Impact of 'War on Terrorism' on CRM

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I am writing this editorial on Friday 21 Sept. Last night I watched the memorial service at St Thomas' Church on Fifth Avenue, N.Y., for British relatives and others. Tony Blair, quoting from Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey, spoke of "a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love. The only survival and only meaning", echoing some of Dylan Thomas' poem in our own editorial last week. A personal message from the Queen took a similar line: "nothing that can be said can begin to take away the anguish and grief of this moment. Grief is the price we pay for love."

But of course, as well as the personal aspects of this tragedy, the political consequences are beginning to emerge. President Bush has addressed both Houses of Congress. "Tonight we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger, and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done...". Tony Blair had spoken earlier on of the support the UK was willing to offer: "My father's generation went through the Blitz. They know what it is like to suffer this deep tragedy and attack. There was one country and one people which stood by us at that time. That country was America and those people were the American people. As you stood by us in those days, we stand side by side with you now."

That support of course does not only come from Britain. As Bush said: "America will never forget the sounds of our national anthem playing at Buckingham Palace, and on the streets of Paris, and at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. We will not forget South Korean children gathering to pray outside our embassy in Seoul, or the prayers of sympathy offered at a mosque in Cairo. We will not forget moments of silence and days of mourning in Australia and Africa and Latin America." And today there is support from Iran. Tony Blair spoke with Iranian President Mohammed Khatami: "It was a remarkable conversation, not only because he has given us his full solidarity in outrage at what happened in the USA, and strong condemnation of terrorism, but also [in] how we are tackling this." The BBC's Teheran correspondent Jim Muir said: "Iran is desperately trying to avert what it fears will be a calamity, perhaps even greater than that inflicted on New York and Washington."

As well as the suicidal terrorists - directed, we are led to believe, from Afghanistan - we also see large numbers of economic migrants. Across the English Channel, at the entrance to the Channel Tunnel, rest large numbers of migrants, many from Afghanistan, trying to enter the UK illegally. Australia has had to adopt a 'Repel all boarders' policy to prevent illegal immigrants from Afghanistan entering Australia on boats. It's a long way from Afghanistan to the UK and to Australia. Whatever is driving those migrants has to be significant. A major part is, of course, the difference in economic wellbeing of people in the global economy, depending on where they live.

As the naval vessels leave the US for the Gulf, there seems little doubt that we can expect action in the near future. But as everyone realises, we are fighting a new kind of war, so we're all finding out what the rules are. We need to meet the competing demands of retribution/justice and reduction of the levels of terrorism. To paraphrase Tony Blair on crime: "We need to be tough on terrorism, and tough on the causes of terrorism". Whatever action we take - and we have to respond firmly to the completely unacceptable actions in Washington and New York - it has to be intelligent action. Action that is likely to help resolve those issues.

Even before any of that action takes place, we can already see impacts on the CRM industry.

There can be little doubt that the political uncertainty around the global reaction to the terrorist attacks, coupled with the loss of wealth resulting from the falls in stock market indices, is going to reduce consumer confidence significantly. This, together with uncertainties in the insurance and airline industries, makes recession look more likely, particularly since it seems as though we were heading that way anyway. There may be doubts about the length of that recession, but we face it at least in the immediate future. We can expect it to become much tougher to meet our major CRM objectives. It will be tougher to sell to our existing customers, and tougher to find new ones. Customers may well be more likely to leave, even if they do not go elsewhere. Of course this means that we need to be more effective in our CRM than before, so the CRM market may well prove to behave inversely to the market. Certainly the likely winners in this environment are likely to be those who can execute their CRM programmes well, reducing customer attrition, maintaining the loyalty of their existing customers and maximising the return from those customers.

For major corporates, CRM has frequently been tied up with politics. Global CRM programmes are being used to introduce at least one level of standardisation in group companies around the world. As we wrote recently, there has been a growing trend towards locating call centers in low-cost economies such as India. With the increasing uncertainties and risk, the attraction of locating a call-center operation in India is likely to diminish, at least in the short-term, and the travel required to manage global developments will be more difficult. All in all we can expect to see, again in the short-term, a reduction in globalisation. I have myself regretfully cancelled attending a conference coming up soon in the Middle East.

It seems to us that significant changes in the CRM marketplace were already taking place before the recent terrorist activity. For me a senior CRM manager in Microsoft summed this up by saying, "We now know how to talk the talk, we're trying to learn how to walk the walk." There is much less interest in the theory of CRM and much more interest in doing CRM. How do we do this stuff? This leads to less attendance at conferences, less involvement with consultants and more with practitioners, as we move into using CRM.

With the heightened attention on global political developments, we hope this desirable trend towards doing CRM continues, and that the CRM-Forum will be able to help you with it.

