CRMI Salutes Companies Fighting Spread of Coronavirus

CRMI Salutes Companies Fighting Spread of Coronavirus
NorthFace ScoreBoard Award℠ (NFSB) Certificates issued to companies
that have performed extraordinarily in the fight against COVID-19

by Bill Bradley
VP Marketing, CXDNA Stakeholder Communications

The Customer Relationship Management Institute LLC (CRMI), an independent third party and an expert in the field of CX (customer experience), has announced a special honorary certification – the NFSB COVID-19 Service Certificate – to recognize companies and their supply chain partners that have been acknowledged by President Trump’s COVID-19 Task Force and/or Forbes Magazine for exceptional service in helping to defeat the coronavirus.

“It’s inconceivable how much our world has changed since March 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said John Maraganis, president & CEO of CRMI. “Scores of companies have either stepped up their traditional work in life sciences and related fields to focus on the pandemic or retooled their businesses to focus on this global challenge. We felt it was important to salute these firms with an honorary COVID-19 NFSB Service Certificate and to provide the opportunity to earn recognition for achieving world-class customer service-” based on their actual CSAT survey results.

All companies engaged in fighting COVID-19, and their supply chain partners, shall receive a NFSB COVID-19 Service Certificate confirming their voluntary contribution to fighting the virus. They may also apply for the NFSB Award for customer service excellence and receive a special COVID-19 NFSB discount.

Now in its 20th year, the NorthFace ScoreBoard Award is presented annually to companies who, as rated solely by their own customers, achieved excellence in customer service during a full calendar year. Further, all NFSB recipients who have met the criteria for five (5) consecutive years shall receive special SUMMIT category – status denoted on their award and in their NFSB certification letter/deliverables.


COVID-19 NFSB Honorary 2020 Recipients:
(View Forbes Grace Chung and Giacomo Tognini business tracker article)



Abbott Laboratories Carbon Ipsum Diagnostics
Alphabet Cellex Mammoth Biosciences
Amazon Cepheid Mesa Biotech
Aytu BioScience Copan Diagnostics Puritan Medical Products
Ava Credo Diagnostics QIAGEN
BioIQ DiaSorin Siemens Healthineers
BioMérieux Henry Schein



AbbVie CytoDyn Merck KGaA
AIM Immunotech Eiger Biopharmaceuticals Mesoblast
Aldeyra Therapeutics Eli Lilly Mylan
Alexion Pharmaceuticals Emergent BioSolutions OncoImmune
AlloVir EUSA Pharma Panoptes Pharma
Amgen Faron Pharmaceuticals Partner Therapeutics
Ampio Pharmaceuticals Fujifilm Pfizer
Apeiron Biologics Gilead PharmaMar
Apeptico Green Cross Pluristem Therapeutics
Applied Therapeutics Grifols Pulmotect
ARMS Pharmaceutical Harbour BioMed Regeneron Pharmaceuticals
Ascletis Hope Biosciences Relief Therapeutics
AstraZeneca Humanigen Ridgeback Therapeutics
Bausch Health I-Mab Biopharma Roche
BeiGene Incyte Roivant Sciences
Belleron Therapeutics InflaRx Synairgen
Biohaven Pharmaceuticals Innovation Pharmaceuticals Takeda
CalciMedica ISR Immune System Regulation Teva Pharmaceuticals
Can-Fite Kamada Union Therapeutics
Capricor Therapeutics Karyopharm Therapeutics Vault Health
Celltrion KD Pharma Group Vir Biotechnology
Celularity Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals XBiotech
Cocrystal Pharma Laurent Pharmaceuticals Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceuticals
CSL Behring Livongo Mateon Therapeutics



Advent-Irbm ExpreS2ion Moderna
AJ Vaccines FluGen Novavax
Altimmune GeneOne Life Science Sanofi
Arcturus Therapeutics GeoVax Sinovac Biotech
Biocad GlaxoSmithKline SK Group
BioNTech Greffex Sorrento Therapeutics
CanSino Biologics Heat Biologics Takis Biotech
Cel-Sci Corp. Hoth Therapeutics Themis Bioscience
Codagenix iBio Tonix Pharmaceuticals
CureVac IMV Vaxart
Dyadic Inovio Vaxil
Dynavax Johnson & Johnson Vaxine Pty Ltd
EpiVax Medicago VBI Vaccines


Protective Equipment and Sanitizer:

Anheuser-Busch InBev Dickies
Ansell ExxonMobil Menarini
Aria Designs Fanatics Miroglio Group
Armani Fiat Chrysler Automobiles O.C. Tanner
Bacardi Fippi Pernod Ricard
Barbour GelPro Prada
Bauer Hockey Gojo Industries Procter & Gamble
BrewDog González Byass Quicken Loans
Bulgari GVS Reliance Industries
Calzedonia Group HP San Miguel Corporation
Canada Goose IKEA Seamus Golf
Cantabria Labs Ineos Siemens
Charoen Popkhand Group Jockey Stanley Black & Decker
Colgate L’Oréal Starkey Hearing Technologies
Consomed LVMH Top Glove
Decathlon Massaflex Volkswagen
Diageo Medline Voodoo Manufacturing


Ventilators and Beds:

Airbus Inspiration Healthcare SIARE Engineering
BAE Systems Mahindra Group Smiths Group
Bloom Energy Malvestio SpaceX
BreathDirect Medtronic Tesla
Dyson Meggitt Thales Group
Ford Penlon Ultra Electronics
General Motors Philips Vyaire Medical
GKN Aerospace ResMed Xerox
Hill-Rom Rolls-Royce


Supporting Healthcare Workers and First Responders:

