CRM Musings and Miscellany: Short Bits
Every now and then I get a hankering to just do these short, pithy (there’s no lisp involved here) things rather than my usual long-winded posts. This is the result of one of those hankerings.
CRM, BPMonline, Kiev
For those of you that don’t follow CRM Idol, shame on you!! Actually, that wasn’t what I wanted to say, but what I was thinking. For those of you who don’t follow CRM Idol, BPMonline is a company, owned by UK-based Terrasoft, that was one of two winners in 2011, our first year. They are a company that has grown dramatically since then, being recognized by Gartner, Forrester and other analyst firms and individuals as a player in the CRM space. They also are an exceptionally warm and friendly company, run by Katerina Kostereva, co-founder and CEO and ably supported by a terrific young staff.
Recently, I had the great pleasure of helping them celebrate the opening of their new office in a 7-story glass building in Kiev (they own it) with an incredible rooftop view of that historic (more than 1100 years old) city. I was there for both an advisory day and to speak to customers – roughly 250 or so – who came from multiple republics in and around Ukraine (by the way, NOT “The” Ukraine. Ukraine). Even though I had a massive recurrence of an upper respiratory infection (long story) the night before, here is the speech I gave for your listening…pleasure…or pain if that’s the way you want to be about it.
The Onion on the Cloud
What can I say? I love this video. No disrespect intended to HP (by me anyway. I can’t speak for the Onion) but this one is AWE…some! And about at the level of knowledge contained in a buzzword.
HP Offers 'That Cloud Thing Everyone Is Talking About'
HP Offers 'That Cloud Thing Everyone Is Talking About'
Salesforce Acquires EdgeSpring: News Almost Lost in the Marketing Cloud
I think you have a cogent idea of what I thought about the acquisition of Exact Target, salesforce’s marketing cloud acquisition that had the airwaves – social and traditional - buzzing and at times stinging. Lost in that – almost, since nothing salesforce.com ever does get actually lost – was their acquisition announced the following week of analytics platform startup EdgeSpring. Note something here. I say analytics platform, not application or cloud service. This is an important distinction for salesforce.
The reason is simple; they haven’t been able to compete with their larger industry brethren such as Oracle or SAP when it comes to analytics. That was the other great hole in the salesforce ecosystem. They have the Radian6 Insights Platform, which as cool as it is, doesn’t substitute native analytics that can be built to spec depending on what the purpose is.
That said, because EdgeSpring is coming out of stealth mode and has been immediately acquired, (run by a former salesforce employee now returning to the fold), its hard to say exactly what the quality of the platform is. I haven’t seen it, nor had I heard of it. But the idea is at least the right one for salesforce at this juncture. If the product has the capabilities, then salesforce continues to go down the path to becoming an all-encompassing ecosystem for customer-facing applications and services – which, for them, is what they need to do to fulfill their vision.
The Oracle-NetSuite; Oracle-Microsoft; Oracle-Salesforce Alliance
Everyone and their mother (if she is an analyst) had some hypothesis or speculative notion about this alliance. Here are some of the ones worth reading:
- Frank Scavo, Constellation Research, On the Oracle/Salesforce “détente”
- Dennis Howlett, Diginomica on the Oracle/Salesforce partnership
- Stuart Lauchlan, Diginomica, on the Oracle/Microsoft alliance
- Denis Pombriant on the Oracle/Salesforce deal
- Larry Dignan, ZDNet on Oracle/Salesforce thing
- James Staten, Forrester Group, on Oracle/Microsoft together at last
- Esteban Kolsky, ThinkJar, on the whole Oracle-Microsoft-Salesforce-NetSuite shebang
These are good starts. My opinion here would just be either corroboration of some of these or noise, so I won’t offer it yet. I’m also still thinking about the implications, some of which are not clear to me. So give me some rope (and time) to hang myself with. I’m sure I’ll speak to it at some point. Read these in the meantime.
Customer for Life:
Esteban Kolsky, one of the world’s leading analysts and one of my closest friends, and I had a discussion a few days ago on the nature of customer engagement and customer experience. Even though we have somewhat different metaphors that we present with, it is sort of scary how closely aligned our thinking is. Both of us had the same perception when it came to how to begin to think about engagement, experience and customers. I’m going to give you all a short précis on what we discussed but please understand this is a mere representation of the richness of the subject matter. Maybe it will be my next book. Then again, maybe not.
