worry about. Then don’t…

You – the CIO or IT department will be (or have been) asked to do more with less, optimize your computing power, deal with more data, have five 9s uptime, spend less on electricity and drive innovation. You are asked to think about things you never considered to be your job, like cooling systems, how much weight the floor can support, the electric bill and so much more. It is starting to feel a lot like a data center. So, there might just be a cloud and/or data center inside your firewall (physically or logically). In the end, it is as simple as balancing resources, time and money and enabling your organization to sell, support, collaborate and innovate. Do you need cloud in order to do that? An unconditional – It depends.

I am looking forward to exploring these topics as well as a few others next week at the CIO Cloud Summit. Maybe I will see you there?

Categories: SocialCRM Data Tags: , ,

The Space Between

November 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Graphic credit to the excellent designers at DRI

In reviewing the Gartner Magic Quadrant a few weeks ago (A review I would not call ‘positive’), I started thinking about the ‘hard to articulate’ components of Social CRM. In techno-speak, we would call this integration, but, integration of what exactly? Many of you might know that I am a bit of an academic, so I dug a bit deeper to see how I might make some sense of where the CRM space is going. What I am getting at is that the hard part, the part in need of evaluation and work is the people and process part. Tell someone to “engage” and what exactly do you mean? It is the part of the process that happens in between the technology, the decision to engage and the conversation. In the real world, we have all spoken first and did the thinking second. With technology, we can do the same, only faster and more efficiently.

Every good space must be filled

As humans, we hate to think of a void, or a vacuum, there must be something there, right? When there is silence, we must talk (anyone with kids understands this!!). Artists absolutely know the value of white space, most of the rest of us do not. In technology, the cool thing about ‘the space between’ is that this is where innovation happens.  We do not consider a process to be cumbersome until it takes a lot of energy and effort to get it done. It does not take a lot of energy and effort to get it done until there are lots of steps and manual processes. Techies then try to create an application or a process to make the manual steps easier, automation, efficiency and process control. The problem is that certain things still take a human to do.

Not sure what you think, but I think it is really cool that Google is trying to figure out how to automate driving a car. I would like to see that in New York City, maybe a Yellow Cab, yeah, right, not so fast (I will choose to skip the early adoption phase for that one). OK, how about something simpler, like responding to a person who has a question? A couple weeks ago I went through the help system for a major service provider and I could just tell when the chat responses were canned, it was really annoying. They were not bad responses, nor wrong either, they just felt awkward. In the end, my problem was solved and I did not spend a lot of time on hold. I suppose I should be happy, but I am writing about the awkwardness of the experience, so the jury is still out.

OK, what is the point?

Customer experience is the space between the process you designed and the use of the product or the interactions with the system. Internally, the space between is the efficiency, coordination, collaboration; interactions within the system. Externally, the space between is hard, near impossible to control. It can be guided, lead, but not controlled. The space between is an area of uncertainty, doubt and likely internal arguments. When you begin to measure it, to try to understand it, then it is no longer the space between, it is the end-point, an interaction and something is lost. To understand more about what I am doing these days, please check out DRI.

(No need to cue the Dave Mathews Band)

What is Wrong with this Picture?

November 5, 2012 2 comments

This is an open letter to the VPA, Vermont Principals Association

(To regular readers, this is a Vermont localized issue. Feel free to read, but it might not be that interesting to you)

Dear VPA,

The topic is fairness and a situation that needs to change. I am a parent, a former coach, a player and fan. I am also a businessman and a very logical person. In none of these roles can I come to terms with awarding home field advantage, on turf, to a team playing in a state championship game (lower seed, too). Take a look at the picture above, what is wrong?

  • BHS is written on the scoreboard (instead of “Home”)
  • The actual home team  (by VPA rules) has their score on the “Visitor” Side
  • The field is turf (maybe you cannot see that)
  • The scoreboard says “Seahorses”

What else causes concern?

  • The “away” team is playing a “home” game
  • The CVU parents in the stands were informed that they were in the “BHS student section” and asked to move.
  • The posting on the VPA website has the scores reversed (by convention)
  • The ranking system allowed a team with fewer D1 points than the 13 seed to be ranked 1st
  • VPA paid the ‘Visitors’ for the use of their field

There are so many way ways to reconcile this situation, yet no attempt was made to do so, you really need to figure this out. The game could have been switched with the Division 2 venue, this would have been the easiest. To be open and honest, my son is a CVU player. Why playing on turf is so important to VPA (more important than a neutral site)?  A very large percentage of games (90% +) are played on grass during the season. I know the issues with grass (mud, etc.,..). But, there is a way to make things right. If field conditions warrant turf, then make that call. But, realize that the differences between turf play and grass are very very big for Soccer. It would be like moving the finals of Wimbledon to Asphalt – what it takes to get a team to the finals is suddenly very different from the season. Even within turf, the fields are different (South Burlington is different from Burlington). My simple point is that VPA awarded Burlington home field advantage.

