All posts by Esteban Kolsky

The Why (and Why Not) of Customer Journey Mapping

If you and I communicated recently (say, last 1-2 years) in any way – talked, emailed, came to a panel or keynote of mine, or are just lucky enough to be my client – you know how much I — er, “love” customer journey mapping (CJM).

I explained a large part of it in my April CRM Magazine article “Why Journey Mapping Wastes Time and Money“.  I was adamant about the organizations trying to control the customer in view of their slow loss of control.

I was reading BFF Paul Greenberg’s excellent assessment of Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud event in NYC last month (it was a good event, but still hasn’t’ found “their message” — I agree with Paul) and my spidey sense lit up again.

Paul did a magnificent job of explaining the perceived need by the organization to embrace on customer journey mapping.  He says

Salesforce spent a lot of time in discussion about the customer journey. They said that businesses have to guide customers to be active participants in the business by managing the customer journey. To do that, the customers need personalized attention. This makes it incumbent upon businesses to identify who are the customers and prospects via their purchase histories, online behavior and demographics. Then with that data figure out what has to be said to the individual customers, or modularly similar ones at least (my words, not theirs) and get them the appropriate content. The digital assets have to be created, and then distributed to the specific individuals at the best time in any conceivable digital channel (e.g. Ads, web, email, mobile, social, group messaging, text, apps, sales, service, communities). All of this requires some understanding of the customer journey. This was all in the context of the Salesforce Journey Builder product.

I seldom quote other writings, good or bad, so you know this is an important piece of writing.  Besides my admiration of Paul’s prose and how easy it is for him to explain complex concepts in simple sentences, I think he nailed the main problem with CJM – without highlighting it (actually, I am not sure he was intending it – only a curmudgeon like me would notice…)

Paul saved me, and you, so many words by explaining the why of CJM.  But he also pointed the Achilles heel (my perspective, not his) for it.  He says, as the main justification for companies to embrace CJM

This makes it incumbent upon businesses to identify who are the customers and prospects via their purchase histories, online behavior and demographics. Then with that data figure out what has to be said to the individual customers, or modularly similar ones at least (my words, not theirs) and get them the appropriate content.

Which is undoubtedly how organizations, and more importantly, marketing organizations see their role in this new world where customers own the conversation and where customers are greatly (to an extent never seen before) empowered by communities, social networks, and collaboration potential.

You see, customers never expect the businesses to “get them the appropriate content” anymore.  There are four critical aspects of why this is not the case:

  1. Content creation has shifted away from the brand.  In an effort to end my own business (which accounts for its revenues in part with content creation for vendors) but being fair – how much content is directly created by companies versus content created in communities and directly by users for users? If you have a need for information (content + data + knowledge – or combination of such) you will more than likely do a Google / Bing (seriously?) search.  That will point you to many forums, communities, blogs, and other pieces of content – not company generated, that answer your needs.  Trust me or try it, you will seldom click on the brand-generated content instead opting for the community or peer-generated content.  This is why we have the “customer era” upon us.
  2. Customers are not sure what they are doing.  The complexity of today’s world, coupled with the accelerated pace of life makes it so we seldom complete one “journey” the same way we started it – or at the same time.  Time continuum of experiences in a distracted world (how many messages and content are you exposed to each day?  how many of them are “brand owned”? etc) has become very disrupted.  The time between when we think of, for example, getting a hotel for a vacation and ending up in a cottage using Airbnb (true story from these past two weeks) has shifted from hours to weeks and spanned channels and content that I wasn’t even aware it existed.  Expedia, VRBO, Airbnb, Hotel Websites, Tripadvisor, and reviews sites all contributed to my “journey”.  Did I plan it that way? Hardly… and neither do your customers.  They don’t know where they are going when they start – but they sure know they are not going to take your journey once they realize the many options they have.
  3. Paths to complete their journeys are always expanding.  In his excellent post, truly, Paul also makes the case that digital marketing (including content management) has become a force of its own for organizations (he has the data, go read it).  Other data points you read just about everywhere confirm that: budget for digital marketing has emerged and grown dramatically, content management is “a thing” to contend with again, and more.  If I had to convince you of that you wouldn’t be reading this,   Brands are recognizing more and more the loss of the control of the conversation.  This is not how they are taught or prepared to act.  Even the most modern marketer today is having a hard time adjusting to the reality of the loss of this control – and now we are even telling them they don’t own the funnel anymore (thanks Sameer for that excellent piece!).  I am not the first, not will be the last, to say the traditional funnel (I’d say any funnel) is dead.  This is because on a daily (if not hourly basis) more and more paths to the goal are being created, modified, and expanded.  Building a set of paths (or expected) paths for customers is not what’s happening.
  4. Customers don’t know what they want.  We live in a society on its way to be post-consumerist.  This is in part cemented by the existence of the so-called “sharing economy” (of which Airbnb is one example – a name I abhor) where more and more organizations are finding ways to offer services and “pay as you go” solutions for consumers.  Often, more and more, consumers are not even sure what the end state of their journey is.  Using my own example, I started researching a weekend in Maui at a hotel and ended up with a week in Central California at a cottage.  Yes, I knew I wanted to get a vacation – but the length and location of the same was not even close to known when I started my journey.  Drawing on my example, Expedia missed out on getting my business since they did not have sufficiently good packages or options for destinations other than Hawaii.  Marriott, my beloved hotel chain that is always my first stop in lodging, missed out on getting my business since they did not have a link or partnership to VRBO or Airbnb when the hotels in my preferred destinations were booked.  And virtually all others missed out on my business by not reading the “tea leaves” I left behind stating what I was looking for.  I hadn’t used Airbnb for over 2 years now – even though I got their emails suggesting places (many, none interesting or relateable) over that time.  If any of these companies with whom I do business regularly didn’t get the idea of what my journey was is because I didn’t know it first of all.  And I would like to think I am not unusual (at least on behavior – most of you will disagree overall, I know…).