Airbnb First Due NeuroFlow
Alibaba GlobeKeeper Palantir
Anaplan GoPuff Rave Mobile Safety
Apple Headspace Speetar
Byju’s Hyundai Tencent
Carbyne Inditex Uber
EverBlock Systems Intel UiPath
Facebook Manna Aero Vista Land Group
Faculty Medallia Zoom



Asia Coatings MetroResidences Yili Group
Enterprises Suncity Group


Asia Private Sector:

Ansell GeneOne Life Science Ping An
Ascletis Green Cross Seegene
Biolidics HDFC Bank Shiseido
CanSino Biologics Healthmatch Takeda
DBS Bank I-Mab Biopharma Yuchengco Group
Envision Group JN Medsys Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceuticals
FPT Group Mesoblast
Fujifilm Pan Brothers


About CRMI:
Since 1999, the Customer Relationship Management Institute LLC (CRMI) has promoted that CX is the most critical component of company’s DNA. Further, that consistently exceeding customer expectations builds customer loyalty and requires competent-engaged employees. As a membership-based resource, we provide “One-Stop Shop” for “everything CX.” Whether you are new to CX strategies or a veteran practitioner, you will join thousands of like-minded professionals eager to share their CX experiences.

For more information on how to qualify for the NorthFace ScoreBoard Award, visit or call (978) 710-3269 and ask for Diane Rivera,

Utilizing Employee Soft-skills Home Training through the COVID-19 Pandemic

Now more than ever as we navigate times of uncertainty, at home employee soft-skills training will produce long-term positive customer experiences. Are your employees armed with the necessary soft-skills training to deliver exceptional customer experiences?

Many companies are reviewing @ home employee work plans and as you look at the possibilities, one is the opportunity to train your staff’s soft-skills to improve the customer experience.

Often in the past, it may have been difficult to provide your staff with the time to train and provide them with the opportunity to improve their skills.  Much research has shown that employees with soft-skills training significantly improve customer satisfaction, their productivity and lead to long-term customer loyalty. Also, at the same time by improving their soft-skills to effectively deal with customers, especially during these unprecedented times, builds the road to “Trusted Advisor” which is the key component to long term profitability.

Here are four (4) basic training content for any organization:

Customer CARE is the basic employee training for building long-term strong customer relationship skills. Learn the keys to what customers value – drives behavior – causes dissatisfaction. Learning how to become a “Trusted Advisor” NOT “Vendor” is the key to building customer loyalty.

  • Learn about Customer CARE and why customer satisfaction and loyalty are important
  • Understand that effective customer relations is essential to individual and organizational success
  • Understand that Customer CARE is not just the job of the service organization
  • Understand how your job ties into the mission of the company
  • Experiential exercises in understanding your encounters with good and bad Customer CARE
  • Understand the drivers of good and bad Customer CARE
  • Learn how to deliver exceptional service, why customers quit and what they really want
  • Learn how Customer CARE ties directly into bottom-line profitability


Dealing with Difficult Customers provides skills for diffusing heated customer complaints. Teaches customer empathy while providing a resolution to the customer’s irate complaint. Turning a bad situation into a memorable favorable solution is the road to “Trusted Advisor”.

  • Understand why we need to deal with difficult customers
  • Learn why a difficult customer is a precious gift and a great opportunity
  • Understand why customers are difficult and the three levels of customer expectations
  • Understand the qualities of a good and bad listener
  • Understand your listening style and how it meshes with your customers styles
  • Understand the importance of listening and learn how to become a better listener
  • Learn a 5-Step process to successfully deal with difficult customers
  • Learn how to turn that dissatisfied customer into an advocate
  • Learn how to deal with your fellow employees, customers and others to get better results


Problem Solving Skills teaches employees how to use their skill sets to resolve various problem situations. Learn how to ask the right questions, connect problem symptoms and utilize technology to quickly resolve customer issues, again is the road to “Trusted Advisor”.

  • Learn the difference between problem solving and decision making
  • Evaluate situations and determine the correct process
  • Learn the importance of early identification and resolution of problems
  • Learn the importance of gathering and recording the correct information
  • Learn a 10-Step process for Successful Problem Solving and Decision Making
  • Know how to formulate and implement problem solving plans
  • Know how to formulate and implement decision making plans
  • Understand how these processes provide a common language and approach that enhances teamwork and provides better results


Time Management teaches skills to increase employee productivity. Customers greatly appreciate those service providers who can resolve multiple issues in a reasonable timeframe. You can add time management to the requirement list to become a “Trusted Advisor”.

  • Definition of Time Management
  • How to prioritize your tasks to be more effective
  • How to manage time and reduce deadline stress
  • Understanding major time wasters and how to deal with them
  • Understand the evolution of time management and the current fourth generation
  • Understand why setting reasonable expectations that can be exceeded is essential
  • Learn techniques to increase your efficiency while improving customer satisfaction


These are four basic soft-skills needed for all organizations. Now is the time to invest in employee engagement that will pay recurring dividends in exceeding customer expectations. Use these unprecedented times to invest in your @ home employees soft-skills training.



Bill Moore Vice President of Employee Engagement
Customer Relationship Management Institute LLC (CRMI)
Telephone: 617 803-1639 | Email:

Develop an Engagement Strategy That Prioritizes Employee Satisfaction and Recognition

Whether your company actively recognizes this notion or not, one fact’s for sure – your employees are your greatest asset by far. From those who operate along the frontlines, to those who maintain systems behind-the-scenes, your employees are the cornerstones of your brand’s existence. They interact with customers on a daily basis, making them the face of your brand. Success lies within their will and ability to deliver consistent, superior customer service at every touchpoint along the path to purchase. Yet, in many instances, leaders take their employees for granted, as they neglect to consider their insights and needs in pursuit of the elusive, almighty dollar.

