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Business & ICT Trends, Applied to Your Organisation

OCO – Setting up a social db

Posted on January 23rd, 2012 by TimClaes

OCO – “Online Channel Optimization”

Today, enterprises expect Web Content management to provide measurable business benefits, not just to improve productivity. Thus – according to Gartner – enterprises have to replace older WCM applications that can’t meet the new demands. WCM achieves its greatest value as part of a wider strategy of online channel optimization – OCO – for maximizing the value of customer interactions across all channels.

Well, I couldn’t agree more, although I don’t understand why Gartner tries to put both WCM and OCO players in the same magic quadrant, because for me these are 2 different things. OCO is about orchestrating the customer touch points across multiple online channels, it is about making the dialogue relevant to the consumer and engaging no matter which online channel is used and it is about addressing the individual needs at the right time even if he is switching between channels to communicate with your organization.

So in order to make Online channel optimization – OCO – possible you should centralize all the consumer interactions in a social database, picking up all the ‘micro-decisions’ an online visitor leaves behind when he is navigating through the web. (e.g. which search words did he use to reach you, what were his clicks on your site, on which topics did he interact through social media…)

BlueConic - Customer Journey

A tool in the market that is possible to do this is BlueConic from GX software. Basically it continuously listens to all the online channels you want it to listen to (such as facebook, twitter, websites, splinternet, mobile apps, e-mail…) and it collects all the relevant information both from anonymous as from named users. The online profile information is stored in a social database. And now it becomes interesting, it allows the marketeer and/or the eBusiness manager to set up real-time dialogues that are personalized and orchestrated across all online customer touch points, based on the information from the social database.

You could look at this social database as an extension of a typical CRM database. To explain this I’ll use a picture from Peter Hinssen from his book “Digital is the new normal”.

Customer Engagement Management

CRM is becoming more and more a ‘middleware’ solution allowing you to store all the ‘macro-decisions’ of a customer (e.g. orders, complaints, sales visit reports…). CRM could be considered as the hub between all the front-end channels and the rest of your organization to deliver end-to-end integration. At the same time CRM allows you to store all the relevant customer information. This customer information can be used by any front-end channel to allow cross channel consistency. It is there that a social database comes in – to allow cross channel consistency – on a ‘micro’ level instead of only on a ‘macro’ level, as visually explained in the next picture from BlueConic.

micro & macro decisions - CEM

So a CRM solution, extended with a social database, is capable to capture all relevant customer information, both on a micro-level as on a macro-level, giving you insights in both the CRM profile as the online profile. This will become key for organisations to establish efficient OCO programs in order to get true Customer Engagement Management in place.


Closed Loop Marketing… Old wine in new barrels?

Posted on December 19th, 2011 by TimClaes

Closed Loop Marketing… Old wine in new barrels?

Closed Loop Marketing is a definition that is around for decades. That’s not so new to blog about, so what is? Will this post be about old wine that is ”packaged” in new barrels? Not really. Basically I will be using the same old definition – Closed Loop Marketing – but illustrate that the content is potentially changed. So a better question would be… New wine in old barrels?

According to Gartner, CIOs will have lost effective control of 25 percent of their organization’s IT spending by 2014, and by 2017, chief marketing officers may have a bigger IT budget than CIOs do. And that is exactly what I want to talk about!

The CMO strategic agenda is about automating Closed Loop Marketing. 88% of best-in-class companies use Closed Loop Marketing where as only 43% of industry average performing organizations use it. (study of Aberdeen group) The 2 primary strategies are developing and maintaining a marketing database and automating Closed Loop Marketing with technology.

And the best-in-class technologies for Closed Loop Marketing are evolving fast, too fast to be able to follow adequately.

On the other hand Closed Loop Marketing can no longer survive without information technology. So as marketeer you should be able to deal with this new content for Closed Loop Marketing. Two take-aways are important for you in this new digital age:

1. Always go for an integrated sales and marketing database. You first need to have the basics in place before moving on. ROMI is an important parameter to convince non-believers in your organization.

2. Choose for the right mix of technologies. Don’t always go for the niche players, only when they fit into your overall Marketing technology landscape and your overall Customer Engagement Management strategy. Because before you know it, you’ll no longer have an integrated overview of what’s going on. On the other hand invest in technologies that make a difference, don’t always take the cheapest solution. The devil is in the details.


CEM evolving to xEM?

Posted on May 9th, 2011 by TimClaes

Topic of the week – The Power of Customer Engagement Management (3rd article)

CEM evolving to xEM? What the hell is going on? Let me try to explain.

In the last 2 blog posts about Customer Engagement management we discussed already about customer experience, customer behavior and to follow the customer journey. But who is our customer actually? The best way to illustrate this, is by taking a closer look at xRM. But in order to do so, let’s first start with the basics: CRM, where xRM is an extension from.

