Category Archives: Consulting

Meet @Spam – Social Media Persona

This is @spam. Lots of followers, a ‘personal branding’ advocate and someone who is famous, at least, by some measure. You know, the type that likes to dispense advice, get your attention and loves to tell you about themselves in the most menial of ways.

Unlike the commercial “When E.F. Hutton speaks, people listen”…this is where is all ends, perhaps.

@spam. All about the ‘me’ in social media.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

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ARF Listening Playbook – Seven Deadly Sins of Listening: Opinion

Steve Rappaport, Knowledge Solutions Director, Advertising Research Foundation recently outlined in the WARC Blog a number of ‘bad habits’ that diminish the effectiveness of listening to consumer-generated content.

The following is intended to serve as a complementary viewpoint founded on fact-based marketing research and CRM consulting:

ARF Deadly Sin #1. Checklisting: The practice of gathering vendor or software capabilities and features, and comparing them in fancy grids, which give the appearance of thoroughness.

4ScreensCRM: Vendor evaluation is important but can only be done effectively if mapped against client process and technology requirements. As a start, provide your client with a roadmap that outliness potential outcomes and various paths to those end points. This should help with the anticipation of possible futures and builds a foundation for the initial strategy.

ARF Deadly Sin #2. Questionable Rigor: Listening is an emerging research discipline with a variety of approaches, but without standardized industry practices or an extensive body of research-on-research to date. Given the newness of the field, this is to be expected and will change over time.

4ScreensCRM: Provide your client with a business case that includes parameters for listening. Clients appreciate the need to pilot net new initiatives using an iterative approach to learning. Taking time to know what the ‘black box’ of the Internet contains is prudent in regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals.

ARF Deadly Sin #3. Adding Listening to Staff Work: It is common for someone in the research department to be designated the listening guru. However, that individual is usually just starting up the listening learning curve and can be easily overwhelmed by multiple demands – learning a new field, implementing listening research, understanding the results and sharing them throughout the company, all while performing their day job.

4ScreensCRM: Provide timely outsourcing capabilities with the right skills sets and tools to match the clients requirements. This will enable the client to keep focusing on their core business (e.g. make and sell automobiles) while at the same time forming in-house expertise along the way.

ARF Deadly Sin #4. Collecting Everything: It is easy to be seduced by social media metaphors – “rivers of conversation” is one, and it leads to thinking that relevant conversations are everywhere and flowing.

4ScreensCRM: Direct your client to places (URLs) where there is meaningful and legitimate conversation about their brand. Advise your client on the appropriateness of CGM listening at it relates specifically to their industry vertical, product categoryand market segments. If you client’s brand is not one that generates organic online experiential discussion, be candid about the go/no go decision to engage in further listening.

ARF Deadly Sin #5. Relying on Observations: At a recent ARF Industry Leader Forum, Paul Banas, Kraft Foods’ Insights and Strategy manager, told us that “observations are facts without wings – they don’t take you anywhere.” What good is it to know that brand mentions were 45% positive over the last year? He made the point that insights inspire action, evoke emotion, are unexpected, and lead to leverage-able ideas.

4ScreensCRM: Good insight reveals opportunity for competitive advantage and considers which functional groups are best to own the action plan.  Point to areas that will deliver a quick hit vs. long term impact on the client’s business. Use proof points to reinforce the business case across the enterprise.

ARF Deadly Sin #6. Using The Wrong Measure to Evaluate Listening: We learned that many of the measures used to judge listening are better suited for analyzing social media campaigns. This is a classic instance of using what’s available, such as activity measures (e.g. clicks) exposure metrics (e.g. page views), engagement measures (e.g. time spent) and transaction counts (e.g. conversions).

4ScreensCRM: Develop metrics that are variations on marketing research measures.  Metrics can be cascaded in order to provide a ‘drill down’ and get to the underlying drivers of consumer sentiment (satisfaction, willingness to recommend) and mentions (undaided awareness) of brand attributes, physical or emotional as well as comparisons relative to competition. 

ARF Deadly Sin #7. “It’s Just Another Way To”: Saying listening is “like a focus group,” or “another source of insights,” may be the greatest sin of all because these phrases make it appear as if listening is just another technique with limited application.

4ScreensCRM: Adopt the view that listening is about extending the view of the brand into the broader customer universe and augments the client’s ability put themselves in their customers’ shoes. Authentic online conversation is organic where consumers self-select, actively participate and seek the opinion of like-minded consumers. Listening is a passive process to understanding unstructured and unscripted conversations not possible using ‘active’ survey research.

– TedMorris, 4ScreensCRM

Forrester’s Latest on CRM Trends:Opinion

Forrester Research has recently released it’s 2010  perspective on CRM. William Band, the lead analyst, prefaces the report by asking “As the economy recovers, what are the key trends that will drive customer relationship management (CRM) strategies and technology adoption in 2010?”