Despite the fact that most leaders declare “our people” as one of their company’s prime competitive differentiators, not every brand has the proper engagement strategies in place. Actions speak louder than words and, in such cases, what these leaders say doesn’t always align with what they do. Brands that merely “talk the talk” offer employees little room for growth or feedback. But, for those companies that truly value their employees—the brands that also “walk the walk”—said individuals have ample opportunity to communicate and grow alongside the brand itself.

An effective employee engagement strategy requires emphasis on both satisfaction and recognition, as it’s not enough to simply provide these individuals with a generous benefits package and send them on their way. More than anything, today’s employees crave purpose. They wish to counter the world’s negative energy by making a positive impact one customer at a time, and that starts within the bubble of your business. After all, as a leader, you have the power to empower your employees to speak up and speak out against injustices within their ranks and throughout the organization, as they fight for what’s right for the customer day after day. You have the authority to enact programs and protocols that enable these employees to excel. You have the right to reward those whose performance elevates the customer’s brand experience.

But, at their core, what elements do such strategies command? What does it take to convey that your company cares for its employees like family? Here are the four building blocks every brand must use as its foundation for engagement:



First and foremost, your company must establish a forum that empowers employees to speak up and share constructive feedback without the fear of retaliation. In many instances, employees are afraid to share their concerns because they might face backlash from their colleagues or superiors. But such an air of trepidation can create a toxic work environment that permeates the ranks. Employees must feel free to share insights and opinions in an atmosphere that begets respect. For engagement to truly take hold, employees must know that their voice carries value.

If there’s any doubt, employees might flee to the competition. But, as on the customer front, it costs far less to retain your staff than to hire and onboard new employees. Thus, it’s imperative that you institute the processes necessary to amplify the complaints and criticisms of your current employees.



Once your company’s leadership team turns its ears to the voices of its employees, you must also bring this influx of insight to action. It’s one thing to gather feedback, but it’s another to use this data to fuel change across the enterprise. Employees want to feel safe and supported when they share feedback, but they also want to know that their suggestions will influence improvements and adjustments in the way the company operates. Communicate how you plan to use their ideas and keep them up-to-date at every stage of development. Not only will this promote trust and transparency throughout the entire company, but it will also establish a precedent for how leaders handle employee feedback in the future.



While employees might be motivated by a desire to provide the best possible customer experience at the start, they’ll inevitably become fatigued if their efforts go unrecognized. Company leadership must constantly be on the lookout for top performers so they may recognize and reward these employees for going above and beyond expectations. Ideally, leaders will set balanced goals based upon achieving key performance indicators (KPIs) for customer satisfaction and loyalty. It’s also important for leaders to recognize and reward both groups and individuals for their customer experience efforts, as some successes are collaborative, while others result from the actions of one lone individual. Companywide awards offer leaders the opportunity to declare their appreciation publicly, but employees should also be compensated for attaining measurable customer satisfaction gains.

Not sure what steps your team should take when launching your company’s own recognition program? Learn more about CRMI’s Employee Rewards Program here.



If your company’s truly invested in its employees, leaders will also be eager to invest in their continued education. In an era where technology evolves at breakneck pace, it’s often difficult for employees to remain knowledgeable about every possible twist or turn on the customer’s path to purchase. Thus, by committing to a continuous CEM training program, which includes both soft, people skills and technical or job-based competence, leadership demonstrates its desire to help staff members be the best they can be. Plus, advanced-level instruction can ultimately pay big dividends for your company and provide career advancement opportunities for employees, which benefits everyone involved.

Not sure how to boost your employees’ customer relationship skills? Learn more about CRMI’s certified CEM Professional (CEMPRO) training here.

You’ve Defined Your Brand’s Flaws and Foibles — Now You Need An Effective Corrective Action Plan

Much like your annual New Year’s Resolutions, the Corrective Action Plan (CAP) comes into play after you’ve taken stock of your brand’s faults and failures. After all, you’ve gathered business intelligence, implemented data analytics, and embraced the benchmark process throughout the past quarter, so you’re completely in-tune with what works (and what doesn’t) across your company. Now, however, it’s time to grab that metaphorical hammer so you can knock down what’s beyond repair and rebuild what needs to be fixed.

Whether you’re responding to direct customer feedback, or identifying weak spots within your strategy, corrective action plans empower your brand to restore customer service to its full potential. In return, these measures will ultimately influence your company’s preventive action plans, as you will be able to look ahead and remain aware of any problems that might be lurking underneath the surface of your present strategy.

According to OpenEI’s definition, both corrective and preventive action plans consist of improvements made to an organization’s processes in an effort to eliminate causes of non-conformities or other undesirable situations. “It is usually a set of actions that laws or regulations require an organization to take in manufacturing, documentation, procedures, or systems to rectify and eliminate recurring nonperformance.” While corrective actions are implemented in response to customer complaints, unacceptable levels of product non-conformance, issues identified during an internal audit, as well as adverse or unstable trends in product and process monitoring, preventive actions are implemented in response to the identification of potential sources of non-conformity.

But what goes into creating an effective corrective action plan exactly? Follow these five steps as you draft your strategy:

1.  Define the problem.

Before you can tackle the problem, you must define the problem. Be sure to remain clear and concise so all parties involved are on the same page. Once you understand what’s wrong, you can then begin to make it right. Determine what’s happening and how it contradicts your intention. From here, your team can develop a road map that leads your brand back to its ideal destination. If you can name the issue at hand, you can ultimately find its solution. Be sure to listen to your customers constantly, as they will be your most reliable source for insight into the issues that arise during their regular interactions with your company.

2.  Establish accountability.

Once you’ve determined the problem and developed the solution, you must establish accountability among those who are tasked with rectifying the issue. Each party must know what they’re responsible for in this scenario and how their actions contribute to the greater good of the project in question. They need to know the value of their role in detail to ensure that their performance remains consistent and strong. These team members must understand how to operate independently and jointly in order to comprehend how their specific role feeds into the bigger picture. By assigning small, more manageable tasks, you also empower more employees to become invested in the company’s overall success, as they now have the capacity to impact its future CX strategies.

