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.
In my first Mirror Images post, I referred to Social CRM as a “A complex overlay” on top of customer service, customer relationships and the supporting strategy, technology and processes. If we can accept this, that Social CRM is an overlay, then we should be able to agree that it does mirror Social business (or Enterprise 2.0), as Social Business is also an overlay on top of many standard business practices and concepts. Diving deeper to a more definitive concept; is employee experience the mirror of customer experience? Unfortunately, most people who talk/write on the topic of ‘experience’ focus on the customer aspect and neglect the employee experience; the literature therefore is not as extensive. In this area, topics typically include empowerment, engagement, and satisfaction. There is very little that directly talks to employee experience, after all it is just a job, right – no, wrong. Moving forward, this is going to have to change.
Your own Marketing team is working very hard to enhance the customer experience, hoping to take advantage of what mobile and tablet devices have to offer (Cool UI) to build stronger relationships with people (customers and prospective customers). But, let’s not forget that before you drove into work this morning, you were a consumer, using these devices and you were the target of these efforts, by some other company. The number of connected TV sales is expected to double in 2012, these same people are highly likely to have an Xbox, an iPod, Kindle, KindleFire or some other next generation device. Now, you are sitting in front of screen, your team is sitting in front of an even bigger screen, maybe with a headset connected and they are using circa 1990’s technology to help your customers. What gives?
Think about it, all of this effort which is customer facing and your internal teams are frankly having a lousy experience. Can we gamify work a bit, to make it more fun? Or is that pandering to misaligned expectations of a certain employee type or demographic? As a did in my previous post, I turned to friend for some help and insight. I asked the question to Mark Tamis and we had a bit of an electronic conversation or Socratic debate. My going in position is the better employee experience will lead to a better customer experience, as this is the logical answer. But, as Mark points out, it is not that simple.
Does better user (employee) experience lead to better customer experience?
MT: First of all, I believe the question leads to trying to compare apples to pears.
ML: That is better than apples to oranges, no?
MT: French expression badly translated
MT: The customer has gone through a journey and his experience has been shaped by interactions at every touch point (dealing with your company, in-store experience, exchanging with friends, family and peers and so on), whereas the employee experience is shaped the interactions with colleagues, suppliers, systems and – only at very precise touch points – clients. So although the customer and the employee are intimately linked, they are not on the same journey.
ML: Valid point, but at that critical point where the journeys intersect will define many things and likely be more impactful to the customer. We have both been known to say that the experience perceived is more important than the intended design. Like most of life we spend most of the time learning and preparing for those moments where we have to act. While not on the same journey, the journey’s are linked and aligned.
MT: By the very nature of company-customer relations, the employee journey is sub altered to the customer journey which leads to the chicken and the egg problem of when a negative customer experience is taken out on an employee who is not able to or not empowered to do anything about it, which in turn leads to a negative employee experience that negatively influences the way the employee deals with the following customer et cetera.
ML: Very interesting, and I agree that the employee experience impacted by the customer experience and journey. I will suggest that the employee would only partially hold his own organization accountable for the treatment by the customer, unless it is a trend, and they are not empowered to do anything about it. While valid, employees should be able move beyond this type of reaction.
MT: Partially, but up to which point? Either stop trying to fight it and become demotivated, go on a crusade and risk being shot down, or simply…leave.
MT: Breaking this vicious circle consists of first by understanding the customer’s journey and coordinating efforts to improve it and second by providing the employees with the infrastructure (data, insight, tools and processes) and conditions (work conditions, a company culture that facilitates collaboration) to do so. Ultimately it comes down to reducing frictions (for the customer and for employees) to help the customer in his job to be done and reach the desired outcomes.
ML: Who is responsible and accountable for removing the fractions? It must be on the employee side, management etcetera, driving for a positive employee experience.
Mark, great stuff and I do appreciate your time and thoughts. I believe we are mostly aligned, though I will admit it is bigger and more complex than I had originally thought. The two journeys are different but it is those all important intersections where things happen. The key question is what will the state of mind (on each side) be at those points? Business units and IT departments will need to invest more in the design of services, for the internal customer. The expectations by everyone; not just the younger or Millenial crowd, are higher, and need to align with customer expectations. In order for a true person to person relationship to be established, experience must be aligned on both sides of the firewall. This is clearly not all about technology (yes, I do work for a technology vendor) but at the same time, technology is a huge part of the equation, there is no getting past that point. For contact center agents, their experience is critically important, and I believe there is a connection to customer experience – a big one.