I have droned on for 1200+ words about this – but I am just getting started.  I promise I will stop now, but I hope I got you to think about this process.

You, the brand, is very quickly losing this battle.

No desperate attempt at controlling it by “mapping customer journeys” will get you where you want to go.  Heck, where you want to go does not even exist as a destination anymore.  You don’t want to manage your customer journeys – you want to provide them a way to build their own paths as they go along.

This is what I have been, and will continue to, advocating for a long time.  Build a killer infrastructure that will leverage communities and social networks as “wisdom hubs” (I wrote that post yesterday – the beginning of the concept at least):

  • Establish a presence in every channel and situation by building an ecosystem (Expedia and Marriott should offer Airbnb as an option even if no revenue comes of it – think Miracle on 34th street or Nordstrom’s style – ok Zappos for the young ‘um)
  • Forget the customer paths, give them tools to build them fresh and new every time (think Platforms and Ecosystems, again)
  • Realize that your content is not longer yours, but your customers’ and find the “wisdom hubs” and tap into them (don’t forget to help them grow also!)

I am just a bird-dogging curmudgeon: I simply point the way.  That’s what I hope I accomplished in these 1500+ words… are you hunting?

disclaimer: yes, Salesforce is a customer but I only mentioned them here because Paul did first (that didn’t work with my siblings when I was growing up, don’t think will absolve me of blame here either). I have no commercial relationship with Google or Bing (although Microsoft Dynamics is a client). I have no commercial relationship with Airbnb, Marriott, Expedia, Nordstrom’s, Zappos and others mentioned here – although at some point in the past they were either clients via Gartner or independently, or inquiries I took, or met them and chatted with them at a conference or event or even as a reference.  Paul is awesome, a great friend, and the oracle (lower case, no relationship to the vendor – who is not a client currently since they hate me for the most part) of the customer world.  I am merely taking on his work to expand on a rant of mine – any errors or problems here are mine, not his.  He rocks.  In spite of my oldest daughter’s objection that “Wikipedia cannot be trusted – anyone can edit it and say whatever they want” (which frankly, ignores the fact that crowdsourcing wisdom is exactly why it works – but I digress) I will continue to make it the source of definitions and whatnot.  If you feel like my daughter, find your own definitions – but I promise you that they won’t be too far off (and likely you don’t get it… but don’t tell my daughter I said that… don’t want to relive that debate again).  I have no commercial reason for writing this other than needed to be said.  If you think otherwise, you have not followed my career.


Duck Intelligence, Think Wisdom

I have exercised my systems of patience, after using my systems of reading to dive into the blog and research published (sorry, posted using their systems of writing, editing, and publication) by Forrester recently.

