CRM Hits 'n' Highlights from 2007 -- From Our Readers

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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CRM Hits 'n' Highlights from 2007 -- From Our Readers

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is First Coffee's Favorite Album from 2007, not necessarily an album released in 2007, but what First Coffee reckons was his most-played album of the year … envelope please …

Frank Sinatra's Come Fly With Me (1957). Nobody puts this album as among Sinatra's "greatest" works, that's reserved for the likes of In The Wee Small Hours or Only The Lonely, great albums to be sure, but rather despondent, and Frank can do despondent to the point where you're reaching for the bottle yourself. But he's always been at his best having fun, and on no album does he have more fun than Come Fly With Me. You can hear the smirks and behind-the-hand smiles all over this one, and unlike cotton-candy fun albums, you can listen to it over and over and over until your wife yells at you to put something else on.

And First Coffee's Favorite Book Read in 2007 is The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek (1944). You don't understand the reality of socialism or how socialist-leaning governments and politicians think until you read this, and after you read it you'll never vote for one again. Does for socialism what Upton Sinclair's The Jungle did for Chicago meatpacking plants and Ralph Nader's Unsafe At Any Speed did to the Chevy Corvair.

Wrapping up 2007, First Coffee would like to note that it was the only CRM blog on the Internet to use the word "paraskevidekatriaphobia."

Comments are always an interesting way to learn what sort of person's reading your blog. In January First Coffee received a comment saying " Linking Anna Nicole Smith and Terrell Owens ... sweet! Keep up the good referencing. Yours, Os." Glad to help.

As has been the case for the past couple years, the (vast) majority of comments were readers sharing horror stories. First Coffee's become something of a clearing house for complainers, as it's a company we use as an example of how not to do customer service. And boy, are there a lot of unhappy Camian customers out there.

Typical is the comment First Coffee received in February from George -- "What a terrible company. Had the same problem as Tim, was sent a Pal DVD, who buys that in North America? Didn't know it was PAL until I tried to play it, I was told since I opened it they would not take it back. I was hot and fired off three e-mails saying 'nowhere on your site does it say it is a PAL only product." I did hear from "Claire" and was e-mailed a mailing slip to return it. This was my first and last time dealing with them…"

One of the finest musical discoveries First Coffee made in 2007 was jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius' début album, titled Jaco Pastorius. There are only four bassists in the Jazz Hall of Fame, and only one electric bassist -- Jaco.

In April First Coffee found out a bit more about our readers when Ron posted a comment saying " 1692 and 1992 -- big years. And so I post this piece in memory of Robert Lowell and the year 1992 as well, an auspicious year in the Baha'i historical calendar," following that intro with a piece invoking literary critic Allen Tate, Sam Leith, Roger White and Lowell himself. Always nice to have a fish come flying out of nowhere to smack you upside the head like that.

More horror stories… On the Internet something you wrote last year can stay as current as today. In June I received a comment from Grace saying "Phenomenal post David. I found this while reading something at TMCNet and couldn't stop reading. You are of course right. Thanks for reminding me of this. It has refocused how I think about all projects I run in house for a very large transnational organization."

The article she referenced, CRM Soviet-Style, Comrade? Nyet., written October 31, 2006, began with "A research organization dealing with customer issues recently interviewed First Coffee, and the questions they asked got me thinking about how we can learn about CRM from nearly any field of human endeavor, but we learn the most through the most exciting, spectacular, idiotic ideas crashing and burning, like socialism."

Basically I said look, you can stick a whole lot of farmers on a Soviet collective and tell 'em they'll all be shot and their families banished to Siberia if they don't produce 100 bushels of beets and you'll get 100 bushels of beets -- exactly, and the sorriest tubers that ever qualified as a "beet." As the history of the Soviet Union proved.

Or you can show them how much money they'll make per bushel of beet, and that better quality beets will get better prices at market, and that they'll get to keep the rewards of their labor and sacrifice minus a reasonable tax and you'll get more beets than you know what to do with. As the history of capitalism proves every day.

Socialism failed because it failed to take this basic human nature into account, that working for the glory of Mother Russia wasn't enough of an incentive for people who weren't making any money to work harder, and data integration projects fail for the same reason -- people who aren't going to benefit from a project aren't going to work any more than the absolute keep-my-job minimum for it.

If companies take a Soviet-style mentality to customer data integration projects -- "Do it for the glory of Acme Anvils, comrades!" -- they'll get Soviet-style efficiency results. If they do it with a capitalistic mentality, recognizing the reality that people do well what they're incentivized to do well, they'll have a successful pogrom. Program, sorry.

Also in June I wrote "How important is customer service, which is to CRM what playing a guitar is to a rock band, in a part of the world not exactly noted for its strong tradition of customer service? Evidently increasingly so: The diminishing level of customer service has caused almost half of Middle East consumers to switch service providers within the past two years."

Someone else with firsthand experience of this part of the world wrote to say "Great article... customer service and the Middle East don't really go hand in hand."

More, much more on how badly sucks and screws over customers… First Coffee really likes it when the side dishes served up here are to a reader's taste. I mentioned a particularly silly ad campaign I remembered from years ago -- "particularly silly" being quite effective for ad campaigns, after all -- and Laura wrote to say "I had been trying for years to remember what kind of car it was that was advertised as 'fiendishly seductive.' Thanks to and your site, I found out (it was the Dodge Diplomat). I was a teen when those ads came out and I always thought that was a strange way to describe a car! It's a CAR, for crying out loud!"

In early October First Coffee watched the United States - South Africa match of the Rugby World Cup in an Irish pub here in Istanbul. The crowd was overwhelmingly South African, I appeared to be the only American. Of course America lost -- badly, as expected -- but my South African friend was shocked at the American team’s courage and heart.

He couldn’t stop talking about how hard America fought in the waning stages of the game, losing 55-8 the Eagles, weekend players, amateurs with day jobs, were still giving everything they had for a meaningless try against the eventual World Cup winner -- which they got, and when they did, every single South African in the bar applauded. I’m proud to be an American as it is, but I left that pub just a little more proud.

See y'all in 2008.

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