3.  Create quantifiable solutions.

There’s no way to prove your actions will have the desired impact if you don’t create solutions that can be measured over time. You want to fix the problem for good, after all. However, companies have been known to implement changes they assume will remedy the issue, only to find that the problem persists. They neglect to map their approach and assess their progress. They believe they know what’s best and what will work even though their prior failures prove otherwise. Thus, when you finally decide to put the CAP into action, you need to understand which key performance indicators (KPIs) you plan to observe and measure so you can regularly evaluate its impact on CX.

4.  Set attainable deadlines.

While problems certainly don’t adhere to any sort of calendar, your solutions should. When you choose to implement your solution, you must also set up a timeline in order to measure your corrective action plan’s effectiveness. Some issues might take longer to resolve than others, so your deadline must allow your team enough time to address the problem and implement the solution. Each solution might also require multiple steps on the path to complete implementation, so your employees might benefit from a series of deadlines that afford them the freedom to proceed with diligence and care. Deadlines serve as check-ins, essentially, so these instances will provide your team with ample opportunity to examine its progress and realign their approach, if necessary.

5.  Monitor progress regularly.

Because the aforementioned deadlines give you and your team numerous opportunities to review your progress, everyone involved can easily monitor the solution’s success in real time. While it’s important to establish the baseline concept for the solution to your problem, the hypothesis driving your team’s work might not prove accurate over time. Customers can be unpredictable and how they react to your response might not be what you expected. Thus, it’s critical to continually monitor how the changes you’ve enacted are performing under the scrutiny of those for whom it was intended all along. How you feel about the solution and how customers feel about the solution don’t always align, so your CAP must account for their perspectives at every stage.

Why Your Brand Needs to Embrace a Periodic Benchmark Process

Imagine your brand’s struggling in some capacity. Perhaps sales have plummeted in the last quarter, or employee turnover has skyrocketed over the past year. You’re not sure what you’re doing wrong, but you need to find the root of the problem as soon as possible to avoid catastrophic consequences. As a leader within your industry, you’re aware that one or more of your competitors consistently excel in this particular area, and you’d love to transform their secrets into your success. What should you do now?

Brands that are looking for the “quick fix” might opt for competitive analysis or research, which IMPACT defines as the “field of strategic research that specializes in the collection and review of information about rival firms.” However, despite the notion that it’s crucial to establish what type of financial threat the competition might pose in both the short and long term, analysis and research often comes across as shady and deceptive to others throughout your given industry, putting your company’s reputation on the line. Instead of copying or mirroring brands that are making all the right moves, leaders should use benchmarking to improve obvious weaknesses and identify latent strengths in an effort to adapt and grow according to market demands.

According to the Business Dictionary, “benchmarking” can be defined as the “measurement of the quality of an organization’s policies, products, programs, strategies, etc., and their comparison with standard measurements, or similar measurements of its peers.” Essentially, benchmarking empowers the executives at leading companies to develop a barometer that allows them to gauge how their organization compares with others across the industry. Benchmarking serves as a valuable “reality check” that enables leaders to grasp how their organization stacks up against their direct competitors and adjacent industries in general.

Similarly, its primary objectives are:

  1. To determine what and where improvements are called for throughout the organization.
  2. To analyze how other organizations achieve their high performance levels.
  3. To use this information to improve performance and procedure.

Benchmarking reveals how your company measures up when compared to the industry standard and highlights ways in which your brand can grow over time. Not only can this process uncover issues that have gone overlooked, but it can also provide proof that improvements need to be made immediately, as C-suite executives often fail to allocate the necessary funds and resources until it’s too late.

As iSixSigma indicates, there are three basic classifications of benchmarking: internal, competitive, and strategic.

Internal — Used when a company already has established and proven best practices and they simply need to share them.

Competitive — Used when a company wants to evaluate its position within its industry or needs to identify industry leadership performance targets.

Strategic — Used when identifying and analyzing world-class performance in times when a company needs to go outside of its own industry.

“For innovation professionals who do want to take action, benchmarking best practices can provide ammunition to break internal log jams and convince the C-suite that risk can potentially be mitigated when undertaking new initiatives,” Scott Lenet, co-founder and president at Touchdown Ventures, writes for Forbes. “For those with existing programs who are struggling to communicate value, benchmarking is an opportunity to articulate strengths and address areas for improvement. No one likes to be audited or visit the doctor for an annual physical, but those practices exist for a reason, too.”

He adds, “Innovation programs aligning with industry standards may be more likely to build a positive reputation in the ecosystem, provide ongoing value to parent corporations, and avoid shut down.”

“Benchmarking by specific industry allows you to stack yourself up against other companies and improve your organization,” Berni Hollinger writes for CH Consulting Group. “Who has the best sales per salesperson and how do you stack against them? Which company has the most efficient customer service department and how did it happen?

“In a simplistic sense, it allows you to compare your company against others – not financially, but in best practices,” she adds. “Don’t get me wrong, better processes results in higher profit to the bottom line. How can it not? Each time you improve upon a process or procedure, it saves time, equipment or supplies. Less time spent on the operational end means more time available to increase revenue.”

Periodic benchmarking allows companies to continuously audit their standing within their industry and make changes as necessary in order to preserve their competitive advantage. Because the customer experience remains at the heart of each decision an organization makes, it’s in everyone’s best interest to be up-to-date on industry standards and expectations at all times. Companies that refrain from the benchmarking process until issues arise will find themselves at a disadvantage, as it’s best to be aware of the current and emerging trends throughout the industry.

