Customer engagement and lessons from the Scottish poet, Robert Burns – Interview with Jamie Anderson of SAP

Portrait of Robert Burns

Today’s interview is with Jamie Anderson, Global Vice President Product Marketing, Customer Engagement & Commerce at SAP. Jamie joins me today to talk about a concept called brand self-awareness, what we can learn from the Scottish poet, Robert Burns, and what customer engagement really means.

This interview follows on from my recent interview: Improve customer experience by surveying your customers quicker – Interview with Mark Smith of ContactEngine – and is number 115 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate, become more social and deliver better service.

Highlights of my interview with Jamie:

  • There is a disconnect between what the market (customers) say and what gets delivered. Jamie talks about this in a concept called Brand Self Awareness.
  • The first time he came across this idea/phenomena was when, at the time, he was working with a number of banks and how they wanted to leverage social media to tell more people how great they were. However, what those banks weren’t clued into was the fact that people largely ‘hated’ them so when they embarked on their campaigns they weren’t prepared for the vitriol that came back at them.
  • What the banks learnt was that ‘social’ was and is a great opportunity to promote organisational self-awareness and allows the business to listen and learn more about their customers and the market before acting.
  • Jamie told me of a Robert Burn’s poem, composed around 1785 – ‘To a Louse’ which sums up the situation beautifully:

“O wad some Power the giftie gie us

To see oursels as ithers see us!”

  • Given that Jamie’s work involves helping firms improve their customer engagement, when asked about what are some of the best lessons that he and his clients have learned he cited the example of STM (Société de transport de Montréal) who were trying to increase people’s confidence in the public transport system and, thus, their ‘ridership’ across the system.
  • They wanted to do this for a number of reasons:
    1. To reduce congestion;
    2. To promote more environmentally friendly modes of transport; and
    3. To promote public amenities around the city.
  • To improve engagement they created an app that was both a loyalty scheme and, on provision of some rudimentary customer data (name, home location, work location, routes normally travelled, preferences etc) they could provide their customers with timely and relevant information (More info here).
  • This allowed them to build their customers confidence over time in the public transport system.
  • They key difference here is that STM looked at the problem from the ‘outside-in’ and prioritised what their customers needed and not what the organisation wanted to do to their customers or want to sell them more of.
  • This approach is encapsulated in another quote from Theodore Levitt who said:

People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.”

  • The beauty of the app is it’s simplicity.
  • Companies often use their own complexity as a shield.
  • The most successful companies will be the ones that simplify the process for the customer.
  • Bill McDermott SAP’s CEO says that the biggest enemy for the large organisation is complexity.
  • Simple wins every single time.
  • When setting out to improve customer engagement, the first and best thing to do is to start with thinking about what you could do to make things better for your customer.
  • The next, critical thing you should do is think about how you can also make it easy (i.e. simplify it for them) for your employees to engage your customers. That’s where technology can come in to help.
  • So, you need to be customer focused first, then empower, engage and make things easy for your employees and then consider how you can use technology to support those things and not the other way round.
  • For too long have systems, like CRM, been built to serve the need to collect information.
  • Jamie cites Nespresso as a business that gets it right, particularly the way that they have: 1. Fused the digital and retail experience; and 2. Have motivated and engaged employees.
  • Customer engagement is not CRM.
  • CRM technology has supplanted what CRM means to people now. And, in many situations, has been relegated to a back-office data store rather than a business philosophy.
  • However, CRM also implies that you can manage relationships with your customers. But, that implies control and is untrue. You can manage information but you can’t control relationships.
  • We are now moving from the era of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) to the era of CMR (Customer Managed Relationship), where the customer is now in the driving seat.
  • The ability of organisations to react in the moment and live in the moment with their customers……that’s the big challenge and that’s what customer engagement is all about.

About Jamie (adapted from his SAP and LinkedIn bios)

Jamie Anderson - SAPJamie is somewhat of a CRM veteran, with over 15 years’ experience in the customer-facing solutions space, and has worked with many organisations in helping them define and implement engaging customer experiences.

Jamie is responsible for leading the global messaging and positioning of the Customer LoB solutions portfolio and re-energizing the CRM go-to-market approach leveraging the strengths of SAP’s 5 market categories (Applications, Analytics, Mobile, Database & Technology and Cloud) and Industry Solutions portfolio.

The Customer LoB Solutions portfolio comprises solutions for Sales, Service, Marketing, Commerce, and Social. Together these solutions enable our customers to ‘Engage Customers like never before’ with simple, beautiful, and easy to consume products and services that are designed to work the way sales, marketing, and customer service professionals work today.

You can find Jamie on Twitter @collsdad and connect with him on LinkedIn here.

Photo Credit: Dumfries Museum via Compfight cc

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