Become Preferred: Make Customers Want You

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“Recessions are a great time to gain market share. That’s when you grow. That’s when dissatisfaction is at its highest. You need discontent,” said Michael Vickers (@michael_vickers), Executive Director of Summit Learning Systems in his presentation “Become Preferred: Up-Level the Brand Experience” at the CRM Evolution 2012 conference in New York City.

In his presentation, Vickers went about trying to answer the question, “How do we become preferred in our marketplace regardless of market conditions?”

How do you make your brand experience unique and different from the competition?

While we have an endless array of copycat type companies, Vickers advises businesses to say “No” to imitation. If you do follow the imitation path, you’ll get into an endless cycle of competitive benchmarking. “You want to be considered the only ones that do what you do,” said Vickers, quoting Jerry Garcia.

It’s not about the best product. It’s about the best experience. Your goal should be to become the preferred provider of what you sell, continued Vickers. One way to constantly differentiate is to challenge your assumptions.

Identify the stress of your customers better than your competition, remove it, and then connect, Vickers said explaining that people often don’t make rational decisions, well not initially. People make their decisions first with emotion and then they back it up with logic.

Take a standard service offering and up-level it

A simple way you can “up-level” your offering is to send out a “Thank you” note which moves you out of being seen as just a transaction to that of an experience. The “Thank you” note becomes memorable and therefore you create an experience with that simple action. Even when you don’t have a deal in play or no product sold, you have to add an experience. It gives you points in a relationship for which you can cash in later, like when you screw up, said Vickers.

Vickers offered this formula for achieving preferred status:

(Expected Value + Distinctive Value) x Trust = Preferred Status

To get to preferred status, said Vickers, you need to level up through these three stages:

Loyalty – Be scared of this. Don’t want people to just be “satisfied” with your service. Loyalty can be bought.
Advocacy – Word of mouth business.
Insistence – They want you. They ask for you.
Truly understand what business you’re in. Always ask “Why” people are buying your product. Once you answer the “Why,” align yourself with it, Vickers said.

Enterprise Gamification for Business, Not Just Silly Games

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Gamification in the enterprise is about solving a business problem. We’re letting ourselves be gamified and as a result business operations are happily changing thanks to disruptive technologies and new business models, said Ray Wang, Principal Analyst and CEO for Constellation Research, in his presentation, “Demystifying Enterprise Gamification” at the CRM Evolution 2012 conference in New York City.

Gamification in the office looks at the how, when, where, and why of work. We have lots of other motivations outside of money, said Wang. If you can tap into these other motivations, you can change behavior.

Goal of any gamification effort is to create an intention-driven economy where those that initiate the game know what you would want from an initial decision. Gamification becomes a series of processes to create incentives to change behaviors and outcomes. The shift starts with active listening to determine rewards, achievement, and broader trends, said Wang.

When do you use gamification within your business?

According to Wang, these are the most common reasons:

Encouraging collaboration among functional teams
Improving outcomes in training and learning
Fostering employee referrals
Driving onboarding success among new hires
Creating a culture of sharing and recognition
In the office environment, you want to move beyond game-oriented tactics (e.g., badge, widgets, points systems) and think about the overall business goal and individual motivation.

With your customers, use non-monetary rewards to influence behavior

Cash incentives are less effective by 33% than non-monetary incentives, said Wang. Instead, go after people’s aspirations which appear on three different levels: recognition, access, and making an impact.

Level 1: Recognition

Influence tracking
Achievement badges
Featured placement
Awards and contests
PR and media placement
Speaking slots
Virtual currencies and points
Level 2: Access

Community resources and tutorials
Virtual goods
Special groups
Key executives
New features
New products
Beta versions
Public events
Private events
Level 3: Impact – These are people who want to change the product, transform the experience, or build another service. Heck, you want to hire these people. At best it’s 1% of your customers. These are your stars, said Wang.

Raise personal and community profile
Participate in feedback surveys
Influence product direction
Drive business outcomes
Provide proof point references
Evangelize products and concepts
Non-monetary incentives come in many different ways and you can use them to motivate your employees and your customers. Half your audience wants to be recognized and known, and half wants their privacy but still want their rewards.

