thomas.wieberneit@aheadcrm.co.nz
You are only as good as your customer remembers

You are only as good as your customer remembers

As you know, I am very interested in how organizations are using business applications, which problems they do address, and how they review their success. In a next instance of these customer interviews, I had the opportunity to talk with Melissa Gordon, Executive Vice President, Enterprise Solutions at Tidal Basin about their journey with Zoho. You can watch the full interview on YouTube. Tidal Basin is a government contractor that provides various services throughout the government space, including disaster response, technology and financial services, and contact centers. Tidal Basin started with Zoho CRM and was searching for a project management tool in 2019. This was prompted by mainly two drivers. First, employees were asking for tools to help them running their projects. Second, with a focus on organizational growth and bigger projects that involved more people, Tidal Basin wanted to reduce its risk exposure and increase the efficiency of project delivery. This way, the company could actually create a triple-win situation, benefitting the employees, customers, and the company. also following the top management’s motto “if you take care of your people, and you take care of your customers, everything else will take care of itself.” The thought behind this is “that providing a mechanism for people to be more efficient, because everybody wants to come to work and do a good job. Nobody wants to do mundane tasks that don’t add value. And so, if you can provide a mechanism to do that, it enables our employees to then take better care of our customers.” Being tasked with implementing it, Melissa started off with a software selection process. This...
The ABC of Zoho AI

The ABC of Zoho AI

During ZohoDay24, Zoho amongst other topics, gave some insight into how the company looks at AI. Raju Vegesna presented Zoho’s AI vision and progress. Additionally, I had the opportunity for a one on one with Zoho’s director of AI research, Ramprakash (Ram) Ramamoorthy. If you want to listen and watch the interview, you can do this here. Both represented a vision that is refreshingly differentiated from the current hype with everyone and their dog talking like large language models, LLMs, are the everything one needs. Well, let me tell you: They aren’t. But let me come to this point later. In addition to not every language model being created equal, and typical for a hype, there is still too much talk about the technology itself, whereas in the words of Raju and Ram the best AI implementation is “when the customer doesn’t know they are using AI but finds value in the output”. This resonates very well with me, as one of my beliefs is that the customer shouldn’t care about the technology that is used to achieve the desired outcome, within some constraints like legality, ethics, and efficiency, of course. Zoho is a technology vendor with a focus on business applications. So, Zoho quite quickly realized that consumer type AI that e.g., helps with spell checks, or nowadays research, suffers from two fundamental flaws: lacking privacy/security and accuracy when it comes to business applications. Both violate some of Zoho’s core tenets, namely their pursue of privacy and business applications that offer a lot of value to the customer. Take the example of improving one’s writing – for some...
How to play the long game Zoho style

How to play the long game Zoho style

The news On February 7 and 8 2024, Zoho held its annual ZohoDay conference, along with a pre-conference get together and an optional visit to SpacX’s not-too-far-away Starbase. Our guide, who went by Chief, and is probably best described as a SpaceX-paparazzi was full of facts and anecdotes, which made the visit very interesting although we couldn’t enter Starbase itself. The event was jam-packed with 125 analysts, 17 customer speakers, and of course Zoho staff for us analysts to talk to. This was a chance we took up eagerly. This time, the event took place in MacAllen, TX, instead of Austin, TX. The reason behind this is once more Zoho’s ruralization strategy, transnational localism. Which gives also one of the main themes of the event. It was more about understanding Zoho than about individual products, although Zoho disclosed some roadmaps. More about understanding Zoho in a second. The second main theme was customer success and testimonials. Instead of bombarding us with presentations ad infinitum, Sandy Lo and her team did an amazing job of organizing a series of panels with customers talking about – and being questioned about – their use of Zoho products. And questioned they were. In what cannot be taken for granted, they gave very candid answers, making a learning opportunity out of the event. The third main theme was the “state of the business” session, as usual presented by Zoho’s Chief Strategy Officer Vijay Sundaram. As Zoho is a privately held business, this information is largely under NDA. So, suffice it to say that Zoho is continuously growing across a variety of metrics including users,...
SAP is dead – long live SAP

