How to Thrive in the Age of the Customer

How to Thrive in the Age of the Customer

Returning from an interesting SAP Now event in Berlin with a strong attendee focus on customer experience is the perfect opportunity to start thinking about how to thrive as a company in the age of the customer. Being busy with and at our own valantic booth and an exciting IoT-Chatbot showcase I sincerely could not attend as many presentations as I wanted to. First let’s establish what the age of the customer means. What is the age of the customer? A few years ago the term ‚the customer is in control’ was coined. This was back in the first hype around social media, around the same time the term ‚social CRM’ got created. Some companies, for example Microsoft, are still using it. In the beginning ‚the customer is in control’ referred to the idea that social media put customers in a far more powerful position vs. businesses, because the higher reach that social media offered, changed the balance of powers between customers and vendors. Or so vendors of enterprise software argued. The ‚customer being in control’ is certainly one way to describe an age of the customer, even a very strong one. Forrester Research is somewhat more balanced. Forrester describes the age of the customer as the combination of a shift of power from institutions to customers and the disruptive forces of digitalization. This combination would “alter market fundamentals and force companies to change strategic direction and rethink operating models”. As part of the vivid discussion following my post Ten Questions you always wanted to ask about CX on CustomerThink, Harley Manning, VP and Research Director covering customer experience...
Salesforce adds more Einstein and Quip to the Service Cloud. Is it good for the Experience?

Salesforce adds more Einstein and Quip to the Service Cloud. Is it good for the Experience?

The News Today Salesforce announced the next release of its Service Cloud. It brings together more Einstein AI as part of the Service Cloud and adds Quip to it. This enables more agent empowerment and efficient work. In order to augment the tools with the necessary knowledge and soft skills, Salesforce also just launched Trailblazers for the Future, a program that is targeted towards increasing the soft skills of service managers and service agents. Einstein now is delivering reply suggestions as well as article suggestions to inquiries that the service representative can easily use to reply to questions. At the same time Einstein suggests so called next best actions that are designed to help increase satisfaction and unearth cross- and upsell opportunities. Additionally, Einstein now optimizes case routing leveraging machine-learning processes on the inquiry to find the ideal queue for processing it. Additionally, Salesforce embedded the collaboration tool Quip into the Service Cloud to increase productivity and to increase service agents’ access to knowledge. The press release is here but for your convenience you can read it below. The Press Release Salesforce Empowers Service Agents with Einstein AI and Quip for Service   Service Cloud expands Einstein AI portfolio with new intelligent recommendation and routing capabilities so agents can spend more time where it matters most — building customer relationships and solving complex problems   New Quip for Service boosts agent productivity with incident swarming and cross-team collaboration available directly in the agent console   SAN FRANCISCO—March 19, 2019—Salesforce [NYSE: CRM], the global leader in CRM, today announced new artificial intelligence and productivity solutions that empower customer service agents...
Ten questions you always wanted to ask about Customer Experience

Ten questions you always wanted to ask about Customer Experience

This is a slightly enhanced (and translated) transcript of an interview about customer experience I did for valantic. The interview challenge was to stay short and concise, and to keep it within two minutes. In order to not lose the spirit of this 120 second challenge, I kept the transcript short. This might raise a question or two. Happy to discuss, as always. So, interviewer, let’s get going! What’s the meaning of the claim ‘The Age of the Customer’? ‘The Age of the Customer’ is a term that is roughly synonymous with ‘The Customer is in Control’. Both terms basically express the notion that today’s customers have far better access to information than they had a decade ago, before the social media and mobile revolution. An important consequence of this revolution is that customers’ trust business statements about their products and solution is far lower than in earlier times. What does this mean for businesses? That is simple. The knowledge advantage that businesses have has decreased considerably. With that the possibility of businesses to distinguish themselves based upon their products and services shrinks. Therefore businesses must appear far more authentic and focus on an engagement model that fits their brand; this in a way that results in a positive perception by customers. Customer Experience Management – What do you think of this term? I do not like the term customer experience management as the customer experience is solely in the realm of the customer. What a business can do is engage with customers in a way that with a high likelihood results in a positive experience. I prefer the...
What the heck is Customer Centricity?