In the end, your company will reap an array of benefits, including improved quality and performance because, as an organization that’s constantly in-tune with the current industry standard, your brand will continuously strive to bring its products and services up to par with—and inevitably surpass—the norm. Doing so will also remove the tendency to become complacent, as you and your employees will have the insight and incentive necessary to push performance beyond the industry standard to remain competitive in an increasingly saturated market.

Consistent benchmarking will reveal weak spots early, allowing your organization to initiate proactive measures that reinforce your leadership and dedication to the overall customer experience.


In Business, Data Analytics Will Always Be Critical to Gain the Competitive Advantage

It’s an adage as old as capitalism: to know the customer, one must become the customer. It’s imperative that companies keep up with customer sentiment in order to remain one step ahead of any complaints or concerns that might arise. Business analytics, however, enable organizations to collect customer feedback in an effort to provide structure amongst the unstructured data that pours in continuously. But when there’s so much chatter to weed through and decipher, it’s not always easy to decide what your brand’s next steps should be.

That’s why customer data plays an important role.

Business Analytics (BA), of course, refers to the data-driven practices, skills, tools, and techniques for continually analyzing business performance and exploring new ways of gaining a competitive advantage. BA provides actionable insight relative to decision makers, recommenders, and influencers according to loyalty and satisfaction scores. BA also makes it possible to combine satisfaction and operational data to gain further insight into purchase behavior by nature of the job or role within a customer organization.

Yet, despite countless years of data talk, many organizations have yet to master the analytics walk.

In an article that preceded his groundbreaking 2007 book, “Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning,” Tom Davenport explored the importance of analytics when describing the future of business. More than a decade has passed since its publication, but Davenport’s wise words still ring true.

“Organizations are competing on analytics not just because they can—business today is awash in data and data crunchers—but also because they should,” the Babson College professor of Information Technology and Management, and independent senior advisor for Deloitte Analytics, wrote for Harvard Business Review. “At a time when firms in many industries offer similar products and use comparable technologies, business processes are among the last remaining points of differentiation. Aand analytics competitors wring every last drop of value from those processes. So, like other companies, they know what products their customers want, but they also know what prices those customers will pay, how many items each will buy in a lifetime, and what triggers will make people buy more.”

Modern companies now recognize, without a doubt, that business analytics can differentiate them from the competition, but many are still behind when it comes to bringing the data to action. They’ve instituted the technology necessary to collect customer information, but they have yet to establish processes for parsing the data and using it to fine-tune operations. Instead of sitting on this data and allowing it to go to waste, they must develop a team that can transform said information into actionable insight.

Davenport also noted that the companywide embrace of analytics requires changes in culture, processes, behaviors, and skills for many employees. Thus, as with any major transition, this requires leadership from executives at the top who “have a passion for the quantitative approach.” Ideally, this advocate will be the CEO, as top-down buy-in provides the entire organization with a solid foundation on which to build its evolving analytics initiatives.

“Culture is a soft concept; analytics is a hard discipline,” Davenport explained, noting how the two aspects might clash upon introduction. “Nonetheless, analytics competitors must instill a companywide respect for measuring, testing, and evaluating quantitative evidence. Employees are urged to base decisions on hard facts. And they know that their performance is gauged the same way. Human resource organizations within analytics competitors are rigorous about applying metrics to compensation and rewards.”

Teams that effectively learn how to bring the mounting data to action will ultimately be able to predict how customers might react to impending updates or upcoming campaigns. Such insight will allow these employees to curb any issues before they arise, resulting in peak performance and peak results. Predictive analytics also serves as an important differentiator in today’s competitive landscape, as employees can detect what consumers want from their customer experience and make these dreams into reality before other companies can target weaknesses within the industry and lure the consumer to their rival brand.

However, as Davenport emphasized, not all decisions should be grounded in analytics. When it comes to building an effective team, it’s often best to let your conscience be your guide.

“Personnel matters, in particular, are often well and appropriately informed by instinct and anecdote,” he added. “More organizations are subjecting recruiting and hiring decisions to statistical analysis. But research shows that human beings can make quick, surprisingly accurate assessments of personality and character based on simple observations. For analytics-minded leaders, then, the challenge boils down to knowing when to run with the numbers and when to run with their guts.”

Successful leaders understand that success requires both instinct and intuition. While it’s essential for all employees to have the technical skills necessary to execute the company’s mission, it’s also important to create a team of people who can make the connection between facts and feelings. Customer relationship soft skills training for your frontline is a key ingredient to enable this balance. These are the people who will advance your business analytics strategy to the next level and develop an indomitable customer experience that excels far beyond anything the competition has to offer.

Master These Omnichannel Management Strategies to Boost Workforce Optimization

CEM and Employee Engagement

With numerous channels at their disposal around the clock, the average customer journey no longer adheres to one predictable path. Thus, as companies evolve to satisfy demand, they have begun to adopt new technologies and strategies that enable them to meet the consumer where they work and play. Whether it’s in-person or online, customer-centric brands constantly work to expand their reach so they can maintain consistency across channels at all times. Yet, while this new normal has set the bar higher, many businesses have yet to grasp these new strategies to their fullest extent.

Leaders understand that their companies must establish a presence along each available avenue on the path to purchase, but many still struggle to achieve workforce optimization in the face of these emerging technologies, as the key to success lies in balancing the needs of both the agents and customers to augment productivity and experience. But, by mastering the four fundamental forms of management—field service, help desk, knowledge, and online community forum—businesses can develop the omnichannel approach they need to bring customer centricity to the next level.

Field Service Management

Despite the popular turn toward digital, many customer service interactions still take place in person. Whether it’s in-stores or in the field, there are some needs that simply can’t be satisfied over the phone or online. Thus, not only do your customer service representatives need to be equipped with the technology necessary to fulfill their duties—access to the customer’s history, for instance, might help them pinpoint any underlying or recurring issues—but they also need to have the proper personnel training. Customer service representatives must have people skills in order to establish and sustain the type of rapport that supports loyalty and retention.

