thomas.wieberneit@aheadcrm.co.nz
How to improve CX in times of a downturn

How to improve CX in times of a downturn

Finally, it happened. We lived in our blissful world of an abundance of money that fuelled the illusion of eternal and unlimited growth. The stock markets knew only one direction for a decade. They were rising and rising. Venture capital was readily available. Valuations of all sorts of companies, profitable or not, skyrocketed. Growth at all cost over profitability has been the war cry. Acquisitions have been extremely expensive up to the end of 2021. Logic never supported this illusion, the signs have been on the wall, yet we closed our eyes.  Then, in 2022, reality knocked at our doors, and none too subtle. In the “CX industry”, examples for this quite rude awakening include Zendesk. Zendesk went  private in June 2022 for $10.2 bn after refusing a $16+ bn offer in February 2022. Another one is Freshworks shares starting a steep decline in October 2021 after a very successful IPO in September 2021. These are only two examples and I by no means want to single out these great companies. Other signs included an increasing number of major layoffs throughout the first half of 2022, culminating in Salesforce announcing more focus on profitability due to a subdued outlook and subsequently laying off 8 thousand employees. Oracle already laid off more than 10 thousand employees of its CX division in August 2022. Amazon fired 18 thousand employees since November, 2022. Especially companies in the tech industry increasingly implemented hiring freezes throughout 2022. This is to quite an extent a consequence of their optimism (or should we say hubris?) but also of companies across industries keeping their budgets in tighter control than before. Another problem is that the definition of customer experience...
It is this time of the year again – your favourite articles of 2022

It is this time of the year again – your favourite articles of 2022

Happy New Year to everyone! Apart from all the political suff that I do not want to dive into, the year 2022 has seen a lot of exciting events and topics, from the rise and fall of the Metaverse, to lots of defaulting crypto companies. Towards the end of the year, chatGPt stirred up quite some waves. Not to forget the long story of Elon Musk taking over and handling Twitter … In more conventional areas, we have seen more of a renewed interest in affordable CX suites. Earlier in the year, also CDPs have been a big topic. Tips for good engagement to achieve customers having a positive experience is also always a topic. (Nearly) all of this is reflected in the 2022 top ten of my blog, which has seen a good number of visits.  A big and heartfelt thank you to all my readers! Here are your top ten articles of 2022. #10 How to engage for customer experience and success #9 How to create value with a CDP #8 The impact of the supply chain on the customer experience #7 A great human – bot conversation with lots to learn #6 How (and why) a marine consultancy made Zoho core of their business #5 The almighty Metaverse – its Rise and Fate #4 How to make Zoho a business’s operating system #3 How to Zoho’matize a business #2 Don’t mess with Zoho – A Zohoday 2022 recap #1  Metaverse – the return of the Undead All of these are well worth revisiting. Thank you again for your readership. I wish you all the best for 2023. Exciting times are lying ahead of...
CRM, CX and Customer Engagement – three humble wishes to better the industry

CRM, CX and Customer Engagement – three humble wishes to better the industry

The CRM Playaz asked me about my take on CRM for 2023. Of course, I happily supplied an answer … So, here we are. CRM in terms of concept and software is quite mature, after all it is around for quite some time. It went through some iterations and spun out into other areas, being more transactionally focused, instead of engagement focused. This led to the creation of more software categories, termed customer engagement management or, more recently, customer experience management. This had the potential to create misconceptions and ambiguities, especially when all three categories, customer relationship management, customer engagement and customer experience are looked at. There is confusion across these terms – as there are no generally accepted definitions around – and there is even confusion when looking at the terms individually.  That made me express three wishes and advice, one for customer relationship management, one for customer experience, and one for customer engagement. TL;DR – if you do not want to read, here is the video that I created. Let’s start with CRM CRM stands for customer relationship management. I do not want to dive into the discussion about whether there is too much focus on the M and not enough on the R. This is certainly worth a discussion of its own. Instead, let me share the observation that, sadly, CRM is far too often used when actually SFA – sales force automation is meant. This is a limited view on CRM that has been introduced mainly by vendors that focus on enabling sales forces and that has gained far too much traction. Customer relationship management, as a...
How to make customers for life

How to make customers for life

On November 10, 2022, SugarCRM held its annual analyst day in the beautiful Chaminade resort in Santa Cruz. In attendance was an elusive crowd of 14 analysts and six customer representatives, along with the SugarCRM executives. We gathered to inform ourselves about what is going on, what will be going on, and of course, to listen and talk to customers about how they solve their business challenges with SugarCRM. All of this in plenum- and individual formats along with good space for informal talks. The event Apart from the very important social activities that enabled SugarCRM executives, customers, partner representatives and analysts to mingle and talk, the event consisted of several informative briefings that ranged from strategy and roadmap sessions across the platform to all-important customer interviews. The last session was an open question and answer with the executive team. The customers in attendance have been very diverse, including (for profit) social business, a jet charter and service business, educational, medical businesses, and a governmental organization. Some of them are fairly new Sugar customers, some of them are with SugarCRM for a long time. What all of them have in common is that they have non-run-off-the-mill businesses and processes and that they use at least two of SugarCRM’s solutions. Some key insights that they shared were that they are often able to adapt their systems to changing needs by themselves and that, whenever they needed the support, it was readily available. Two of the stories brought very notable points. One business explained its ability to merge twenty plus acquisitions in less than two years into their system, so that...
SugarCRM Analyst Summit 2022: Bring Out Your Customers!

SugarCRM Analyst Summit 2022: Bring Out Your Customers!

The world is getting back to normal, which means two things: Vendors are shifting back to in-the-flesh conferences, and I’m writing again. The convergence of these two facts leads to me cranking out a short blog about SugarCRM’s Analyst Summit, held Nov. 10 in Santa Cruz, CA.The real highlight of the event for me was speaking to Sugar’s customers, a healthy handful of whom were in attendance. This is a change from my usual experience, where I’m more absorbed in what the host company is doing in terms of strategy and/or product. These customers—I interviewed executives from an air travel contractor, a for-profit shoe charity, and a surgical instrument sterilizer, among others—were the stars of this show. It was a refreshing experience. Feel the Message The expected updates to Sugar’s product road map were there, along with some healthy discussion of messaging. As always, I appreciate Sugar’s leadership team and its willingness to listen to feedback on how the company presents itself and adjust accordingly, or at least tell us why they will keep what they have. But the real message for me was those customers and their relationships with Sugar. Most of the time, there’s a certain sameness about the reference customers vendors trot out at events like this; they’re either recognizable brands or have easily explained businesses, they have a typical application and employee environment, and the ROI story is A-B-C. Vendors want you to understand why their customers chose them, and sometimes a challenging story can delay that understanding. Truthful Tales, Timely Told SugarCRM’s spotlight customers for this summit brought their passion for their work with...