There is a strong tendency that companies, when they are planning their customer strategies and technology vendors when they are thinking about developing their enabling applications, tend to think about the customer engagement as a momentary one. That means that if I interact with a company about something and there is this intense emotional involvement, well, that’s engagement. Or, another variation would be if I talk to the company and finish the conversation (regardless of intensity) the “engagement” is over. But that isn’t the nature of engagement. In fact, engagement is characterized by the customer’s ongoing interactions with the company – an ongoing interaction that he or she (meaning, the customer) chooses to have. At any point in the life of that ongoing engagement, it can be intense or casual or intense and then casual, or something in between. The level of emotional involvement is the customer’s choice. The decision to continue the engagement is the key to it. The customer stays engaged because they want to have a relationship with the company that provides them with the results that they want to get from the company. Keep that “ongoing” part in your head for a minute.
Customer experience suffers from the same kind of, though not identical, misperception. Most people think of the momentary experience – the one event driven experience that occurs as the interactions happen. It might be that it takes about 3 or 4 calls or communications of some kind for the event to start and end. That short-term experience is often what businesses are planning for and around. That’s a limited approach and pretty much not the way to think about it.
Another way that customer experience gets shortchanged is when “the” customer experience is misidentified as being what I call a consumable experience. A consumable experience would be the effect that the American Girl doll retail store has on your daughter when she goes there with her doll and gets her doll’s hair done, eats lunch with her doll, watches a play about her doll (or a doll in the American Girl line) and accessorizes her doll – for the price of about $400.00 for the visit. It creates a memory for her that is unmatchable, no doubt, but it is only an aspect of the broader overall customer experience, as we have to think about it, if we’re building programs around it and strategies for it. The customer experience that goes beyond the event would include (for example inclusively but not exclusively):
- The American Girl retail store experience (as outlined above) with your daughter
- The storybooks and history and accessories associated with the doll which you can read about via print, or online and/or buy it in the store and/or online.
- The ease of the transaction process for the “buyer” i.e. the parent
- The type of customer service you get at the store, over the phone, via the web
- The store associated interactions with you and your daughter that lead to follow-up activity of some kind – e.g. an invitation to an exclusive event related to the character of your daughter’s doll – and the history of your store visits.
- The web presence of American Doll.
- The availability of the products themselves when there is an interest in the acquisition (e.g. would you like to be told, sorry its out of stock – and available in two months – and then have to tell your daughter that?)
- The ability of the tools to customize the experience (not the customization itself)
There is much more involved but you get the idea. This is an overall customer experience that in the long run leaves you with a feeling that you want to continue your relationship with the company – meaning buy stuff and do things for a long while to come.
There is this saying (which I have to admit, I’ve had some responsibility in propagating) that “the customer’s experience is only as good as their last memory.” While that’s somewhat true, there are multiple nuances to this. The most important nuance is this:
If your customer has had a long-term overall good experience or bad one, it will color the effect of the experience of last memory. Brush strokes color the pencil lines. To put it in practical terms.
- If I’ve had an ongoing excellent experience with the company and something bad occurs, I’m likely to forgive the problem or at least give it a lot of leeway without much impact on the long term as long as the problem is solved. If it isn’t solved, I’ll still be with the company
- If I’ve had an ongoing average experience with the company, the issue is likely to carry more weight with my long term involvement than if #1 was in play. That means the problem better be solved or it will weaken my resolve to stay with the company.
- If my ongoing experience has been poor, then the issue is likely to be the breaking point, even if resolved. Even if I stay, the slightest problem and I’m gone.
In other words same experience in the short term, very different outcomes due to the long term experience – which is the one that ultimately matters more.
Stuff I have going on
Just to keep you up to snuff and to get you going, some stuff I’m doing that I’d of course like your involvement with in some capacity;
- CRM Idol 2013 – CRM Idol is now underway. We are evaluating the references of the contestants who, once again, represent multiple countries and regions. We have nearly 80 extended judges representing influencers in the vendor, buyer, media and analyst world. We have those fascinating emerging tech companies that are willing to take a bit of risk to potentially be the breakout CRM company of 2013. For more on this go to the CRM Idol site (duh.)