Help Desk Management

Because help desks generally consist of internal operations that assist employees and business partners as they manage their various IT assets, leaders must focus on hiring and training strong employees who are motivated to provide exceptional service every single day. To ensure these employees have the capacity to handle any task, brands must develop an enterprisewide culture that enables representatives to track issues end-to-end so nothing slips through the cracks. It’s increasingly important to provide consistent, personalized support, as customers can easily turn to the competition at any moment. Customer service experiences can make or break these long-term relationships.

Knowledge Management (Self-Service/Remote Support)

Knowledge management acts an umbrella term for the self-service and remote support options modern companies must offer consumers. Because customers are distinctly independent today, they often seek self-service opportunities before they ever engage with representatives. They’d much prefer to solve their issue on their own, if possible. Companies must, therefore, establish the framework and strategies required to develop self-service portals that provide omnichannel access to the information they need to answer their questions and solve their problems. Remote support, of course, remains a byproduct of knowledge management and self-service, as these technologies empower agents to provide seamless service from afar.

Online Community Forum Management

In many cases, consumers turn to one another for assistance when they encounter issues with a particular product or service. Many seek advice from their Twitter followers. Others share their problem on public forums in hope that others will have experienced (and solved) the dilemma. When people pursue this route, it’s often because they couldn’t rectify the issue via the brand’s self-service database.

However, because these inquiries are typically posted on third-party sites, leaders must decide how to intervene. Here, CRMI outlines the questions companies must answer when developing their approach:

  1. Agree on your forum governance model. How involved do you want to be in managing your forum?
  2. Agree on intervention protocols. What kind of comments, questions and issues are going to prompt a facilitator intervention?
  3. Determine intervention procedures. What are your approval processes for releasing intervention content?
  4. Determine intervention responsibilities. Who is your primary facilitator/site manager?
  5. Ensure proper training for facilitator/site manager. Can someone with extensive customer service experience handle the site? Do they need specialist media training?
  6. Ensure community members know rules of engagement. Make sure the moderation rules are appropriate for your forum.

But, before implementing any new technologies and strategies, leaders must take stock of their company’s current state and perform an audit to establish strengths and weaknesses across the enterprise. Leaders must understand where they suffer and where they excel so they can focus on improving specific management techniques. While some companies will require a complete overhaul, many will find they’re already on the road to success. After all, workforce optimization can’t thrive without deliberate, effective strategies to guide service and experience initiatives. When employees are equipped with the tools and training they need to succeed, everyone wins.

It’s Not as Easy to Do Business With You as You’d Like to Think It Is

Your executive team is committed to customer experience (CX) success. On paper, your customer journey map looks strong. But that doesn’t mean your organization is easy to do business with.

The proliferation of new channels and touchpoints brings ever greater complexity to customer interactions—yours included. Plus, your current processes and silos may create bottlenecks for customers trying to make a purchase, get service, or expand their business with you.

You can use all the shiny objects you want to add glitter to your marketing and service interactions. But it’s only putting lipstick on a pig if your organization isn’t easy to do business with. Maybe you’ve added more mobile app functionality, for example, but your customers are pinching, swiping, and scrolling to the point of frustration to accomplish a basic task. Or you’ve launched an attractive marketing promotion, but your contact center agents don’t have any information on it for customers who call with questions.

Whether your organization is easy to do business with cuts to the core of the customer experience. It can give you a leading indicator of future trends for customer relationships. After all, your organization can have a great product, a great brand, and even great intentions for CX, yet still be difficult to do business with.

Perhaps most important, “Are you easy to do business with?” is a question that if explored and measured thoroughly, can quickly reveal whether the various pieces of the CX puzzle are working together as they should.

In fact, once you’ve examined whether customers think your organization is easy to do business with and use the resulting feedback to improve, you’ll find that it’s one of the best ways to ensure that your organization’s customer-facing operations (as well as those that support them) are living up to the spirit of your CRM and CX efforts.

Following are three lessons I learned while exploring that pivotal question, “Are you easy to do business with?”

Truly understand, and measure on a regular basis, whether customers think that your organization is easy to do business with.
Internal naysayers will claim that, of course you’re easy to do business with. After all, the CX efforts are refined, leadership is customer-focused, and the company puts the customer first in everything it does.

But, wait, not so fast…

Whether a company is easy to do business with is not solely determined by the efficiency of processes and programs it has in place. Instead, it’s a reflection of customer perceptions that can rarely be gleaned from operational data. To find out whether customers really believe that your organization is easy to work with requires a dedicated effort.

Ideally, you can attain this view of your customers’ true perceptions through a combination of methods. Surveys and one-on-one interviews with customers—preferably through a third party to ensure that feedback is candid—are exceptionally valuable and powerful tools to gather external perspectives. Speech and text analytics tools that make real-time sense of customer feedback, moods, and reactions are also extremely helpful. Customer-initiated digital feedback offers a goldmine of information, as do online communities that marketers and customer experience leaders can use as a listening tool. Use as many of them as you can to really understand where your organization falls on the “easy to do business with” spectrum.

Define what “easy to do business with” means for every
customer-facing role.

One of my aha moments in CX was when a particularly savvy customer-facing employee confided that she didn’t know if she had the ability to make it easier for customers to do business with the company, or even what that would entail. And she was right! Most people don’t intuitively know what something as encompassing as “easy to do business with” means.

To address this reality, we instituted a series of workshops across all departments throughout the company. These interactive sessions begin by exploring why it’s important for us to be easy to do business with. We then delve into what that means for each person in the room, and more specifically, which behaviors for each role will make the company’s vision come to life. Through these workshops, our employees helped to define what it meant to be “easy to do business with” and how to achieve it. Defining expectations is important, because most people have different interpretations of what makes an organization easy to do business with.

