Getting together with peers, people who think about, even struggle a bit with the same things you do, in the proper setting can be a very positive experience. A good meal and some proper Scottish weather, as well as leaving the office routine behind provide the proper the ingredients for interesting and useful conversations. How many opportunities do you have to spend time with people or peers who are trying to address the exact same issues as you? We all work with teams or within teams (or advise teams) who are seeking to achieve similar business goals. But the burden of the solution rests with one person – you. While attacking the problem, very few of us look at it the same way, we each have our own unique perspective. It is the difference in perspectives, looking at the problem from a new angle and how the solution appeared is the really valuable part. How often do you get the chance to talk about the core issues, the really hard problems, in a focused, dare I say safe, environment?
When we decided to sponsor the business round table in Turnberry (Scotland), we ordered up the weather specifically for our guests (doubt me? check the photo above taken on the day of). More important we invited everyone to leave his or her day jobs and provided a relaxing and safe atmosphere to talk freely about the state of customer service, CRM and, at points, technology in general. What do I mean by talk freely? I mean that what was stated in the room will not be shared, nor would there be fear from political attacks or showing weakness. I did want to share some high-level thoughts and general themes – without naming names. I would also like to add that the Ciboodlers in the room did not actually talk very much at all! For those of you who know us, I mean really know us, you can imagine that is no small feat.
What topics were covered in the 3 hours?
We only hit on a few key topics during the time period: Technology, Demand Planning, Channel mix, Cross Selling, Voice/Call Centre, How to sunset older systems, What happens if projects fail, What is the ROI of CRM, What is Social CRM, How does the physical world fit within CRM – But my favorite quote of the day was easily “Is there a Eureka moment?” Now, I am sure to get that last one wrong if I try to describe the context. My sense is that as people shared their stories, and stories they were, information could be gleaned from words unspoken and body language. Ideas that are simply not possible through press briefings, blogs or interviews came to light. People did not only talk about success, people talked about failure.
In the Information Technology business, failure is about losing time and money. So, we need to keep it in perspective. The truest failure is not learning from our mistakes. Some of the key challenges included lack of management support, pushing very hard for ROI and KPI to justify projects, How to build the business case for the C-suite and Board of Directors. There was a comment during the day that if you have senior level executives pushing too hard for ROI, the battle is already lost. My lesson here is that from the earliest of conversations, what you are trying to accomplish needs to simply be so compelling that everyone just gets it!
In the realm of Customer Service, Customer Relationship Management or Contact Centers, the common theme is the customer and the customer experience. Some companies are working hard to determine channel mix; which channels do their customers want to communicate on (in-person is a channel). How does the customer service perspective map to company and product strategy? Others are trying to “Homogenize” the toolset; there are too many tools and technologies, which are solving, or trying to solve part of the problem, with few looking at the whole problem. In the end, companies do realize that loyalty, as measured by repeat business, is very often an emotional decision determined by the most recent interaction the customer has had with your business. The most important question, how do I make sure that each interaction is memorable, in a good way?