Category Archives: CRM integration

Project Killers: Does X Mark the Spot?

X Marks the SpotProject Killers are waiting to pounce on every project – from inception to transition.  In this series we are looking at the most common assassins and exploring the ways to preserve the health and well-being of your projects.  The most heinous killers are:

 

  1. Dead on Arrival (a.k.a. DOA) – A project without the proper estimations for time and resources somehow is initiated. (The Path to On Time, On Budget and In Scope : http://blog.evergegroup.com/?p=1385)
  2. Death by Documentation (a.k.a. Strangled in Red Tape) – A great deal of time and effort goes into plans, requirement documents, and design documents with no real benefit to the project. (Project Killers: An Ode to Death by Documentation: http://blog.evergegroup.com/?p=1389)
  3. Death by Indecision (a.k.a. Analysis Paralysis in its milder forms) – Key project decisions are delayed or avoided altogether. (Project Killers – PSI – Project Scene Investigation “A Case of Slow Death” http://blog.evergegroup.com/?p=1400)
  4. Death in Unchartered Lands (a.k.a. Scope Creep) – The participants, stakeholders, scope, and methods, are never agreed to formally when the project starts. If you don’t know where you’re going, most any road will take you there – but it may take a lot longer and cost a lot more!
  5. Sudden Unplanned Death (a.k.a. Running into a dead end) – risks are not properly identified and mitigated
  6. Death by Starvation (a.k.a. Bottlenecks) – resources are not properly identified and allocated.

We have already dealt with DOA, Strangulation by Red Tape, and Analysis Paralysis in previous blogs.  This blog deals with Scope Creep, enemy number One and the most hated project killer of all time.

Imagine that you make your living by looking for and recovering treasure.  It shouldn’t take much imagination, because that is exactly what you are doing as a project manager, but let’s carry out the analogy to show the congruence.  First, as a professional you wouldn’t chase a treasure that was known to be too small or too costly to obtain.  Second, you would have a ‘map’, literal or figurative, that has a definitive ‘X’ that marks the spot where the treasure can be found.  Third, you would obtain the permissions and licenses needed to hunt for the treasure.  Fourth you gather your investors to fund the trip.  Fifth, you would assemble your treasure hunting team.  Sixth, you would plan your treasure hunting trip.  Finally, you would hunt for and recover the treasure.

It is easy to see the analogy, an IT project is a lot like a treasure hunt.  You initiate the project to benefit (the treasure) your organization.  You have an estimate and a statement of work (the map).  You license the software.  You identify the business stakeholders and obtain the funding.  You put together the project team.  You write up a plan to obtain your objectives.  Finally, you carry out the project and obtain the desired result.  Or do you??

Do you instead ‘get greedy’?  A new map has been found, lying close to your original treasure is another one.  It is temptingly close by and by extending your trip, and pushing your resources to the limit, that treasure can be had!  X no longer marks the spot.  Your careful plans and preparation are no longer going to assure you of finding the treasure you seek, because you now seek more than you had originally planned to.  You have literally released the ‘bird in your hand’ to seek ‘two in the bush’.

When this happens to your IT project, when you reach out for that nearby benefit, you have exposed the heart of your project to the most deadly and feared project killer, Scope Creep.  Yes, there may be more benefit to be had, and yes, it may be reachable by running the project longer and pushing the team to the limits.  However, you must realize your carefully created plans and preparation are no longer going to assure you of a successful project.  Prior to giving up on your original ‘treasure’ in favor of a new, expanded one, you should think of the professional treasure hunters.  What would they do?

The truly successful, professional treasure hunters stay focused on the prize to the exclusion of all potential distractions, they also draw up a charter and make every member of the team commit to that charter, and finally they set up the reward system for the team members in such a way that they are only rewarded for the treasure they are chartered to find.  Do the same for your projects and you will find that X indeed marks the spot much more often than not!

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant
Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

Illustration created and provided by Jonathan Pike, eVerge Group IT Specialist.

 

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Focus on the Customer: A Sustainable Competitive Advantage

In a previous article about focus on the customer we discussed how putting the customer in the center of your company can help you become a well-organized company. We also explored in another article how focus on the customer can be your guide to empowering your employees to act in a way that retains your customers and protects your interests. What may not have been crystal clear in either article is the crucial reason why focus on the customer is so important.

