In an earlier blog post titled: Warning, Is your Sales Force blindsided by Customer Service I talked about the need for customer service to keep sales informed about potential customer escalations and that might negatively impact the sales team. Here is a real life example of a system that was in place when I retired from IBM Canada.

IBM has published a study of over 1700 Chief Marketing Officers titled From Stretched to Strengthened, Insights from the Global Chief Marketing Officer Study which highlights the changes the marketplace is going through and the need for businesses to adapt.

Every organization goes through cycles, from year beginning, monthly and quarterly results and year end. As a new year approaches, one of the exercises every department goes through is planning for the year ahead. Customer Satisfaction strategies and processes need to be reviewed as well.The most important things to review are Management Strategies, Customer Expectations, Customer Feedback, Measurements and Targets and Management Reporting.

Many people think customer satisfaction is only about customer service and support. In fact, what we found at IBM, was that customers could be dissatisfied with many different aspects of our business, from the product features being offered, to the way we advertise and promote out products. With the advent of social media and the new ways of engaging with customers has its own set of issues. Two studies show consumers will disengage when companies do not provide what they expect from them on social media.

Some products and services come with a fixed warranty or support period followed by paid support options. This is particularly well known in the computer software industry. Customers can become very irate when they call in with a problem and are told they have to pay for support. When I worked at IBM in Software, we had (and I believe IBM still has) an entitlement process when someone calls in for support. This post covers some of IBM’s preventive and reactive programs for paid support.

A recent survey by Unica, an IBM subsidiary called the State of Marketing 2011 – Unica’s Annual Survey of Marketers highlights the challenges marketers face in this rapidly changing business environment. Interactive Marketing is changing the methods of communicating with customers; it is ‘the meaningful alternative to imposing messages on customers that they no longer want to hear.’ Three types of media marketers need to be aware of include Earned Content, such as reviews, testimonials and references, all customer satisfaction elements. Customer satisfaction strategy needs to change to accommodate the new channels.

IBM has made some recent announcements to help its customers with changing consumer demands based on new web and mobile techniques. As a result, IBM has announced the Smarter Commerce consulting practice and new software to measure social interaction to help their clients with these new abilities. As a by product of these rich information being gathered there should be an improvement not only in marketing information but in customer satisfaction data as well.

Many articles are written about how to handle customer satisfaction and customer service issues in businesses that deal with consumers. But Business to Business (B2B) is quite different. This article covers the 7 key differences to be aware of when planning customer satisfaction programs in a business to business context.

Customer Centricity: An IBM Video

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Customer Centricity is a new term to capture the thought that customers are central to everything an organization does, including product development, sales, service, marketing and even through its suppliers and channels. IBM has an excellent video called “How it Works: Smarter Commerce” that covers the concept well. Watch the video and review the key points in this blog post.

The IBM Watson computer Jeopardy challenge ran on US and Canadian Television for 1/2 hour over 3 sessions on Feb 14 to 16th, 2011. Watson, an IBM computer was one of the contestants. Watson won over two of the best Jeopardy contestants in the world, every night and in aggregate over three days. One of the first business applications of the IBM Watson technology is predicted to be in call centers.

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