Apply what you learn across the organization.

Once you know the customer perception of the ease of doing business with your organization, you’ve defined what that ease means for various departments, and you have a framework in place that outlines required behaviors for specific roles, it’s time to use that information throughout the company to guide other decisions and processes. This includes hiring the right people, rewarding the right behaviors, and creating processes that complement them.

Perhaps, most important, institutionalizing these practices and encouraging these behaviors ultimately creates and nurtures a true, customer-centric culture that not only rewards behaviors that make it easy for customers, but also inherently encourages them among all employees.

Asking your customers if your organization is easy to do business with, and seeking candid answers, isn’t easy. But it’s one of the most powerful ways to ensure not only that the customer relationship and CX programs you oversee are working well, and that they’re being successfully applied where it matters most: with customers.


About the Author
Nancy Porte, CCXP, is the vice president of Global Customer Experience at Verint, a board member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association and a frequent speaker at industry events where often presents on her passion: developing meaningful customer experiences through the collaboration of numerous business functions and effective employee engagement.

The Value of Being an Energized Organization

One of the attributes of Best in Class organizations that has always interested me is their ability to focus their energies so enthusiastically on being customer centric. I often find this is further enhanced by their ability to “walk the talk,” as they share this commitment among their employees and customers.

I’m convinced this happens when a company’s leadership truly understands their business and focuses on what is most valuable in delivering success to their customers. These leaders understand the value of customer experience and how it builds loyalty and grows profits. And, they recognize that a customer-centric culture can result in a better experience for customers and employees.

As leaders, must we recognize what is truly of value to our business, to our customers, and to the way we go about our business. But, just as important, we must work to make sure our employees understand and see it as we do. Remember, a customer-centric organization, one that delivers Customer Success, makes it a point to help customers find the right solutions for their needs wherever they touch the company.

The essence of a company’s business goals must be customer experience and growth.

So, I ask: Can you clearly express the value proposition your company offers? Do your employees and your customers see it as you do? To what extent are you and your team committed to this proposition?

Customer-centric transformation

Customer centricity must go beyond just short-term successes to the more strategic need of creating an environment and enthusiasm that will endure over the long term. It’s about transforming the culture and engaging employees to embrace the mind-set and passion of being a customer-driven organization.

We must put the good of the organization ahead of our own personal desires. This effort should become a single-minded purpose and will be one of the most important effort investments we make as leaders. And let us not be casual about this, as it’s often one of the most challenging efforts of leadership. But it’s worth the effort. Making this change assures we deliver value to our customers and our company is rewarded by continued loyalty, growth, and profitability.

What does the transformation entail? It’s about creating an environment that demonstrates the ability to execute and maintain the change. It’s about being recognized for results in a manner welcomed by our customers. To achieve this, we have to understand a great deal about our business and our people.

The following seven steps will help guide you in creating that “take charge and get it done” environment. This does not come without hard work. And, remember, once you have customer centricity pervading your organization, you need to maintain it, as momentum can easily fade away.

1. Know your people, especially those who are the informal leaders and key go-to persons. Make sure these people have and will “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.” Coach them to where you need them to be. Remember, these are the people your team looks to, trusts, and follows.

2. It is also important to recognize employees, the individuals you can rely on to be there, participate, and execute. Take the time to profile your people into groups based on their strengths and weaknesses. Using a skills matrix is one way to do this. Then make the investment in shoring up those weaknesses. Take time to create an environment that inspires people to learn and keeps them well informed. This way, they will remain engaged.

3. Prepare a series of communications to introduce your vision and detail the cultural transformation. Approach the achievers with the plan early on so they recognize their roles. They have a great amount of influence over others, so it’s essential they understand and buy in to the value proposition, the transformation, and what is expected of them.

Then community the strategy, purpose, objective, expectations, etc. with clarity again, and again, and again. You must be clear on the connection to customer centricity at the employee level. How else will they understand its importance and value of their contribution?

4. Assuming you have measured the strengths and weaknesses of your team, you can map the transformation journey. For example, take-charge organizations empower their people. Have your people been trained to understand the importance of being empowered, when and how far to go with this responsibility, and the judgment required for maximizing results?

Once you map the journey, you’ll have identified the key touchpoints and barriers to success. Addressing these along with an empowered team is a formula for delivering customer success. Create a cross-functional team willing to overcome silo barriers. And, ensure that internal teams are connected to the customer teams.

Mapping the transformation journey should also include clear and concise measures of success.

5. It’s essential that you have a communication loop in place. This is a must for feedback, strategy revision, and alignment. Consider using Town Hall-style meetings, internal surveys, small group luncheons, etc. based on what works best for your organization. You can never over-communicate and, likewise, you should never stop listening. Don’t make the mistake of settling back and thinking, “Now that everything is in place, we’re OK.” In an energized organization, there is very little time to relax…further change is always on the horizon.

6. Check and recheck for alignment. This is critical. Rely on those people you can trust to be objective. As painful as it can be at times, we need a candid evaluation about how the transformation is evolving. Also, do not be afraid to make adjustments. The worst thing we can do is to recognize the need for change and then not execute accordingly. Ignoring a problem is rarely the proper approach to take in solving it. It usually just makes things worse and perpetuates a defense mechanism or feeling of denial that ultimately leads to unhappy employees and customers.

7. Finally, think about…

  • When was the last time you spoke to a customer?
  • What does your voice of the customer feedback tell you?
  • When did you last check on how well your message is resonating with your employees and customers?
  • How are you measuring the level of customer centricity?
  • Do your customers achieve Customer Success?
  • Is your customer’s journey seamless and easy?