Ever since the introduction of row agriculture, when man was first able to consistently produce a product (the turnip) in abundance beyond his needs, there has been a ‘marketplace’ – i.e. producers, sellers, and consumers. The size and shape and kind of the marketplaces have changed dramatically over time, but there are two maxims that were true then and are still true today. Maxim One, there will always be someone in the marketplace who will be able to produce a better product than you can, or sell it more cheaply than you can, or promote it more effectively than you can, or do all three! Maxim Two, every market, and the products and services in that market, has a lifecycle curve from inception to obsolescence.   In layman terms, if you are in a market now or trying to enter an emerging market, you are constantly faced with a host of formidable competitors.

Economists will tell you that competition is healthy for the economy because it favors innovation and keeps prices low and service high. What that don’t tell you, and hope you implicitly understand, is that the way this comes about is that each of the companies in, or attempting to enter the marketplace, are trying to develop a competitive advantage over all of the other suppliers in the market.   They are trying to develop a sustainable competitive advantage that will allow them to take advantage of the market lifecycle when it is profitable. You have probably had these same discussions many times.  For example, “If we develop a new technology we will either leapfrog the competition or create a whole new market.” Perhaps you are thinking, “We’ll lower our prices and gain a greater market share that way.” Maybe you believe that developing myriad sales channels and heavy promotion will help you beat back your competitors and dominate the market. The problem lies in marketplace Maxim One.  Technology, Price, and Promotion are not sustainable advantages because there is always someone who will technologically leapfrog you, who will sell it cheaper, or who will outdo your promotion. Eventually, the technology research costs too much, the profit margin becomes too low, the selling and marketing expenses too high and your plan fails.

There is one, and possibly only one, sustainable advantage – focus on the customer. Customers still place a value on a relationship with a company; enough of a value to help you ward off the discounters who don’t nurture that relationship. Satisfied customers tell you what they need, and if you are focused on that, they give you the early optics to emerging and new markets so that your innovations aren’t wasted in leapfrogging in the wrong direction technologically.  Finally, customers who believe they are the focus of your company are loyal; they are 5 times less likely to be persuaded by your competitors’ promotions than are dissatisfied customers.

Focus on the customer is a very small investment compared to the research to develop technically superior products, or the discounting required to be the low price leader, or the sales and marketing expenses of a high powered promoter. It simply takes the right culture, with the right tools, empowered with the right attitude. Put the customer in the center of your Customer Relationship Management system for a sustainable competitive advantage.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant
Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

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Focus on the Customer by Empowering Your Employees

Before you read this article, please go to the shelf, find your customer service standard operating procedures, dust them off, and check to see how many issues your organization faces daily that aren’t covered by a listed procedure. The truly customer-focused organizations are keenly aware that there are many situations that arise that are not covered by a known procedure and in order to keep the customer satisfied, action that is ‘against policy’ may have to be taken. These organizations engender a Focus on the Customer culture that empowers employees to do just that.

Empowering an employee to advocate for the customer, however, doesn’t necessarily give them the tools to do so. For years companies have been seeking the best way to handle these un-documented service scenarios so that the customer is satisfied and the company interests are also protected. Many people feel that if they tell the Customer Service Rep to treat the customer as fairly as they would want to be treated, then that meets an internal standard for solving the customer’s issue and protecting the corporate interests. However, many others feel that relying on a single employee’s perception of ‘fair’ may not do either of those things. This latter stream of thought has led some companies to insert a management review stage into the process that is counter-productive to an empowered culture.

Don Peppers, a highly respected author and CRM researcher, recently blogged about a new and innovative approach being tried by an Australian company. In their system, the customer service representative formulates an approach to solve the customer’s issue. However, before presenting it to a customer, they present it to a peer in customer service. If two customer service reps agree that the solution is the right one that is the one presented to the customer. In addition, the solution is reviewed later by management to see if it is something that would make sense to include in a standard procedures manual. This approach seems to preserve the culture of empowerment while ensuring that a ‘reviewed’ solution is used. It has the added benefit of increasing the knowledge base for the company.

If you have an innovative idea for creating and maintaining an empowered customer service culture that focuses on the customer, we would like to hear from you as well. Customer Relationship Management is a marriage of culture and technology and the companies that customers like to buy from are the ones where that relationship is nurtured from the boardroom to the warehouse.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant
Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

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Keys to CRM System Adoption: Coaching

High rates of user adoption maximize the benefit of a CRM system to every system user in an exponential way as every key process in the business; planning, marketing, selling, servicing, and analyzing, is enriched by the increased information and functionality of the CRM system. Many companies invest millions in software licenses and services to install a CRM application, but don’t invest the time and energy to create a CRM System – Application, Infrastructure, Employee users, Indirect Channel users, and Customers. Each part of the system is critical to the system, with none more critical than the Employee users.

