Category Archives: sales
Last week I had the chance to travel to beautiful Cambridge, MA. Years ago AT&T sent me to MIT for various business courses, but I hadn’t been there in years. Coming from Orlando with its 100 plus degree days it was a pleasure to walk by the Charles River along with many others. The weather was perfect and I wasn’t the only one enjoying the gorgeous day.
I was in Cambridge to visit with Pegasystems, the leading BPM (business process management) software leader. Pega (as they are known) boasts major customers including Bank of America, three or four of the “Blues” (Blue Crosses) and many others.
BPM automates common work practices — and since many companies are like silos — marketing is independent of sales is independent of engineering is independent of shipping, most processes that cross departments (and don’t they all?) get there via email, voice mail, forms, excel spreadsheets. . . Even when the systems are the same the receiving department has to proactively pull the work into their world.
BPM not only automates processes across organizations, but using quality improvement methods and workflow automation work gets done faster and more efficiently — thus saving time and money. In the world of government regulation (such as Sarbanes-Oxley aka SOX) where companies had to keep a tighter track of financial information for auditing purpose) being able to not only automate processes, but to track them becomes a necessity.
Pega is #1 in the BPM software world with their SmartBPM® product. Their president, Alan Trefler was named “Computer Software Executive of the Year” at the 2009 American Business Awards. So in the world of BPM they are not only the market leader, but the thought leader. Pega is the leader in the Gartner Group “Magic Quadrant” for BPM.
Recently Pega has dipped its toe into the CRM (customer relationship management) world with their solution CPM (Customer Process Manager). They have build a contact center customer service support module on top of this BPM engine. While certainly not a “threat” to the more complete CRM vendors who go beyond the customer service space, the Pega solution is the next logical step for CRM.
Remember those corporate silos I mentioned a few paragraphs ago? All that great customer information winds up “usable” beyond the CRM application only if it is in a field in said record. Otherwise that valuable customer “gold” becomes embedded in notes that a CSR or sales rep makes of the contact, and are only available to those who sit and read those notes.
What Pega’s CRM does well is to integrate end-to-end customer-facing processes across not only departments but existing applications. If you already have Siebel and an (enterprise resource planning) ERP solution and a (supply chain management) SCM solution you can bring in Pega underneath them to streamline the hand off of a sale or problem resolution across organizations. Over time you can begin to implement some of their desktop apps that can be very easily modified on the fly. The power of Pega’s ability to pull this off is shown in their 50% plus growth in the last year.
The most amazing thing about Pega is that they are aimed at the big companies — 1,000 plus users. Many CRM applications simply can’t scale to large implementations, but Pega can — and it does so based on an open architecture (java).
Pega does have competitors in this new CRM hybrid space. Chordiant and Sword Ciboodle (a really excellent offer from a Scottish company who is making inroads into the States) to consider along with Pega if the process oriented CRM approach makes sense in your company.
The traditional CRM vendors have noted the interested a hybrid BPM / CRM approach and all have some iteration of it on their product roadmaps. If you’re interested in the CRM world, take a look at Pega, Chordiant ans Sword Ciboodle to get a feel for your future.
My last blog focused on how Unified Communications (UC) can empower the contact center by directing nontraditional call center calls to the center. Most people think of UC as a way of combining multiple contact points for one person to a single point of contact (thus John Smith’s office phone, cell phone, email, IM, etc. can all be directed to “ring” on his cell phone). This is the common way UC is explained, and it can be very valuable — but it can also result in TMI (too much information).
Everyone may be created equal, but we can’t give all of our customers, peers, bosses, and the world at large equal access to us or we’d never get any work done. We need to prioritize who can contact us and how. Thus with UC we can identify specific people (our boss, our spouse, our key customer) to reach us at our #1 end point (maybe that cell phone) while other important people get directed to voice mail — or as I pointed out in my last blog — this is a perfect opportunity to now direct those folks to a contact center where an inside sales rep or pool admin can hopefully handle their needs in one call (OCR = one call resolution).
So there is a natural marriage between UC and CC (contact center).
Where does CRM come into play?
CRM (customer relationship management) has become such a muddied term. It has become far too generic. To some it does mean contact center software (and it can be that), to some it means the software or software as a service (SaaS) that outside sales reps use to keep track of their accounts, where they are in the sales cycle, etc. — and that is a good definition. . .but CRM is much bigger than that.
CRM is really broken into two broad categories: “front office CRM” and “Back office CRM.”
Front office CRM are the applications that actually touch the customer directly — the voice on the phone in the contact center, an internet interface where they can place an order, customer service (again online or over the phone) or the live customer service rep (CSR). Any part where the customer is directly interfacing with your company is a form of “front office CRM.”
And a logical touchpoint for UC and CRM to link.
The holy grail of the contact center for years has been OCR – one call resolution. Any problem that isn’t resolved in one call, or any sale that can’t be closed in one call (“we have an internet special where for the same price you are paying today you can add XYZ. . .”) costs lots of money. Any customer service call that takes too long or requires “follow up” also begins to alienate your customers making them more inclined to leave you for another firm.
UC can dramatically improve the goal of OCR — whether that “one call” is a phone call, an internet access or even your face to face outside sales rep.
It all has to do with the “hand off.” Inside a contact center this can be done with intelligent routing (which is really what UC is in a larger scheme of things). We route the call to the most logical, not the first available, agent. With UC we are now moving beyond the barrier of the contact center and able to route the call to best person no matter what department they work in, or even WHERE THEY ARE physically.
Setting up skills routing takes time, but the rewards are immense both in customer satisfaction and in cost reduction.
All of this so far focuses on the connectivity between front office CRM and UC, but back office CRM can increase this cost reduction by quantum factors. Using a data warehouse (or perhaps data mart) to identify your most profitable customers you may choose to always route them to a specific department or person — not blindly treating all customers the same but giving platinum treatment to platinum customers.
By contrast your lower value customers (in margins) can always be routed through an IVR (interactive voice response) unit and routed to newer agents. . . The dirty little reality in sales is that there are some customers that are not worth having because the amount of work they require (and work = expense to your company) may mean you actually lose money by having them as a customer. Back end CRM identifies who is profitable and thus worth retaining.
One to one marketing is a myth. We do not market to all of our prospects and customers in the same way and we shouldn’t. Back end CRM’s information on customer profitability can help determine who we route to whom in our dynamic, unified communications world.
This blog is speaking in generalities — as if we had all the money and time in the world to link all of these disparate systems together. The good news is that many of these systems are already begining to be linked — Cisco with Salesforce.com, Aspect with Microsoft, Avaya and SAP, Nortel offers integration to Microsoft Dynamics CRM and implemented Dynamics internally. The idea is to take advantage of the technologies you may already have in place such as a legacy Siebel implementation maybe using AT&T’s Siebel Solutions offer) to improve relations with your customers and business partners through a streamlined “one call resolution” that goes far beyond the silos of “outside sales,” “engineering,” “customer service” across your business.