"Welcome, Mr. Greenberg."
Just three words and you realize that not only ain't CRM so bad after all, but that an entire country can practice it and once again remind you why can be in love - with something that's also good business.
Of course, I'm talking about my trip to Singapore again and once again, I'm completely in love - with an entire nation. Or is it a city? Or is it a city-state?
All of the above.
The only downside of Singapore is that it is so unbelievably far from Manassas that a round trip to and from is 20,000 miles and THAT, my customer-seeking buds, is a LOOOOONG way.
But, damn if it isn't worth it.
National Service Excellence Initiative Progress Report - EXCELLENTE
As many of you know from my prior reports on Singapore, in August 2005, Prime Minister Lee announced what remains a unique and amazing program - the National Service Excellence Initiative. In his speech calling upon every citizen to make sure that the customer experience for every citizen, ex-pat and foreigner was in his words, equated with that of the Ritz-Carleton. It had been about 20 months since I had been there last. It was apparent that they had been continuing the effort because in June of this year Accenture had announced that Singapore was number 1 in the world (with Canada number 2 and the United States number 3) for their superb national customer service. But getting an award from Accenture - a company that, honestly, isn't exactly a company known for their own wonderful service culture - is nowhere near the same as actually experiencing it and I was going to see how well it was doing - at least anecdotally - because I had the opportunity to travel there due to the good graces of SAP - who brought me over to address the Singaporean equivalent of SAPPHIRE - the SAP Summit. In fact, I had three speeches in 2 days. One to the SAP CxO luncheon at the conference and another to the general body. Then on August 1, my dear, dear friend, colleague, contributing author to CRM at the Speed of Light and CRM veteran big time, Mei Lin Fung (see her superb article at Greater China CRM on all that Singapore is doing to earn the title the best) had me speak to a gathering of 125 members of the PMO office after a smaller lively meeting with three members of the Permanent Secretary's Office.
A Shout Out to SAP
They really know how to put together a conference. Thanks to Alicia Woo, SAP senior marketing manager and event organizer extraordinaire, this conference (and how I was treated) didn't miss a single detail or a beat. Not a one. Alicia was the glue that held the whole thing together and what was amazing, she did it with a brief conversation here, a longer one there, a gesture and a look. Take them in combination and twenty five things were done. My engagements went off without a hitch.
I spoke to both audiences (ultimately all three) on the new wave CRM that focuses on customer engagement, not managing relationships with customers. This means something more concerned with how to capture the attention of customers using the contemporary methods and tools that the customers are already using. I did the CxO one first to roughly 70 or so senior people at a luncheon for them and while I got some solid kudos for that from the attendees, I wasn't totally happy with the presentation I gave.
I know. I always here I'm my hardest critic. But the reality is that I have to be my hardest critic. Look, in 45 minutes, I can't solve the problems of 55 companies and 15 government agencies by a speech I give. So as a speaker, all I can do is provide ideas that they can get excited about which comes when I can establish a coherent framework, make a strategic case, do it in a way that excites and fires the neural paths of the imagination and the passions of the desire to accomplish something. The ideas themselves, in the interest of the short time are high level but substantial enough to provide value. And, that means I have to be continously and serially coherent - AND focused in a framework. I do that, and people will get excited. I don't do that and they may get excited (though they may not) but I won't be satisfied.
No personal quarter taken. Leave no contextual prisoners.
At the end of the presentation two extraordinarily interesting things.
I had a conversation with Desmond T., who was part of the Ministry of Defense, who told me of their nascent efforts at blogging - a gasp-inducing revelation. Something that I intend to follow up on.
But my personal dissatisfaction lingered. I had the opportunity to chat with Tarun Mathur., President of ECnet a company that links its engine to procurement and other backoffice systems so they can operate in the environment they are comfortable with. Kind of the mirror end of what InvisibleCRM does.
(Whew. I'm gonna take a bit of a break now. I'm on the leg of my return from Tokyo to Washington D.C. and am starting to feel sleep deprived so its time to sleep. I'll pick this up at some ungodly hour later on this trip because I have a lot to. Another PG wordy entry. Listening to Hendrix on my iPhone)
Back. Just slept for hours. Feelin' jet lagged refreshed.
Now onto the story.
So I told Tarun that I wasn't happy with how things flowed at the CxO lunch. Again, I got feedback that said great, great, great, but I didn't love the way it flowed and I thold him that. He said, "well, i took a lot of notes, would you like my feedback?
He sat with me for about 20 minutes and gave me some good insights which led to some good ideas and the afternoon, before a crowd of perhaps 600 or more attendees. I rolled through and did I what I always have to do with the rather shy Singaporean audiences. Watched their eyes closely to see how they are responding. I can't say for sure that eyes are windows to the soul, but they are windows to the responsiveness of the audience. I liked what I saw and if you see the blog entry I did before I left, I had a response before I ever got on the plane to come home. Take a look. So my new friend Tarun helped me quite a bit. Thanks, man.
SAP sent some good messages throughout the day and people such as Alicia Woo, Maggie Chua, and Ben Nottle were (and are) and pleasure to work with.