When Employee users eagerly use and contribute to the CRM system, user adoption is high. chaussures running nike When Employee users do not use, or incorrectly use the system user adoption rates are low. louboutin chaussures When adoption rates are high, companies must persist on the system planning and implementation path that they have outlined to maintain and upgrade the system over time. When adoption rates are low, companies must pause and analyze the issues and take immediate corrective action. This is the first in a series of articles that detail what organizations can do to drive user adoption of the installed CRM system. There are 5 key areas to investigate and correct: executive involvement, pay for play, EASE, commitment, and coaching.

Coaching may be the least understood duty that is assigned to any manager in any organization. Coaching is the ability to demonstrate and inculcate a skill as it will be used in the organization. It should not be confused with Training, Motivation, Leadership, or Management of Resources – each of these is an important duty for organization Managers, but they are not “Coaching”. Unfortunately, many organizations and the Managers in that organization DO confuse one or all of these skills for Coaching. ugg soldes 2017 This is particularly detrimental to CRM Application user adoption. Throwing money and bodies at the CRM Application and making speeches about the benefits will not increase the skill level of the Employee users. Even application training is only marginally effective. The only proven way to increase the employee skill level successfully on a CRM Application is for the appropriate person, which more than 95% of the time is the direct Manager of the employee, to Coach the employee on the application. Raising the employee skill level, making the employee more comfortable with the application, is a key to user adoption.

In the Carew course on Selling Skills Coaching[1], the Coaching process has 4 distinct steps:

  1. Demonstrate the skill to the employee
  2. Assist the employee in attempting the skill
  3. Allow the employee to practice the skill in a supportive, protected environment
  4. Monitor and give feedback on the employee’s skill level in day to day activities

Demonstrate the skill: This means that each Manager on the Management team must be able to use the CRM application with enough proficiency that they can fully demonstrate it to their direct reports. For example, Sales Managers must be able to do everything in the CRM application that they are expecting their team members to do – e.g. handle leads, manage opportunities, create quotes, submit orders, update contact level information, etc. This level of proficiency is gained by including the Managers early in the requirements gathering phase, the design and development process, the testing phase, and by involving them in intensive application training and train the trainer sessions prior to the release of the application.

Assist the employee in attempting the skill: Each Manager should be at every roll-out/training session for the CRM application when his/her team is involved. The Manager will demonstrate the CRM application in the context of the business model for his/her team. They will assist each employee in completing a real world use case. They will answer business questions and questions about application design and functionality. They will also be able to do this when a new employee is added to the team after the CRM Application roll-out.

Allow the employee to practice the skill: After assisting the employee on the first use case, the Manager allows the employee to practice on similar use cases. The Manager evaluates the progress, provides positive feedback for each correct step, and makes suggestions for improvement when appropriate. Finally, the Manager recognizes and congratulates the employee on having attained a skill level sufficient to begin using it in live business processes.

Monitor and give feedback: The best and only effective way to monitor progress on a CRM Application is for the Manager to use the application! Printed reports and spreadsheets send a very negative message to the employees when used for this purpose. Employees want to feel that they have enriched the organization and improved the business through their actions in the CRM Application, the best way to do this is for the Manager to demonstrate that his/her decisions are being driven by the information in the system. Managers who use the system are much better able to evaluate the performance of their teams on the CRM Application than those who do not.

The creation or re-release of a CRM system involves a great deal more than the installation of a CRM Application. If the CRM Application is not used properly, or not used at all, then the system has a greatly diminished value. asics gel lyte Coaching is one of five key drivers to Employee user adoption. Make sure that as you are planning your CRM System you enable Coaching in your organization change management plans.

  1. Involve all Management levels in requirements, design, prototypes, and testing.
  2. Conduct intense training and train the trainer sessions (and include Coaching training if it is not already part of your Management training curriculum) for all managers before general release
  3. Involve the Managers in all direct rollout activities to their teams
  4. Make training environments available to the organization
  5. Ensure that Managers can work in the CRM Application to accomplish the vast majority of the business process cycles they manage.
  6. Ensure that employee onboarding is not considered complete until the Coaching process has progressed to step 4.

The cost of these activities will easily be recovered in the increased benefit of the system to your company, and the Coaching skills you give to your Managers will be used many, many times in other business processes and become part of your Customer Experience driven culture.

[1] http://www.carew.com/selling-skills-coaching.php

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant
Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career. asics gel kinsei 6 He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.