1. CRM – CEM

CRM is much more than sales force automation, it also deals with service management and closed loop marketing. CRM is a way of doing business with your customer through any kind of front-end channel. In practice you see many links with Web Content management systems and information is typically stored in a customer datawarehouse in order to deliver progressive insights on the customer behavior. So the link between CRM and Customer Engagement Management, our topic of the week,  is obvious.

2. CRM -> xRM

So now let’s tackle the xRM question. Instead of only focusing on the classic customer, you can extend your scope to any kind of person you want to track/keep information on. E.g. Employee relationship management (ERM), Partner relationship management (PRM), citizen relationship management, student relationship management, prisoner relationship management, … But what is xRM then all about in practice? This means that a typical CRM solution can be used for any line of business. The CRM solution is used as a RAD (Rapid Application Development) environment to quickly fulfill all your specific business requirements. You will typically start from a standard CRM solution, with lots of standard functionalities that are similar to any kind of person (whether it is a classic customer or not – e.g. activity management, relationships between contact, address information, …) and then you start to tailor the rest of the functionalities to the specific needs of your organisation. This is called an xRM platform.

xRM Platform

3. CEM -> xEM

In parallel to the statement customer behavior becomes more and more important to engage ‘the customer’ (CEM – Customer Engagement management), you could extend the scope to ‘any kind of person’ and start talking about xEM, where the engagement of ‘the person’ becomes a central pivotpoint as it would be in your xRM strategy.


The evolution from WCM to WEM

Posted on May 6th, 2011 by TimClaes

Topic of the week – The Power of Customer Engagement Management (2nd article)

We already briefly discussed the idea behind Customer Engagement Management in my last blogpost with a clear focus on customer behavior and actively following the customer journey. This is indeed a very hot trend that needs closer attention, on the other hand the scope and the impact of CEM on your organisation is enormeous. So it is a good idea you first narrow it down to WEM – Web Engagement Management. Let’s first try to walk before you start running.

The principles behind WEM are the same as CEM, you need to focus on the customer behavior and you need to follow the customer journey. However the scope is limited to your website(s) and/or webplatform. This allows you to experiment in a more controlled environment, only with your on-line channel.

Let’s start with the ABC of Web Content Management. In the early days this was enough – Authoring, Branding & Control. By doing so you established an online presence – either static or dynamic. However today these are simply the basics to start building upon. And if you stop here, you will create the opposite effect towards your (potential) customers. We call this the “INFORMATION” building block.

So today you also need to focus on content optimization - pushing the right information at the right time to the right customer (sounds familiar, right?) and really embrace the web strategy as an integrated part of your business strategy. You really need to show what you càn, specific to the needs of the customer, by publishing white papers, blogs, customer cases, … You need to build that trust relationship and get the customer engaged. We call this the “EXPERTISE” building block. In WEM you can accomplish the content optimization by using techniques like progressive profiling, personalization, dynamic segmentation & targeting.

These regular expertise updates will result into extra traffic generation and in the end the on-line conversion ratio will increase. Whatever this last may mean for your organisation, it simply depends on your objectives in the first place (e.g. increase loyalty, convert prospect into customers, increase number of named users, …)

If you then also start to include the third building block, the “DIALOGUE” building block, by using the different social media possibilities, by allowing people to comment on articles or by facilitating forums, the interaction with the customer is complete and you are truely mastering the in’s and out’s of Web Engagement Management.


The Power of Customer Engagement Management (CEM)

Posted on May 3rd, 2011 by TimClaes

Topic of the week – The Power of Customer Engagement Management (1st article)

This week blog posts will be all about the customer and our view on the customer. A trend is popping up, customer behavior becomes rapidly important for an organisation to truely understand. More and more the customer dictates the law and chooses his/her own way to communicate with your organisation. So questions arise like how can we make it personal and how can we make sure that the customer is engaged. On top of that many front-end channels become available (both on-line & off-line) and the need arises to orchestrate sales cycles across all these front-end channels. This results – as you can see in the picture below – in many new challenges for your organisation.

Shift  to Customer Behavior - Customer Engagement Management - CEM

But once you have recognized these challenges, it allows you to actively work on them and to come out stronger by defining new ways of interaction with your customer. One thing to keep in mind when setting up these new ways of interaction with the customer is that you need to respect the customer journey. First you need to listen to the customer (behavior) by progressively collecting reliable data. Then you can try to understand the customer (behavior), distinguishing individual needs and dynamically segmenting over time. And only then you can start engaging the customer (behavior) by pro-actively proposing interactions in real-time based on the gathered information. The last step is to improve the customer journey, by optimizing & tracking efficiency of the front-end dialogues across channels.

“The basic difference between being assertive and being aggressive is how our words and behavior affect the rights and well being of others.”
(Quote from Sharon Anthony Bower)


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