Here are my own observations on some of Forrester’s 11 key trends:

Trend #1) Companies return to investing in their most important asset — customers: This should never stop but credit to those who realize the importance of this vital asset. By re-orienting the enterprise back to the customer, companies will be able to sense and response to emerging wants and needs in period of tremendous upheaval in the marketplace. Various aspects of the web that affect the way consumers shop for and purchase will translate in to changes across all customer-facing touchpoints of the enterprise and filter back to the supply chain.

Trend #4) Social CRM hype reaches a crescendo, but projects remain in pilot mode: Makes sense as sCRM technology has outpaced the CMO’s ability to absorb and understand the business utility of a wide variety of applications.  For example, FourSquare, while it has intriguing possiblities for retailers, is only at the stage where some (mainly coffee shops) are offering discounts on product. Companies, such as Ford Motor Company, have seen promising results with viral campaigns, notably a significant number of pre-orders in the US market for the soon-to-be-launched Fiesta.  At the other end of the spectrum, few companies have been able to derive clear benefits from Social Networks such as Facebook, other than having a web presence. 

Trend #5) Customer service embraces real-time methods: This is a huge opportunity as it will generate two clear deliverables for the business case – reduce costs of customer service delivery and drive down cycle time to problem resolution. This trend falls in the category of ‘quick hit’ as it takes little effort to set up extension of the customer service function on Twitter and conversation can take place in real time. Additionally, it has the potential to offload contact centre traffic and deliver the added beneft of broadening the customer’s touchpoint options for contacting the enterprise for service/product queries.

Trend #8) Mobile CRM becomes a must-have capability: This may be the jewel in the crown. Not surprisingly, the travel industry has been quick to embrace this technology, as it has been at the forefront of self-serve for some time re. airline check-in kiosk at the airport, via desktop or mobile device. Hilton Hotels, for example, has rolled out mobile apps that enable guests to manage their reservation status remotely, use the GPS function to search for hotels, order special services while en route or check their frequent stay points balance while travelling. I call this “being able to take your brand with you anywhere you go” CRM.

Trend #10) Scrutiny of business cases remains intense: As it should. With some much in front of the CMO these days, the range of possibilities is intensely confusing. I believe that this is one of the main obstacles to adoption, early or otherwise, as too many people advocate one technology solution over another without providing the necessary guidance to client companies. What is needed are clear strategy and process roadmaps with an eye to benefits and outcomes rather than an obsessive (and futile) focus on ROI. Until such time, piloting projects will remain the order of the day rather implementing cross-enterprise processes and technologies that support the business transformation.

Thanks to the Forrester team for prompting this dialogue on CRM.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

Social Networks: The New Outsourcing Frontier

Kiosk by ISDA Design Winner Toshihiro Fujimura

It occured to me recently that one of the biggest opportunities for CRM consulting resides in the domain of social media platforms. Ten years ago, in the salad days of CRM process consulting, much of the focus was on customer service response via call centres. These were also the early days of multi-channel customer service whereby web and telephone were becoming integrated into the customer service experience.

For example, if you had were a member of the Starwood (eg. Sheraton, W, Westin, Four Points) Preferred Guest program, you could contact Starwood customer service via their web site. If you had a query regarding missing frequent stay points, you could use the ‘Call Me’ feature which, via the web site, prompted an almost instantaneous telephone call from a Starwood customer service representative (CSR). Once points were remitted, a refresh of the Starwood website would immediately reflect the customer’s updated account balance.

Social networks like Twitter and Facebook now present new opportunities for customer service that drive both engagement and reduce operating costs. For example, since the Twitter application is free, customers could have their own dedicated account (within a closed network to ensure customer privacy), in order to deal with relatively simple transactions such as routine account queries. CSR’s in turn, could send out special offers. One example might be to offer a promotional rate to customers that have booked into a recently opened hotel. Another might be to provide additional points via Twitter for a guest that has reached a milestone upon checking out (reaching clip level for Marriott Silver status), via a mobile application.

It used to be said that the cost of sending a sales rep out to make an in-person call was about $500 per meeting. With telephone, the cost of a transaction went to $10 per call. With the web, this was down to less than a dollar. Social media platforms: close to zero.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

Social Media Slap Chop

As corporate managers seek to make some sense out of new media, it’s been interesting how the noise from advocate continues. Here are a few soundbites:

1) ROI. A few power bloggers have been consuming a lot of oxygen these days ranting about how there is little need to financially justify investment in social media. Social Media, unlike say, billboard advertising, is sacred because it’s all about trust and transparency. Besides, you’ve lost control of your brand to the consumer, so what the heck, just do it.
 
2) See, it works! Some folks are all agog about Dell generating some $6M worth of sales that were ‘influenced’ by the Twitter channel. The percentage sold, against total 2009 sales, was so small my calculator registered blank.
 

"You're Going to Have an Exciting Life Now."

3) Rage against the Expert. Enough already.  There are no experts, just people who speak loudly and have their musings (and picture) all over various social networks. None of these folks actually work for a Fortune 500, 1000 or 2000 company but they likely have a nice blog and written a giga-seller book or two or three. Let’s move on.
 
4) Case studies. Go back to item (2) as this is a about as good as it really gets. Most companies are in beta stage figuring out what works best for them. For example, Coke recently ditched private media in favour of social networking, which is just fine. 
 