Last week we took the unusual step of publishing a poem by the Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, as part of our editorial. We thought we might repeat the experiment, just once, but with a Turkish Sufi poet from the 12th Century, Rumi. I understand that the Sufi strain of Islam, and Rumi in particular, is a strong influence in Afghanistan, at least until recently, and maybe still now.

***
Since I was cut from the reedbed,
I have made this crying sound.

Anyone apart from someone he loves
understands what I say.

Anyone pulled from a source
longs to go back.

At any gathering I am there,
mingling in the laughing and grieving,

a friend to each, but few
will hear the secrets hidden

within the notes. No ears for that.
Body flowing out of spirit,

spirit up from body: no concealing
that mixing. But it's not given us
to see the soul.

The reed flute
is fire, not wind. Be that empty.
***

As always, we like feedback to these editorials. We want to stimulate a debate. If you've got a view on the political situation, or how it will affect CRM, please let us know so that we can all continue to develop our understanding.

You can post comments directly to this editorial by using the 'add a comment' link below, or email me directly at: [email protected].

Regards,

Richard Forsyth
The CRM-Forum
The independent resource centre for CRM

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avatar
01st Nov 2001 17:15

It is unbelievable that such a disaster can happen and so very sad for those effected by it.

Your comment regarding globalisation decreasing. at Call Centre College, we are embarking on a research campaign to find out over the next three months how companies are altering their plans in light of the disaster and economic situation.

We may be surprised, as a recession of this nature, i.e. serious, will force companies even further into shaving operational cost to remain competitive. I do not believe that major companies will consider the 'lock, stock and barrel' approach to any of these off-shore locations, but they will no doubt look for an alternative model that is slightly lower risk.

It will be interesting to watch the next three months unfold.

Regards,

Fiona Hills

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
28th Sep 2001 15:09

hello richardforsyth,
a clarification: i belong to the gender of angels!i liked ur articles & a regular visitor of ur site. i am certain that the global mrkts can best benifit from outsoursing to asian mmkts. as i mentioned last time now it benifits us uk canada, & aus most.ofcourse , it benifts asian mrts too!but for this the western world must plan ahead contemplate the areas of uotsource much more seriously from the point of veiw of the " how to benifit from the asian mrkts" rather than blindly try out n burn fingers like it happened with "mt" . therfore a careful study of area n its advantages must be taken care of.
so, all the best thinkers!
bye for now!
---MS.LAKSHMI SRIDHAR.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
25th Sep 2001 15:42

I found your editorial a good insight, having been first instinctively put off by linking the terrorist attacks and potential global instability with concerns on what it might do for CRM practitioners.
Instead, I found it interesting to think that CRM might play a part in countering the 'causes of terrorism' that our Prime Minister, Tony Blair referred to.
The difference in wealth across a global economy is a massive cause of terrorism, excluding religious fanaticism. perhaps the use of CRM through ebusiness channels to permit anyone who can connect to the digital economy to 'target' anyone across the globe may have a profound effect on the 'wealth barrier'.
Lakshmi added a mktg plea through his comment, that we do not withdraw from India as a call centre outsource locn.To do so would be counter productive in fighting these causes.
I would welcome views from anyone who would like to explore this area further, with a view to waging an 'alternative war' on the causes of terrorism' through our new,CRM powered, global economy.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
25th Sep 2001 14:15

hello
i'd been through ur editorial.it had been quite informative as usual. you did mention that crm might take a back seat in india --or asian countries. what i would like to know is that it might increase in asian countries --esp.in india . you know now usa need to budget its spending spree n cutting costs for revival of economy. therfore by outsoursing ur getting work done plus savins dollars right?
think about it n ,if u like you can get in touch wit me at my e-mail.

bye
lakshmi

Thanks (0)
avatar
01st Nov 2001 17:15

It is unbelievable that such a disaster can happen and so very sad for those effected by it.

Your comment regarding globalisation decreasing. at Call Centre College, we are embarking on a research campaign to find out over the next three months how companies are altering their plans in light of the disaster and economic situation.

We may be surprised, as a recession of this nature, i.e. serious, will force companies even further into shaving operational cost to remain competitive. I do not believe that major companies will consider the 'lock, stock and barrel' approach to any of these off-shore locations, but they will no doubt look for an alternative model that is slightly lower risk.

It will be interesting to watch the next three months unfold.