What the heck is Customer Centricity?

Reading the very interesting post Customer Centricity is MORE than Customer Experience by Joseph Michelli I engaged into a discussion about things centricity. The discussion basically is about answering the question “What the heck is customer centricity?” – this elusive thing. And how does it relate to customer experience and other ‘centricities’, like price centricity, product centricity, or service centricity? When do we call a company customer centric? Of course there are some usual suspects that can be used as examples to make one point or another. Is Ryanair customer centric? Aldi? Amazon? Apple? Google? Starbucks? Jiro’s sushi restaurant? Luckily all participating disputants have a different view, so there is a vivid discussion going on, from which one can learn a LOT. But first things first. Let’s get the issue of customer centricity vs. customer experience out of the way. Joseph states, that “customer centricity is a commitment or a strategy to assure the success of your customer. Whereas, customer experience is a set of customer perceptions forged across all their interactions with your brand.” (emphasis by Joseph Michelli). In brief: customer centricity is a strategy and customer experience is an outcome. This distinction is important, as not only a customer centric strategy leads to customer experiences (plural, every interaction with your brand results in an experience), which accumulate to customer experience (singular, the weighted sum total of all customer experiences over time). So, let’s assume there are four possible pure strategies: customer centric, price centric, product centric, service centric, and put a stake into the ground by briefly defining them. I call a strategy service centric if all...
Salesforce, Service, AI and … IoT

Salesforce, Service, AI and … IoT

AI, IoT, and CRM, three acronyms. However, these three belong together and should not be treated or looked at separately. One important reason for this is that companies and organizations can provide significantly better service experiences and, more importantly, results, by combining the capabilities behind these acronyms. Good field service not only gets dispatched smartly but also equipped with the right parts and, ideally, in a proactive manner. This can get delivered by the combination of Field Service, AI, and IoT data. That’s why I found Salesforce’s early December announcement of having added a component “IoT insights” to its Field Service Lightning product quite interesting. As the press release said, this capability enables service agents and representatives to see IoT signals together with other CRM data, so that the triple p of personalized, proactive, even predictive service is possible. After all, Einstein is embedded into Field Service Lightning for quite some time now. Doing so, Salesforce wisely did not implement yet another IoT platform but enabled its system to ingest data from existing IoT platforms, thus sticking to the core competencies of the company. The solution helps in three areas: Enabling of early issue anticipation (rather than detection, which is responsive) and remote diagnosis Providing agents with more relevant information, to speed up issue resolution And automation via rules and workflows. Says Paolo Bergamo, SVP and GM, Salesforce Field Service Lightning: Let me first clarify that we’re not competing with IoT platforms from the likes of AWS IoT or Azure IoT. Our solution extends the value of these platforms – they provide streams of device data that then flow...
The Return of the Suite

The Return of the Suite

The suite is back. I have said and written that a good number of times in the past few years. And that is a good thing (that the suite is back, not that I said it, of course), because one of the major challenges with a best of breed approach is integration. The suite is back, but it is in an incarnation that vastly differs from what we knew about suites back in the times before cloud computing and Salesforce brought back a supremacy of best of breed over the suite. Integrating different pieces of software from different vendors into one coherent whole is easily accounting for one third to one half of project budgets. And this part of the overall cost for implementing new software is often plaid down by best of breed vendors. Which is not a crime, especially if the benefits of the best of breed software outweigh the cost of integration. However. Often it does not. And not openly addressing cost of integration backfires. Always. Believe me. If you research my background well enough you will find out why you should. Little hint: I am not only writing about things. Another strong argument in favor of the suite is the platform war that is currently going on. Why? Simply, because a platform is not only a technical platform. It is more. A platform consists of mainly four pieces: a technical platform the ability of turning data into insight, an ecosystem, and productivity support. And, very importantly, a necessary capability that is provided by the technical platform is integration. Some other aspects include the provision of...