- CRM Watchlist 2014 – Unlike CRM Idol, this is for any company that a. wants to take a shot at being recognized as an impact player; b. is willing to make an effort to do so; and c. wants me to track them in 2014. The enrollment period is still open and will be right up to October 31, 2013. The submission period for the questionnaire is November 30, 2013. If you are interested in contending, please send me an email requesting the CRM Watchlist 2014 questionnaire and in return you will a. get the questionnaire; b. get the 172pp CRM Watchlist 2013 Yearbook; c. start being tracked by me; d. be put in a Google+ group that will activate in the late summer some time and where I will be more than normally accessible. However, given how much I have to do, my expectation is that if you request the questionnaire you’re going to submit the questionnaire and not just do it as a ruse to have me track you. Please don’t disappoint me. My email is email@example.com if you want to be part of this. So far, I have 113 applications, well ahead of last year’s pace, which led to 173 requests and 153 submissions. I’d love to have you. The company size or state of being doesn’t matter. But be aware that this is an impact award and small companies without much of a history have a tough time winning. Though there are 4 or 5 each year that do – based on as much immediate potential as history. Plus, if you enter, I do track you. If that means anything at all.
- 3. CRM Evolution, August 19-21 – As I hope you know, CRM Evolution, put on every year by InfoToday/CRM Magazine, has been the premier CRM conference – the one industry gathering where buyers, vendors, and influencers co-mingle in a given year. The networking for varying purposes is outstanding and the content is good and the energy is always high. I have had the honor of chairing it now for my fifth year and never, ever lose the excitement. It’s a great place to be. I’d love to meet you and if I already have, to see you again. Come. It’s in New York at the Marriott Marquis Hotel August 19-21.
- 4. The 56 Group website - Truthfully, I haven’t ever really needed a website. I have been blessed with the good fortune of not having to really sell or work hard at promotion. But there are a lot of things I have always wanted to do that I haven’t been able to do because I haven’t had any place to “go” that was mine. I’ve been a nomad, residing on many other sites, getting friends to graciously allow me to squat on their land, letting me rest on their real estate for a little while as I continued my travels without any place to call my own. However, that will be ending soon. With the amazing work of DRI Global, one of my favorite CRM focused consulting firms (they are in Lisbon), I am getting very close to launching a site far too rich for one person but one that has a somewhat different purpose than the norm. I realized, as my nomadic life continued, that I don’t want a virtual house; I want to live in a skyscraper, a condo building with other people. So my website, built in Joomla (because I know how to use the administrative back end) will be a place where any person or organization that is the in the customer facing world will have a home. Among other things: It will have a community platform that will allow a CRMish person/company to have their own facilitated (by them) community on whatever topical area they want; Selected people will be able to have a microsite for selling their wares with their own catalog and payment system; there will be a loyalty program tied to my services and products with points awarded for not only buying stuff but for participation in the CRM industry and for being socially conscious and/or philanthropic. The site will be able to aggregate content of all types – including videos, audio assets, slideshows, documents, links, you name it. There’s even the capability to take premium and free online courses – and I can write them from the back end of the site. So be ready. The site goes through a run through this week and then it’s a couple of months or more of populating it and then, welcome to your community, if you care to participate. If not, well, I tried. If you are interested in hosting a community, let me know even starting now and let me know what it is going to be about. The rules are: follow the rules of the site and facilitate your own community. While it’s pretty open, I do have the right to reject it out of hand or shut it down. But I’m easy. I don’t know if it will work. There are some interesting questions that aren’t answered yet and won’t be until the communities start. But all in all it should be fun. Lots for you to do. Registered members of any community can accumulate points in the system for the loyalty program. WAY more later but feel free to let me know you are interested in facilitating a community on something related to CRM now if you like. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 5. SEAT 2013 – I’m guessing that you never heard of the Sports Entertainment Alliance in Technology (SEAT) conference. This is between 300-450 sports executives who gather annually to discuss how to optimize their use of technology in sports. It’s CIOs, CMOs, VPs, and Senior Directors of team after team, league after league, sport after sport. There is a substantial discussion of CRM (2.5 day track) and this year I have the distinct honor of being the subject of a keynote interview for the CRM track. Russell Scibetti, one of the best CRM practitioners in sports (he’s the NY Jets guy) and one of my friends, will be the interviewer. I expect, since I love sports, it will be lively and fun. Just wanted to tell you about it, because I think it’s really cool.