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Customer Experience: Is the Bar Being Raised and Can You Still Jump Over It?

It is a widely held belief that the secret to a satisfied customer is similar to the secret to a satisfying marriage – low expectations!

As with many things in life, a customer’s satisfaction with a product or service is something that can really only be measured against that customer’s own, personal expectations.

The customer will be satisfied with your company’s offering if his or her expectations are met. However, this also implies that as the customer’s expectations go up, satisfying the customer will become more difficult. Evidence strongly suggests that all customer expectations are, as a rule of thumb, rising constantly over time.

Your customers are not measuring their experience with you against your competitors in the current marketplace; instead they are comparing your company to the customer experience delivered by Amazon, JetBlue, Apple, or American Express.

Claes Fornell is the Swedish professor who came to America more than 20 years ago and founded the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). nike air huarache soldes In his book, The Satisfied Customer, Fornell reports that before field testing the ACSI, his team scoured the literature on customer satisfaction in order to ensure that they captured just the right kind of variables.

According to Fornell,

“Although there was no consensus on how to measure customer satisfaction, three facets showed up over and over. chaussures adidas The most common had to do with the confirmation or disconfirmation of prior expectations. basket air jordan soldes Another was the idea of comparing a company’s product to a customer’s ideal version of the product-regardless of whether or not such a product even existed. chaussures nike femme 2017 The third facet was the cumulative level of satisfaction when all interactions, the customer’s total experience over time with the company, were taken into account.”

Simply stated, a customer will become less satisfied even if your product or service remains at the same level of quality because his or her expectations have increased.

It is easy to imagine that, as companies around the world focus more and more on improving the customer experience, streamlining and automating their processes, and providing greatly enhanced online experience that the general level of customer expectations with regard to ALL companies is increasing.

This means you cannot simply maintain your position by continuing to do what you have always done. If your remain static, you customer satisfaction scores – ACSI or NPS – or previously determined internal scales from Ecstatic to Miserable – will decline as customer expectations rise.

No matter what your current position in your marketplace, dominant to new entrant, you simply will not maintain or grow that position without actively working to improve your customer experience, because the rising tide of customer expectations will soon submerge your satisfaction scores.

As the pace of technological change continues to accelerate, and as new customers with elevated expectations enter the marketplace, you must plan to improve your customer experience at an accelerated pace just to maintain your current level of customer satisfaction scores. nike air max 90 That type of planning and execution requires a partner with deep experience in customer satisfaction, broad knowledge of current and future trends for customer expectations, and keen awareness of the technologies that are currently and soon to be available to customer experience managers.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant
Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

 

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career. He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.

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Siebel and Oracle RightNow CX can coexist! – May 2014 Part 2

May 2014 Part 2

In the previous post we focused on enhancements to the UI framework and mobile surveys. Since there are so many enhancements and features in the May 2014 release of Oracle Service Cloud RightNow, this is a multi-part series. If you did not read part one, I suggest you read that first: http://blog.evergegroup.com/?p=1275

Siebel Integration

Siebel is a best of breed on premise solution that is another component of Oracle’s CX suite of products. As a first step to bringing these two solutions together, Oracle has introduced an integration that allows the use of RightNow’s customer portal to submit service requests that will in turn be created in Siebel. This allows businesses to use a hybrid solution that leverages their on-premise Siebel CRM alongside RightNow’s robust knowledge base.

siebel1

As an advanced step towards integrating cloud and ground solutions, eVerge has built an integration that allows the submission of service requests through customer portal either through the use of web services or Open UI embedded within the RightNow customer portal framework. A customer logging into the portal can use the same login as they previously used for Siebel eService allowing Single Sign-on (SSO) between the two systems. This can be implemented using a third party identity provider, SAML or Pass-through authentication (PTA).

siebel2b

Once logged in to the Portal a customer can do all of the usual activities that RightNow offers like viewing open and resolved incidents (Siebel equivalent of service requests), changing password, updating profile, chatting with an agent or searching for knowledge.

From an agent perspective the eVerge solution includes the ability for agents in a call center to:

  • search answers
  • propose new content
  • update existing content
  • associate a specific piece of knowledge (answer) with a service request

This is all done from within Siebel through an integration using Rightnow’s knowledge foundation and Connect for web services APIs. This means that agents in the call center get the benefit of added functionality without the need to learn a new tool.

siebel3

 

Knowledge management personnel using the RightNow desktop are alerted when new answers have been proposed or an update has been requested and who submitted it. Through the use of exceptions in analytic reports knowledge managers are also able to keep track of which answers require updates and if it has not been reviewed within an acceptable timeframe a notification is sent to the supervisor.  There are other moving parts as well that can be configured to meet the business needs of any organization.