SAP is dead – long live SAP

The News On January 23, 2024, SAP announced the results of its Q4 and fiscal year 2023, along with an update of the company’s 2025 ambition. The ambition includes a shift of focus on key strategic growth areas and a restructuring program. This program will cost around 2.2 billion dollar and affect about 8,000 employees. Notably, SAP does not look at lay-offs but a “voluntary leave program and internal re-skilling investments”. No details are known yet. One of the core investment areas going forward will be Business AI; in addition, the company will strive to capture organizational synergies, leverage AI-driven efficiencies and prepare the company for the expected growth. Looking at the numbers, SAP had a very successful year, meeting or exceeding the outlook metrics set and communicated for 2023.  SAP key financial results FY 2023; source SAP According to CEO Christian Klein, the “current cloud backlog increased by 27 percent to reach an all-time high” growth. This number and the cloud revenue are particularly driven by S/4HANA growth. In addition, SAP communicated a bold outlook with a CAGR of 25 percent plus through 2025 and beyond. Wall Street was excited. The Bigger Picture AI is the new cloud, currently the biggest thing since the invention of sliced bread. The industry is at the peak of an AI hype cycle. So far, we have seen a lot of low-hanging fruit being showcased while being promised an age of AI that “changes everything”.  According to the recently published results of the PWC annual global CEO surveyhttps://www.pwc.com/us/en/library/ceo-survey.html, around two thirds of CEOs believe that the use of generative AI will improve their company’s products...
How Zendesk moves the needle in customer service

How Zendesk moves the needle in customer service

The news On January 8, 2024, Zendesk announced the acquisition of Klaus, “the industry leading AI-powered quality management platform”. With AI driving a rapid increase in customer service interactions it is necessary for customer service teams to become more efficient while maintaining their quality of service. This is accomplished by a combination of digital and human agents across an increasing number of channels. Ensuring good quality requires a QA solution that is capable of scoring 100 percent of customer interactions, which is what Klaus’s AI is capable of. In doing this, it “pinpoints conversations with positive or negative sentiment, identifies outliers, churn risk, escalations, and necessary follow-ups. According to Zendesk, most QA software does handle only one to two percent of all customer interactions. With workforce enablement management capabilities, Klaus enables the identification of knowledge gaps and coaching opportunities with the goal of improving agent performance and productivity. The result is higher customer satisfaction. According to Martin Kōiva, CEO and founder of Klaus, “Zendesk and Klaus share a vision of Ai-led, personalized CX with businesses fully anticipating and acting on their customers’ needs. QA software plays a critical role in this, ensuring consistency, assessing both human and digital agent performance and providing actionable insights for strategic planning. As part of Zendesk, we will continue to build and deliver thes crucial capabilities, but now at an even greater scale”. The bigger picture Customer service personnel works in a high-pressure environment with lots of turnover; even worse, as frontline workers, they are often the first ones to deal with customers who are already less than amused – equipped with tools that...
A CRMKonvos fireworks – the crop of the year according to you

A CRMKonvos fireworks – the crop of the year according to you

The other day, I had a look at my blog, checking the articles that resonated with you most in 2023. Today, I’d like to do the same for my YouTube channel, CRMKonvos. Shameless plug – any new subscriber is cordially welcomed – it means a lot to us. “Us” means my colleagues Ralf Korb and Marshall Lager, and I. We run this channel as a joint endeavor. CRMKonvos are all about fun and friendly one hour conversations with one or more live expert guest about a topic in the wider area of – you guessed correctly – CRM. Of course, this includes related topics, e.g., it is virtually impossible to talk CRM or CX without touching AI. They are streamed to LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, and X. In addition, we actively encourage our audience to engage with our guest and us. Again, any new subscriber is more than appreciated. If I am not totally off, you can subscribe by just clicking this link. But now, what are the CRMKonvos that resonated most with you? Which ones received the most views?  Of course, we do not want to get the beans spilled immediately, so let’s start with the fifth place. Culture is the most enduring form of capital. This is a conversation I had with Zoho’s Chief Strategy Officer Vijay Sundaram about why a great corporate culture makes all the difference, how it contributes to success and why and how Zoho’s culture is different from that of most other companies. The fourth place is taken by an ISP’s journey with Zoho One. This is an interview with Amit Rai, Chief HR Officer of Tata Fiber. Amit has overseen the implementation...