As business leaders, we put processes in place and train our people to anticipate customer needs. Some of this is predictable and we are prepared. But there are customer events that are less predictable, and cannot easily be resolved in a routine manner. In either case, these are “moments of truth.” Understand how to optimize those moment to ensure customer delight. Excite and energize your organization and you and your team will be prepared for whatever those defining moments bring as you transform to a customer-centric organization.



Dennis Gershowitz

About the Author
Dennis Gershowitz is founder and principal of DG Associates, a consulting firm that specializes in driving service revenues and profits through the development and implementation of customer experience management (CEM) strategy and service operations improvements. Contact Dennis at


Three Barriers to Integrating CX Into a Company’s DNA

Three Barriers to Integrating CX Into a B2B Company’s DNA

One of my favorite commercials of all time is from United Airlines. In this powerful, one-minute segment, a CEO is in a conference room with all his managers. He informs them that their oldest customer just fired them because the customer felt he didn’t know them anymore. “Things have to change,” the CEO says. “We can’t hide on the phone any longer. We are going to go see every customer we have.” He then hands out United Airline tickets for the management team to visit over 200 cities beginning the same day.

This is a wonderful vignette around the power of a customer-centric strategy and how to incorporate it into the DNA of a company. This commercial was shot in 1990 during a wave of discussion and research around the value of a customer-centric strategy. From a business perspective, analysts such as Don Pepper and Martha Rogers were conducting research into customer-led strategies. Authors Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersma published “The Discipline of Market Leaders.” In academic research, models for defining and measuring customer focus (MKTOR) and determining the value of such a strategy to businesses were also being deeply explored.

The customer is in firm control

The net is we’ve known and been clear about the value of a customer-centric strategy since the 1990s. We have evidence and case studies that show results of a customer-centric approach include higher margins, higher client satisfaction scores, reductions in cost to serve, improved revenue growth, and an increase in employee satisfaction.

What has changed since the 1990s is the how much power and control the customer now has in the digital age. The pressure from customers being in firm control of their buying process is finally affecting the adoption of customer-centric strategies by B2B firms. Whether B2B firms lost or never had customer focus, it is becoming apparent that a customer-centric strategy is now required to win. Pivoting from a product-centric or operational-centric strategy to a customer-centric strategy pays off.

While there is a lot of excitement around the return to customer-focus, there are unique challenges to changing company DNA to be reflective of a customer-centered pivot. Three main challenges include leadership, defining customer ownership, and how marketing uses technology.


In practical terms, customer focus must be pervasive and measured to have the desired effect. It starts with the CEO and the executive team and trickles down to every person in the company. Customer focus must move from “talk” to “walk,” and having KPIs and MBOs for every part of the company associated to customer delight are ways to measure adoption. It’s not possible to transform into a customer-centric organization without belief and behavior starting at the top and cascading to every part of the organization. Just like the CEO in the United Airlines commercial. His flight was to go see the customer who fired them.

Gut Check: Are the behaviors of your company’s executives indicative of a customer-focus?

Who owns the customer?

Coming to terms with “who owns the customer” is a battle in many companies. In companies that are sales led (like many B2B companies), the sales organization often takes great exception to marketing telling them about the customer. The sales organization has always had firsthand and often the only relevant knowledge about the customer. Those days are gone. Marketing now has the most knowledge about the customer through millions of digital interactions. Marketing takes a leadership role in understanding customers as it acquires more knowledge about them and is instrumental in creating customer engagement throughout the entire life cycle. In this scenario, marketing works with every part of the company that touches the customer to create one view of each customer and to create a flawless customer experience.

Gut Check: Do you have a defined and agreed upon customer life cycle map in which each part of the organization understands its role and all actions are orchestrated to create a flawless experience for the customer?

Technology as the enabler

Technology is at the center of operationalizing a customer centric strategy. It is the enabler for consumer and customer control of the buying journey. It is creating the pressure to pivot to a customer-centric strategy. And, it is the answer to operationalizing a customer-centric strategy. In this technology-rich environment, the marketing operations group has emerged to use technology and data to detail and provide relevant customer insights to the CMO and to the organization. In large part, it is the work of the marketing operations group that allows marketing to be the “expert” on the customer.

Gut Check: Is your marketing operations function customer-driven and do it provide key customer insights for organizational decision making?

Take action

I most often see companies tackle CX in silos and with disparate processes and technologies. I also see this same scenario within marketing departments. Once they begin these one-off projects, they begin to claim they are now customer-centric.

Nothing could be further from the truth. To integrate CX into the DNA of a company requires belief and action from the top that trickles down to every person in the organization. It requires some tough talks between customer-facing teams such as marketing, sales, and customer service around who owns the customer—and the answer should be: We all do.

Finally, it requires a customer-centric marketing operations group that is customer-focused and proves it by sharing customer data and insights for improved organizational decision making.



Debbie QaqishAbout the Author:

Debbie Qaqish is principal partner and Chief Strategy Officer of The Pedowitz Group, and The Queen of Revenue Marketing,™ a term she coined in 2011. Debbie manages global client relationships and leads the firm’s thought leadership initiatives.

Debbie is author of Rise of the Revenue Marketer, Chancellor of Revenue Marketing University, and host of WRMR Power TalkRadio for Revenue Marketing Leaders, which showcases marketing executives from companies like GE and Microsoft sharing advice on marketing transformation. A PhD candidate, Debbie teaches an MBA course at College of William & Mary on Revenue Marketing.

In March 2016, Kapost named Debbie among the Top 40 Most Inspiring Women in Marketing. For the last five years, Debbie has been named One of the 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management. She has also won SLMA’s Top 20 Women to Watch distinction. In 2014 FierceCMO Magazine named Debbie one of the Top 10 Women CMOs to Watch.

Connect with Debbie via LinkedIn, email: or phone: 770-331-4443. And, to learn more about what it takes to integrate CX into the company DNA, read “7 Hallmarks of Transformation.”