This is a crucial time in the evolution of cloud solutions and the continued viability of ground. Both will peacefully coexist and businesses do not need to sacrifice investments to abandon on premise architecture. There has been an increase lately in the number of articles that address this topic both Gartner and Forrester addressed the hybridization of cloud and on premise solution in their top technology trends fro 2014.

Integration and coexist strategies are technological imperatives that will shape the future of customer experience. I will be speaking about the topic of integration and coexistence as it applies to customer experience in September at Open World. If you want to attend Open world make sure you register early: https://www.oracle.com/openworld/index.html

siebel4

More information about the sessions I will be presenting at can be found in the catalog: https://oracleus.activeevents.com/2014/connect/speakerDetail.ww?PERSON_ID=76D52C98D2DB1449F2991D697C3997B0

We have implemented a similar solution for one of our key customers who have agreed to share the stage with us at Open World and share more information with others who may already be using Siebel but want to expand their footprint and improve customer experience by implementing a modern, robust self-service customer portal.

For more information on the May 2014 version including release notes, manuals, webcasts, tutorials and community posts. Please review at the official RightNow documentation overview page.

If you are interested in learning more or have questions feel free to reach out to me at cx@evergegroup.com

eVerge Group is an Oracle Platinum Partner with extensive experience. For more information about Oracle RightNow CX and our other business solutions, contact us through our website: http://www.evergegroup.com/contact.php

About the author: Rhianna Albert (Just Rhianna) has an extensive background in customer support systems and processes, is an active member of the CX community and has been implementing and integrating RightNow solutions for seven years.

 

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CX Resolutions for 2014: Customer Loyalty

In my last post I mentioned that I wanted to fully explore the impact of the below tweet from @OracleCX. nike air max 2013 If you did not read the previous post you can find the contents here: http://blog.evergegroup.com/?p=1138

 

The first concept in the image above is Customer Loyalty but just what is loyalty in this instance, how can it impact a business and why should it be declared so important that it is chosen above all others as the choice resolution of 2014. Let us consider a simple definition from BusinessDictionary.com:

“The likelihood of previous customers to continue to buy from a specific organization. Great attention is given to marketing and customer service to retain current customers by increasing their customer loyalty.”

This of course is a gross simplification. There are strategic business models and methodologies that are supposed to teach us how to keep customers coming back. Many businesses employ groups of people to develop loyalty programs that award customers with discounts and other perks. ugg bailey button boots The resounding theme here is keeping the customer happy and trusting of your brand whether it is through special programs, quality of product, strength of brand or customer service. Recently there has been a lot in the news about trust, without it there can be no loyalty.

 

 

 

Target is proof of this as they grapple with customer loyalty as the result of the data breach that exposed in the order of 40 million credit cards. Many people I know have been affected and they are struggling with making the choice to remain loyal or find a new place to patronize.

 

An article in Businessweek from December 2013 was aptly titled, “Target Seen Losing Customer Loyalty After Credit Card Breach”. From this article and others it is obvious that Target is trying to make it right. They have taken actions like increasing staff at call centers to decrease wait times while customers call in to inquire about the impact this breach has on them and in my home state of New York they have penned an agreement with the state attorney general to provide free credit monitoring for a year. I suspect that the fallout from this is not over yet but in time through proper initiatives they should be able to recover. chaussure nike cortez

A great infographic I found on Oracles website explains what drives loyalty. new balance pas cher I have included a snippet of it below but if you enjoy infographs like me, you can read the entire thing on Oracle’s RightNow product page: http://www.oracle.com/us/products/applications/rightnow/customer-service/infographic-customer-experience-1897068.html?iframe=true&width=650&height=600

Loyalty is certainly important and key to keeping a business from dying but should it be adopted as a resolution? The answer really depends on the particular business. air jordan soldes If it is selected a best of breed application like RightNow CX could most definitely help maintain and increase loyalty through marketing campaigns, web self-service, knowledge and social monitoring.

February release is only weeks away from being available. Be sure to read up on all the latest RightNow specific information at: http://www.oracle.com/us/products/applications/rightnow/overview/index.html

If you are interested in learning more or have questions feel free to reach out to me at cx@evergegroup.com

eVerge Group is an Oracle Platinum Partner with extensive experience.

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