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Six CRM lessons from 2011

5th Dec 2011
Share this content looks back at some of the major developments of the last 12 months and outlines what the CRM industry has learned in 2011.

As the curtain falls on another year, we take a look back at some of the news and stories that we've covered in the past 12 months, and consider what we've learned.

1. Customer experience is more important than ever

The customer experience was everywhere in 2011. It was on our TV screens as Mary ‘Queen of Shops’ Portas produced ‘Secret Shopper, a series detailing her work with some of Britain's best-known brands and high-street chains to improve their experience.
It was in our bookshops as the likes of Shaun Smith (with his book ‘Bold’) and the SAP team of Reza Soudagar, Vinay Iyer , Volker Hildebrand (with ‘The Customer Experience Edge’).
It was in the news as first New Call Telecom announced that it was moving its call centre operations from Bombay to Burnley, and then Santander decided to transfer its Indian call centre operations to the UK in a bid to boost customer satisfaction.
And there were some big vendor moves in 2011 that acknowledged just how integral customer experience has become.
While SAP launched its book, Adobe announced its first foray into the customer experience management space by releasing an enterprise ‘web experience management’ offering. Speaking to Brent Leary, Adobe’s principal customer experience strategist Ben Watson explained the importance of CEM: “Bruce Temkin at the Temkin Group just published a report that showed direct correlation between experience and loyalty,” he said. “So your investment in customer experience ultimately pays back in loyalty. That is repeat business or re-subscription. How are you building a customer experience in such a way that your customers are going to keep doing business with you? That’s a very high ROI that we want to pay a lot of attention to because it typically costs much less to keep a customer then it does to acquire one from a marketing perspective at least. More importantly is the revenue impact to the bottom line.”
Elsewhere, in arguably one of the biggest deals of the year, Oracle was willing to put billions into backing CEM, when it boosted its customer experience management ambitions with the announcement that it had agreed to acquire RightNow.

2. The CRM industry is a hive of activity despite the economy

The global CRM applications market experienced year-over-year growth of 6.2% to a revenue of $16.5 billion in 2010, according to the Worldwide Semiannual Customer Relationship Management Applications Tracker by IDC. And IDC expects the CRM applications market to continue to grow this year with revenue hitting $18 billion (7.6% year-over-year growth).
All of which makes CRM a very attractive market for start-ups – and this is reflected by the volume of companies coming into the CRM market and its extended ecosystem.
Indeed, in response to this, Paul Greenberg – arguably CRM’s most influential figure – this year to launch CRM Idol, a competition acknowledging the number of start-ups entering the sector and ensuring that they get the visibility amongst the thought leaders, analysts, journalists, venture capitalists and the general public that they deserve, but can often be denied when up against the industry behemoths.
The competition was a huge success and its winners – BPMonline in EMEA, and Get Satisfaction in the Americas – and the strong competition throughout the entire CRM Idol event demonstrated the sheer quality that is in the market.
It’s a tough economic environment out there, but it’s certainly a good time for CRM.

3. Get your crisis communications right or face the consequences!

There were enough warnings in 2010 about the dangers of badly handling a crisis in the social-powered age, when BP and Toyota were amongst a number of firms to be torn to shreds by critics for their crisis mismanagement. But lessons clearly weren’t taken onboard!
First PlayStation Network had to face up to the reputational implications heralded by its much-criticised response to a major security breach. And then BlackBerry was lambasted by its customers for the way it responded to a prolonged and unprecedented service outage.
Judith Ingleton-Beer, CEO of IBA, recommended businesses that find themselves with a similar crisis on their hands respond with the following action plan within the first 24 hours:
  1. Get the facts. Assume the worst – who, what, where, when, how.... Then decide whether you're going with an instant rebuttal or damage limitation.
  2. Instant rebuttal. The instant rebuttal is an absolute denial that the story is true. Make sure you are right, and remember, journalists often know in general but no-one ever tells them in detail. If necessary, in the case of an untrue report that is actually damaging to your company, you might need to consult with your lawyers and your PR professionals to obtain a retraction.
  3. Damage limitation. Take it on the chin – take full responsibility, be empathic to the victims, if there are any, and their families and be in control by outlining the problem and how they intend to solve it.
  4. Lead from the top. The ultimate fall guy makes the statements. We need to know you care. It took Toyota months before the president spoke.
  5. Communicate. With your staff, with your contact centre (remember, in a crisis, the person that answers the phone is as influential as top management), with your customers and with the media. Craft your message to suit your audience.
  6. Remember, signals speak louder than words. Tiger Woods, a 'Big Brand' in his own right, hid from the media for days, refused to let police officials talk to him and his wife, not once but THREE times, blamed the media and let the bloggers and Tweeters go wild! The signal? I have something to hide. So what should he have done? Assume the worst – that all the women involved were going to tell their stories. Admit responsibility – just imagine the sympathy vote he would have had if he had appeared after coming out of hospital in front of the cameras, bruised, battered and scarred, and said he was sorry.


