Archives for April 2013

The Big Data History Lesson

imagesI just got done listening to a keynote from McKinsey’s Matt Ariker on big data at the SOCAP Spring Symposium.  As I was listening I was struggling to find something more interesting to write than just reporting the highlights of his talk.  Then, about two thirds of the way through the hour long session, I got it.  Rather than ruining my own punch line.  Let’s see if you can figure it out.  See if you come to the same conclusion.

Matt started out challenging the audience with some good questions to ponder.  Like big data, what is it?  Why now? Why should you care?  One answer?  According to Tech Crunch, big data will drive $232 billion in spending by 2017.  So, yeah.  We should care.  Good so far.

Matt went on to share some other stats and also some of the key questions that his clients are asking on the subject.  Then, his presentation outlined what he believes, or is observing as some of the critical pains that organizations are currently experiencing with respect to big data.  In summary, they were as follows:

  • Lack of clarity on the vision and roadmap for big data.  Everyone wants all the data they can get there hands on without having the business questions identified first.
  •  Enterprise culture and mindset are not aligned.  There is not 100% buy-in and commitment from the C-Suite
  • Ineffective use of data and tools.  Data project scope creep is deadly.  Too many think “if I can get more data, why not?”  There ends up being too much time and resources spent on acquisition and aggregation at the expense of analysis and solving business problems
  • Ineffective integration of big data projects into business processes.  Internal stakeholders are not engaged in development nor accountable for delivery
  • Too much focus on technology and not business processes
  • Misalignment of required enterprise skills to execute on these projects. The focus is largely on technical skills, or in repurposing other skills and resources.

Did you figure it out?  This is history repeating itself.  Haven’t we seen this before?  Many, many times?  ERP.  CRM.  Virtually any big, enterprise technology initiative over the past 20 years has faced these same set of challenges.  You could take this post and do a find and replace.  Insert “ERP” or “CRM” in place of “Big Data”, date it 1995 or 2001 and the issues would be still relevant.

So, like back in 2000, there are companies that are doing it right.  So, perhaps the best place to start, the first mile of your roadmap, should be to find those examples and do what they are doing. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…and it just might save your career if you’re the one writing the big data checks in your organization.


The Social Customer Service Talent Show

talentMany of the most progressive companies are blazing a path forward with new business models and technology to support a shift from reactive customer service (solve my problem) to proactive customer engagement (insure I don’t have any problems…or at least anticipate and minimize them).

This shift to proactive customer engagement has far-reaching implications across the enterprise. Too many to explore with any meaning in one blog post. So, since I’m sitting here in a contact center, lets dive into what that means here. For one, just when some of us old-schoolers have started to get their arms around the shift in terminology from “call center” to “contact center”, we now need to focus on this transition to the customer engagement center.  Yes.  In this case, a name is not just a name.  It is a vital element in supporting the enterprise shift to proactive engagement.

Proactive, predictive, multi-channel, cross-channel, omin-channel. In this human-capital intensive function within the enterprise, I’m wondering how’s all this impacting your customer service human capital strategy? The skill profile of the omni-channel customer engagement center representative is certainly different from that of the single-channel phone or email agent. So too are the methods by which the customer engagement center will acquire these human capital assets. The days of recruiting, staffing and deciding whether or not to outsource this function based solely on cost are long past. Customer demands of the engagement center are rising at a steady rate.

The complexity of this environment is not the only contributor to the need for broader and deeper communication skills. The ever-increasing public exposure of both service successes and epic service failures leaves no place for poor service to hide.  No longer is it even minimally acceptable for customer service agents to mechanically read from a script, capture some call notes and insure that the 53 elements of the quality form have been adhered to.  Customer service representatives have to be effective communicators.  Be able to think on their feet.  And possess sound judgement in order to do the right thing for the customer AND the company.  Oh, and the organization needs to empower the front line troops to do this.  But that’s another story.

In addition, the customer engagement center, through my lens, is fast become one of the focal points in the organization for not only collecting, but aggregating and analyzing the exponential growth in customer data.  Customer engagement professionals will need the skills to deliver actionable insights to various data consumers across the enterprise.  No longer is it sufficient to produce a static report and blast it out in email.  Not if customer service is to realize the strategic importance of sales, marketing, product development or other more traditional “knowledge capital” functions.

So, where is this new breed of customer engagement professional going  come from?  What does that hiring profile look like in your organization?  How are you going to identify those current customer service reps with the potential to take on this new role?  What are the new training requirements?  Methods? What does this do to how you model the finances of customer service?  It is certainly a different justification process.

Perhaps THIS is how marking and customer service finally get engaged…and tie the knot.

Disney’s Data Deluge

mickeydataLast week, I threw out some ideas here on how Disney could leverage social and mobile technologies to enhance the guest experience.  And while, if you go back and read that post, there might be some specific reasons why they have a vested interest in keeping guests standing in some lines, the opportunities to leverage big data in the guest experience is just as compelling.  I’m just going to throw out three personal examples.  I’d really like to see what you all can think of too.