If you want to figure out how you can gamify your audience and employees, you must first listen to determine what it is that motivates them, said Wang.

CRM is Not Just in Your CRM Application, It’s Everywhere

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CRM doesn’t reside solely in your CRM application. It’s actually global with service participants being anyone that you can connect with online, not just official customer service representatives at a call center, explained Jesús Hoyos, Principal of CRM in Latin America, in our conversation at the CRM Evolution 2012 conference in New York City.

We’re undergoing a global impact of CRM where we’re not beholden to a specific call center to get an answer. Instead you can reach out to your neighbor who is someone on YouTube, on Twitter, on Facebook. Companies that have bad service but a good product can’t hide anymore, said Hoyos.

Hoyos relayed two personal stories. One of circumventing an auto dealership to save himself $600 from a defect in his Jeep Commander and another story of fixing a glitch for free on his Samsung TV. In both cases, he reached out online to the open web and found the answer through another user that had experienced the same issue as him.

Unlike my conversation with Brent Leary at the same conference, Hoyos has a different definition of the “Amazon effect” which he refers to as the best service is no service. By creating communities on their site around products, with comments and reviews, Amazon users are able to help other users from within the Amazon site, not the open web. Amazon in turn analyzes the data within their communities and makes decisions based on that data. Hoyos negates social consultants that tell you to be on traditional social channels.

“You don’t have to be on Facebook or Twitter. You have to be where the data of the customer transaction tells you where you have to be,” said Hoyos.

Tackling Traditional and Social CRM Integration

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Not being able to lock down the customer profile is the reason so many companies have a difficult time with CRM integration, said Barton Goldenberg, President of ISM, during a presentation on preparing and launching a social CRM strategy at the CRM Evolution 2012 conference in New York City.

Typically, a CRM system consists of customer profiles filled with product information, service information, and outstanding financial information. That data alone gives you an idea who your customer is and what opportunities exist. The problem, said Goldenberg, is that many companies who are building CRM or have a CRM haven’t mastered the customer profile process, which perpetually asks questions such as:

“What information should I gather from which systems?”

“How do I pull it all together?”

“How do I keep it up to date?”

“How do I make sure my sales, my marketing, and my customer service use the profile to identify opportunities to identify, to cross sell, and to up sell?”

Many companies haven’t mastered the customer profile process right from within their CRM system, said Goldenberg.

The complexity of the traditional CRM compounds itself when you integrate the customer’s emotional and sentimental input, a.k.a. social insight. Whether that profile process is solid or not you’re going to try to integrate the social with the traditional CRM.

Now that you’re collecting all this sensitive information about the customer, how can a representative approach the customer so that neither party feels awkward, asked Goldenberg.

Four steps to smooth integration

Here’s Goldenberg’s four-step guide for a smooth CRM-to-social engagement and integration:

  1. Make sure your traditional CRM vendor can deliver an excellent customer profile.
  2. Bring in the social media either through APIs or call outs to social communities.
  3. Listen, filter that information, and use it in your customer engagement system.
  4. Train all users, representatives and customers, to better use the system so it’s not uncomfortable and not a burden for anyone. It should be something that’s desired where both parties want to combine forces to make it work.

Three Tips to Entice Collaboration in the Workplace

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Collaboration is such an awesome idea in principle, but when it comes down to implementation it doesn’t always come out so rosy. The determining factor of any collaboration tool’s success is participation. So before you even think about what tool to use, how are you going to get people to participate?

At the Zoho user conference, Zoholics, in Burlingame, California, I caught up with Jacob Morgan, Principal and Co-Founder of Chess Media Group and author of the upcoming book “The Collaborative Organization.”

One of the chapters in Morgan’s upcoming book is about how you get people to adopt collaboration.

I asked Morgan to offer up three tips:

  1. MUST have senior level support: It can’t just be the CEO saying, “Yeah, you should do this,” but rather he/she has to actively participate and encourage others to participate as well.
  2. Make it part of the normal workflow: People won’t collaborate if it’s an additional thing they need to do on top of their normal workflow. Let them access their current information through collaboration.
  3. Training and education: Teach employees why they should be using the tools, not just how to use them. Invite collaboration in how the organization does business and into the values or mission of the company. You can also use collaboration as a means to review employees. Morgan said some companies are experimenting with this technique.

