First Coffee for October 3, 2005

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
| CRM, ERP, Contact Center, Turkish Coffee and Astroichthiology:

First Coffee for October 3, 2005

By David Sims
david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Frank Sinatra’s breezy 1957 Come Fly With Me album. His best work is uniformly his 1953 – 1961 recordings for Capitol Records. Oh he did good work elsewhere, sure – “My Way” came later, as it only could have – but he was never this consistently good or hit such high peaks before or after.

This morning we have some pearls of wisdom cast by well-known CRM consultant Bob Thompson, the guiding light of CRMGuru.com, which is one of the most popular and really- useful- to- real- people- really- doing- real- CRM- work enterprises on the CRM landscape.

If anybody’s to blame for First CoffeeSM having any sort of profile in the CRM world, it’s probably Bob, who put up, literally and figuratively, with articles so far over the edge they surfaced somewhere near Iceland, using Victoria’s Secret, local coffee shops and proctologists as business-case examples:

Bob, ever since you and I worked together in the late ‘50s, CRM’s gone through a few changes. What are the most important developments of the past few years?

The biggest is that most business executives are no longer tech-obsessed about CRM. Ironically, as the tech hype died down and managers started the real work of CRM (strategy, people, processes), the market for CRM technology has started growing again. On the technology front, the growth of on-demand and analytical tools has been strong.

On-demand is hot now, kind of like ASPs were a few years ago. Do you see the on-demand model rendering on-premise CRM installations obsolete?

No. But if it reaches 20 percent penetration in a market that is $10 billion+ per year, that’s a huge impact. PCs didn’t replace mainframes, and on-demand won’t replace traditional on-premise applications. Bu on-demand will grow the fastest the next couple of years.

What’s the best music to listen to at work?

For me, I listen to an eclectic mix of music on my iPod, ranging from Metallica to No Doubt to Dave Matthews Band to Coldplay.

Someone running a 100-employee, million-dollar chain of retail outlets meets you at a party and says he wants to “do CRM” for his company. What are three pieces of advice you give him before the party’s over?

1. Get in touch with your customers first. Invest in “voice of customer” programs to help understand why customers think, feel, and behave the way they do.

2. Use that insight to formulate a strategy that will deliver value that differentiates the company, and can be delivered at a profit.

3. Drive the change throughout the organization. Make sure the organization structure, training, and reward systems support the retailer’s game plan.

Partner Relationship Management is a logical outgrowth of CRM. How has the PRM concept matured in the past couple years?

I think PRM got lost in the downturn and never really came back. That said, channel-centric companies understand that while they have to “manage” partner relationships a bit differently, the same principles apply. The main difference is that business partner’s view of value is generally revenue or profit.

Everyone talks about building customer loyalty. Who’s doing it well, and how?

In high-tech, Dell, Cisco and IBM. In travel, JetBlue, Southwest, and Singapore Air. In financial services, Royal Bank of Canada and Wells Fargo. These companies have a focused business strategy and stay in touch with their customers. In general, they all do a good job of “walking the talk” throughout the organization.

You, I and Dick Lee all know CRM’s not the equipment, it’s not the technology, you don’t buy CRM out of a box, it’s the mentality, the mind-set. Why is that so hard for companies to understand, why are they so eager to rush in and spend money on technology?

What do you call the longest distance between two points? A “shortcut!” It’s human nature to look for a quick fix to any problem. But I think the rush to buy IT is over.

When you hear the term “customer-centric organization,” what qualities that you’ve seen in real-life practice from real-life customer-centric firms come to mind?

A culture of genuine caring about customers, coupled with an almost fanatical focus on repeatable processes. It’s an interesting mix of “right brain” (feeling) and “left brain” (analysis) that the best customer-centric companies seem to master.

Can we get a sneak preview of something on your year-end 2005 Top Ten list?

No, because I have no idea what will be on the list.

Now you’re talking to someone running a 100-employee, million-dollar chain of retail outlets who meets you at a party and says he wants to hire a CRM consultant. How do you advise him to tell the difference between a good one and a waste of time and money?

Check for relevant industry references, and make sure the consultant has a balanced view of CRM, from strategy development through implementation.

Equant has signed a five-year, $30 million contract with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide a fully-managed, IP-based communications system to interconnect 84 Norwegian embassies and consulates across Europe, Americas, Africa and Asia-Pacific and the Ministry’s headquarters in Oslo.

Satellite services ensure access to the Equant IP network at 13 remote sites in areas where terrestrial links are more difficult and expensive.

That’s the great thing about small, educated, relatively wealthy and technologically sophisticated countries like Norway, New Zealand and Palo Alto, they’re free to do things like this. New Zealand has announced the national telco will rip out the whole system and replace it with IP, and here Norway’s putting the whole foreign service communications system on IP.

First CoffeeSM bets it’s no coincidence that Norway’s not in the European Union. Having massive North Sea oil reserves lets you thumb your nose at joining the EU for the privilege of enduring blustery French arrogance, complying with whatever ferret-nosed bureaucrats in Brussels dream up to keep everyone on the same developmental pace as the Least Common Denominator and watching your hard-earned income siphoned off to subsidize inefficient French, Greek and Portuguese farmers, especially when your standard of living has been rated #1 in the world by the UN Human Development Program for four years running – if things like cold wind whipped off the ocean in January, long, dark winter days and lutefisk are your idea of Eden.

As one commentator on Norway’s stringent immigration policy puts it, having built such a nice country indigenously “provides a distinct incentive for the country to avoid being lumped with greater Europe.”

For the past five years, the Ministry had a frame relay network from Equant, but decided that Multi-Protocol Label Switching technology would better meet its global requirements. The ministry was looking for global delivery and local support – when you’re running a worldwide diplomatic network things like a strong support organization capable of delivering true end-to-end management 24/7 at all local sites start to matter.

The Ministry has chosen Equant’s IP VPN Platinum for all sites, which lets them run voice, data and video over the network as well as allocate bandwidth to the different applications. The system also provides connections via satellite integrated with Equant IP VPN, with consistent service levels and local support by own staff even at all satellite-based sites.

Deputy Director General Ove Mo of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called installing the Equant system “a necessary step for developing and rolling out key global projects, such as a new document management system and a fingerprint authentication system to validate passports.”

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