I had to use my patience not to react using what my daughters call my “catch phrase” — Aw, come on!!

Seriously – is everything becoming a system now? I groaned at the birth of Systems of Engagement (possibly as a potential alter-ego to the forever-there-but-never-named-so systems of record… AKA CRM).  Downright exploded and made my feelings known at the “systems of intelligence” (aka analytics).  But this is where I feel I have to put down my proverbial foot and say enough is enough.

Just like not everything in this world is a platform or part of an ecosystem (as necessary as those are, you cannot turn a 20-year old solution into a “knowledge management platform” just by hiring a new VP of Marketing), not everything in this world is becoming a “system of” something.

In this case, the problem is that the marketing hype surrounding the concept of wisdom (and the rush to be the first one to coin a term – well done, Forrester — you win that one… yay) is clouding a reality.

Knowledge Management is no longer sufficient to power organizations’ quest for business transformation.

We have been trying for over 50 years to manage knowledge with different degrees of success.  We created technology, processes, even a culture of knowledge that was supposed to ensure organizations could corral, manage, and reuse knowledge at the drop of a hat in any instance, at any time, via any channel, integrated into any technology.

Needless to say, it hasn’t happened.  I wrote plenty about this (look at the my downloads page and read some of the series of blog posts I did – or search knowledge management on my blog) and the need to alter the model of knowledge management.  I am a big pusher for knowledge-in-use and communities and try to stay away from knowledge repositories – although I know that virtually no one is following me there…

The recent changes to technologies, information management (which i covered in my last business transformation update), speed of change, and societal changes induced by communities (no, not powered by vendors – more and more people flocking to communities) have made the traditional knowledge-in-storage model almost unsustainable.

Indeed, collecting knowledge for (maybe) later use is no longer feasible for organizations.  While the current systems will continue powering that model for another 2-3 years (up to a decade in some cases) I am seeing a need and demand for something more useful.

Powered by “Systems of Intelligence” (analytics), “Systems of Insight” (seriously?), and more importantly by the failure rate associated with traditional KM implementations in organizations my clients are asking to bypass the concept of KM and instead focus on wisdom.

Before you start screaming, I am not using wisdom in the same way that Webster defines it – but as a model for applied knowledge.  Got a better word? bring it – comment box is below.

Wisdom is what happens when you use knowledge – and what we always wanted our KM systems to do.  It is not just to store an article with an answer, but it is to know how that answer is applied, when does it work, when it doesn’t, and how to find the ancillary information necessary to make it work in the latter.  Not by simply starting a new query – but by associating all the wisdom surrounding that answer (in real time, mind you – as things are changing quite rapidly these days) from all the relevant SME (subject matter experts) regardless of where they are and what they are doing.

There is an old phrase – knowledge is understanding that tomatoes are fruits.  Wisdom is understanding that they shouldn’t go into a fruit salad.

That is likely the easier way to explain the difference.  Or to go back to my title… as odd as it is.

Knowledge is understanding that ducks are unlikely to be a source of wisdom.  Wisdom is to know I wrote that title on my iPhone and autocorrect changed it.

Waddle on to the comments below and let me know what you think… are we ready for some wisdom?

The Worst Problem With Cloud Applications

Let’s face it, switching from on-premises, on-demand, hosted, or any traditional model to cloud-based applications has issues associated with it.

Denying this would be — unconscionable, questionable… even downright dangerous.

Is the worse problem you’ll face the integration between systems? Is it the lack of IT support? A too-small-to-make-it-happen IT staff? Lack of a strategy? Not enough mobile support?

Or is it something as simple a too many logins and the lack of a single-sign-on solution?

Would you like to know?

I can help!

We are starting a research project on this topic with a survey and would love to have your input into it.  We are asking anyone that is associated with cloud applications (admins, IT people, or business users with admin responsibilities) to take our survey for the next two weeks and let us know.

We do have our theories, of course, from the many successful inquiries, interviews, and work we have done so far – but we want data to contrast it.  If you help us, we will send you the results as soon as they are ready and we will also send you the report with the detailed analysis.

And, to make it better, I am partnering with Denis Pombriant on this effort so you know you will get top-level writing (not my usual dribbles with parenthetical comments only… er, sorry).

Our friends at FinancialForce are sponsoring this effort and helping us put the information out there… so what do you say?

