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How Did I Get Here? Barry Dowd, Director of Customer Support, Martin Dawes Systems

26th Sep 2005
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How Did I Get Here? Barry Dowd, Director of Customer Support, Martin Dawes Systems

1. What is your current job title/position? What other positions have you held throughout your career and how did you get started in the Customer Management industry?

My current position is Director of Customer Support at Martin Dawes Systems Ltd (MDS)

My background is a little unusual in that I was a professional Rugby League player for Widnes RLFC for a number of years (during which time we were crowned world champions!). Having simultaneously completed an Economics degree at Manchester University, I eventually retired from Rugby and joined Martin Dawes Telecommunications (MDT), where I progressed from management trainee to Operations General Manager. At that time, MDT was the largest independent cellular service provider in the UK.

MDT was acquired by 02 in 1997 and I was on the core management team which subsequently founded Martin Dawes Systems, which had a core business focus on the provision of CRM and billing software. Given our background in telecommunications subscriber management, we are ideally positioned to not only provide CRM software solutions to be run in-house by operators, but also to provide outsourced services, to fixed line operators moving into the mobile sector and big brands starting to offer mobile subscriber services using the MVNO business model.

2. What do you most enjoy about your current position?

The opportunity to contribute directly to the growth and success of a young vibrant company. I particularly enjoy involvement in the outsourced services side of the business as it is going back to my original roots (being predominantly operational rather than IT).

3. Is there anyone in the industry you particularly admire or who has had a big influence on your career?

I like to think I have gained a little knowledge and insight from all of my colleagues and customers over the years. In the early days as Customer Service Manager I had the fortune to work with several high profile Customer Service Directors. The contrast in approach of each was marked - some KPI and bottom line driven, others customer satisfaction and people driven. I like to think there is a balance somewhere in between!

4. Have there been any significant events you can tell us about which have had an impact on your career - training and qualifications etc?

Strange as it may seem, being part of a successful sporting team has probably had the most impact on my career. There are many parallels between sport and business and I have been able to utilise most of them over my career to date. A few examples would be in the areas of performance management, leadership and responsibility, motivation and team building and the importance of planning. Coming from a very competitive sporting environment to a similarly competitive business environment, I have also learned you cannot afford to underestimate your opponent.

5. What has been your greatest achievement to date?

I could list numerous projects, overseas ventures and successful contract wins in which I have played a major part, but if I am being honest I would say my greatest achievement to date has been the career development of staff who have worked with me. It gives me great pleasure to see former direct reports progressing to senior level managerial positions both within Martin Dawes Systems and outside of our company.

6. Do you have any advice for aspiring customer management professionals?

Like any other profession there is no substitute for commitment, dedication and ultimately experience. It may sound obvious but the key to successful customer management is to understand what the customer requires - not what you think they require. Offering effective customer service is about finding the right balance between people, process and technology.

7. What do you think are the key issues facing customer management professionals at present?

I still believe the main challenge facing customer management professionals is access to the right type of data to enable a continual improvement of service. For me a true CRM solution involves capturing and acting upon data collected from all the touchpoints with a customer. This requires much more than a software solution, though obviously a good one helps! It is more of a cultural and business transformation that is required.

8. What's your overall view of the current CRM/customer management market place?

In my opinion, the CRM marketplace is complicated and somewhat confused. After the initial hype about CRM solutions in the late nineties, despite consolidation there seems to be a new wave of niche providers.

9. In your experience, which companies do you think are good at CRM, customer service etc, and which have a long way to go before they make the grade?

Companies that are successful are those that keep solutions simple and don't abandon the key principles of giving good customer service. Again, you have to find the right balance between people, process and technology.

10. Finally, what are your goals and ambitions for the future?

To keep improving the levels of service we offer. Once you are content to stand still it's time to pack your bags.

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