National Service Excellence - Singaporean Government
What is absolutely STRIKING about Singapore is the levels that the people of this country will go to so that anyone who touches the ground there to make them feel important, This is in addition to the beauty of the city's greenery and the remarkable growth that is evident everywhere, and the intelligence and electricity of the people. And their charm.
And, in public meetings, their shyness. In the three speeches I gave, there wasn't a single question. But their eyes "betrayed" their interest.
But the most striking thing of all was the government interest in how to apply CRM and how to deal with citizen engagement as their new strategy. This was a BIG, BIG leap.
When I was here a year and a half ago and did he a get together of multiple government agencies (17 in all), aside from being impressed with a few of them like the Land Transport Authority (LTA) who were doing some remarkable things and SPRING who were driving the National Service Excellence Initiative, I realized their was a long way to go when the first question I got was "why do we need CRM, we're the government?"
But what has become apparent is that this desire has come a long, long way. I'd say a good 25% of the SAP conference attendees were from government agencies. The DSTA (Defense Science and Technology Agency) was everywhere....I mean everywhere. Dozens of attendees from that agency alone.
It became even more apparent the next day when Alicia and I met with three members of the Permanent Secretary's office to discuss how to deal with the frequently activie citizenry - something quite similar to problems that the Congress has. But unlike Congress which doesn't seem at this point with a few exceptions to deal with it, The Permanant Secretary's Office seems to sincerely want to try to figure out how to solve this. The problem in a nutshell is that they are vociferous citizens, which means some of the best, but in a left-brained world, they are a serious budgetary drain that is paid for by taxpayers money. So the condundrum is how to take care of the 20% of the population that 100% of the population is paying for, so to speak. We came up with some suggestions in what I would have to call a short, but exceptionally lively meeting.
Then a speech to the Prime Minister's Office. I did the big picture, Mei Lin the "how to" in front of 125 (roughly) middle management staffers from the PMO. Again, only questions from email and the Internet - not from the crowd - a crowd response that is easy to get used to because a. its cultural and b. eyes still are windows to the engagement.
It's all so very cool. One interesting result, I'll be writing an article for Ethos Magazine's April issue (a publication of theCivil Service College) in Singapore.
But now the Mr. Greenberg story because of what it represents
The Story of A Nation in 2 Words
After about 21 hours of flying from Dulles Airport in Washington D.C. through Narita Airport in Tokyo, I landed at Changhi in Singapore. Before I got 50 feet I was greeted by Mark, part of Jet Quay (pronounced "key") who was there to shepherd me through immigration and get me into a taxi. He was a very friendly, intelligent and helpful person, making sure I understood the process, making sure that I had my luggage, making sure that life would be easy for me through the airport itself (which, given that I left at noon on the 29th of July and arrived at 11:55pm on the 30th, with a screwed up body clock, was REALLY welcome). He got my luggage while I got through a SLOOOOOW immigration line and I hopped into a Mercedes E200 and was driven to the Marine Mandarin Hotel by a friendly, well informed and interesting driver. As soon as I steppped out of the taxi, before the trunk was even open to get my luggage, I was greeted by a hotel attendant with, "Welcome Mr. Greenberg,"
Not "Welcome" or "Welcome sir" but "Welcome, Mr. Greenberg"
I was befuddled, trying figure out how he knew my name, given that my luggage tags weren't even showing yet.
I went into the hotel.
Another attendant came up along side me:
"Will you be needing help with your luggage, Mr. Greenberg?"
I headed to the reception/registration desk on the 4th floor of this contemporary beautiful hotel. Before I even hit the desk,
"Hello Mr. Greenberg, please step over here and let me take care of you."
There is an important lesson in customer value in all this, in addition to making me feel really, really good.
What if they said, "Welcome, sir." Will you be needing help with your luggage, sir?" or Hello, sir, please step over here and let me take of you."
Even though the utilitarian side would be exactly the same and the quality of the service processes and procedures would be no doubt superbly executed, the difference maker was "Mr. Greenberg" instead of "sir." That alone shows that value to the customer is very different than expected corporate value.
Value to a company is typically left brained - measurable profitability, revenue increases, cost efficiencies and the like. Value to a customer is NOT that. Value to a customer is beauty, creation, validation and attribution, a sense of community, etc. The effect of simply knowing my name rather than a generic sir gave me all three of those latter customer value attributes and it amounted to two words.
So, imagine a whole country that is beautiful with green initiatives, and significant historical preservation programs, also committed in every way to being like the "Ritz Carleton."
That's what Singapore is like and they've made incalculable progress - both to my surprise and not to my surprise at all in the last 18-20 months. And they should be proud of it.
And the rest of the world? Learn from it.
We'll get the rest right there in time. For now, light years is pretty much the measure ahead they are in their progress.
You have to love that Mr. Mrs. Ms. Whatever Your Name Is. (Okay, I don't know how to do that with a blog yet. After Singapore a blogger mail merge just doesn't seem to cut it).
Take a trip there. You won't regret and you can learn all about a CRM initiative and the customer experience "process" without hiring some expensive consultant (like me) by showing up at some door at some hotel. Marine Mandarin for sure.