Having a great time at a conference for my French colleagues in Paris today – & thanks for the upgrade and great service at Intercontinental Paris Le Grand.

I was asked to give an international perspective on the “new customer” – in fact it’s interesting how transnational the customer is in their behaviours. As indeed are many new businesses.

Top facts of the day? Well the wholly French audience were shocked to find the English invented Champagne. Check out Christopher Merret.

And I was surprised to find that 50% of the audience are no longer windows users.  I had skipped out my “how do you boil a frog?” story when talking about how corporate IT is holding back companies – well it was a cross between being out of time and the fact I’d completely missed that some people might have taken it as a racist joke!!

Talking to a Microsoft (MS) executive afterwards, I explained the question & answer: you dont put it in hot water or it will jump out. You put in cold water and heat it gently, gently til it boils. My point was MS needs a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

I’ve the feeling that Microsoft doesn’t hear loud or clear. The feeling is Surface was going really well, whereas anecdotally I’ve had war stories sent to me already. This gives me a distinct feeling of deja vu – I remember speaking at a Stream conference a few years back when a version of Windows was launched – the MS people said feedback was great – whereas the tech savvy audience had all heard about printer driver problems.

MS has been a client a number of times and it’s full of great people doing great things – but something has to be shocked if it’s not to be “boiled”. When I first worked with them in the mid 90s, the mantra was “we mustn’t become the next IBM”. Anyone at MS wanna play?

Anyway here’s the outline of the talk – in fact it was run as an interview with my French colleague Veronique Godart.

Content – Three key thoughts:

1) Customers have new tools  (Les client disposent de nouveaux outils) which are better, faster and more connecting than the tools which businesses have.

To stand any chance you must first understand and adopt that mind set in order to build a veritable culture de la relation client and be in phase with your customers

a) Customers help customers (les clients aident les clients), crowdservicing, crowdsourcing – was rare, now common. Examples form this week: cancelling hotel after seeing Trip Advisor reviews, sourcing code to crack a difficult Excel problem.

b) Tech boom in London (Le boom technologique) – it’s all about online tools for customers. And other countries can join in easily e.g. our Xero accounts system is from New Zealand paid in small NZ$ by credit card.

c) It changes the model in B2C and B2B – self service selling and servicing (la vente self-service) . Great customer experience amplified by web tools to build trusted brand. Buy on credit card. Great service in the tools, by forum, email or twitter – very interactive. Product development by customers votes and ideas. Open APIs to link apps.

2) So cloud already changed things – now corporate businesses have to catch up (cloud change toutes)

a) Majority of businesses who buy are buying contact centres in the cloud – and these are multichannel capable

b) Multiscreen users will and do bring their  own technology to work and businesses have to not only accept but embrace the challenge and bring it within the security blanket e.g. iPads for MI, mobiles for email, Macs on the network

c) Traditional IT approaches have to adapt or die (adapte ou mort).  HR and L&D to has to be shaken up to if you are to win the talent war. The move to gaming in learning has to be examined.

3) Marketing is dead (as we knew it).  It’s no longer about building brand. (Le marketing est mort)

We already tuned out to anything that isn’t true, in fact we turned up the noise when we find it.

a) Brand is built by customers.  Brand is the customer experience and it’s amplified

b) It’s about the moment of truth – search, SEO and being most relevant, most rapid, with your customers establishing your trustworthiness (la recherche, la pertinence l’experience)

c) And you have to listen and respond. Otherwise they won’t talk to you. And that conversation is invaluable. Don’t ask people for feedback unless you have the resources to talk to them about their answer.

d) Analytics is crucial to success and pace (learning faster than the next guy)  – and its getting fast and free. But analysts aren’t free and abundant – that’s why there are talent wars with Google, eBay, Amazon, Facebook. And its no coincidence they are all tech platforms that serve customer needs.

So I hope you enjoyed a quick romp through the talk – appreciate you missed all the stories and anecdotes too – mais le train depart et je dois travailler!

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