4. Big Data is about more than just volume

There was a lot of talk about Big Data in 2011 – as well as a lot of confusion. Deemed a hot topic, vendor after vendor looked to capitalise on the interest by pitching itself in the field. Informatica CEO Sohaib Abbasi recounted how the trend towards Big Data played to his company’s strengths.
When Jive Software acquired social analytics software start-up Proximal Labs earlier this year it suggested that it would accelerate Jive's efforts to use the innovations of ‘big data’ to unlock the value of the social graph in the enterprise.
Speaking of SAP’s recent announcements, Carl Olofson, a research vice president for application development and deployment at IDC, noted that: "The latest BI and EIM solutions from SAP are designed to tackle ‘big data’, integrating structured and unstructured data and even information from social networks."
Meanwhile, Larry Ellison was rubbing his hands with glee at the prospect of Big Data playing to Oracle’s origins as a pure database firm.
But despite all of the vendor hype, Ovum voiced concerns that there is neither widespread agreement on what the term means nor an adequate one-size fits all approach to exploiting it properly.
In its report entitled ‘Big Data’s BI and analytic redux’, the researcher pointed to the fact that the phrase had been coined to describe large amounts of information that was no longer generated only by humans but also by machines and online via tools ranging from social networks and ecommerce sites to mobile devices.
But analysts Madan Sheina and Tony Baer attested that "there’s more to Big Data than just data volume" and being able to process it quickly. Instead, if such data could be analysed properly, it also offered a potential "business opportunity" by providing deeper insights into patterns and behaviours.
The sentiment was echoed by Gartner as it fired a warning that organisations that simply focus on managing the large volumes associated with ‘big data’ and fail to exploit it properly will be forced into a "massive reinvestment" within a couple of years. The problem, the research house suggested, is that too many IT leaders are currently attempting to manage ‘big data’ challenges by focusing on the volume side of the equation and ignoring other areas of information management such as variety and velocity. And this situation will lead to "massive challenges" that will need to be addressed at a later date.
Time for Big Data to grow up in 2012?

5. Enterprise feedback is on the ropes! Or not!

Are the wheels coming off the EFM wagon? It was a hot topic of debate this year.
The catalyst was a blog post by customer experience transformist and managing partner of Temkin Group Bruce Temkin proposed that EFM was an outmoded, outdated term that should be consigned to the past.
Bruce’s post inspired a spate of responses around the blogosphere from the likes of Esteban Kolsky, Forrester’s Andrew McInnes and Vovici’s Steve Elliott.
When investigated the debate, the battle lines had been drawn.
Temkin told us: "I think that people need to let go of the past and understand that the future for EFM platforms is quite different than their heritage of helping market research groups managing surveys. I think that the next generation of enabling technology, customer insight and action (CIA) platforms, will have a dramatic effect on the competitiveness of organisations."
On the other side of the debate, Esteban Kolsky suggested that there is no need to introduce a new acronym as EFM was never just about surveys and feedback – discovering actionable insights about the customer was always an explicit part of it. What has clouded this somewhat, he said, has been the fact that vendors such as SurveyMonkey, which are focused on more of the operational aspects, have been included in the EFM category.
"Any Tom, Paul and Peter who is a survey tool wanted to call themselves EFM because they sounded bigger, better and more interesting," Kolsky told us. "But they have more focus on the analytics than on the insights. Only a handful of companies had a focus on actionable insights – which is the value that EFM brings.”
Kolsky added: "In my experience, acronyms, solutions, technologies and strategies never die – they just keep reincarnating." He predicted: "It is hard to tell but I think there is going to be some noise for a while, you’re going to see support coming out on both sides of the aisle, and then eventually it is going to be decided by the end users, who are going to figure out that something that gets data and gives them insight is everything they need - without caring whatever they call it."