Help us? Take the survey?

In advance, many thanks.

ICYMM: Communities Are What You Need – Trust Me!

ICYMM: In Case You Missed Me - things with me or about me elsewhere in the internetz.

I have been saying for a very, very long time (back in 2001 I wrote a research note for Gartner, and in 2003 Michael Maoz and I spoke about this already at the conferences… and, oh yeah – in the late 1980s when I was moderating Compuserve forums I gave an interview for PCWeek about them – and I am sure there’s more, but you are bored of hearing me say how awesome I am — even though I am) that communities are the end goal for business.

The real power of the social networks is not the ability to share kitten pictures or news or baby pictures with people we loathed in high school but love now.  The power is the power of aggregating people of kin minds into communities.

Moving communities from offline to online is the greatest trick ever pulled by the internet.  We moved from an average of 12 communities participation per person in 2002 (just 4 online) to 48 communities participation per person (26 online).

The aggregation of power and knowledge (the reason for communities to exist) go back to the caves of Altamira and the fires that gathered people around to share stories (thanks Fred Studer for that image, well done).

I recently had a google hangout interview / webinar / something-else-you-want-to-call-it with my friend Sheridan Gaenger of Helpshift to talk about communities and how they are changing businesses.  We talked for a while, and it was one of the greatest conversations about communities I recall from recent years.

Pay a listen to it, or read the blog post that Sheridan wrote about it.  If you are interested in communities you will not be disappointed.

When  you are done, come back and talk to me about your thoughts please.  I’d love to know what you are doing and thinking in regards to communities.

disclosure: Helpshift was a client once some time ago.  I also sit in the board of advisers and own equity in the company as a result of this relationship (and, no, did not get paid to do this).  The interesting thing though, HelpShift does not sell community software, nor do they benefit if you implement or use communities.  Its part of the power of communities: spark conversations that broaden the topics you are interested in, watch what happens.  Inbound.  Funny...

Salesforce Buyout: My Speculation

If you are reading this you don’t need to be directed to an article explaining what happened: Bloomberg said that (somehow) it leaked that Salesforce had retained investment bankers to help them evaluate a potential acquisition or buyout.

Of course, this meant it was open season for everyone to add fuel to the fire, blood to the feeding frenzy, or — whatever else you add to something else to make it more intense.

Of course, these are all speculations – so I decided to add my 0.0015 drachmas to the affair and add my speculation.

Caveat: unlikely I can add a name to this that has not been mentioned (and that has a chance to happen).  

Caveat2: I am not privileged to any information that is not public – so take it for what it is… pure speculation.

Caveat3: you still reading?  Good… here we go.

Scenario 1: The PR Confabulation

It would be unfair or illogical to assume that SFDC has not had its fair share of M&A over the years – both before and after going public.  It would also be unfair to Marc Benioff and its board to say that any of those attempts had more than a passable chance at becoming reality.

Why mention the M&A attempt and the search for advisers this time around?

Some people out there are speculating that is part of a PR effort to shore up the value of SFDC and to promote Marc Benioff’s name before a commitment to start a career in politics.  Some people infer that this time is the right price / contender combination to make it a sizable event that must be reported before it leaks (you know how fast things leak in SF and Silicon Valley – see Yammer/MSFT for reference).

While there is a certain, minor, potential for this to be true I cannot see a PR campaign being made out of this.  True, Mr. Benioff has been more cozy in taking political positions lately and the remarkable coverage of all the philanthropic efforts he takes part of is growing – but I don’t think he needs this to shore up his name – or his company name.

As I discussed yesterday with a well-known CEO of a competitor – everybody in the known world either has or is considering having an instance of SFDC software in their company.  They are well known.

Chance of this scenario being the one: less than 5 percent (there are some crazy PR people out there, after all)

Scenario 2: All’s Well That Ends Well

With due apologies to Murphy Brown writers (look it up,  trust me) nothing will happen at the end.

As I said before, many talks have happened and many offers have been made – and this may be the most logical, or (as some say) predicted one, or closest to the mark, or even the only one that the board would seriously consider… but that means it means to be made public to minimize the carnage at a later time for someone’s stock or private cash stash.

Independently of that, nothing’s going to happen – but its a significant possibility that must be advertised or leaked or whatever was done to it.

Chance of this scenario being the one: less than 10 percent 

Scenario 3: Everybody Needs Somebody (sing it!)