One could easily make the case, a strong case, for many other issues, like the rankings, referee (2 ref system, versus 3) but that will be for a different day. With this, there are also many more issues to account for, I understand that – but it is absolutely wrong to award home field advantage, with a different surface to one team in the finals. Burlington is a strong program and will be in contention year after year.  The point, this issue is not simply going to go away and should not be left to chance. I could think of a number of very simple alternatives to make things more fair – there are two issues the home field and the surface.

Alternatives:

  • Higher seed is allowed to choose between two alternative venues
  • Two venues (one grass, one turf) are preselected
  • Use a neutral site (as in a University or College)

VPA, do you have any comments? Is a letter of apology forthcoming (to CVU players, coaches and administrators)? I waited to write this, in the hope that CVU did win, so that it did not come out as a ‘whine’. I made the issue clear, offered alternative solutions in an objective manner. I now hope VPA has the courtesy to respond.

Mitch Lieberman – Father/Taxpayer

(photo credit: Vermont Sports Images, modified)

Categories: SocialCRM Data

The Social CRM Non-Revolution

October 29, 2012 1 comment

Organizations big and small are feeling pressure to get everything “right.” Social interactions are public, tweets are scrutinized, Facebook posts are challenged, networks like Pinterest Google + are growing rapidly, evolving daily. In this environment of open and public communications transparency is not really an option, it just is – get used to it. Social CRM is an opportunity, scary and daunting. Social CRM is a bridge to the connected customer.   It is part strategy, part process and yes, technology; all in support of an organizations goals and objectives. Social CRM is an enabler an extension of CRM. it allows companies to truly engage customers, resolve problems, recognize new revenue streams and gather detailed customer behavioral data. Social CRM, as an initiative will fail if it is considered revolutionary. It is transformative, an evolutionary step towards customer centricity. The complexities should not be taken lightly, as joining social media and CRM, is more nuanced than simply more channels, more rules and random best practices.

Part of the confusion comes from looking at social as a new phenomenon, as opposed to what it really is – a way to extend customer communications and interactions across new and diverse channels. Being social is as old as civilization itself. What is really new is that in the information age, in a services based economy, companies now need to listen and pay attention. The consequences to ignoring (ignorance?) will be harsh. The good news is that companies should be able predict how their social media activities will work by looking at how well they incorporated earlier technologies into their CRM discipline. For example, how well a company integrated email into its CRM and marketing channels will provide an indication of how easily Twitter, Chat and other programs will be incorporated. One of the bigger challenges will be who (which department) will “own” the social channels. Here is the answer; IT owns the infrastructure, the process is shared across the company.

What Now?

Looking at social media channels as an extension of existing CRM makes some sense; but it is not the way that many companies are incorporating social media into their daily routines.  More than half of all organizations have adopted the use of some form of social media, intending to use it in some sort of social CRM practice (Customer Service for example): >50% adopted Twitter and nearly 60% adopted Facebook. The success of Social CRM has less to do with the size of the company than with how seasoned the CRM and marketing teams are at extending their processes with newer technologies. Social CRM is about being human and scaling the company personality. Social is different when it is applied to Sales versus Customer Service or Marketing, it has to be different. This is why there is no need for a Social CRM Magic Quadrant!

Recent data suggests that larger companies (more than 1000 employees) have been using social CRM for 2+ years, but smaller companies are quickly catching up. What is really interesting is the finding that there is no “standard” method for social CRM and social CRM lead generation success. Companies with comfort and practice in integrating new media to traditional channels are the most successful, but how to turn a Tweet into a sale varies extensively by company, with other factors, such as target buyer demographics coming into play.

What is clear is that the companies who can successfully extend their CRM practices to include social media channels (in process and execution) will be at the forefront of truly leveraging ‘social’ for business benefit. Being able to tap into user behavior and communicating with them in a smart way, such as offering targeted services or information relating to a customer’s usage patterns, is the end goal of forward looking CRM. However, customers are not expecting this level of service. Customers don’t always expect an answer to their Tweet are leery of  an offer related to their customer profile (or worse, their Facebook profile), so caution is advised. Consumers and buyers will be expecting a high level of service in the coming hours, days, weeks, months and years; now is the time to get the channels ready.

This is my goal with launching DRI US – the execution, getting it right and helping others figure out how to do it also.

Regardless of how companies merge social media into CRM and other channels, one point is clear: social media gives customers a stronger voice and way to engage. Companies now have a way to leverage social channels, but they can also make social channels a powerful way for customers, advocates, investors and others to interact with their brand and become ambassadors. The emergence of Google+, Pinterest and others provide an almost hybrid combination of social media and brand visibility that can allow a powerful channel for awareness. Companies should look for ways to include these channels into their marketing, advertising and CRM programs, approaching them from the angle of how customers would first enter and engage. Those companies that are among the first to do this will be innovators in the continued emergence of social channels.