By David Sims
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is John Coltrane's Giant Steps:
TeaLeaf Technology, a Customer Experience Management (CEM) products vendor, has announced that TeaLeaf CX has been selected by uSwitch.com to "provide a comprehensive understanding of each customer journey on its website," according to TeaLeaf officials.
London-based uSwitch.com officials hope the move will "further improve the user experience and increase conversions of consumers searching for the best utility, financial services, or communications services supplier to suit their requirements."
USwitch.com is not a supplier but acts as an independent advisor, giving consumers a view of what's on offer for home services such as gas and electricity, broadband, landline calls, credit cards and current accounts by offering a comparison of prices and features.
TeaLeaf CX will provide uSwitch.com with a better understanding of transactional processes on its Web site so that uSwitch.com can address issues as they occur. This 360-degree view into its customers' experience, uSwitch.com officials hope, will improve how they resolve issues and increase customer satisfaction.
Narisa Wild, Head of User Experience at uSwitch.com, says TeaLeaf is "architected with straightforward and painless installation taking only two days -- this made it easy to deploy."
Satuit Technologies, Inc., a customer relationship management (CRM) vendor focusing on the investment market, has announced what company officials are terming its" second consecutive year of record growth."
Worldwide revenue growth for 2006 exceeded 68 percent, supported by "a strong expansion in Europe where revenues more than doubled," officials said.
Satuit officials credit the growth to the company's "continued focus and commitment to the financial services sector," The growing trend for hosted products also played a role in the company's growth, they say, with SatuitCRM On-Demand outpacing the On-Premise product at a rate of nine out of every ten deals.
The company likes to differentiate itself by saying "unlike other CRM products targeted at the investment professional market, SatuitCRM was designed and built for investment professionals, by investment professionals."
Interestingly enough, today's the birthday of two of the most successful cartoonists in America today -- Matt Groening in 1954 (his name rhymes with "complaining," as he says), creator of the underground "Life In Hell" comics and a TV show you may have heard of, The Simpsons; and Art Spiegelman in 1948 in Stockholm, another underground cartoonist who created Maus: A Survivor's Tale, My Father Bleeds History, a cartoon rendering of the memories of his father, a Holocaust survivor, where all the camp inmates were drawn as mice and the Nazis as cats.
The Simpsons became the most successful sitcom in television history and Spiegelman became one of the rare cartoonists to win a Pulitzer Prize for a book.
According to recent research conducted by CustomerSat Inc. with the Strativity Group, a majority of companies fail to deliver differentiated value to customers and therefore fail to maintain their loyalty.
Additionally, companies routinely fail to analyze and manage their customer relationships according to specific financial criteria, leading to what the survey authors call "the ineffective execution of customer strategies."
Although respondents declare that customer strategies are more important than they were three years ago, the majority acknowledge that their employees do not have the tools or authority to resolve customer issues -- a major indicator of customer commitment.
"Respondents honestly admitted that they are selling commodities and that their core value proposition does not merit customer loyalty," stated Lior Arussy, company founder and author of Passionate & Profitable (Wiley, 2005). "Such an admission should serve as a wake up call to every executive."
The survey's highlights -- lowlights -- include findings that 60 percent of senior executives claim they do not deserve their customers' loyalty, 51 percent of respondents claim that their company does not deliver unique and beneficial products or services, while 56 percent agree that their company's products or services are worth the price they charge.
Ponder the 44 percent.
34 percent affirm that they have the tools and authority to serve their customers, but fully 75 percent said they "do not know the cost of a new customer."
According to the study, 70 percent of companies indicate that customer strategies are "more important than they were three years ago." Yet, what survey authors call "basic execution parameters" such as frequently visiting customers (34 percent), providing the necessary tools and authority to employees (34 percent), and strongly linking compensation with service quality (29 percent) are, well, lacking.
Overall, the study authors say they found "widespread ignorance regarding the economics of customer relationships." As noted above 75 percent of respondents did not know the cost of a new customer, while 81 percent did not know the cost of a customer complaint.
To be fair, those are rather abstruse numbers, it's hard to think of a failsafe methodology for producing what can be relied upon to be accurate numbers for either of those metrics. One can be forgiven for not having them at one's fingertips when a survey drops in over the transom.
Other numbers are less defensible. 50 percent of respondents did not know their organization's annual retention rates. And as the survey notes correctly, "the failure to manage customer relationships on the basis of clear and pertinent financial metrics explains why companies' strategic intentions often fail to translate into sustainable customer-centric actions."
Basically put, organizations do not invest the appropriate resources and funds to establish long-term relationships because they are unable to justify them financially. It's the old ROI conundrum -- CRM needs to show ROI, but how do you measure that? Customer loyalty? Where are the numbers there? Increased profits? How do you parse out your CRM investment's effectiveness? Upticks in customer survey "Very Satisfied" answers? So what?
"The general trend," the survey found, worryingly, is "one of diminishing corporate investment in employees -- ultimately leading to the curtailment of the employee's ability to properly execute customer strategies."
Many reasons behind this, all pointing back to the difficulty of acquiring reliable numbers tying employee satisfaction to customer satisfaction, although anecdotal and other evidence strongly suggests the two are one and the same. Sure the increased mobility of the workforce is a contributing issue -- "Why should we train what'll soon be someone else's employee on our nickel?"
29 percent of the respondents indicated that their compensation plan emphasizes quality of service and not just productivity. Yes, that is a low number.
34 percent of respondents claim that their employees have the tools and authority to solve customer problems, while only 30 percent of respondents agreed that their company invests in people more than in technology. That last finding can be taken with a salt lick, as someone's definition of what appropriate investment in himself as an employee might not match someone else's. But overall it matches other findings that for all the lip service companies pay to the "our people are our greatest asset" talk, they can't stay away from the shiny toys.
Companies continue to declare their commitment to customers while not fully comprehending what this commitment entails. As such, customer experiences are commoditized, employee readiness is limited, and strategy execution is deficient, the survey concludes.
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