6. Businesses are serious about the mobile – but mind the mistakes!

Mobile advertising is going through the roof, and this year the global mobile advertising market will have doubled in revenue terms from $1.6 billion in 2010 to $3.3 billion according to Gartner, with re analyst’s Stephanie Baghdassarian concluding that brands, advertisers and publishers were now recognising mobile advertising as an opportunity to engage consumers in a targeted and contextual manner in order to improve returns.
Gartner research vice president Andrew Frank said that 2011 was the year that some "important drivers" finally fell into place, adding: "Brand marketers who want to include mobile in their advertising initiatives should not delay their trials and should have their budgets in place now to take advantage of mass consumer adoption of smartphones and media tablets."
2011 was the year that QR codes really started capturing the imagination of marketers (click here for Danyl Bosomworth’s guide to using QR codes for marketing – one of the most popular stories on this year).
Social networking officially became a mobile phenomenon, with the audience for mobile social networking across Europe growing 44% in the last year with 55.1 million mobile users in Europe’s five leading European markets accessing social networking sites or blogs via their mobile devices during September according to comScore.
In other news, 2011 may one day be remembered by some as the year that Google Wallet launched to merchant and retail partners, potentially opening the way for mobile tap-and-pay systems to enter the mainstream.
Sri Sharma, managing director at Net Media Planet, predicted that the introduction of Google Wallet would enable brands to drive m-commerce and mobile search forward at an exponential rate, as well as strengthen their multichannel offering. “For example, a consumer can search for a particular product, follow a paid search advert to an online offer, save the voucher to their “wallet” and then redeem it in-store via a swipe of their mobile phone,” she said. “This represents significant opportunity beyond the use of promotional tactics, offering a simple but effective way to implement and track a multichannel offering.”
But Gartner’s Frank also acknowledged that despite the growth that this field has experienced, it did not mean "by any stretch, that the experience delivered by mobile advertising will reach its optimum point" this year – or indeed the next. Indeed, he expects that targeting and contexualisation functionality, particularly in relation to social media sites and applications, still needed to improve.
Mobile retail experiences also still need fine-tuning, with a study by Stibo Systems finding that only 27% of consumers surveyed were satisfied with their mobile retail experience, and only 8.6% rating their experience as ‘excellent.’
In a separate study by dotCommerce, it was revealed that half of dedicated mobile sites don’t load on Android and users could not complete purchase on a staggering 91% of sites with Blackberry.
Mark Thorpe, managing director UK at Stibo Systems, said:“People are beginning to place more trust in their mobile devices, while reaping the benefits such as convenient transactions, seamless movement between channels and the ability to compare prices and review products on the move. As a result, it is important that retailers do not ignore their mobile strategies and instead work hard to stay ahead of the game while driving revenue.”

Replies (1)

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By ChristopherKrywulakIQM
17th Jan 2012 01:21

I definitely agree with your first point: quality customer service increases customer loyalty. At iQmetrix, our core mission is to create great experiences. We strive to provide an excellent experience for our clients and their customers. We developed XQ Interactive Retail to help mobile retailers enhance the in-store experience. XQ's touchscreen technology draws customers into the store and provides them with an excellent shopping experience while they wait for assistance. Early adopters of XQ have seen a significant drop in walk-outs, as well as an increase in consumer interest and brand loyalty. For more information on how XQ is helping mobile resellers, visit:

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