There is a not-zero possibility that an acquisition is going to happen (and given SFDC’s inability to keep a secret in its history – trust me on this) and they will be acquired.

But whom?

Plenty of speculation has already happened in the Internetz and the Twitterz – will let you find it.  My take? Glad you asked.

Three potential suitors (and some not-so-potential) in order of likelihood:

IBM – yes, those guys.

Their businesses has been shrinking and they need a way to get into the cloud.  Bad.  In spite of whatever magic mushrooms they consume to say their cloud businesses are near $15BB – they are not a player in cloud.  This will give them “cloud creed” and an incredible entry point into enterprise software.  It will also allow them to take a $5-6BB business and easily double it over the next couple of years by letting their consulting and outsourcing LOB go at it.

There is the question that emerges quickly here, given their recent relationship, what about SugarCRM?

When the relationship between them was first announced I had the chance to talk to an IBM executive about that potential.  He said, paraphrasing, that IBM does not make acquisitions that yield less than  billion dollars in return – and they could not see SugarCRM getting to that level.

Should I remark that Salesforce is already there?  And then many times over?

There is a lot of upside for IBM to enter this market with this acquisition… only downfall? they would need to cut through the many layers of bureaucracy to make the right people agree.  And any IBMer would agree that is not a small task (the smart joke would be that they wanted to acquire SFDC when they turned $1BB in revenues but just now they were able to get the right approvals; hehehe – I am not smart humor).

Oracle – Yes, Benioff’s former boss and fist investor (well, not the company but the chairman) and a vendor with a desperate need for “cloud creed”.

In spite of their marketing prowess, Oracle has nothing that resembles a modern cloud product.  They bought old, outdated, and (pardon the french) crappy software and never really updated or improved it.  The customer attrition rate at some of the properties the acquired has crossed the 50% range (meaning that more than half the customers at the time of the acquisitions are already gone) and the revenues they expected are nowhere near what they should’ve been.

OMG could they use some cloud creed.  Quickly being left behind and without even a simple sleight-of-hand like HANA is for SAP they need to make a statement.

The rumor / conspiracy theory states that when Benioff left Oracle Larry made a pact that he would acquire SFDC at a later time for Marc to come back as CEO.  If true, and the likelihood is minuscule, what a master plan (as someone said earlier on twitter)! To plan to lay low for 15 years like a Enterprise Software Disruption Sleeper Cell and pounce at the right moment (when Larry wants to retire).  Incredible and very, very difficult to pull off.

If you seriously consider this to be possible you have short term memory (or lapses in memory).  Oracle has, by any count, a sizable command of the CRM market.  Remember: they acquired PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, and (fanfare here) Siebel – the King of CRM.  By magic and marketing they lost very few Siebel customers over the years and they have done a good marketing effort at keeping them past two years.

The part where your memory may not work well – the FTC investigated (and I do mean investigated) that deal in detail and barely, barely concluded there was no collusion or monopoly at that time.  At that time.

With the changes in market share and the sizable command SFDC has of the market? Highly unlikely that would happen.  Then again, I am not the FTC (although for the record, when everyone said it would not be allowed last time I said it would – and won some sizable bets in the process :)).

Microsoft – The partner.

With the recent partnership still fresh in some minds, there is a likelihood (and by market cap, a better suitor than the past two) but they are very gun-shy following their Yammer debacle (although there is some value in this deal – not so much on that one) and the ill-fit into the “one-Microsoft owning the world” strategy (unless they want to compete with – which frankly, I don’t see it) makes it hard to visualize.

Stranger things have happened, I did mention the Yammer acquisition – right?, but even then – unlikely that it is worth their time.

Then there is the issue of technical fit — we are not going there as far as integration of SFDC technology into MSFT technology.  Let’s leave that dog alone…

Others – Many

Cisco, Hewlett Packard, EMC, BMC, CA, Amazon (really?), Google (really??), and Apple (really??????????) and some others I can’t remember.

Yes, everyone needs to get into the cloud – and everyone needs to do this now (we can have the discussion about the obscene dollar amount allocated by organizations to “buy cloud” in the next two years in a separate post).

However, most of these people don’t have the capacity to absorb and grow the potential of SFDC.

Will not speculate more than that.

Your turn – what / who / why / when / and how do you think this ends?