5) Predictions. Newspapers are dead.  Advertising is a relic. Television is passe. Mobile is king. Facebook is the new Superpower. So many folks feel it necessary to make pronoucements on the future (which is here already since we are now moving faster than real time, according to some) that they get themselves worked into a voodoo-like trance. While in this somnambulant state, they feel their musings are fact while looking to pick up another 10,000 Twitter followers by the end of the day.
 
 6) Gushing over gadgets: Early adopters love to be the first to own the latest piece of technology such as an iPhone, iPod or iTablet, which is fine my me. However, some folks are over the moon about these new products to the point that they leave you wondering if they’re shills or stock promoters as they wax so enthusiastically. Mind you they’re also the first to wail away if something goes wrong such as poor smart phone connectivity (which was really a carrier issue).
 
7) Social Media is a must have. If you don’t you’re either stupid, in denial or you just plain don’t get it and the world will leave you in the nanodust of the cloud – especially if you’re a CMO. Rather than consider a firm’s CRM maturity level, those who have a knack for prescription pay little attention to the complexities inherent in the marketing and media mix. Makes me wonder – do social media evangelists have actual clients
 
– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia
 
 
 

Slippery Celebrity Slope: Tiger Gets Replaced by Elephant

In a recent post, Jay Busbee of Yahoo Canada Sports brings us up to date:

“Of all the humiliations that Tiger Woods has suffered over the last few weeks — scurrilous rumors, really bad overtold jokes, wild plastic surgery speculation, borderline-slanderous Photoshops — this one has to rank right up there: he’s been replaced by an elephant. And not just any elephant, mind you: a surfing one. Wacky!

The Biggest Loser? Hardly.

Accenture, one of the first companies to cut ties with Tiger Post-Hydrant, decided that  Tiger no longer represented the best of its “High Performance” ad campaign. (Personally, I think the fact that he kept all this going while still winning majors is “high performance” at a level beyond which most of us could comprehend, but I get where they’re coming from.)”

Well, a few things are certain, this elephant is likely to stay the course and not pose any possible risk of causing embarassment in the future. Most importantly, he will not be commanding stratospheric endorsement fees like his predesessor.

So here’s to Accenture Elephant and a long and prosperous career like many others who have come before: Aflac Duck, Geico Gekko,  Smokey the Bear, Spuds MacKenzie, Nipper the dog, Morris the Cat and of course, the Exxon Tiger.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

Looking around the corner at 2010

 4ScreensMedia is about Customer Relationship Management and how the Internet, Television and Mobile technology can be leveraged to enhance the customer experience across the entire spectrum of brand touchpoints. Here are 12 developments that may play out in 2010.

If a tree falls in the forest, we can now hear it.

1. Customer Relationship Management will incorporate social media – the customer’s channel – and become integral to the  Marketing Mix. Like the self-serve kiosk, more business processes will be outsourced to customers as a result.

2. The CIO will play a key role  in implementing enterprise social media platforms as technology & process serve to enable campaign execution.

3. Google will provide the cheapest and most used social media monitoring platform; like the long distance telco market, the service will be priced at or close to $0.00.

4. Management consultants will take their rightful place in provide social media guidance and integrate into CRM. They will design workable business processes, provide sound methodology and standards. Accountability will be more important than ROI. ROI metrics will draw from existing marketing mix to include CLV – Customer Lifetime Value at the aggregate level.

5. More social media monitoring companies will go out of business than will be acquired – the industry will segment into pure technology plays vs. value added business insight using white-label monitoring services. Some SMM companies will merge with marketing analytics providers. The most business value will be provided by SMM companies that specialize in industry verticals, sentiment analysis and human interpretation.

6.  Proprietary monitoring capabilities will become the purvue of the largest Forbes Global 2000 firms and provide the best business applications such as integration with business analytics. This will dovetail into the creation of private label media networks and brand communities.

7. Mobile technology will have a dual thrust.  Fast growth in terms of user adoption rates and new functionality that enhances the customer experience.  Mobile apps will enable tighter customer relationships, reduce costs via self-service and provide more data about customer behaviour. Cloud computing will enable the data center to be accessed remotely further enhancing work station flexibily especially for mobile professionals in a global economy.

8. Predictive analytics and business intelligence will be the game changer – the Internet will be treated like a big data warehouse. Insight into consumer buying outcomes will be at the heart of this computing technology domain.

9. Location intelligence applications combined with data visualization and user information will become key elements in the business operations arsenal.  Any business where geospatial location matters – transportation, retail, health, policing, municipal services – will take a great interest in these applications.

10. Social networks in general will not be profitable or be close to break even but overvalued by the markets. They will also be seriously compromised by identity theft, fraud, spam and security breaches.

11. Marketing research companies will finally understand that billions of consumer-generated comments related to the brand experience are worth incorporating into traditional research methods. All major players will align with or have their own monitoring or business intelligence capability.

12. Television will be the most watched, most influencial medium in America. Google will have a strategy to buy a network. TV will see a resurgence on many fronts, most notably advertising.

Let’s check back in December 2010.

– Ted Morris