Regards,

Fiona Hills

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
01st Oct 2001 11:09

Do you know that even as far away as South Africa is to the US, most companies' web sites were down. Those who se sites remained "alive" moved at snail speed. In my company, it was such a big deal pacifying clients. Not too many of them believed that the New York's bombings could cause such slipshod performance of web sites.
I know for a fact that not too many of our then dissatisfied clients have forgiven us.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
28th Sep 2001 18:02

I always read, with great interest, your editorials, but as an American, the last two have been especially important to me. Many Americans are unable to discern the effects events in our country have on the world. While the press has certainly echoed the quotes of political figures from many countries, it is always comforting to hear words of support from the citizens those leaders represent. I often look to the CRM-Forum for insight into the European business market, but this time, I'm glad to have gotten a more personal comment.

Despite the impending recession, the catastrophic events of September 11 have caused citizens of the world to bond and give money on a scale never seen before. We have experienced a communion and solidarity with other nations that most of us never thought we would see in a life time. For those that doubted or did not understand, there truly is a global economy, far stronger and larger than most can imagine. As a result of these revelations, my own personal goals have changed from "expand my understanding of the business model" to "enlightenment of world cultures and their effect on business and the global economy". Seems like it should have been that way all along, but as Americans we tend to absorb a culture rather than examine and understand it.

The way I see it, global businesses now have a choice to make. They can hid in their shell like a turtle and withdraw from countries deemed "at risk", or they can flow like a river, adapting to the terrain, building strength from their surroundings, providing life to those that are in need.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
01st Oct 2001 11:09

Do you know that even as far away as South Africa is to the US, most companies' web sites were down. Those who se sites remained "alive" moved at snail speed. In my company, it was such a big deal pacifying clients. Not too many of them believed that the New York's bombings could cause such slipshod performance of web sites.
I know for a fact that not too many of our then dissatisfied clients have forgiven us.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
25th Sep 2001 15:42

I found your editorial a good insight, having been first instinctively put off by linking the terrorist attacks and potential global instability with concerns on what it might do for CRM practitioners.
Instead, I found it interesting to think that CRM might play a part in countering the 'causes of terrorism' that our Prime Minister, Tony Blair referred to.
The difference in wealth across a global economy is a massive cause of terrorism, excluding religious fanaticism. perhaps the use of CRM through ebusiness channels to permit anyone who can connect to the digital economy to 'target' anyone across the globe may have a profound effect on the 'wealth barrier'.
Lakshmi added a mktg plea through his comment, that we do not withdraw from India as a call centre outsource locn.To do so would be counter productive in fighting these causes.
I would welcome views from anyone who would like to explore this area further, with a view to waging an 'alternative war' on the causes of terrorism' through our new,CRM powered, global economy.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
28th Sep 2001 15:09

hello richardforsyth,
a clarification: i belong to the gender of angels!i liked ur articles & a regular visitor of ur site. i am certain that the global mrkts can best benifit from outsoursing to asian mmkts. as i mentioned last time now it benifits us uk canada, & aus most.ofcourse , it benifts asian mrts too!but for this the western world must plan ahead contemplate the areas of uotsource much more seriously from the point of veiw of the " how to benifit from the asian mrkts" rather than blindly try out n burn fingers like it happened with "mt" . therfore a careful study of area n its advantages must be taken care of.
so, all the best thinkers!
bye for now!
---MS.LAKSHMI SRIDHAR.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
28th Sep 2001 18:02

I always read, with great interest, your editorials, but as an American, the last two have been especially important to me. Many Americans are unable to discern the effects events in our country have on the world. While the press has certainly echoed the quotes of political figures from many countries, it is always comforting to hear words of support from the citizens those leaders represent. I often look to the CRM-Forum for insight into the European business market, but this time, I'm glad to have gotten a more personal comment.

Despite the impending recession, the catastrophic events of September 11 have caused citizens of the world to bond and give money on a scale never seen before. We have experienced a communion and solidarity with other nations that most of us never thought we would see in a life time. For those that doubted or did not understand, there truly is a global economy, far stronger and larger than most can imagine. As a result of these revelations, my own personal goals have changed from "expand my understanding of the business model" to "enlightenment of world cultures and their effect on business and the global economy". Seems like it should have been that way all along, but as Americans we tend to absorb a culture rather than examine and understand it.

The way I see it, global businesses now have a choice to make. They can hid in their shell like a turtle and withdraw from countries deemed "at risk", or they can flow like a river, adapting to the terrain, building strength from their surroundings, providing life to those that are in need.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
25th Sep 2001 14:15

hello
i'd been through ur editorial.it had been quite informative as usual. you did mention that crm might take a back seat in india --or asian countries. what i would like to know is that it might increase in asian countries --esp.in india . you know now usa need to budget its spending spree n cutting costs for revival of economy. therfore by outsoursing ur getting work done plus savins dollars right?
think about it n ,if u like you can get in touch wit me at my e-mail.

bye
lakshmi

Thanks (0)