Getting To Know You, Getting To Know More About You

The year was 2009 – eons ago in today’s fast paced world.  A then great vendor called Attensity hired me to write some thought leadership into the budding world of Analytics (budding as in people noticing, not as in just emerging as you well know).  They wanted a series of blog posts that talked to the issues about Analytics that most people were not thinking about – or even considering.  

Some of those posts did not survive the time (like the one comparing the Sodabowl and the Brandbowl approaches during SuperBowl 2010) and some of them are timeless and well worth the re-read.  These are the questions that organizations and vendors are asking today about Analytics.  

I’d like to use them to kick off the series again – and update it.

I won’t tell you if it’s a republished one or not – you can figure that out I hope, but I can tell you for sure this is what you need to be thinking about as we embark, again, into the world of analytics.

Let’s start with the idea of getting to know your customers better.

Back in the stone-age of computers, circa 1980s, we did not know much about our customers. We kept contact information and some account information but we did not use it often. The fact that over 30% of data out there is outdated, incorrect, or even not real (most organizations have at least one Mickey Mouse and one Donald Duck among their customers) tells the tale of businesses that didn’t spend too much time caring for their data. Once we realized that data was valuable we set to create profiles of customers, collecting as much demographic information as we could.

We later added transactional data to these databases, and we thought we knew our customers. We knew who they were, where they lived, what car they drove, what credit cards they carried, where they shopped. In some cases, we kept personalized information about their habits and likes-and-dislikes by “analyzing” their use data.

Later, we began to accumulate transactional data from CRM and similar systems, and we sought to learn about our customers by using analytical CRM in all this transactional data. If a single, 36-year-old, male customer who lives in Milwaukee and drives a Cadillac buys our product surely somebody else with the same profile will do it as well – right?

There is a lot more intricate behavior to segment customers than their demographics; what we called attitudinal (what they are going to do) and behavioral (what they are doing) information appeared from using surveys and was aggregated with existing information inside Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) systems.

Finally, getting back to this day and age, we found out that customers aren’t truthful in their answers to surveys. The reliance on biased information yielded bad analysis; depending on wrong conclusions to make decisions is never a good idea.

Can we really get to know our customers’ needs and wants?

Enter Customer Familiarity.

We are accumulating massive amounts of data on our customers, their transactions, behaviors, likes-and-dislikes – but we are not using it. Stored data is very similar to fresh fish: after a few hours, not so fresh anymore. After a few days, well – you know. Using this data is where analytical engines come in and they make sense of it, provide value, and actually drive actionable insights. And, as the title for this article explains, where we can get to know more about customers.

Why should you get to know your customers better? Glad you asked…

Better Segmentation, Better Returns – One of the tenets of success in managing relationships with customers is proper segmentation. Once the customer base is segmented, organizations can assign the necessary resources to the segments they want to retain to maximize the returns. The problem with segmentation is that it is usually done by the number of dollars spent, not by a metric that can be managed (customer purchase decisions, with very few exceptions, can only be influenced – not managed) and tracked back to KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). There are more clever segmentation techniques that create smaller, more profitable groups – but they cannot be applied without the proper data and the right analysis. Knowing not only who the customers are, or how much money they spent but also what they want and need provides need-based segmentation, making it easier to properly apply marketing, sales, and even service interactions and to optimize the relationships eventually leading to met expectations, higher satisfaction, and eventually emotional loyalty.

Expectation, Satisfaction, Loyalty –There is a simple path to loyalty: get to know customers’ expectations, meet and exceed them over time to create long-term satisfaction, turn that long-term satisfaction and habit of over-delivery into emotional loyalty. The problem that most organizations have in this equation is the first variable: getting to know their customers’ expectations. Thankfully we collected all this data about their attitudes, behaviors, needs and wants – even opinions on different matters. The massive amounts of data we collected until now (Yahoo, Google, and Sears routinely process databases in excess of a petabyte) can actually be used.   Most organizations can use this data to learn about customers’ expectations, but they do not because we are not paying attention to the right thing. They use reports and “analytics” to see if customer satisfaction is up or down, or if loyalty can be built – but not to familiarize themselves with their customers. They seldom take the time to apply he right resources to the right place.