In short, no, it cannot – that simple. Disagree?
The essence of Social CRM is about inviting your customers into your organization, like you invite an old friend in for dinner. But, in order to invite them in, you must be prepared. The preparation will require change, both cultural and technological. From a technological perspective, tools (yes, tools) that support social networks are going to be key. The support, or the backbone, will need to enable, and even foster collaboration between and within companies and increasingly, with customers. This doesn’t mean a technology-first approach. But it does mean selecting the right technologies (and only the right ones) to enable a natural collaborative ecosystem. “Natural” is a fun concept, here, it means, hang out with your customers where they are, not where you want them to be. If they invite you to dinner, that will work as well, just mind your manners.
It is about the best use of technology, leveraging what is present, or expanding what you have as needed. It is not about the platform, but about the people who are the platform. If tools and technology can be used to leverage the knowledge within and across your organization, then make sure people understand the tools. If you are a small agile organization and this is not about technology, but experience, then make sure your team gain experience at every possible opportunity. If your teams are able to adapt and communicate efficiently, then meeting the needs of the customer will be that much easier; then, and only then can SocialCRM can be realized. Wait, is the objective to realize Social CRM or the value, independent of the name? And does technology need to be involved at all? No, asking the the right questions, at the right time, in a caring and sincere tone is Social (we have been living with that for the past 1000 years).
Friend and sparring partner Esteban Kolsky wrote a post “What comes after Social Business” recently where he shares a concern with trying to match internal transactional data with collaboration data. (no he is not really a sparing partner, I actually learn a lot from Esteban)
“The idea behind social business of bringing internal collaboration together with external interactions has one major flaw – it attempts to integrate an action (collaboration) with information (data) as if they were equal.”
I think Esteban gives more credit to businesses than is deserved, no one is there yet – thus we are not ready to figure out what comes next. We need to think about what the customer wants to do, and enable it. You know the royal “We” this is going to take some work to figure out. These are important aspects of your business, no one, nor a tool can direct you to nirvana. It might take some long hours, and lots of thinking (and data analysis) to get there – think about your customers, put yourself in their shoes. Even better ask other parts of the organization to do it, it is worth the time!
If a customer wants to collaborate, cool, let’s work together. If we are focusing on transactions and information, then that is good too, just another type of good. If I am a small company, with a unique clientele, then there is the possibility that we can achieve both at the same time. In other words, let’s do business together and work towards increasing the value of the business for each of us. I cannot do it alone though, other members of you team, organization or enterprise need to be involved.
In short, I stick by my first statement, if you cannot help, allow or enable your organization – large or small – to be collaborative, work together, then the value of trying to be Social within the context of CRM will be lost. How are you going to get this done?
(Trying something different – this is a cross post from one done earlier this week on CRMOutsiders. The idea is to incorporate some feedback from comments on the post and discussions I have had to enhance the topic)
So, what exactly did I learn from my Gardener? (Gardener not Gartner) And, how in the world can I apply it to CRM, or further, a CRM implementation? In a nutshell, I learned that proper planning for application development, deployment and just many initiatives seems to be a lost art. This seems to ring especially true for Social Media initiatives.
Plant a $5 shrub in a $10 hole
When I am not in front of a computer screen, (which seems to be a little too often) I long to use some of the handy skills, which my dad taught me when I was young. Build it, fix it, rinse and repeat. About as close as I come is reading my monthly issue of Popular Mechanics, looking at all the cool things I should be doing, or getting some advice on topics such as gardening. The inspiration for this post is the May 2010 issue, page 126 (yes, I bet it is online somewhere). The simple statement, in bold above, “Plant a $5 shrub in a $10 hole” really just sunk in (bad pun, sorry). The small blurb goes on to say: “In other words, your extra labor will be repaid with vigorous trees and shrubs.”
I hope that you, the reader are able to make the leap. If the focus is too heavily skewed towards technology and not the planning, requirements gathering, analysis, design and then implementation – not too mention people, culture, process changes and role changes – then how can you expect success in deploying a new system of any kind? Spend the time, up front figuring out what you need to do in order to make the project a success.
Mark Tamis had this to say about the topic:
Not only is the problem not understanding the problem you are trying to solve, the problem is also in thinking that the technology will solve the problem. This is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. The shiny object may look nice, but if it doesn’t get your job done and lad to your desired outcome, why waste the time and the effort?
