thomas.wieberneit@aheadcrm.co.nz
How to engage for customer experience and success

How to engage for customer experience and success

It is time for a stake in the ground again. Of late, every vendor who used to play in the CRM arena positions itself as a „customer experience“ player and claims that its software “delivers customer experiences”. This is quite a claim. It also raises a lot of important questions. What is “customer experience”? And who is responsible for it? How does “customer experience” differ from “customer experiences”? What is the difference to customer engagement? How do they relate to customer expectations? And then there is “customer success”, too. What about customer satisfaction? Finally, how does CRM fit into the picture? As you can see, there is a lot of scope for confusion. And this confusion has definitely materialized. So, let’s start with some definitions Friend and industry luminary Paul Greenberg has ventured here already back in 2015 (and before). Still, as time moves, the industry evolves, and things tend to get forgotten, let me take another stab at it. The more fundamental concepts are perhaps engagement, followed by customer expectation and customer success. You can also watch my take on customer engagement vs. customer experience in this 90 second video. Customer engagement According to Merriam-Webster, engagement is “the act of engaging” or “the state of being engaged”. Well, let’s look at the verb, then. Amongst some other meanings, engage is defined as “attract and hold by influence or power” or “induce to participate”. So, engagement is essentially about interacting with each other. This is usually mutual, but mandatorily involves communication, reaching out, by the company. Importantly, this engagement can also happen the product or service itself, for instance...
How (and why) a marine consultancy made Zoho core of their business

How (and why) a marine consultancy made Zoho core of their business

During ZohoDay 2022, I had the chance to have a longer conversation with Graham Dallas, business development manager of the ABL Group. Graham was responsible for the implementation of ABL Group’s new CRM system. ABL Group is the result of a 2020 merger of AqualisBraemar ASA and the LOC Group. It is a 400+ person global energy and marine consultancy that helps companies around the world transition toward offshore renewable energy sources, clean shipping, and sustainable marine practices. Formerly Microsoft Dynamics users, ABL Group first began working with Zoho in 2021 via an implementation partner, and they collaborated on a design and build of a customized CRM solution for their business. Soon, the second phase of implementation will begin, which then includes integration with Oracle NetSuite. One of the main challenges facing ABL Group was the integration of two different businesses, one of them already using a “chunky” CRM solution and the other one not having a system. if you do not want to read too much but prefer watching the edited interview, you can do so here. The challenge to address was that ABL Group, also because of the recent merger has a lot of differing business structures that shall be supported via one single system. Luckily, the structures weren’t necessarily complex – the business just has a lot of different requirements due to the different regions and lines of business. ABL Group started with a small team of experienced persons who went into this implementation projects with open eyes and some ideas. They assembled a list of 6 candidates that they narrowed down into three with Zoho...
The customer success movement

The customer success movement

Customer success has become an interesting topic for software vendors and systems integrators, alike. I am thinking about this topic for a while now and now bring my thoughts to virtual paper after Jon Reed pinged me about it and after reading Josh Greenbaum’s very readable post about “customer successing”. By the way, Jon called software vendors to attention and to deliver proof points in a great article, too. So, call me a copycat 😉. The customer success movement In the past years enterprise software vendors and consultancies alike, have increasingly established customer success teams as part of their organizations. One can almost call it a movement. And it is a laudable endeavor to work on ensuring the customers’ success. However, when looking closer at the reasons for their establishment and their charters, it becomes quite obvious that many of these customer success teams are set up as a reaction to failing implementation projects or, even worse, as a vehicle for selling further services to customer companies.  Consequently, metrics that are used for measuring the success of the customer success teams are based around project metrics. Have implementation projects been on time, in budget, and delivered quality results, means they have been successful. Don’t get me wrong: there is nothing wrong with attempting to improve project success and to generate additional sales. There are still woefully many projects that do not get implemented within the allotted budget and time, and in sufficient quality. Additionally, one can argue that only happy customers do follow-up purchases; and customers are happy because the earlier projects succeeded.  I get it. Seriously. I am a consultant, too. Many vendors, often...
How to make Zoho a business’s operating system