First, I would guess I’ve got to look like somewhat of a frequent guest or loyalist, whatever you want to call it.  I don’t have the exact count.  But between business and pleasure, my best guess is that I’ve stayed at Disney resort properties somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 times.  Of those 25 or so times,  I’ve only actually stayed at five different properties.  Yet, I’ve never had any engagement with Disney either through direct marketing or other interaction that would suggest that they know I’ve demonstrated an fairly predictable pattern of where I prefer to stay.

With respect to Disney Park attendance, I’m pretty predictable there as well.  Of the four major theme parks, my order of preference is Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot then Animal Kingdom; with about 40% of my time spent at the Magic Kingdom.  And, in all the time I’ve been going to Orlando, I’ve never once attended one of the water parks.

Lastly (apparently I’m a creature of habit), when I dine at Walt Disney World, 60% of my sit-down meals have been at the same four restaurants over the past five trips there.

Combine all that information with my demographic information and there is definitely a profile there. Also, if you’ve ever been to Disney World, you know that everything you do is tracked through your hotel room key, if you’re staying on a Disney Resort property.  Every dollar spent.  Every park entered.  Every FastPass acquired.

I’m not a data scientist.  Not by any stretch.  But, like last week, I wonder what Disney is doing with this information.  And, how could they use it to make my visit even more magical?

Micky’s Got A Line For Everything

I had an angle to this post that I thought was pretty solid.  Then a seemingly innocuous question from a friend completely made me rethink the subject.  I’ll get to that in a moment.  First a bit of background.

My family have seemed to established a regular vacation pattern with our annual trek to Walt Disney World in Florida.  And, yes I admit it.  I have as much, if not more fun than my six and four year old kids.  Being in the customer experience business, of course I still always look at these things with one critical eye on the experience design while still taking in the childlike enthusiasm that Disney so magically creates.

Disney does a good job of managing lines at its attractions.  And wow!  There were some serious lines the week of Spring Break while we were there.  But, I guess because I had just recently read this article and others about how retailers are leveraging iPads to reduce or eliminate in-store queues , I kind of felt like Russel Crowe in A Beautiful Mind.  I saw opportunities pop out at me in 3D everywhere I went in the Disney parks.  In particular, there seems to be a significant opportunity to better manage the queues at non-attraction venues within the parks, most notably at places serving food.

Just in random thought, a few of these seem to be pretty easy to implement:

  • Bring the food queue to the people by equipping cast members with iPads to take orders instead of the bottlenecks caused by the single cast member sitting at a cash register.
  • Provide several self-service kiosks in food venues to allow guests to order on their own – like self checkin kiosks at the airport.
  • Expanding Disney’s mobile apps to allow guest to not only check availability and make dining reservations, but to allow them to pre-order food and have it available at a specific time – especially at the quick service locations.

And with respect to the attractions, there is opportunity too.

Disney has this FastPass system that allows you to get a ticket to return to an attraction at a pre-determined time and avoid the line or wait in a much shorter line.  How about using their mobile app to deliver this FastPass?  And, what would be the downside if guest were able to trade or swap FastPass mobile tickets while they are within the boundaries of the park?  There are times when you get a FastPass and you just can’t make it back to the attraction at the designated time.  Or, you decide you want to do something else at that time.  The mobile app could control any potential abuse of the swapping system.  And it would leverage social collaboration among guests, adding to the richness of the experience.

Gamification is a vastly untapped tool in Disney’s in-park guest experience bag of tricks.

Disney has this “Hidden Mickey” thing where there are hidden images of the iconic Mickey Mouse silhouette all over the parks.  Guests enjoy trying to find them along their journey.  How about leveraging gamification to allow guests to earn points or badges for finding Hidden Mickey that give them FastPass access to the most popular attractions?  Leveraging Foursquare or some other location-based check-in platform would allow guests to earn badges or mayorships of attractions that would give them V.I.P. access as well.

The Disney Mobile app uses crowds to improve attraction wait time estimates.  How about giving guests incentives, badges or other rewards for reporting wait times?

Wouldn’t you agree that these all just seem too obvious to think that Disney hasn’t already thought of them?  So, on the plane home (in between comforting my kids as we descended through thunderstorms into Atlanta…Atlanta and thunderstorms.  Is that like the ultimate travel nightmare combination?  Or what?), I was flummoxed by the thought as to why they’re not available.

Flash forward to the Monday after my vacation when I was relaying my curiosity to my friend.  His immediate response was this.  “Maybe Disney doesn’t want to eliminate these lines.  Maybe its intentional.”  Wow!  That threw me for a loop!  But the more I thought about it, it was both confusing and completely logical.  The only problem is, I don’t know why.  This is The Walt Disney Company.  The Albert Einsteins of customer experience.  Like I said, my thoughts are certainly not Earth-shattering.  What else could it be?  Could Disney have some motive for the pace at which they’ve adopted social mobile technology?

What am I missing?

(next post, I’ll be exploring the opportunities I think Disney has to better leverage customer analytics)