This is not only about something new
The article referenced above is not only about a new ‘hole’ for a new ‘plant’, it actually starts with a question about what to do if a plant does not seem to be doing well after a long hard winter. Hmmm, I wonder if I can get away with calling the economy we experienced during the past 2 years a ‘long hard winter’ – yeah, I think I can. So, in this scenario, do I just say ‘out with the old in with the new’? I am not only talking about CRM, I am talking about technology of nearly any type. Extending the metaphor just a little further, if I simply swap the plant, without checking the soil, making sure there is enough water, or proper drainage, putting in another plant will likely lead to the same end result.
When I shared these thoughts with Reem Bazrari from SugarCRM, she offered the following as important to the conversation:
More importantly, the provider should sell its technology with that understanding as well:
1- Educate the customer on standard or industry process that would help them improve their business
2- Provide the technology with a ramp-on plan and explain how it will tie with those processes
3- Continuously monitor the customer’s feedback
Simply replacing technology with newer technology often seems like the easiest solution. But ask yourself, and your team, what is the real reason we need to do this? I have read from many highly respected sources, that technology is rarely the problem, it is properly preparing for the technology that is the problem. Again, I am not talking about net new here, I am talking about ‘rip and replace’ because of that new shiny object in the corner over there.
I read and appreciated an article in the WSJ this morning – “Facebook: Can it be Tamed?“. Combined this with a many of the great discussions taking place on Twitter via #scrm and Blogs and it got me to thinking. How can CRM learn from a personal approach to Social Media, are they really that different?
Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for personal use represent a microcosm of the evolution of CRM within an enterprise. Too much information, not enough filters. In the case of Facebook, the article speaks to the redesign causing angst and too much data. I have posted before, each of us need to consider our own Social Media strategy. For me, LinkedIn is strickly business, Facebook is strictly friends (some busines associates do fall into that category, and it is where we have fun). Twitter, for me is business, with color commentary. From the article:
“In essence, the News Feed was my own personal Google search. Like Google, Facebook calculated the relevancy and authority of information before deciding to display it to me. The News Feed was shockingly complex – calculating and ranking more than a trillion items per day – and the results were very satisfying.”
It is interesting, as we are all treating social media platforms like our own personal CRM systems. Not trying to be cras, but we are making determinations of the ‘value’ of our time and what is important for us to hear, and whom to listen to – sound a bit familiar? In case you were wondering, Mom is a Platimum partner!
Enterprises have this exact same problem, as they try to jump into the next generation of CRM (SocialCRM or CRM 2.0, naming battle at 11) As @TriSynergyLL posted yesterday, while at a conference (I will use full words) “A point was made that Customers do not ask nor will they ask you (company) to join a social media (platform), they start without you”. This begs the question, which platform(s) should an Enterprise monitor? That is the hard part, International companies will not have only one, two or three answers.
What to do?
Another playa from the #scrm space is A Prem Kumar – I like his approach and he has put forth a logical foundation for all of this, you can find his musings on his blog, or follow on Twitter @scorpfromhell. Each business needs to develop their strategy. A tactical approach will fail, for sure. Once you jump in, you are in. You have just reset the expectation with your customers, backing out would be a bad idea.
To jump in without a monitoring strategy (where are my customers?) and filtering strategy (how do I pull information from data or make sense of noise), would be a mistake. While there seem to be a whole lot of tools on the market that help the analysis from a marketing perspective, putting the right tools in place from a true CRM perspective are not yet there.
David Baker says it quite well in his article, The Last Quarter Mile of CRM:
The skeptics and measurement-minded professionals scoff at the vagueness of measuring influence through social media interactions in a traditional CRM view. While the principles of CRM don’t change with social media strategies, the control of the content, message and interaction can leave strategists grasping at straws when they try to measure results — or, better yet, consider how and what to optimize.
It seems that I offered more questions than answers, but that is what keeps it interesting I suppose.
- There is a Big Difference Between Can’t and Won’t
- Stop Thinking in Two Dimensions
- No Beginning, No Middle and No End
- Rethinking the Customer Journey
- The Simplest Thing I Ever Had to Write
- Context Integration, the Future of System to System Interactions
- The Evolution of Customer Community
- The Fine Line Between Personalization and Creepy
- Experience Innovation
- Maybe We are Using the Wrong Words to Describe Collaboration
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