The Facts about Social Business Adoption

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While those people working with social are getting some value of it, most don’t know how to take social technologies and adopt processes to it, said Esteban Kolsky, analyst with thinkJar after his presentation at the CRM Evolution 2012 conference in New York City.

Kolsky’s analyst firm questioned over 300 people in a study about the adoption of social technologies in business.

Here are some of the key findings from the study:

  • Confusion of the value of social networks does not hinder adoption. In general, across all CRM services (e.g., marketing, sales, service) the social aspect still has lots of confusion.
  • Virtually everyone believes that social media will become a key communications activity with customers.
  • Social media is a new set of channels for the business to use, nothing more.
  • The volume of social media information to track and access is overwhelming.
  • Today, adoption of video and pictures is huge. Esteban argues that people relate to the images more.
  • 1 out of 4 senior managers “get” social media as a business tool.
  • Two of the biggest hindrances to adoption of social media are, in order, security issues, not understanding the benefits, and not sure which business cases can leverage social media.
  • The survey was split into thinking and adoption. When it came to questions about adoption, there was about a 50 percent drop off.
  • Marketing is using social simply to provide information.
  • Only 37 percent see social as an area for escalation which is the opposite of what customers do. On Twitter, 93 percent of interactions get escalated.
  • Knowledge creation and knowledge management are going to drive social in the service space.
  • For employees, they found usefulness with their corporate blog, Twitter, video, pictures, and the social business platform.
  • 43 percent have been using social media for more than 24 months.
  • 39 percent of people believe that social CRM is not applicable, are not using it, and are not interested in using it. Esteban believes this number is low since they sent a certain percentage of surveys out via social media.

Current state of social

Right now, content is the key aspect of social CRM. There’s little understanding as to how generation, management, tracking, and reporting work with social. There’s no strategic plan, yet. Next stage is analytics and measurement and then finally the goal will be a collaborative enterprise, said Kolsky.

CRM 2.0 is for Sales Management

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What is your sales staff doing to help sales management figure out which customers to go after, asked Jim Dickie, Managing Partner of CSO Insights in his presentation, “CRM 2.0 for Sales Management,” at the CRM Evolution 2012 conference in New York City.

To develop your business, you have to find great sales people specific to your business and second, find the right customers to help your business grow.

Sales DNA assessment

You want people that will not only be successful but will also want to stay for a long time. You can determine that by looking at these three criteria, advised Dickie:

  • Innate Talent: Are they strategic or tactical? Long term or short term?
  • Culture Fit: How do they fit within the culture of the organization?
  • Acquired Skills: Will they be happy here over time? Even if you bring on a great salesperson, but they’re not happy, that’s a bad hire.

What customers should you go after?

Salespeople often go after high performance customers, meaning those that are great consumers of your products and services. Problem is these customers could be low potential meaning you’ve maxed them out. Dickie suggests you seek high potential customers that are low performing. There’s greater opportunity in that space.

In sales today the sin is not to lose. The sin is to take too long to lose. That’s why analyzing your pipeline can’t be a once a year process. It has to be ongoing. Dickie argued that it’s OK to have a decreasing pipeline if you’re getting more out of the customers you’ve already got.

The Sales Ecosystem

The sales ecosystem is a combination of things that are in and out of your control. You must constantly deal with economic shifts, competitive landscape, political environment, and prospecting. Even if you come up with the best strategy to handle it, nothing’s going to happen unless you have the culture to support your strategy.

Hiring the right talent, finding customers with great potential, and building a strategy with the right culture, is the great new potential of sales management.

Dickie concluded with this thought from Allan Lam, SVP for Fairchild Semiconductor:

“Do I have the capacity to persevere? Do I have the stomach to face failure? Let’s be really frank. If you embark on a journey like this and two years down the road the efforts are not showing any results, you can lose your job, but I also believe that if you don’t do anything, you are going to get fired anyway.”