Resource Allocation – All organizations have very limited people, time and even budget to invest in improving relationships with their customers. It should also come as no surprise that some relationships are worth investing in, where others are not so worth it. Using analytics to get to know better what customers want ensures that the allocation of resources is perfected. As Bruce Temkin, Forrester analyst specialized in Customer Experience, said in his Six Laws of Customer Experience:

CxP Law #3: Customer Familiarity Breeds Alignment

Given that most people want their company to better serve customers, a clear view of what customers need, want, and dislike can align decisions and actions. If everyone shared a vivid view of the target customers and had visibility into customer feedback, then there would be less disagreement about what to do for them. While it may be difficult to agree on overall priorities and strategies, it’s much easier to agree on the best way to treat customers.

Have I convinced you to start looking at ways to use your data better? What are you doing to learn what you customers want and need? Are you seeing the results of your initiatives? Let me know…

Personal: My Daughter Made Me Do This (But I’m Very Proud)

TL;DR –  My daughter is seeking retribution from me using her as example / stories in my blogs and presentations.  Her term is going to globals and is fundraising.  Link at bottom.

If you want to know how this works out…

I have two adorable kids: Gabby (nee Gabriela and AKA Gigi) and Coco (nee Carolina).  They are 12 and 9 respectively and its likely you know this somehow.

I use my kids in presentations and blogs here and there.  I told you once how I had to use I’d’ve in a  blog to show Gigi/Gabby/Gabriela/Oldest that its possible; told you about their Twitter and Snapchat and Facebook (yuck) habits.  Told many stories about her and her friends using Twitter, texting each other in the same room, and their obsession with screens and Minecraft (still don’t get that one).  I often refer to them when debating generational differences.

As she told me last weekend – It’s payback time.

She has been participating in Destination Imagination competitions for the past four years quite successfully.  I used to be their team manager and am still surprised at the level of dedication and work these kids put into it.  Destination Imagination is a global competition where kids from all over the world have 2-3 months to design, build, and implement a “something” using STEM and arts principles.  Beyond the learning about science, physics, chemistry, arts, and more they get self-confidence.  And they learn that winning a medal or trophy requires work, not just showing up (sorry, ranting…)

Her team under my expert tutelage (rather in spite of it) won passage to state for the past three years (competitions are quite interesting, its amazing what 3rd-5th grade kids can do when motivated).  This year they also went to state where they competed against 18 teams from all over California and won the right to compete at Globals in Knoxville TN.  They came in second by 4 points and honestly – kicked ass.  These kids are good and creative and committed.

In DI circles this is big.  Very big.  To give you a perspective: those 18 teams came from 9 regions and approximately 120 initial teams.  They placed 2nd in state by 4 points.  They worked their little fingers to the bones and were hyper creative to get there.  I’m very proud of those kids.  They are competing against the 100 best teams in the country and some 80+ teams from other countries in six different themes.

And now, the dreaded fundraising.

Costs almost $20,000 to take the entire team and materials to Knoxville.  There is no contribution from anyone other than the parents for this (they have written and signed letters to local foundations and business, gone knocking door to door, asked their school mates to contribute, and have other activities planned as well) and just three-four weeks to get as much as possible.  They are working hard to make this happen.

I promised I’d help, so here is my chance to pay her back for suffering my ribbing and exposing her secrets over the years.

Because Internet.  They setup a YouCaring site to collect money.  You want to encourage them to continue working hard and seeing results in exchange for that (and have some pocket change to spare)?


Gabby, my daughter (used to be Gigi – but kids grow and nicknames are not cute anymore daddy… yeah, kid… just wait until you start dating and you’ll see how Gigi was cute compared to the ones I have saved…) thanks you.  The Jazzy Snazzy Kitty Cats thank you (I don’t make the names, this is better than some others, trust me).

As I said – she made me do it… but I am also very proud.

disclaimer: seriously, you have no need or obligation to do this and of course no donation will change the course of the world or make me be nicer to you or your product.  If it did I am sure I’d get a sizable donation from Oracle (not a client) :-).  As much as I never ask for anything and this is only my second personal blog ever (first one celebrated Paul Greenberg’s 60th Birthday) I do apologize if you are offended or otherwise miffed.  Thanks for supporting me all these years and will go back to regular rantings on improper use of technology and whatnot next week (I’m deepening coverage of Analytics and Machine Learning – which are not the same y’all).

update: their team and others from the school district was also featured in the local news.