How to make Zoho a business’s operating system

During ZohoDay 2022, I had the chance to have a longer conversation with Adi Mula, founder and CEO of Foodhub. If you do not want to read too much but prefer watching the edited interview, you can do so here. Similar to GrubHub and DoorDash, Foodhub allows residents of the UK, India, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, and Malaysia, the US and some more countries to order food to be delivered from a variety of local restaurants; unlike those other sites, Foodhub does not charge service fees. Foodhub currently has about 1,100 employees. Most of them are using Zoho products in one way or another and many use multiple Zoho products. Foodhub started its Zoho journey with the goal of simplifying processes and to be able to provide every team with simple and easy to use tools that will help them do their jobs.  Originally, Foodhub worked with a set of interconnected, yet overly complicated applications. This journey started with implementing Zoho CRM because this was where the pain was biggest in this area.  The sales teams in the various countries have different needs, yet the business needs them use a common foundation. The old solution did not support this. One of the problems that were caused by this was that Foodhub used huge Excel sheets to support its sales process. Besides the obvious complexity, this also caused a GDPR risk, as these sheets contained lots of personal data that could have easily be shared online. Moving to Zoho CRM immediately solved this problem by enabling model processes that solved the needs of the different regions while implementing an adequate security and permission model. Migrating...
How to “Zoho-matize” a business

How to “Zoho-matize” a business

During ZohoDay 2022, I had the chance to have a longer conversation with Elie Katz, founder and CEO of National Retail Solutions, NRS. if you do not want to read too much but prefer watching the edited interview, you can do so here. NRS was founded in 2015 and has  since then grown its customer base to more than 17,000 retail stores across the United States. NRS is a part of IDT, a provider of communications and payment services to individuals and businesses. The business provides POS and payment processing software, focusing on small, independent retailers, who want to not only survive but also thrive in a big box environment. The NRS POS system is built to help stores organize, attract customers and increase revenue; it includes a loyalty coupon program and other bells and whistles. An important point is the NRS outside-in philosophy, which is defining its own success as a result of making its customers successful by being able to address their needs. The challenge that Elie, his business, as well as the parent company, needed to support requires quite sophisticated own customer service and sales software; there is a widespread salesforce to be supported along with a good number of very different customers with disparate needs and service requests. The team learned early on that it needed a CRM system. This system was originally supposed to be implemented on a well-known platform – that remains unnamed here. The reason being that it was already being implemented at another branch of IDT. This system needed many third party tools and consequently the implementation dragged along at considerable cost, without showing adequate progress...
Don’t mess with Zoho – A Zohoday 2022 recap

Don’t mess with Zoho – A Zohoday 2022 recap

After spending two days in Austin, TX, attending the ZohoDay 2022, it is time for a little recap of this interesting event.  We were 99 analysts and 24 customers and plenty of knowledgeable Zoho personnel. The incredible Sandra Lo and her team organized the event around open and transparent communication. So, there was plenty of access for us to customers and the Zoho team.  Which was very important, as already the keynote session by founder and CEO Sridhar Vembu was quite hardcore. Vembu talked about how strategy and culture need to be one, how culture needs to be the root of strategy, and how Zoho implements this. The Zoho strategy lies on three main pillars Transnational localism, a unique concept that in its essence is about embedding a company into a local community by not only selling into it but also by investing into it. This investment is e.g., by offering high paying jobs in areas where these are scarce, by fostering local education, but also by own local sourcing including local materials and using sustainable practices when building. That way, these communities become self-reliant. Zoho first introduced this concept in 2020. In essence, Zoho sets up shop outside of centers, in rural areas, in a hub and spoke model. Tightly integrated products that together form a powerful platform to run a complete business. This is counterintuitive to the thought of apps using a common platform to deliver their services.Privacy as a core part of all applications and services, born out of the idea that the need for free flow of data needs to be governed by privacy.  This is a great...